Recent bed bug press from all over Canada

by nobugsonme on August 5, 2010 · 7 comments

in bed bugs, canada, misinformation, not a bed bug, toronto, vancouver

The press in Canada is aflutter with the current bed bug media frenzy.

This CBC story picks up the findings of the 2010 Comprehensive Global Bed Bug Study done by the University of Kentucky and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

CBC Radio’s The Current features a story this week about how we’re “on the threshold of a global bed bug pandemic.”

One gripe: the show’s host Jim Brown notes,

Bed bugs are tiny things, about the size of an apple seed or, as Mark Amery [manager of Vancouver Bed Bug Control] said, a fleck of pepper.

This is misleading. Yes, adult bed bugs are often said to be the size of an apple seed. However, while nymphs are similar in size to “a fleck of pepper” (1 mm or 1/32 inch long), first instar nymphs are translucent before their first blood meal, and bright red after that.  To my eyes, bed bugs never look like flecks of pepper.

Amery also compares the appearance of bed bugs on the baseboards with “sprinkled pepper” which is misleading to those new to bed bugs.

Vancouver-based Globe and Mail reporter Marsha Lederman tells her bed bug story to The Current’s listeners (also detailed here),

The story also includes a bed bug epidemic (pandemic?) status check with Missy Henriksen of the NPMA, as well as her tips for preventing and treating bed bugs.

You can hear this episode of The Current here.

Note: Marsha Lederman is just one of a series of journalists who have written about their own bed bug battles.

Joe Fiorito continues his campaign against bed bugs, digging deeper into the story on bed bugs in the Toronto Reference Library, where he speaks to Gail Rankin, the senior facilities manager:

She continued to speak frankly, which sets library people apart from other civil servants. She said, “Staff here have reported bedbugs.”

No surprise: the library system consists of 102 buildings across the city, all of which are heavily used by you and me and the people we know, many of whom have, etc.

“We’ve had calls from four locations in this building, but no calls from other branches this year.”

Don’t forget the Yorkville branch.

“And there was a call from the Parliament branch, but it was about another part of the facility, not the library.”

(See an earlier story on bed bugs in the Reference Library here).

Joe Fiorito is also collecting stories of people who’ve had bed bugs in Toronto and the GTA, with the aim of getting officials to take action. If you’re a GTA bedbugger, please read this article and send him your bed bug tale of woe.

If you need something a bit more relaxing, check out Ottawa’s The Gallop with their song “My Bed Bugs Fight”, courtesy of CBC Radio. (We can only assume The Gallop has some bed bug experience, given that their eponymous EP released in June 2010 has tracks entitled “My Bed Bugs Fight” and “Get Me to Sleep”.)

Finally, shame on the usually highly-respected CBC for its bed bug faux pas on this poll today. As I noted in a comment on the site (which has not yet appeared as of this writing), the image shown under the headline “Bedbugs: Have you ever dealt with them?” is not a bed bug.

Here’s the article with the image as it appears as of Thursday at 1:30 pm EST (it’s been up for hours):

CBCnotabedbug2010

Oh dear.

Speaking of misleading information about bed bugs…  Does anyone see a need for more bed bug education?

I have no doubt some of my entomologist friends will be writing in shortly to tell me what exactly that bug is.

However, I can tell you without a doubt, it is not Mr. Cimex Lectularius, star of stage, screen, fiction, and song (and now appearing everywhere, unfortunately).

Update (8/7):

On Friday 8/6, after the CBC had the wrong bug image up for more than 24 hours, the error was corrected.  You can now see a bed bug here.

The CBC’s Associate Producer of Social Media posted this comment on Friday morning:

My name’s Adrian Ma, and I’m an associate producer at CBC News.ca. I know a few users have said the insect in the photo above is not a bedbug. According to the photo service we use it is, but we’re going to look into it. It’s not our intention to mislead, so thanks for bringing this to our attention.

And an hour later, Ma wrote,

We contacted Sean Rollo, an entomologist and pest control expert, and he confirmed that the insect in the original image was not a bedbug. We’ve contacted the image service to let them know. Thank you readers for spotting the error!!

CBC News.ca is currently arranging a Q & A with pest experts to take your questions about bedbugs, so please check back later for more information.

A number of us promptly posted comments alerting the CBC to this error  — I did so, and also sent the CBC webmaster feedback using the “send feedback” link, only hours after the image was posted, so while I am glad the CBC made the correction, it does seem like this took a little too long to correct.

Unfortunately a lot of photo services have mistagged photos.  However, the CBC has done bed bug stories in the past and they should have a photo of a bed bug on file somewhere.

I understand why the CBC would want a known expert such as Sean Rollo to confirm their error, but frankly, there are university fact sheets which can be easily Googled in case such a question arises.

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1 Winston O. Buggy August 5, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I’m gonna go with digital shield bug with computer enhanced antennae.

2 Lou Sorkin August 5, 2010 at 5:06 pm

The problem lies so much with the.media. They don’t do their homework to learn about bed bugs or the people they’re interviewing don’t help them out and try to educate. If you only show adult bed bugs you should explain that and also keep immatures on hand to explain size differences. Bed bugs really don’t look like appleseeds. This refers to the adult, the 6th instar bug: there are 5 nymphal instars.

3 Winston O. Buggy August 5, 2010 at 5:35 pm

So true; just last week i was showing a reporter and photog some bed bug eggs and “Oh there too small to show” was there response. This is exactly what you need to show so people can understand what to look for.

4 Lou Sorkin August 5, 2010 at 6:39 pm

Yes, saw coverage and the reporter asked if the bugs were bed bugs. Adults were in the vial. They should be showing eggs and nymphs to the audience and then viewers will get to understand small sized insects and what they should really be looking for.

5 CiLecto August 6, 2010 at 7:42 am

Perhaps a ready-for TV image/footage (would require some tech expertise to advise) of eggs & nymphs, well-lit and magnified.

6 Lou Sorkin August 6, 2010 at 1:13 pm

Actually many stations here have footage and images of bed bugs from my office colonies. They have to use them and narrate properly.

7 nobugsonme August 7, 2010 at 1:13 am

Just posted this above:

Update (8/7):

On Friday 8/6, after the CBC had the wrong bug image up for more than 24 hours, the error was corrected. You can now see a bed bug here.

The CBC’s Associate Producer of Social Media posted this comment on Friday morning:

My name’s Adrian Ma, and I’m an associate producer at CBC News.ca. I know a few users have said the insect in the photo above is not a bedbug. According to the photo service we use it is, but we’re going to look into it. It’s not our intention to mislead, so thanks for bringing this to our attention.

And an hour later, Ma wrote,

We contacted Sean Rollo, an entomologist and pest control expert, and he confirmed that the insect in the original image was not a bedbug. We’ve contacted the image service to let them know. Thank you readers for spotting the error!!

CBC News.ca is currently arranging a Q & A with pest experts to take your questions about bedbugs, so please check back later for more information.

A number of us promptly posted comments alerting the CBC to this error — I did so, and also sent the CBC webmaster feedback using the “send feedback” link, only hours after the image was posted, so while I am glad the CBC made the correction, it does seem like this took a little too long to correct.

Unfortunately a lot of photo services have mistagged photos. However, the CBC has done bed bug stories in the past and they should have a photo of a bed bug on file somewhere.

I understand why the CBC would want a known expert such as Sean Rollo to confirm their error, but frankly, there are university fact sheets which can be easily Googled in case such a question arises.

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