Bed bug news round-up: USA Today, Minnesota Star-Tribune, and the Astral in Greenpoint

by nobugsonme on November 8, 2007 · 14 comments

in activism, bed bug bites, bed bug epidemic, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs in hotels, best practices, dumpster diving, entomologists, greenpoint, how to get rid of bed bugs, journalists, journalists with bed bugs, new york, usa

There is so much bed bug news now, that blogging even half of the major articles that come across my web browser is too much. I offer a selection, as well as an interesting tidbit from a NYC blogger. More news forthcoming, including an update on Cincinnati, and some exciting developments in San Francisco.

First, Donna Freydkin published twin articles in USA Today on Tuesday: one about her personal experiences with bed bugs, and one about others’ experiences. There was also a sidebar alerting people to the dangers of curbside mattresses, the problems of foggers, and other important stuff. Especially interesting, since USA Today is distributed free in hotels around the USA, is this warning to travelers:

Be careful where you put your suitcase when you travel. “These guys are fantastic hitchhikers,” says the University of Maryland’s Michael Raupp. “If you have a luggage rack with metal racks, put your suitcase on that.”

Check behind a hotel headboard. That’s one of their favorite spots, Raupp says. Pull back the comforter and sheets and look for the fecal stains on the mattress seams and ticking. Shine a penlight behind the headboard and look for dark fecal stains.

There are some points in the article that are not fully explained and might mislead people (for example, drying for ten minutes on hot will not be enough if the item being dried is wet, an important bit of information if anyone is actually going to treat their clothing based on such a recommendation). Also, many pros recommend not getting rid of your mattress or box springs. Doing so when unnecessary is a good way to give your neighbors bed bugs; a good mattress encasement will usually be enough. However, despite these details, Ms. Freydkin did speak with Dr. Michael Potter, whose unofficial fan club is right here. And bed bug news in such a popular paper is always good.

Meanwhile, in other news, the Minnesota Star Tribune asks, “How safe are your kids at college?” and among the many other concerns addressed, bed bugs:

Look for evidence of bedbugs — fecal staining that resembles an accumulation or a scattering of pepper — around baseboards, along cracks and crevices and furniture in rooms where people rest, such as bedrooms or TV rooms.

Prevent infestation: Resist the temptation to scavenge mattresses, sofas or other furniture set out by curbs or behind stores, said [University of Minnesota Assistant Professor of Entomology Stephen Kells]. They can harbor bedbugs. Don’t encourage cockroaches. Keep counters clean and remove garbage regularly. Wipe surfaces and sweep floors frequently. Pick up papers, boxes and other clutter that gives cockroaches places to hide.

Ask about infestation: Ask the landlord the last time the place was evaluated for infestations and if the building is on a regular control and prevention program, said Kells. Remember, treating just one apartment for infestation is ineffective. The whole building needs treatment, combined with prevention tactics.

Good advice.

Finally, from the good-blog capital of Brooklyn, Greenpointers has posted an image of an ad that appeared on Craigslist Monday, in which current or former tenants of the Astral put up a bed bug warning to potential tenants.


The ad (NYC ad #469469878) reads:

This is a warning: two former tenants of the astral (the large beautiful building in greenpoint on the corner of java and franklin) have moved out due to a BEDBUG infestation, and it is rumored that the entire floor is moving out because of the same problem.

Make sure that you discuss this with your realtor/potential roomate before moving in!

This is a serious posting, not a prank–I thought it was something people should know before moving in, to protect themselves! I would want to know.

You can go to Greenpointers to see an image of the actual ad. (Clever bloggers: Craigslist usually removes these kinds of ads tout de suite.)

We’re not breaking the news on the Astral-bed bugs allegation. But Curbed, NewYorkShitty, and the BedBugBlog commenters have that covered. The building also has two entries on the Bed Bug Registry. Rumor has it Mae West once lived in the Astral.

1 parakeets November 8, 2007 at 12:57 pm

The Minnesota article stresses “prevention” but that is never the best choice of words for bedbugs. As far as I can see, you really can’t “prevent” bedbugs (for example, preventative spraying in a unit that doesn’t have bedbugs doesn’t do anything, according to the Boston Bedbug conference)

What they really should stress is:
1) Extenseive and on-going disclosure to and education of tenants;
2) Careful, detailed, and repeated inspection by a bedbug savvy professional;
3) Follow through by building to ensure 100% tenant compliance with bedbug directives (no dumpster diving, immediate reporting of bedbugs, ensure all preparation steps required by PCO are followed);
4) and repeated treatements of all units affected and adjacent units.

2 nobugsonme November 8, 2007 at 1:01 pm

eefers, by way of Gawker, suggests another reason the Astral is out of control: the super is busy with other things. His “models” might want to be aware of any itching or red bumps that may occur.

parakeets, asbolutely. To be fair, I did not edit this excerpt well–the journalist was dealing with pest issues in general, not just bed bugs. Avoiding curbside refuse, I note, is a good way college kids can help prevent bed bugs, but you’re right, pre-emptive spraying does not do much. A light dusting of DE, however, could have a preventive effect.

3 lieutenantdan November 8, 2007 at 1:24 pm

My hats off to Donna Freydkin, USA TODAY for a story on how it feels to deal with bed bugs.

[Editor’s note: Rest of message deleted at commenter’s request.]

4 nobugsonme November 8, 2007 at 1:40 pm


5 nomorebugs November 8, 2007 at 2:41 pm

So what’s the development in San Francisco?

6 nobugsonme November 8, 2007 at 2:58 pm

I’m working on it, Anon.

7 lieutenantdan November 8, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Deleted at commenter’s request.

8 nobugsonme November 8, 2007 at 10:44 pm


9 lieutenantdan November 9, 2007 at 11:09 am

Deleted at commenter’s request.

10 Anonymous November 14, 2007 at 2:35 pm

Does this mean that the cafe in the building – Brooklyn Label – should be avoided too_???

11 nobugsonme February 22, 2009 at 3:19 am

Time Out New York this week features stories from New Yorkers who left the city for greener pastures.

One is Nerve blogger Emily Farris, who moved to Kansas City. The bed bug connection? She used to live in the Astral in Greenpoint:

I lived in eight different apartments in New York, and I never felt settled. I lived in the Astral in Greenpoint. It had bedbugs and giant cockroaches. I felt like I needed space, mentally and physically.

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