Guest post: Can information spread faster than bed bugs?

by nobugsonme on January 23, 2007 · 6 comments

in bed bugs, information and help, tipping point

Editor’s note: Geof Day wrote this excellent post on the Bedbugger Yahoo group, and I asked his permission to post it here. Geof makes some wonderful points about spreading information about bed bugs and the damage they can do– something we all need to think about if we want this problem to get wider attention, which is a prerequisite for things getting better. His post below, which references the theory of “tipping points,” gave Bugzinthehood the idea of adding a category called “Tipping Point” to our blog.

Here are some things you can do about bedbugs that don’t cost anything
and that will definitely improve things “big picture” and maybe make
you feel a bit better – just like bedbugs are contagious, information is
contagious, especially if you spread it around.

The internet is without doubt the most powerful tool invented for
spreading information, where small actions can make a BIG difference.

When you learn of a confirmed infestation, please put the word out as
wide and as far as you can.

There are plenty of ways to do this that will protect you AND endanger
future bedbugs!

* put the information on all the bed bug webmaps you find. BedbugRegistry and Bedbugcity are two – please suggest others in the comments below.

* tell people about the infestation and the maps (online and offline)

* ask someone who is “well connected” what they think should happen
about this problem

* look for and reach out to “sneezers” who can spread the word.
(learn more about sneezers in Malcom Gladwell’s Tipping Point where he
uses the term to describe people; see links at the bottom of the post)

*do virtually everything else you can that you read about here, with
special attention to long term solutions beyond just quick-fix spray
jobs that may make matters worse in the long run (and yes, if that
means changing your masters thesis – DO IT NOW!)

By putting your infestation on a “map” and directing others to view
that map, you can confidentially discuss the problem with others by
stating something on the lines of this: someone in my building
appears to have bedbugs – I found it on a ‘net map that my building or
neighborhood appears to be infested with contagious bedbugs. Do you
know anyone who has dealt with bedbugs who I might speak with?

While this is not entirely telling the truth, this may be enough to
get the ball rolling. (Some may choose to do this by identifying that
they have BB’s, others might choose the more abstract route)

Will this make a difference today? No. Will you feel better — I sure
hope so. Will it make a difference in the long run? If enough people
do it, yes it will.

Others who read this may have more and better ways to tell
the story without sharing too much information. Instead of telling a
LOT to a few people (or none at all) it may be better to say a little
to a LOT of people!

One key way to do this is to use the anonymous power of the web. At
the very least, if you wish, create yourself an anonymous email
account ( which you can use to write letters to editors of
newspapers, radio or newspaper reporters, politicians etc. Don’t
speak as a member of a group, association etc, rather speak as an
individual. The power of a map is incredible – a complaint can be
viewed in context of other complaints – this tells a different story
than just one lone voice.

(Editor’s note: While an anonymous email is always good to use on the web, do use your real name in such correspondence if at all possible–politicians in particular will ignore anonymous messages. Editors should respect your wish to be kept anonymous in the actual publication, but will often want to verify you are real, usually via phone or mail.)

Clearly, you also want to get professional help – this includes Pest
Control professionals, but also may entail the use of an attorney,
mediator, councilor, doctor, coach or therapist to help you through
this situation. They are schooled in dealing in confidences and can
only help put the word out through their own channels. If enough of
them start to hear of what’s going on, they will begin to complete
their own picture of the extent of the bedbug epidemic and get public
health officials involved.

Part of the problem with bedbugs is that they are contagious and that
people are generally ashamed to tell others that their home is
infected so the information spread is “exterminated”.

By depersonalizing this somewhat, (pointing to map of infestations for
instance, or anonymously posting here or bed bug blogs all over the place)
dialogue can begin and information can start to move with the speed and
reach of a positive epidemic.

A few more things in closing — after a while, please come back and
give us a report.

If you find something that clearly works or doesn’t work – tell others
about it here.

Humor is welcome as are good stories and hard information.

We have nothing to silence but silence itself.

