bed bugs on NPR again: “Bed bugs spiralling out of control all over” according to Richard Cooper

by nobugsonme on March 28, 2007 · 57 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, mattresses, new jersey, new york, pesticides, tipping point, usa

Richard Cooper on Leonard Lopate again (download mp3 or listen to streaming audio here). Last year at around the same time, Leonard Lopate did a bed bug show (which is a must-listen, perhaps even a bit more interesting than this one in some respects: click here for the 2006 edition).

Highlights in today’s update: Cooper talks about pesticide resistance, saying insecticides should not be “the first line of defense” for getting rid of bed bugs. While pesticide resistance does seem to be a huge problem, I am wary of someone saying this on the air, and then not really explaining what options people have. Ideally, you should call a PCO, and the PCO available to you will be qualified, experienced, knowledgeable about the latest research and methods, and able to implement something effective. But since I run this blog, and read everything I can find on the web about bed bugs, and I see how many people interpret “bed bugs becoming pesticide resistant” as “don’t bother with calling a PCO and don’t bother using pesticides,” I think this is a dangerous statement.

If you have the option of tenting and gassing your home with Vikane gas (which is done to houses and entire buildings only, and is legal in NYC but not in every geographical location, since laws vary), this may be the most effective available option. I don’t have any statistics (would welcome links to these), but I understand it’s pretty fool-proof, if expensive and tricky (obviously, pets and people must be out of the building).

Thermal treatment seems very promising, but is also currently not legal everywhere (I understand its illegal in NYC due to the fuels used). If done properly, it should work. But bed bugs are the new gold rush, so your results may vary based on the service you use.

Most non-pesticide means that are available to us now (covering the mattress, which everyone should do, serious vacuuming with a super-strength vacuum, enzyme cleaners, steaming, and freshwater diatomaceous earth) are not sufficient to eradicate a serious bed bug problem. Vacuuming, mattress protection, and freshwater DE are promising ways of preventing infestations, and all these methods may help in clearing up small ones. (People need to remember that you can have a serious infestation without “seeing lots of bugs.”) If Vikane and thermal methods are not an option, for now, you are going to have to use serious pesticides, and a PCO experienced with eradicating bed bugs should be applying them.

Also notable: Richard Cooper, whose PCO business is based in New Jersey, is getting a bed bug dog, and will be testing it in various settings to gauge its effectiveness. We’ve heard mixed reports about some bed bug dogs, which do vary depending on how and by whom they were trained, so this seems like a good idea.

1 March 28, 2007 at 2:39 pm

Thanks for posting this! It’s comforting to know someone with so much experience works in my state. Depending on what my exterminator says I may call them for a 2nd opinion, since they give free estimates.

2 nobugsonme March 28, 2007 at 3:22 pm

Hi Anonymous,
Glad it helped. Just remember, there are now lots of PCOs who know how to kill bed bugs. There are also lots that don’t.

And in SOME cases, a well-known PCO who is very good and so gets lots of press is also a PCO that is growing quickly and may not be able to keep up with demand. As in every industry, quality can suffer with growth, though this is not necessarily the case. I don’t know anyone who’s used Cooper, so this is NOT in reference to them, but it is something to keep in mind, and it’s the reason we’re not plugging specific PCOs here. Our FAQ on choosing a PCO (written by a PCO) should help others trying to choose.

3 parakeets March 28, 2007 at 6:24 pm

This was great and well-worth listening to. Thanks so much for posting it. I learned a lot and it reassured me to know what a serious problem we are dealing with. Listening to this radio show reminds me how thankful I am for this blog and for the ability to be able to link to such a wealth of reliable information about bedbugs here. I never would have heard this otherwise.

4 nobugsonme March 28, 2007 at 7:13 pm

I seriously think the 2006 one is even better so check it out if you haven’t (it’s linked above).

5 Frank March 28, 2007 at 7:40 pm

Although people don’t talk much about it, pesticide resistance has always been the biggest obstacle to the successful control of many pests, and bedbugs are no exception. He did not explain what options people have simply because there is none. One of the most effective way to deal with resistance is to rotate pesticides with different modes of action. But with most powerful pesticides phased out and due to the ever-tightening regulations, even the PCOs have very limited choices of weapons. Choosing a good PCO is definitely important, but if the PCO is facing a highly resistant bedbug population, without some effective weapons, he too will fail.

6 nobugsonme March 29, 2007 at 12:34 am

Frank, I think mixing is key. But it’s the mixing of pesticides. From what I understand your bed bugs appeared resistant, but they’re gone. Through pesticides as well as other means. Am I right? (I may not be, so set me straight.)

So I guess what I am saying is, yes, it can be very difficult, but things do work given time and applied wisdom and perhaps some experimentation.

But when a lot of people hear, “pesticides don’t work,” they go the route of our Indymedia friend, and tell people not to bother at all. If Vikane and thermal aren’t options and you have bed bugs, then something serious has to be done.

The other factor is that some folks like our WMSB and S (though they both may or may not still have bed bugs at this point, both had drawn out battles) get down to what may be a small resistant population, it is very disheartening, and time will tell if the problem is solved. But would they have been better off never having used pesticides (IF vikane and thermal were not options)? Aren’t a few stragglers that just won’t die better than a household full?

