Bed bugs are a problem in Govanhill, Glasgow

by nobugsonme on January 26, 2015 · 2 comments

in bed bugs, Glasgow

Glasgow’s Evening Times reports that a woman was told by her doctor to flee her bed bug-infested rented flat in the city’s Govanhill neighborhood, and was as a result homeless due to bed bugs:

The woman, who asked not to be named, was bitten from head to foot by the parasites and sought medical attention.

Doctors told her to flee the flat which she rented from property firm GSL Lettings.
She said: “I was forced to leave my flat in Govanhill with only the clothes I stood up in when it became infested with bed bugs.

“I was accepted as homeless by the Hamish Allan homeless unit and remained in their care for eight months.

“This resulted in being in hostels in Hillhead and then in Govan for two months. Then I was moved to temporary accommodation for the homeless for six months.

Meanwhile, the landlord of the flat the woman fled is still trying to get back rent.

We don’t normally hear of doctors telling patients to flee their homes due to bed bugs. And it’s not just that doctor — another article from The Scotsman in November 2014 suggests a different Govanhill resident was told to evacuate by a pest management professional. Moving out seems to be a common response to the problem, and that isn’t good.

Bed bugs have been recognized as a problem in Govanhill for a while, and The Evening Times reports that Glasgow City Council has been trying to address bed bugs in the area:

Glasgow City Council has ordered a “block-by-block” deep clean of flats in Govanhill.

A dedicated team of five specialist bed bug busters are trying rid the area of the insects which feed on human blood.

A council spokesman said: “Work on existing cases is underway, ahead of the block-by-block treatment programme. Good progress is being made.”

Glasgow City Council provides free treatment for bed bugs, according to The Evening Times.

However, it may be that more help is needed. While it doesn’t address bed bugs specifically, this Evening Times video about Govanhill gives a sense of the living conditions in the area, which include overcrowding, neglected housing stock, and fly-tipping (illegal dumping of garbage):

(If you can’t see an embedded video above, you can click here to view the video on YouTube.)

I want to be clear, because there’s always some confusion:

  • Clutter does not cause bed bugs
  • Dirty homes don’t attract bed bugs
  • Piles of garbage don’t attract bed bugs
  • Anyone can get bed bugs– it doesn’t matter what your income is, your ethnicity, your national origin, etc.

That said, poverty and neglect are great friends to bed bugs.

In a highly-populated area such as this, with what appears to be a high turnover of residents, bed bugs are likely to be a problem. And when the housing is neglected, bed bugs are likely to thrive.

Some reading this will say, “Wow, I wish my city council provided free pest control services.” However, keep in mind the treatment provided for bed bugs needs to be swift and thorough in order to address the problem. It sounds like the five-person team trying to address bed bugs in Govanhill — both acute cases and block by block — may need reinforcements.

And it also sounds like the city needs to decide how to address serious cases. Because “moving out” appears to not be an uncommon response to a bad case of bed bugs (one endorsed by doctors and PCOs). And moving out can lead to more units becoming infested, among the other obvious problems for the resident (loss of belongings, angry landlords seeking rent, etc.)

Make no mistake: as long as anyone in Govanhill has bed bugs, they will continue to be spread to local shops, cafes, schools, workplaces, on public transportation, etc. both in this area and other parts of the city. And more people will continue to get bed bugs as the problem spreads both in Govanhill and further afield.

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A new study by researchers at Simon Fraser University details the identification of all six components of bed bug aggregation pheromone. This is exciting news, as it may lead to the development of more effective active bed bug monitors.

The study, led by Regine Gries, Gerhard J. Gries, and Robert Britton, is forthcoming in the journal Angewandte Chemie and appeared online as an early preview Sunday. Here’s the abstract:

Abstract
Bed bugs have become a global epidemic and current detection tools are poorly suited for routine surveillance. Despite intense research on bed bug aggregation behavior and the aggregation pheromone, which could be used as a chemical lure, the complete composition of this pheromone has thus far proven elusive. Here, we report that the bed bug aggregation pheromone comprises five volatile components (dimethyl disulfide, dimethyl trisulfide, (E)-2-hexenal, (E)-2-octenal, 2-hexanone), which attract bed bugs to safe shelters, and one less-volatile component (histamine), which causes their arrestment upon contact. In infested premises, a blend of all six components is highly effective at luring bed bugs into traps. The trapping of juvenile and adult bed bugs, with or without recent blood meals, provides strong evidence that this unique pheromone bait could become an effective and inexpensive tool for bed bug detection and potentially their control.

