Another Craigslist bed bug story

by nobugsonme on August 21, 2008 · 12 comments

in bed bugs, craigslist, curbside, furniture, new york

It’s a dangerous time for taking in secondhand goods. These days, you don’t need to crawl the curbside looking for secondhand furniture that may contain bed bugs. Craigslist, Freecycle, and similar websites offer forums where people with stuff can connect with people who can buy it or take it for free.

Inevitably, some of that stuff is going to be from the homes of people who have bed bugs (whether they know it or not) and it’s easy to introduce bed bugs into your home in this way.

Some folks have even taken it into their own hands to post warnings about bed bugs on Craigslist, since the company is apparently unwilling to do so itself.

And so I offer you: the second bed bug story from Craigslist in one week.

Last week, we got a lesson in “how to spread bed bugs in three easy steps” via the post of a Craigslister offering nearly the entire contents of a home, while warning that the home had bed bugs, and nevertheless reassuring people it wasn’t hard to decontaminate bedbug-infested items including a futon, an upholstered office chair, a crib and — (potentially the bed bug motherlode) a captain’s bed.

This time, we see an ad for a “FREE antique couch” in “beautiful condition,” offered by a Toronto Craigslister at 3:21 pm on Sunday 8/17.

We simply can’t take it with us.

Yours if you can pick it up. Worth hundreds. Upholstery in great condition.

xxx xxxxxx Avenue.

Will be on the curb today.

Readers might have wondered why an “antique couch” in “beautiful condition” was being left curbside in Leslieville, and not moved along with other belongings? Well, it’s possible they did not have the means to move it. It happens, right?

Then we see a separate post in response by another Craigslister in the Toronto “Free Stuff” section the following day 8/18 at 1:16 pm. The title of this post is the exact address given in the first post as the place to pick up the sofa:

hi guys… we picked up that couch yesterday and by midnight — while watching tv — we discovered some bedbugs crawling along it… we have since thrown out all our furniture that was near it, doing the big clean of all our fabric… and are hoping that this will do the trick….we are in talks with our super about getting the apt. sprayed…

in 10 yrs. of being in toronto, my partner and i have never had to experience bedbugs…

Although I suppose there are other possible explanations (such as the sofa recipients having bed bugs already and just happening to notice them for the first time on their newly introduced Craigslist sofa, the day they pick it up), it really does look like the recipient got bed bugs along with the sofa.

Perhaps the unlucky sofa recipients thought it safe to accept this furniture because they figured if something had bed bugs living in it, the donor would know it was infested, and would not give it away.

As the song goes, ‘t ain’t necessarily so.

Never assume anything is bed bug-free. A good percentage of the population does not react to bed bug bites. Some estimates put this number as high as 50%.

The person donating your secondhand stuff, whether they’re a friend, neighbor, or someone on Craigslist may have no idea they have bed bugs. Maybe the sofa’s former owner was one of them.

On the other hand, I’m not so sure that’s the case here. If the recipients of the sofa saw multiple bed bugs, isn’t there a good chance the former owner did too?

Perhaps they did not know what they were.

Or perhaps they knew there were bed bugs in the home and were moving out to get rid of them, but did not understand that all of their furniture and possessions were at risk of harboring bed bugs.

In either case, ignorance is not bliss. As I said earlier in the week, these Craigslist bed bug cases emphasize the need for education: the government needs to educate the public about how easily bed bugs spread, and about how to inspect one’s home for them, and how to avoid getting them or passing them to others.

People should not be wondering, as this metafilter poster did back in 2006, whether there’s a “foolproof way” to be sure furniture items are not infested before you take them home, or to remove bed bugs from the item once you get home.

Picking up secondhand goods on the street needs to be seen as a really stupid idea, in every instance.

And Craigslist and Freecycle and similar services need to warn people, point blank, that any item offered via their service may be infested with bed bugs. Period.

There’s one good way to ensure no one gets bed bugs from an item that is tossed out or given away, and that’s to destroy it.

Remember the story David Cain told in the Bedbugger forums, about once having treated “the same Italianesque bed in 3 different properties on the same street”?

One tenant tossed out a bed bug-infested bed, the second saw it curbside and thought it looked nice, but later realized his/her error and tossed it out again. The third tenant made the same mistake as the second.

At this point, David ended the cycle with a baseball bat:

As I did general pest control in those days, I was able to rely upon my trusty rat bat to make sure that it did not find its way into a fourth [home].

Many thanks to the anonymous Toronto Bedbugger who tipped me off to these Craigslist posts.

Note: unlike the last Craigslist post, I decided not to do a screenshot of this one, since it has an address included, albeit the poster’s former address. I don’t mind linking to that on Craigslist, but I don’t want to be the one responsible for sharing someone’s address online. (So please don’t mention the address if you see it!)