Isolating the bed, etc. are a given, in my book, so of course I am assuming people do this as well. What else can people in this situation do?

7 S. March 29, 2007 at 9:32 am

Well, one other thing they can do is use steam. My PCO has started incorporating steam into his own bedbug toolkit. We decided it might be nice to own a steamer, for other uses down the road, so we just bought a pretty solid one. It gets up to 285 degrees, which should be more than hot enough.

Obviously a steamer would not eradicate bedbugs on its own, but after our house has been sprayed with chemical seven times – SEVEN TIMES! – we are ready to try something new. There is still residual chemical (Demand) on all of our baseboards, and dust (Tempo) in our outlet plates and under our carpet edges. So now we are going for more targeted areas. We plan to steam the couch, the bed, the area rug (which is on the patio wrapped tightly in a tarp, and which we will finally bring back inside), the suitcases, the car interiors, and anything else that might be harboring bedbugs.

I might be experiencing papular urticaria, or I might be getting bit by a few straggler nymphs. Either way, we are assuming the worst and taking action. I just wanted to add steam to the list of non-chemical weapons.

8 Frank March 29, 2007 at 10:04 am


I know that my only treatment wasn’t successful, but I cannot tell for sure if it was due to pesticide resistance.

I tend to disagree with you on the idea of cutting the population down with pesticide treatment (without rotation), because this is exactly how resistance develops – only the susceptible individuals get eliminated and the resistant ones survive and pass the resistant trait to their offspring. This strategy will only provide temporary relief, and eventually you will face a much more resistant population that can no longer be controlled by the same pesticide. To prevent this from happening, the key is to eliminate the survivors with other means, such as some pesticides with different modes of action, or some alternative control measures.

One of the reasons why I recommended caulking and the use of boiling water (and more practically a steamer) is because the bedbugs are not able to develop resistance to such measures. But again, the key is to use as many weapons as possible and to not rely on one single control measure.


9 rr March 29, 2007 at 12:44 pm

How much steam should I apply, and is there a concern that using a steamer on something like a couch might drive them in deeper?

10 Frank March 29, 2007 at 2:55 pm


It takes some practice to use a steamer effectively. If the nozzle head is too far away from the surface being treated, the temperature may not be high enough to kill, but if it is too close, it will result in excess moisture as boiling water does. Steam is about 100 degrees Celsius at standard atmospheric pressure. Although the temperature is the same as that of boiling water, it contains a lot more thermal energy, and thus is even more lethal than boiling water. However, if the nozzle head is too far away from the surface, by the time the vapor hits the surface, it will lose lots of thermal energy and might even condense back into water. Ideally, the temperature of the target surface should be monitored constantly with a digital infrared thermometer. But as a rule of thumb, the nozzle head should be kept about 1 to 1.5 inches above the target surface, as suggested by Dr. Harold Harland.

I doubt that steam would be effective on a couch since most of the heat will be absorbed before it hits the bedbugs.


11 willow-the-wisp March 29, 2007 at 3:05 pm

I got a steamer yesterday it is a cheap one but I needed this advice: thanks!

12 S. March 29, 2007 at 3:30 pm

My PCO also uses a thermometer at the nozzle to monitor the temperature. He says it should be at least 180 degrees in order to kill live bugs and eggs. He also suggested holding it at each spot for 5 seconds, then moving to the next spot – rather than just running it along the surface.

What do we usually say about heat in the dryer, how hot for how long? It makes sense that the hotter you can get it, the less time you need – but to be safe, I’d go for as hot as possible, as long as possible.

Willow, maybe you should hold your steamer in each spot for a longer time if it’s a cheap one. (Though I still think a cheap one is better than nothing).

Frank, our couch cushions aren’t too deep – maybe 6 inches. Do you think we should hold the nozzle right next to the surface, to try and project heat through them? We could also take off their zippered covers, which would give us even better access to the insides – we’d just have to steam the covers too. Or maybe we could just put them in the dryer. It’s synthetic fabric, from CB2 – not sure how they’d react to dryers OR steam – but I think we have to do SOMETHING to this couch.

I’d appreciate any other tips on using steamers…thanks!

13 nobugsonme March 29, 2007 at 8:13 pm

I’ve heard people give very different reports about steam–some saying it works, others being cautious. I do think if it is effective, it’s just near the surface of things. So it would not penetrate a mattress or sofa. They could dig in and hide.

Again, I am going on the experiences of others.

Frank–I hear what you’re saying and I think the more techniques the better–assuming they do not have repercussions, or cancel out other things you’re doing. One other thing — if you only had one treatment, it is not likely to have been successful. We know that one treatment is almost never successful because standard treatments don’t kill the eggs–at least one subsequent treatment is needed to kill those nymphs when they hatch (and about 10 days later is a good time, since they hatch in 10-14 days). So if you mean that the PCO only treated once, that could well be why it didn’t work. I don’t recall your full story, so forgive me if I am missing other important factors. I do see that pesticide resistance is a problem, but lots of people do seem to have success. Only 6% in one treatment, but not because of pesticide resistance, but because sprays don’t kill eggs. I’m saying this for the benefit of others, really, but I think its important to not give up on standard treatment entirely when people do not have good options right now.

