bed bugs and thrift stores

by nobugsonme on November 13, 2006 · 4 comments

in bed bugs, consumers, illinois, information and help, new york, signs and symptoms of bed bugs, usa

Here’s an old thread (April 2004) in a forum for people who frequent thrift stores, started by someone who thinks she saw bed bugs in two Manhattan thrift shops, during a short span of time:

Twice recently while I have been thrifting in NYC, once on 23rd Street and once on lower 2nd Avenue, I have discovered an insect crawling on an item of clothing I was examining. In the most recent incident, it looked an awful lot like a bedbug. Clearly, importing a bedbug into the home would not have been worth it.

Although some people don’t know the difference between bed bugs and carpet beetles or cockroaches, bed bugs are likely to be a problem in second-hand clothing stores, flea markets, and thrift stores of all kinds.

Since conservative estimates based on calls to 311 (a poor indicator, in my opinion, of the vastness of this epidemic) say the problem has increased 10x since last year, imagine how much more likely bed bugs are to be found in second hand shops and garage sales (and freecyclers’ and craigslisters’ stuff) now.

Remember, if you buy a used item of clothing you can take it to the cleaners. You might be unknowingly infesting them, though, and by extension, yourself and your neighborhood. You can also take the item straight to a washing machine for a hot wash, and a long, hot dry. Be careful of your bags–do not put the item in with your stuff, and don’t put it on a couch or chair next to you. Deal with it right away, or don’t buy it at all.
This may sound paranoid to those who have not met Cimex Lectularius yet, but trust us. It’s not worth it.

And by the way, a relative saw a definite bed bug in the changing rooms of a high-end children’s clothing retailer (and it was not in NYC, but in the heartland, a popular outlet mall near Chicago). Be wary of everything you buy. People buy and return stuff every day. You pick it up and it may have been in their closets. Take care.

1 parakeets November 13, 2006 at 6:45 pm

This scares me because once I get rid of bedbugs (I hope I will, I’ve been trying and so has my landlord, though not effectively so far), the bedbugs can come right back again! I live in an apartment building so it would not just be a result of my shopping–any tenant in the building could bring them in from shopping or visiting a place that had them.

Major warning: Just don’t watch what you buy, watch the corregated boxes they are shipped in, too. I found a bedbug hiding in one of the the little tubules of a corregated box.

I begin to feel paranoid.

2 nobugsonme November 14, 2006 at 2:41 am

The scary thing about bed bugs is that it HELPS to be a bit obsessive and paranoid. The problem breeds obsessiveness. If you’re easygoing, it will be very hard to get rid of this problem.

3 Dee November 14, 2006 at 8:24 pm

Note to self… put some XL Ziplocks in the car & put purchases in them!

4 nobugsonme November 15, 2006 at 3:39 am

Dee, –and leave them in the car for a long time in either below freezing cold, or the heat of summer, yeah?

I just wanted to fill in the rest of that thought, else newcomers might think cars = magical decontamination chambers.

Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but I can’t forget the entomologist on the newscast a while back suggesting people put suitcases “outside for a day” after a trip to a hotel.

Umm, if it’s cold, they’ll huddle in the suitcase for warmth. If it’s hot, they’ll huddle in the suitcase for shade. They won’t die unless the temps hit 140 degrees F for four hours, or zero for a few days.

So putting them outside, in New Jersey, in October, is going to do, exactly, what?!? Bad TV entomologist, bad! Bad!

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