1 nobugsonme August 22, 2008 at 2:50 am

And again, a mattress known to have had bed bugs, offered on Washington DC’s Craigslist Wednesday:

Free full size mattress, email me if you want it. 3 pillows too. It recently had bed bugs, but I am pretty sure they are all gone. Keep in mind, this bed is FREE! Includes boxsprings and frame.


* Location: Sterling

These are not isolated incidents.

Bed bugs are spreading via Craigslist.

Thanks to Jimmy Lawrence for the tip.

2 James Buggles August 24, 2008 at 5:30 pm

Craig Newmark says he spends much of his time policing scams on CL. I guess he doesn’t consider spreading bed bugs a scam. If the guy who took the couch saw bed bugs on it the day he fetched it, the guy who threw it out knew it was infested. He wanted someone else to suffer no doubt.

3 help October 27, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Has anyone ever had bedbugs that has gotten rid of them successfully?

4 anonymous December 9, 2008 at 5:27 pm

I am in the process of getting treatment with Metro Pest. They did not see anything at first, but I caught them and made them spray. They “checked” surrounding units claming no one else had them. After 2 treatments and feeling a slight feeling of ease, I was told last night by my neighbor that he found 2 of them and made the company spray. Only thing I can think of is the apartment or my neighbors already had these OR the fireplace I bought off of Criagslist introduced them to me. I haven’t seen anything but am afraid they have moved on to my neighbor. And after he gets treatment maybe they will move on to another neighbor! It is never ending. My next move is to start knockig on people’s doors and telling them to call management and force them to treat their apartments. This is a nightmare.

5 nobugsonme December 9, 2008 at 8:13 pm

hi anonymous,

You may have introduced them via the fireplace, or neighbors may already have had them and sent them to you.

It is very hard to visually detect bed bugs. Even for professionals, especially with a new or small infestation. Surrounding units need a careful inspection (which can take a long time). A good bed bug dog may have more luck than a human (esp. since many humans don’t take long to inspect). Having one go through the entire building is an option.

6 nobugsonme December 9, 2008 at 8:13 pm

ps Please come to the forums if you need more support or have questions:

7 A MOTHER January 6, 2009 at 2:19 am


8 nobugsonme January 6, 2009 at 2:38 am

Hi A Mother,

Be careful. They spread easily and your home is at risk. The most important thing is to try to avoid exposure (if they are only at godmother’s house) and avoid bringing them home.

They may already be in your home and you (and neighbor) would need treatment by a professional who knows how to kill bed bugs. They are not easy to get rid of (like roaches or flies) and you cannot put up with them, obviously.

As far as the bite reaction, I’d recommend seeing a doctor. A one-year-old with a lot of bites might need a special cream or something. It would be best to have a doctor take a look.

Good luck. If you have more questions, please come to the forum:

9 GEEMA February 14, 2009 at 6:37 am

Hello, I’m new to this Bed Bug thing. I just found this site and joined. This is why! My sons, grilfriend lives in a old house in Detroit. With her elderly grandparents. Her grandfather, got her a new mattress from a friend of his. Happiness about the matterss, was short lived. Shortly after she had bits all over her. When I saw them, I just knew it was from bed bugs. They treated the bed, how I don’t know. But after, 9 months, they are at my house know.
I’m trying to learn all I can about these foul thing. AND How to get read of them. Anyone out there, HELP!! I hate spiders, bugs and snakes. I really need help!

10 nobugsonme February 16, 2009 at 7:57 pm


You’re most likely to get relief if a professional with lots of experience with bed bugs comes in to help you. (And all pest professionals are NOT knowledgeable in this way.)

Please come to the forums if you need support:

11 trash picker March 7, 2010 at 9:54 pm

i have about 8 things and two couches i picked up from these free cycle sites and i had them for 2 years now and i don’t have bed bugs here are some ideas to avoid some risky trash picks stay away from rentil places city down towns low income places there is olways things might be ok if you can wash it down with the garden hose or in the wintertime leave it in the garge for a month i youshely tend the suberbs ware the ritcher people are for good things i youshely pick small engin things yard eqwipmint bikes kids out door toys if in good shape to fix and post to sell give away its keeps things out of the land fill but now findding more about bed bugs i just mostly pick things that i dont bring in to my place the last thing was a lcd moniter shit it works no bugs in it so im cool

12 nobugsonme March 8, 2010 at 2:57 am

trash picker,

Most of the people on our forums never had bed bugs until they got bed bugs.

We know that secondhand items (whether from Craigslist, Freecycle, the curb, the dumpster, that trendy hipster secondhand shop, or your cousin Fred) are one way bed bugs are getting around.

You may not realize it but many people do not KNOW they have bed bugs (so cousin Fred and that nice old lady on Freecycle are not trying to give you any hassle, but may spread them nonetheless).

Also, rich and poor alike have bed bugs. Anyone who leaves their home OR gets anything delivered OR has visitors OR attached neighbors may get bed bugs. You can take precautions and use your smarts, but you cannot 100% prevent catching them.

Good luck and as the Sarge said on Hill Street Blues, let’s be careful out there!

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