14 Sammie March 29, 2007 at 9:54 pm

Product shilling comment deleted.

(Note to Sammie and Jen: your IP address was showing, and I know you’re the same person. Shame on you!)

15 Jen March 29, 2007 at 9:58 pm

Product shilling comment deleted.

16 willow-the-wisp March 29, 2007 at 10:06 pm

judicious use of pesticides is certain areas where the kids can’t go–even if you have to rope the area off becasue they are too young to understand might help. you have to really sit down and think about what to put when and where and how and how much. Each situation is different–so take what you need and leave the rest.
battleing bb’s is kind of like playing chess–but since we know most of thier habits–and they don’t kno much besides hiding and biting–is gross–but a tool in and of itself.

17 Anonymous March 30, 2007 at 9:50 am

S: I steamed my bed, bedframe, mattress and two upholstered ottomons among other things. When the sniffing dog came over, she detected bb’s in both ottomons (which were also treated with pesticides) and my bed frame, there fore I’m not so sure steaming works. I think it has to be scalding hot and there has to be direct contact.

18 WantMySkinBack March 30, 2007 at 9:50 am

that was me (anonymous) in the last comment

19 willow-the-wisp March 30, 2007 at 11:21 am

I did some steaming in the Bathroom last night. its not always appropriate to use steam–sure your all right–occassionally it is great occassionally it makes the problem worse. There are (becasue the nymps are so small) some very odd places you’ll find them congregating. I had bee nnoticing that that little rusty colored stain that appeared where the toilet meets the floor–and this is true in many homes, I mean … that there would seem to be some rust there–well I had been noticing more rust color than usual.
Sure enough…. when I spread out my diatect powder first, so I had a barrier to keep them trapped in that corner of the BR–then blasted the “toilet-floor” seam–it seemed to me that many nymphs had and still are conregating there.
Very small pale burnt orange dots floated out onto the floor. All either dead or dying. I think but who knows … They very often stop dead in their tracks (as will a cocaroach) I THINK I can now tell the difference between a dot sized nymph and a dot sized drop of pooh. The pooh does not look translucent at all and its darker–while even though I did not have a magnifyer glass–the lighter, little orange dots–upon closer inspection were sort of see through. I know (I hope) I killed about 15. But just an hour before that I got a mosquito-like welt on the back of my knee. Just popped up from nowhere, and if it was a real bite or a systemic recation is unclear.
Sure felt like a bite. So yu know that whole area by the computer chair immediatly got a good dose or 91% rubbing alcohol–either way.

20 Frank March 30, 2007 at 11:33 am

Steam should be effective on bed frame, provided that it is applied thoroughly to every joint. It has also been used to treat mattresses and upholstered furniture, but the effectiveness has been questioned. The overall effectiveness depends on quite a few factors such as the thickness and thermal properties of the material being treated, as well as the steam unit itself (obviously commercial units are a lot more effective). The biggest advantage of using steam or boiling water is that it kills instantly on contact, and I don’t think that any pesticide can match its lethality. The downside is that it does not have any residual effect, so treatment has to be done very thoroughly.

21 nobugsonme March 30, 2007 at 8:59 pm

I hate to say it, but if you have seen as many bed bugs as you’ve described seeing, then your building is likely to be seriously infested; contact killing is just putting out constant fires.

22 willow-the-wisp March 30, 2007 at 9:28 pm

A very through steaming with my little blaster is why I now see y (i think it was parakeets say) this is so draining.
Yoday I did the bed and wall on one of the three sides the bed if only a few feet away from.
(I did the side easiet to get to and most likely to have some bugs on it. I took the advice I’d gotten here and I steamed them toward the Diatect product as much as possible. It’s been on the floor for weeks–but it does have a good bit of DE in it.

I also steamed my metal futon. It cleaned very well. I also did the seam of the 1/2 sized refrigerator in my room.
This is sad but funny.
When I first discovered the bugs: in those first few feak out days!!
I took the pillows (the ones that would fit) and I crammed them into the fridge.
I had heard someone talking about the bb’s saying I think I’ve heard they freeze them.
my dumb “willful” rational then was this:
if they stop laying eggs at about 50 F … they probably will die in two weeks at 40 F.

So–POINT: I now have BBs inside the fridge too.
Hell yeah u bet I steamed it!
But throughly? Non in one shot by a long shot.
I wonder about this, and since some of you seem to be Physicists on this topic of steam: and then there is all this talk about resistance (above)

Since I’m Nurse trained and try to view the bug as recurring germs–don’t (germs) freak when extreme opposites occur rapidly. hot and then cold–hot and then cold.
The bugs are somewhat temperature sensitive that much is true: so it stands to possible reason that this cold and then or could work too.
I pondered this last night while steaming the “toilet seam” lettign it cool x3–then reseamed the seam.