— for more about the positive aspects of “Sneezing” make sure you
read up on Malcom Gladwell’s Tipping Point concept, and read Godin and
Gladwell on the concept of Unleashing the Ideavirus. Good links to
get started are:

Malcolm Gladwell:

What is the Tipping Point? from

Karl Palachuk on Unleshing the Ideavirus by Malcolm Gladwell and Seth Godin

Editor’s note: Geoff works for Dirtworks (, which sells Diatomaceous Earth (DE), sometimes used in treating bed bugs. He is not a pest control professional (PCO), but he knows about many natural substances used in pest control; you might ask him questions about DE if you have them, as well as responding to the issues in this post, in the comments below. This is not an endorsement of DE as a substance or Dirtworks as a supplier of DE. Thanks again, Geoff, for guest blogging!

1 Bugalina January 24, 2007 at 9:00 am

Geoff, in the entertainment industry there is an expression that goes – there is no such thing as bad publicity – I want to apply this to bed bugs…the most important action we must undertake , in order to get attention, is to get the word out….the more people who know, the closer we get to larger numbers of outraged citizens….I know that some people do not agree but I think it is an outrage that this bug has been allowed to “silently” infest peoples homes. We have to break this silence. And, we should be questioning why there is such silence !! Could it be because they are perceived as such a big problem for the economy that people in the Tourisim and Real Estate Industries are doing whatever they can to keep it out of the public arena…How would people who take cruises like to know that the ships have major bed bug infestations, How would people who check into well-heeled Hotels like to know that there are high odds that bed bugs are lurking in the beds, How would people like to know that they could be renting or purchasing a bed bug infested dwelling !! How would people feel that when they paid 9 dollars to buy a movie theatre ticket that its possible a bed bug could be just waiting to go home with them !!!!
But the most well-kept secret of all is that they are so very difficult to exterminate, and that they ARE communicable. I have never visited someone’s home or apt. and had thoughts about transporting a cockroach home with me…..NOT SO with BED BUGS….I have never gone into a restaurant and hung my coat up on a coat rack and thought ” Oh I’d better not do that because a bug could come home with me”…I think this way now, Bed Bugs are very , ruinous and must be exposed for what they are !…..So let us question the silence….its there for a reason..Bugalina

2 Bugalina January 24, 2007 at 2:30 pm

Another point….What happened to the Coney Island Police Station that was totally infested..NO follow up !! And, what about the Ralph Lauren Design Studios on Madison Ave., that were infested ..NO follow up ! Where are the investigative reporters when we need them !

3 marie in San Francisco February 6, 2007 at 1:50 am

I moved into this apartment in June 2006. Learned there was a problem, I made the manangement treat, still I got bites-small relative to what I see on Caitlin, but persistent. So I hired another PCP to come and treat. Better, but still bites. I am now able to move the hell out of here. What to take? Dishes, Computers, SEWING MACHINES, clothes??????????

4 Bugalina February 6, 2007 at 7:36 am

We have an FAQ on the Blog….you have to read it…You cannot just take your stuff out of a bed bug infested apt.. Everything has to be thoroughly , inspected..and even then, there are no guarantees. Bed Bugs hide in screwheads and the smallest cracks possible. Its always better to stay in the place until it is bed bug free. Or pack all your things up ( in tightly sealed plasic bins ) and store them for 18 months to be positively certain. There are a few more options but they are expensive. Items like glasses and dishes can be readily seen, but you have to be careful as to what you are packing them with, and in what, as the packing material, or container, if left on a counter overnite or in a drawer, could be infested ) READ our FAQ’s and then ask questions….So sorry for your experience. Bugalina

5 nobugsonme February 6, 2007 at 9:12 pm

Marie, please copy your comment and post it in the forums instead:

We have lots of people willing to give feedback, but it’s best to keep those conversations in one place. You’ll get more advice there.

6 Geoffrey Day February 9, 2007 at 6:32 am

Bed Bug Warriors,

Please restrict your comments here to topics about using information to fight the bedbug war.

Sincerely and Thanks,

Geof Day

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