Citation:
Gries, R., Britton, R., Holmes, M., Zhai, H., Draper, J. and Gries, G. (2014), Bed Bug Aggregation Pheromone Finally Identified. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed.. doi: 10.1002/anie.201409890

I look forward to the publication, as I can’t get beyond the preview’s paywall. For now, Chemical & Engineering News fills in some of the blanks and covers the human interest side of the research.

Chemical & Engineering News reports that while lots of research has been done on bed bug pheromones,

…researchers have been missing an important piece of the pheromone puzzle, namely the arrestant compound that bedbugs use to tell one another that a particular habitat is a safe place to hunker down— between a mattress and a box spring, for instance.

A team of biologists and chemists at Simon Fraser University, in Canada[…] now believes it has identified the arrestant: histamine, a simple compound humans produce during immune responses. Bedbugs, the team found, release histamine in their feces and in their cuticles, the skin they shed after a blood meal. This sort of waste accumulates in the bugs’ favorite hiding spots, often near a food source. The researchers are now working to turn their discovery into commercialized bedbug traps.

And the researchers are, not surprisingly, already talking to a company about producing a monitor as early as next year, according to Chemical & Engineering News.

The human interest component the media seems most interested in? Researcher Regine Gries reports having provided bed bugs with 180,000 blood meals. As the Voice Online reports,

The world owes a debt of gratitude to Simon Fraser University biologist Regine Gries. Her arms have provided a blood meal for more than a thousand bedbugs each week for five years…

I think it’s fair to say that those of us who’ve dealt with bed bugs are eternally grateful for any and all researchers who work on the bed bug issue, but perhaps especially those who put their skin on the line.

On another note, spider fans may also be interested in Gerhard Gries’s research on “twerking” in black widow spiders.

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The Daily Dot has a new story about our user forums by Anna Drezen, herself a Bedbugger Forum user who made some of the typical mistakes one makes when one suspects bed bugs:

I really wish I’d found Bedbugger.com right away, because my instincts about how to address the situation were dead wrong. I decided the best thing to do was come home from work, keep all the lights off, take a flashlight and a knife, and slash open my mattress in the dark while sobbing. I found nothing. Just to be safe, I sprayed my entire bed with rubbing alcohol. A few days later, I marched into my dermatologist’s office holding aloft a Ziploc bag with a spider in it, traumatizing her for life.

This was not the way to win the war.

Oh dear.

Drezen’s story has a happy ending, though:

I’m currently bugless. The nightmare is over. But since I have sensitive skin, an active imagination, and a penchant for rolling around on discarded sidewalk mattresses, I’ll continue using the wonderful, singular, fascinating Bedbugger.com.

Check out “The bizarre and fascinating world of bedbug message boards”, and see what you think.

1 comment

According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, as of 10/8/14, PAB Two has recalled about 1700 units of its Thermalstrike Expedition model bed bug treatment system due to a fire hazard:

PAB Two has received four reports of the flexible, electrical conducting strip breaking, including one report of a fire in a unit and three reports of units sparking. No injuries or significant property damage were reported.

Thermalstrike Expedition

Thermalstrike Expedition

The CPSC alert notes the products were sold by

Bedbug Central, Bedbug Supply, Protect-a-bed, Univar, pest control companies and pest control product distributors nationwide and online at Amazon.com from December 2011 through May 2014 for between $189 and $199.

The good news is there’s a fix and it doesn’t sound too complicated. If you have a Thermalstrike Expedition covered by the recall, here’s what you need to do:

Consumers should immediately stop using and unplug the Expedition and register their unit online to receive an ASC Diagnostic Unit free of charge. The diagnostic unit will immediately turn off the system when it detects a break in the conducting strip.

If you need additional information or help, the CPSC says you should contact

PAB Two toll-free at (866) 470-1755 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. MT Monday through Friday or online at www.thermalstrike.com and click on Important Product Upgrade at the top of the page for more information.

You can also read the full alert from the USCPSC here.

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When bed bugs are found on Metropolitan Transportation Authority trains or buses, consumers should be notified, say New York City Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) and State Assemblyman Bill Colton (D), according to the Daily News.

The Daily News notes that legislation Colton and Treyger are drafting will require consumers to be notified within 24 hours when bed bugs are found on buses and trains, and will also call for the MTA to let consumers know how the problem is being addressed in each instance.

A lot of people on the subway have been seeing something small and brown and saying something lately.