My simplistic hypothisis is that rapid thermodynamic changes, real hot then real cold–will weaken them–especially if they are nymps and hungry like 95% of mine are?

That last time is when a bunch of “little broen dots floated out.” was it the extra flow of water I had created or was it that as well as nymphs weakened to death and unable to withstand the flow of water.
PS–there wasn’t a lot of water. The steamer only holds a cup at a time.
what do people have to say on those things?

23 WantMySkinBack March 31, 2007 at 10:49 pm

Bed bugs in the fridge is pretty serious, and quite un appetizing. Have you had a PCO come look at this? Shouldn’t they freeze to death in there?

24 Bugalina April 1, 2007 at 1:11 am

I just listened to this NPR segment….it sounded like an infomercial for Richard Cooper’s “protectabed covers”….This guy is a pest control operator and entomologist and he says that putting covers on your mattress and boxspring is gonna do the trick !! AND, then he says that pesticides shouldn’t be the first line of defense…But his covers should be!! ..His PCO license should be revoked ! I can tell everyone from my own nightmare experience that yes, covering both the mattress and boxspring with proper bed bug coverings is Extremely important..BUT..bed bugs will live in many other places …as we all know..and they will climb up a bed frame and harbor in screwheads or wooden slats..etc. . He made no mention of bed bugs climbing up blankets that touch the floor, or the need to remove the bed from the wall…Mr. Cooper, If you are reading this Blog…SHAME ON YOU !! People look to PCO’s for their expertise…You mislead people…you misinformed people…all because you wanted to hawk a bed bug cover that you are selling…I am truly disgusted by your greed…Shame on you !

25 nobugsonme April 1, 2007 at 1:32 am

I don’t know what Cooper’s covers are like, but I will say this: “Jen” and “Sammie” left two very positive pitches for Protect-a-bed covers, and they did so from the same computer, which is usually a sign a company is trying to advetise in our comments, something we do not appreciate. Their website does not list bed bug protection as a feature of their covers.

26 buggedinbrooklyn April 1, 2007 at 4:34 am

hi all,

well, it’s been about 11 or 12 days since I’ve been bitten…still sleeping on that couch that I migh get rid of soon.

while I have not used steem, I do think that people realy need to stop trying to use just one product and expect to have great results.
licquid chemicals, dust, contact killers like kline free, and anything else you think will help should be at least tryed.

looking back at what happened to me, I now see that not giving up and willing to try almost anything helped the most.
but it seems to me that, there is only so much that chemicals can do to fight bedbugs when it comes to upholstered furniture…like WMSB’s ottomans, or my couch.

I don’t think that my results with my couch is from, pesticide resistance.
I feel it’s from the fact that it is almost too hard to get rid of bedbugs from upholstered furniture…even with steem and chemicals.
so I wonder…are the bugs realy resistant, or are they just slowly comming back because we kepted furniture that we should have tossed out?

so the real question for me is my house getting bug free or is it only a matter of time before I get attacked again?
I can’t realy say one way or another. only time will tell.

yet the couch will probably go soon to the graveyard called the local land fill regardless.
peace of mind is so important to me at this time.

just some food for thought,

27 willow-the-wisp April 1, 2007 at 5:47 am

to nobugs–when the pco comes on his monthly visit– 04-09-07: he may declair my place untreatable, probably caz of odor and the rug look unsightly to say the least. TOO much DE I’m sleeping with the facial mask now.
I’m also using DE with pryrithins, compbos of heat traps, tape CO2 baloons–and I did use some sort of OTC aerosol too at first.
I’ll know better in a few days if it’s getting better. It is the bathroom I’m worried about the most for right now: it seems (or smells) like every bb in the building is conregated behind the tiles or inside the hollow of the tub and toilet.
I’ve dreaded lifting up the toilet cover. That job will be tackled tomorrow:
thanks for support

28 willow-the-wisp April 1, 2007 at 5:49 am

little spots is better … right? and seeiing less and less is better right? As for the fridge LOL–yeah I’m a jerk when it comes to pillows.

29 nobugsonme April 1, 2007 at 9:39 am

Bugalina, I deleted your latest comment because I think you got the wrong end of the stick. Protect-a-bed and Cooper Pest are two different companies. Cooper is selling a mattress cover designed by Protect-a-bed to work against bed bugs. Back when it was first announced, we looked on the Protect-a-bed site and it was not listed–the cover they had was not a full encasing. This is a different product. We have not seen it and do not know how it works or if it is indeed effective against bed bugs or not.

Willo– I do not know why you think a PCO would not treat your space. You have a serious infestation and they must get someone in right away! THe whole building needs treatment. However, as far as the DE goes, if you’re using lots of it, then it is not going to help. Bed bugs have to walk through it to die, and will not walk through a thick coating. If there’s more than a very thin coating you should vacuum it all up and start over. In any case, before the PCO comes, vacuum it all up. Fewer bed bugs is better, but as much as I hate to say it, I firmly believe you’re fighting a losing battle in such a large infested building, without it all being treated at once.

