When a representative from the New York City Housing and Preservation Department told attendees of a bed bug seminar last spring that five NYC subway stations had had bed bugs, Miss Heather blogged about it, and the story was picked up by the mainstream press as well as every blogger and her brother. (You can see links to some of the places the news was reported here.)
The MTA said they’d look into it and the HPD acted like they had no knowledge of this. Still, lots of people looked a little more suspiciously at those wooden subway benches, as well they ought. Experts tell us that bed bugs are prone to infest public transportation, as a general rule.
Now consider for a moment, the curbside refuse of this great city, which is also quite likely to be infested by bed bugs. Bed bugs are in every neighborhood and it seems like the incidence of tossed out mattresses and chairs has gone way up.
People have always sought out “curbside bargains” like free chairs, tables, and mattresses. It’s considered frugal and green, and what could be better in the days of global warming and the crashing stock market?
I’ll tell you what’s better: avoiding bed bugs. Forget the discomfort of bed bug bites, for a moment, which many will never even notice. Those who’ve never experienced bed bugs have no idea how much money they eat up (even if you aren’t the one footing the bill for pest control) and how much of a strain the average infestation is on the environment when you factor in the extra laundry (electricity and water) and plastic bags alone. Before you even talk about replacing some of your stuff and having someone spray pesticides over and over and over.
So, I want to stress that I have mad respect for Idealist.org and their cool Idealist in NYC blog. But I have to stress, in the name of sanity, do not do as the Idealist in NYC blog
tells you plans to, and try and help tired people find somewhere to sit in the subway by donating curbside chairs. Do not, as the Idealist in NYC blogger cellyham pleads says, “chip in by salvaging chairs from trash piles, cleaning them up and reusing them in one of the hundreds of stations across the city.” Idealist got the idea from this “Dude”.
Idealist in NYC blogger cellyham has apparently thought of and dismissed the potential for bed bugs:
Skeptics also point out the potential for bedbugs and other such creatures. I’ve had my fair share of experiences with creepy crawlers, and I’ll chance another encounter for a shot at comfort any day. But that’s just me. What do you think?
All I can say is, think again. Anyone who is willing to “chance an encounter” with bed bugs does not know enough about them or what they do, even in a small infestation.
Oh yeah, and the chance of bed bugs on those “donated” chairs in the subway? It doesn’t just amount to you bringing the bed bugs into your digs when you rescue the chair from the curb and clean it up at home.
It also stems from the danger of getting bed bugs that have crawled into a chair in someone’s home. The Take a Seat idea’s originator has a nice google map showing where people have placed these chairs so far, and they include some of the most bedbug-infested areas of Brooklyn and Queens, as well as many Manhattan stations.
Part of the problem with bed bugs is that most people really do not get (a) how easy it is to just “pick them up” somewhere, or (b) what a pain in the — they really are.
One thing you can do, dear reader with bed bugs, is tell all of your close friends, slowly and repeatedly, so they get it, that bed bugs are easy to get (in fact, you need do nothing, as they may come to you), that there are ways to avoid them, and that you would not wish them on your worst enemies. Tell them. Make sure no one you know thinks bed bugs are just another “creepy crawler.”