A brief recap: bed bugs were found on the N and 5 lines earlier in early August, and then later on the 4 by a consumer, with the ID confirmed by entomologist Gil Bloom in the Daily News (though the insect’s origins can’t be verified; see update below), and on the N, Q and the 6 this week.••  According to NBC News, as of Wednesday, at least five trains had been pulled out of service due to bed bugs this month.

The Transit Workers’ Union is expressing a lot of concern about its members. A conductor claims to have been bitten Monday on the N train, according to this Daily News article.  The Daily News also reported in mid-August that at least one cleaner (who cleans N and Q trains) and one conductor have discovered bed bugs at home during this same period; the cleaner asked the MTA for assistance with treatment, as she might have brought bed bugs home from work, but so far they are refusing to help.

I am all for people being notified of bed bugs being found in public places, and here’s why:  the more we expose the presence of bed bugs, the more people will realize how prevalent this problem is.

Maybe we can get people to take time to learn the signs of bed bugs, and what bed bugs look like, so they can check their seats before sitting down in public places, and so they can learn to detect the signs if they ever appear at home or work.  More awareness that bed bugs just “happen” and are not some kind of punishment for a lack of cleanliness can only help bring the issue more into the open.

More people talking about bed bugs means more people knowing more about bed bugs and therefore quite possibly fewer people getting bed bugs.

The downside of this sort of legislation is that some people will panic, as some no doubt already are.  I can hear some of you thinking, “Oh no!  Now bed bugs are on the subway too!”

Not exactly– there were surely bed bugs in the subway at least going back several years.  You just weren’t aware of it.  Being more aware does not necessarily equal being more at risk.

Another concern is that some folks already think bed bugs are “everywhere” — which also isn’t true.  They can be almost anywhere, but they are far from everywhere.  Even if there are some bed bugs on some subway trains, that does not mean they are all over any subway train, let alone all over a subway line.  For example, in the case of the N, the problem seemed to be concentrated largely around conductor’s seats and employee locker rooms.

We do need to be vigilant and learn what bed bugs look like, and record* and report sightings.  The NYC security mantra “If you see something, say something” doesn’t just apply to unattended parcels.  And the MTA does need to take this problem seriously and to train employees to look for bed bugs and their signs before someone complains about them being present.

But please don’t panic, and don’t top riding the subway and buses.

 

*Yes, I said “record” sightings– if you see what you think is a bed bug in public, by all means take a photo!  And then report it.

Update (8/28): Gil Bloom has commented below to clarify that while he has identified the insect found on the 4 as a bed bug, he can’t verify where it came from.  Thanks, Mr. Bloom!

 Image credit: “MTA: Off by a Factor of at Least 10^3″ by David Goehring on flickr.com. Image used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

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Move over alligators in the sewers, we’re still talking about bed bugs in the subway!

Here’s a follow-up to last night’s post about bed bugs being found in three NYC N train subway cars this week:

If video does not appear above, click here to view it: Fox New York News

Fox News NY talked to entomologist Lou Sorkin (a Bedbugger Forums regular) about the implications of bed bugs being found in the subway crew area of several trains.

We still don’t know if any of the N train bed bugs were found in passenger areas of the subway cars, as the Fox reporter in the clip above notes.

And there’s been no suggestion so far that the MTA is going any further in looking for bed bugs in the subway, beyond investigating after bed bugs are found.

I guess that means, “if you see something, say something.” But we know you would.

If the city really wants to help curb the spread of bed bugs, teaching employees to look for them (and what to do if they’re found) is a great idea. And an inexpensive one. And we know just the guy to do it.

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The New York Daily News reported Tuesday that bed bugs have been found in three separate N subway trains, which have since been “fumigated” (I am assuming this means — as in the common parlance — “treated with pesticides,” rather than fumigation per se).

According to the New York Daily News,

Two trains were taken out of service Sunday after the unwanted riders were found onboard some cars, officials said. And on Tuesday, a third N train was also sent to the Coney Island yard in Brooklyn for fumigation. Some of the bugs were found in seat cushions in train cabs, which are used by conductors and motormen, sources said.

The presence of bed bugs in employee-only areas of the subway trains suggests they were brought in by an employee or employees. Hopefully no one has taken bed bugs home from work.

It’s not clear whether bed bugs were also found in these instances in public areas of the subway cars.

It’s also not clear whether additional trains on additional lines are being searched at this point, or whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will wait for someone to notice bed bugs and complain before inspecting a particular train.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard reports of bed bugs in the NYC subway.