30 Bugalina April 1, 2007 at 9:47 am

Yes true, but Cooper is affliated with them. So I guess what I meant to say is that there is
a “conflict of interest” involved here. Cooper is apparently “branching out” in the products end of the business. This was so obvious from his interview. He could have hawked his product but to give such shamelessly bad information to the public. I am always so saddened by the fact that greed steps in the way of morality.

31 nobugsonme April 1, 2007 at 9:55 am

Yes–I see your point, I just am wary about making claims about a product I have not seen.

Of course, the fact that their site does not offer a photograph or any descriptive information makes it harder.

32 Bugalina April 1, 2007 at 11:38 am

NOBUGS…By now I am certain that they have changed the product to be zippered, and it may even be a decent, viable product. I spoke to them last year, when they were still making changes. My gripe is that greed should not supercede morality. He wants people to purchase his bed covers, so he “decidely” stated that “chemicals shouldn’t be the first Line of Defense”…imho, by saying this he covertly “implicated” that these protectabed mattress covers should be the first line of defense! We all know, that this is just not true. The covers are yet another tool in the war against the bed bug battle. I have said this before – the only language bed bugs understand is “CHEMICAL”…We need to trust the PCO’s. THEY ARE THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE !!! When a respected PCO like him, comes onto a respected radio program, that reaches millions of people, and then he gives such shabby advice…’s just downright immoral…You are a very good person..You are helping have been on the frontlines of this epidemic for a long time….you know that he did us a great disservice. Any good bed bug product is welcomed, but please…don’t tell us that it is going to replace PCO treatments….he has eroded my trust in his company.

33 Frank April 1, 2007 at 2:10 pm

As I repeated many times in the past, I don’t oppose the use of chemical as long as it is effective. However, while “egg-hatching” or “migration between units” is often assumed to be the cause of treatment failure, pesticide resistance has rarely been mentioned. But just think about this, if someone happens to have a resistant bedbug population at home, repeating treatment with the same pesticide will do no harm to the bedbugs. On the contrary, It will only speed up the selection process and allow further development of resistance. I am sure that we will see more and more failures due to pesticide resistance, and if we keep ignoring it, we will have a really big problem.

I too believe it is disgusting for someone to try to benefit from this bedbug epidemic. I respect Geoffrey Day for his admission of being “naturally biased”, and this is the reason why I always prefer the information and advice given by entomologists and other experts from universities, since they have much less chance of having such “conflict of interest”.

I don’t think encasement alone can solve our problem either. But to be fair, “insecticides should not be the first line of defense” is not Richard Cooper’s idea. It is one of the principles of Integrated Pest Management.

34 nobugsonme April 1, 2007 at 2:54 pm

Entomologists have confirmed that bed bug eggs — without a doubt — will hatch after treatment, since the traditional treatments don’t kill the eggs. Not treating more than once is just asking for failure, in light of that knowledge.
I don’t dispute the principles of integrated pest management, nor deny pesticide resistance exists, I am just saying that people should not have one treatment (or more than one, spaced too far apart) and call it a failure. That’s not an attack on your experience by any means, I am saying this for others, because we see people all the time who are surprised their bed bugs are not killed at the first treatment.
We absolutely need to do something about pesticide resistance. But if people don’t take matters seriously and use serious methods, they will have an even worse problem. I don’t think we’re really in disagreement here overall.

35 Bugalina April 1, 2007 at 8:55 pm

Recently my friend told me he heard that Ethiopia has brought back the use of DDT to combat malaria infected mosquitos. Their malaria deaths were in the thousands but those African Nations who have lifted the DDT ban , now have their malaria deaths down from the thousands, to the hundreds, if not less. I am perplexed…If the malaria mosquito is now being successfully killed with DDT then where is the resistance? This is the same chemical of yore, that is being used on the same bugs today …it worked then and its working now. Can bugs really build up a resistance in such a short period of time? Forgive me for being a skeptic…but I am…Deb

36 buggedinbrooklyn April 2, 2007 at 1:46 am


the reason “pesticide resistance” has rarely been mentioned, is because there is no evidance that it happens with bedbugs and the chemicals used today to fight them.

we can go on an on about why they still live, or show up weeks after 1 or 2 treatments, but the fact that it is NOT because of pesticide resistance, only means it is because of another problem with the stuff we use….
they work, but are still poorly effective.
they don’t kill eggs, and they don’t kill unless the bugs cross thier path.

contact killers suck more as they have no residue effect/don’t kill over time.

bedbugs come back, not because they get aclimated to suspend like products, it’s because they can live for months, to years with out feeding…so as long as they don’t cross any path of chemical, they have a chance of feeding on you at a later date.

besides, if you use at least two types of chemicals, then you should not have any problems with pesticide resistance, as you’re forcing them to die one way, or an other.


it would take a lot of years for such a resistance to take place with the mosquitos in Ethiopia.
maybe not thousands of years, or hundreds, but a lot.

the reuse of DDT after a short break should be a great way to combat the bugs with out a great chance of resistance.


37 Frank April 2, 2007 at 8:22 am

In case some people don’t know, nobugsonme, burgalina and I have known each other for quite some time, and I myself have received valuable advice from both of them in the past. We do get into argument from time to time, but I don’t see anything wrong with it. On the contrary, I believe that it is healthy to have different opinions, so that people can look at the same problem from different angles, and hopefully reach the correct conclusion. I don’t think any of us still has bedbugs, and I believe that our goal is the same, that is to help others and to provide the most accurate information and advice to others.

I have written enough on DDT and malaria in the past, so let me just focus on pyrethroids this time. Here’s something that I copied directly from Dec 2006 issue of PCT magazine, based on the research carried out by Alvaro Romero of the University of Kentucky:

– Suspend and Demand provided very low mortality in field-collected strains sprayed directly with the products.
– Only 5% mortality occurred in one field collected strain exposed to pesticide on paper for 24 hours – 300 times the rate of normal application. Other tests indicated Demand caused 35% and 39% mortality on paper and wood respectively.
– Demand caused 43.4% mortality of newly emerged nymphs after 13 days.
– Deltamethrin caused two out of three nymphs to avoid treated harborages.
– Crossing the “normal” strain with the field collected strain produced 62% mortality at 100x rate of normal application.
– Summary: Suspect resistance if you observe bed bugs sitting on treated surfaces. Bed bug infestations are difficult to eliminate.

All pesticides mentioned are pyrethroid-based, and the results indicate both repellency and significant resistance (note the rate of normal application).

38 buggedinbrooklyn April 2, 2007 at 9:33 am


I lost a long reply late last night, and I have no time to get into “resistance” again.

but what you are speaking about now is “effectiveness”, not “chemical resistance”…
I stated in that reply how suspend like products are “POOR” in effectiveness when treating for bedbugs, yet it is more or less the best thing that we have to fight bedbugs.

while I respect your thoughts on “chemical resistance”, I have not seen anything that shows that it’s happening at all with bedbugs at ths time.

I’ll say again what I said in that reply that got lost…since you should be treating for bedbugs with at least TWO differant chemicals any way, you should not be having problems with bugs getting a resistance to them.

oh, and Frank, I too fight with the ladys here from time to time…
sadly, like with my lady, I’m always wrong. lol


39 Bugalina April 2, 2007 at 10:03 am

Frank…I always appreciate your insight and research, but buggedinbrooklyn put it in words I couldn’t come up with…”effectiveness versus resistance”…I think there is merit in that. Its not like people have been using Demand or Suspend for 10 yrs. on bed bugs. How could a resistance have evolved so quickly? This is a recent epidemic. I think that the chemicals just arent’ good enough, and that’s why they don’t kill the bugs. Now the question is ..How come they kill some of the bugs, some of the time, but not all of the bugs, all of the time? That speaks to resistance, maybe. I just read a post from a young lady who is in NYC. She is leaving behind an apt. filled with furniture. Bed Bugs have put her into a very bad mental state. She is losing money she doesn’t have. This is a story I read all too often. I cannot understand how this is being allowed to happen in the the supposely most advanced Nation in the World. Our government prides itself with all kind of advanced technology…If the can “shock and awe” human come they cannot “shock and awe ” a BUG !

40 buggedinbrooklyn April 3, 2007 at 1:20 am

quote from Bugalina “Now the question is ..How come they kill some of the bugs, some of the time, but not all of the bugs, all of the time? That speaks to resistance, maybe.”

just look at the results that Frank posted.
the results show that on some surfaces or items, Demand/Suspend style product just don’t work well at all.
it’s almost like the more absorbent it is, the worst it is to be used for a spraying surface.

think about it for a moment…
we have our beds sprayed after it has “plastic” covers on them…bugs die once they pass the toxic death juice.
but spray wood or paper, and the chemicals get “sucked up” into the wood/paper, and the bugs pass by freely…with only a few deaths.

but even with the best plastic and metal items you might have sprayed, the chemicals still are poor killers.

resistance would take years, many , many years.
you would have bugs that are ill, dieing of cancer or infections, way before the bugs would get resistant to the chemicals.


41 Bugalina April 3, 2007 at 7:21 am

buggedinbrooklyn..I see your point….There are so many variables, one of which is what type of surface was the chemical sprayed on, what percentage of solution was used..on and on. Silly as it sounds, maybe the tap water in different areas breaks down the chemical in different ways. I do agree that chemicals should be rotated, and that bug resistance to chemicals is a proven fact. However, I would think that it would take years for the bugs to develop high resistance to these recently used chemicals. I think that the chemicals that are being used just aren’t effective enough, which is in agreement with what you said.