Let’s hope the MTA has become more pro-active about looking for them. If they haven’t, now’s a good time.

Update (8/6):

Here’s an update, with video of Fox News NY talking to Lou!

Image credit: “10:23 Enter here for the N, R and W trains” by Gary Denham on flickr.com used under a Creative Commons Attribution/No-Derivatives License.

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It’s that time of year, folks, bed bug season!

Sure, bed bugs happen year round, but they do tend to multiply and spread a bit more quickly in the warmer months, due to various factors. This means the pest management professionals are busy, and the consumers are too-often itchy (and hot, which makes itching worse).

Add in the fact that summer can be a slow time for news, which means the media is doing everything it can to report bed bug stories. If the local news haven’t got any hot bed bug stories, they will sometimes try and come up with something anyway.

Today we have this example, from the Salem News (in Salem, Missouri): the title, “Bed bugs are a year-round problem” suggests that we’re probably not going anywhere new and unchartered.

And the first three paragraphs do not disappoint. They note that bed bugs are nothing new, are found locally, and are a year-round problem.

(Yawn!)

But wait, here it comes, paragraph four:

“The best and easiest way to rid your home of bedbugs is to use a hair dryer to kill the bedbugs in your furniture, [Carol Shipley of Shipley’s Pest Control] said. You can also buy spray to kill them, but this isn’t always effective the first time. If it’s a severe infestation, you may have to get rid of your bed and burn it to be rid of the bedbugs.”

Conair Pro Style 1200 BlowConair Pro Style 1200 Blow Dryer

(Image credit: Conair Pro Style 1200 Blow Dryer by Twitchery on flickr.com, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.)

 

Wow. There’s just so much going on there!

First, while a hair dryer does emit high heat which can kill bed bugs, the logistics of killing bed bugs with a hair dryer might be a bit impractical, and, depending how you use it, might even be hazardous. I don’t think we’ve heard any experts recommend a hair dryer for treating bed bugs.

A steamer would be a better choice than a hair dryer for killing bed bugs using heat. The back of your hand or a newspaper can be quite effective too.

And, yes, pesticides may require re-application, but that’s not a reason to eschew them. It is the reason pros will usually need to come back in 10-14 days and retreat. It stands to reason that do-it-yourselfers aren’t likely to kill bed bugs in one shot with spray pesticides either.

While we always recommend an experienced and knowledgeable professional be hired to treat for bed bugs if at all possible, if you need to do the bed bug treatment yourself, please do your research and be sure and get professional advice on using pesticides.

Finally, while experts tell us you usually do not need to discard belongings, keep in mind that if you do, “burning your bed” is probably not the best or safest way to do that, and I don’t know any experts who would recommend that.

I want to note that I don’t assume the advice in the article linked above was what was intended by the professionals cited in this story, since we all know that the news media often gets things a bit wrong.

However, it’s important to set the record straight on what works and to this end, I welcome further input in the comments below from readers (including experts) on the advice given in the Salem News story today.

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Don’t use kerosene to treat bed bugs; be very cautious with alcohol

June 18, 2014

A tenant in Augusta, Georgia was horrified to find that after her building’s maintenance department treated her home for bed bugs, it smelled like kerosene. She was right to be concerned, since applying kerosene is a dangerous and inappropriate method for treating bed bugs. WRDW reports, “They came in to spray for bed bugs, to […]

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Bed bugs found at Whirlpool factory in Ohio

June 15, 2014

Bed bugs were found last week in the health center in the Greenville, Ohio Whirlpool plant, WDTN (2 NEWS) reports: 2 NEWS obtained a notice to employees that read in part, “We want to let you know that we had an isolated incident in the health center on Monday, June 9. There have been no […]

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Bed bugs can be detected using homemade interceptor bed bug traps

May 28, 2014

Think you have bed bugs? Short on cash? Commercial bed bug monitors (such as those in our FAQ) can cost $20 per bed or more. The University of Florida has now produced a helpful video explaining how consumers can construct homemade interceptor bed bug traps. (Click here to view the video if you don’t see […]

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How to live with bed bugs, a film from John’s Movies

May 4, 2014

If you’re creative, and get bed bugs, this often leads to bed bugs getting into your music, comics, art, writing or films. An interesting example is “How to live with bed bugs”, from John’s Movies.  The tongue-in-cheek film explains how to find bed bugs, bring them home, get your home treated (unsuccessfully), move, and discard […]

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