42 willow-the-wisp April 3, 2007 at 12:45 pm

all this in interesting to me.
I also want to add some facts re resistance
mainly our bb’s are coming from over seas … returning in suitcases and even on people’s clothing (that’s how small they are).

in those 40 or 50 years since DDT was banned here–I think but am not sure–it wasn’t banned everywhere at the same time.
I’d like to hear about what other countries have done to battle the bb since ddt was banned.
that I wish I could use mechanical measures more thorougly–I’m still decuttering
is yet an unfulfilled dream. And as far as the phantom bites–some of them must be real. My population of bb’s are very small ones my bites are very small:
At first–although I only realized I had a few bites in the month before I found them–the first immune resonse I got was fairly huge.
I still have a round 5-8 mm knot–like an ingrown boil on my thigh. At the time I attributed it to stress only.
I think fabric would be the most likely to absorb and make the chemicals less effective. I get the feeling if you sprayed wood very well–it would work nearly as good as on metal

43 Bugalina April 3, 2007 at 1:53 pm

DDT was banned here in 1972,( correct me if I am wrong ) It was slowly phased out in Mexico , around the middle to late 1990,s… I had seen bed bugs in a very cheap hotel in Istanbul Turkey in friend, who was European, checked under the mattress and when he saw them he grabbed me and said “let’s get out of here !”..He knew what they were because he had traveled extensively to India and the Middle East, I repeat, this was 1971. A Mr. Harold Stein, the President of Crane Pest Control in SF, testified at the EPA hearings in 1972 attempting to convince them not to take DDT off the market…He said “its the best pesticide going”….I think the resurgence of bed bugs can be attributed to extensive travels far and abroad. Also to the mass migrations of people from underdeveloped nations to developed nations. coupled with the phasing out of DDT. a pesticide with a long residual…Bed bugs were conquered in the United States because we were a nation that was “developed”…our living standards are indoor plumbing and sewage systems, electricity etc…It took about 10 yrs. for the bed bugs to take hold..If you go online you can find that Americans started complaining about them around 1995..but this was a very small segment of the population…the complaints fell on deaf ears, and as we all know..bed bugs spread….and spread…..and spread..and will continue their spread until they arrive on the doorsteps of Hollywood and the WhiteHouse..and/or the US Congressional Bldg. These are some of my thoughts on it..

44 Frank April 3, 2007 at 4:30 pm

I have been trying to avoid mentioning my blog even though I don’t have any personal interest in it. But if nobugsonme allows me to do so, I would like to mention it this time. Even the experts have not reached any conclusion on the real cause of this epidemic. I did some work myself, and I think it is quite thorough. Although I believe that my view is fact-based, you can skip it altogether and look at the data only, and then make your own conclusion. To visit my blog, simply click on my name at the beginning of this message, or “The war on bed bugs” under “Bed Bug Stories” on the right side of this page. Many thanks to nobugsonme.

45 willow-the-wisp April 3, 2007 at 6:14 pm

Bugalina–thx for the detailed info re DDT. I had written you a reply but the computer is wiggin about as much as I am, I lost it–my sense of proportion and the message.
THE SFDPH is coming, in like, 1/2 hour to check and see if I have BB’s.
It’s so inanane OF COURSE I HAVE THEM! I have them and they have spiraled out of control!
How I’m ever going to bag and seal and put everhting in the middle of the room is byond me. That’s the protocol here in SF. The PCO we use, informed me last month on his monthly visit that we won’t even touch a room unit until I agree to lauder EVERYTHING on the SAME day of the treatment and the OPS MGR of the hotle basically said I’d have to get a tent and go sleep out in the woods, sort of … She was not keen at all–on offering me an alternative room–we’ll just see about that!


God … they could use a pic of my room on this blog and call it a bb don’t and catagorize it under household tips–“don’t orget to avoid house hold clutter!”
Frank–I’m looking forward to seeing your blog.
BTW–the guy seemed bored with his job.
I’m expecting to be somewhat misinformed.
I have hatchlings clung to the backs of canvases for three weeks now. He siad they could live for 18 months. I said “Well sure .. I’ve heard some of them can live for that long.”
He’s heard of DE

46 willow-the-wisp April 3, 2007 at 7:21 pm

SFDPH came and went–I wish he’d taken the unseen BB’s with him. But he didn’t seem to think I had much of a problem as he’s seen rooms where they were literally crawling all over the place. I don’t know … all I have is like 100’s of little mostly starving nymphs right now … I was surprized he didn’t take out a magnifying bglass and since I’m very high on bed isolation–AND “STERLIZATION–
He seemed to agree with me that I was doing ok with what I’ve been doing … to keep doing it and to ask my regular monthly PCO for glue boards to detect. He said to put most around the bed.
I was afraid he’d condem the place.
All in all–I don’t think he takes the whole thing as seriously as I and most of us do.
I looked at franks mating stats WOW

47 Bugalina April 3, 2007 at 7:55 pm

I think you have a very pro active attitude, which is GOOD. Keep in mind that your PCO isn’t sleeping where you are, he isn’t the one being bitten. Being serious about ridding your living quarters of bed bugs is admirable, and socially responsible. There will be a place in heaven for you !! With no bed bugs !!!

48 nobugsonme April 3, 2007 at 8:07 pm


Willo’s visit wasn’t from the PCO. It was from the SF public health inspector.


Do you know if your normal monthly PCO is spraying specifically for bed bugs? In most places, they only treat for roaches. This is really important. You need to be treated professionally for bed bugs. I know you’ve done a lot on your own but you can’t match what a good PCO can do–especially on a budget. According to the SF guidelines on bed bugs (in the Tenants FAQ) they have to move you to another room and treat. A good housing inspector should be able to find signs besides live adult bugs. I am appalled, based on your description, that they’re blowing it off.

One thing they should be doing is treating your mattress (they should be treated in a certain way before being sealed). You can’t really do it yourself–and it can be dangrous (most pesticides are not ok for this).

I am sorry, but I am appalled that someone from the health dept. would tell you to continue spraying alcohol and putting down DE, when that goes against SFPHD guidelines for treating bed bugs in rentals and hotels. WHat’s more, if the whole building is infested, they have to treat your unit in the same way as the others–aggressively–or they can be driven to uninfested units.

(Someone else in your position, who did not treat, might have called the inspector in and they’d have seen the bed bugs. Because you tried to help yourself, they are not as visible. Doesn’t mean they’re not still a serious problem.)


Mention your blog anytime. In my opinion, blogs are all about sharing and communicating, and people should be having one big conversation. I hope everyone will visit the other bed bug blogs we link to! (And let us know if you find more.)

49 willow-the-wisp April 3, 2007 at 11:32 pm

I sort of figured that was how it would go with sfdph …
Either that–or I’d somehow be blamed. (The latter is was my negative thinking coming into play). But we left it open … since I have already PARTIALLY treated, that I could call him back if it gets visibly worse, but he did sort of come off as, well .. I don’t see anything moving in here (no active infestation). I showed him the jar with the few specimens I took; he told me to get glue traps from our monhly PCO. He said to place them near the bed and areas I suspect.
My battle is only 1/4 done. The one’s I could see–are dead and or gone. hopefully DEAD. The one’s I know I can’t see, are my next task to tackle. That can take months–then there is the preventative stuff which I will never stop doing. ie, extra hot time in the dryer for clothing … checking for signs of reinfestation–but on a more minute scale than what is usually suggested.
FYI everyone–Tell tale signs of blood on the sheets or itching and welting are not tell tale signs–they are acute and active infestations. When will people get it?
This whole thing about checking the bed and the bed frame is ok—but the infestations start much more insidiously becase the little buggers are so buggin small.
For me … now … and I hope someday for everyone we will view BB’s as Parasitic germs that just happen to be classified as “real bugs” taxonomywise.

I saw a guy, 60ish in laudry today … he was washing ecverything Told me he had jsut ogtten a brand new bed. He brought up the fact about how the dryers stink more than once–Yes I thought poor guy … he’s got them too.
I demonstrated to him how I was not folding my clothing on the table, rather I was just shoving it into the plastic bags directly from the drier. becasue bb’s are common in the laudrymatt.
This opened up a partial conversation:
But Americans are so addicted to quick fixes–this can not be so–especially not so with the bb. I mentioned how Alcohol cansometimes help people …
Then he was off and running with one topic: R. Alcohol–he sort of shut me out like he’d finally found the answer to all his bb woes.
Best I could do was write out “cimex lecturalis” and tell im to please go to the library and read up all you can.
A young mother with her kid were there and I know she was listening.
Yet, she folded all her laundry as usual–so I guess seeing is beleiving to everyone–even to PCO’s and some folks who work in the Public sector of health.
WhAT AN F’n shame.

50 willow-the-wisp April 4, 2007 at 12:14 am

All true. I even showed him my samples of some adults in a coffe can–3 dead and starting to decompose. As far as the matresses I had already sealed it 3 1/2 weeks ago with duct tape and heavy duty plastic. I mentioned I thought he/they should treat the whole building.
I sort of put off the PCO treating “on a if it gets any worse basis.
My hotel said they wouldI have to say that there are so many cracks and ways ofr them to get in and out–they (the few adults that survived) problably went out–the way they had come in.
I’m not happy about it–but I’m not overly dissatisfied either.

51 willow-the-wisp April 4, 2007 at 7:20 pm

My hotel sprayed a repell like smelling substance in all the halls and elevators. This was sometime last night–I think.

52 nobugsonme April 4, 2007 at 7:25 pm

Willow, how do you know it was a repellent and not something that kills them?

53 willow-the-wisp April 4, 2007 at 7:30 pm

I’m so glad you asked … I don’t. It was an assumption–and I brought it up or broached the topic with two janitors in the elevator–they did not answer me. I suspect that is what they would do here in my hotel. it had a raid like odor. And I was out of league to insinuate it was a repellant

54 nobugsonme April 4, 2007 at 7:48 pm

Repellents are a bad idea. They can drive bed bugs deeper into the walls–which does not get rid of them. I hope you are wrong about this one.

Accodording to the SF bed bug protocols, put out by the SFPHD, they are not supposed to leave it for you to “see if thigns get worse.” They should have treated.

This document outlines the protocols they’re required to follow in SF, which include treating your unit within 3 days of your complaint.
Click for PDF:

(We should probably continue in forums!) 🙂

55 willow-the-wisp April 5, 2007 at 10:11 am


56 Jayson Barclay April 9, 2007 at 9:49 am

I like to think of my wife as a bed bug. That’s because she’s always on my back, and bleeding me dry.

57 willow-the-wisp April 9, 2007 at 11:37 pm

there was a squashed bb in the elvator today–probably not a repell

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