Craigslist warns of bed bugs in Pawtucket curbside freebies

by nobugsonme on August 6, 2015 · 7 comments

in bed bugs, craigslist, curbside

It’s not unusual to see “curb alerts” on Craigslist, where a poster lets others know of something laying on the curbside to be freecycled.

However, today we have a Craigslist poster warning others not to take the items outside a particular address in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, which the poster claims has bed bugs:

Pawtucket Craigslist warning about bed bugs

The ad (here as of this writing) reads:

“108 bishop st pawtucket just letting yous all know don’t pick up anything from this address has bed bugs really bad !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Of course, we don’t know whether there are bed bugs at this address or in the items on the curb there.

However, you should be very careful when freecycling or re-purposing anything, whether it’s your cousin’s sofa, a box of old vinyl on the curb, or a table from a thrift store.

All may be perfectly good and usable, or any of them could potentially contain bed bugs. And the person who gave them to you may not even realize it.

At the very minimum, carefully inspect any finds. Learn what bed bugs and their signs look like from this gallery of bed bug photos.

If it’s a hard surface with no hidden areas, you may be able to safely spray with 91% isopropyl alcohol or wash in hot soapy water (dish soap containing grease cutters — Dawn is an example — or containing or d-Limomene or linalool components, diluted in the normal way, are good contact killers, we are told, as is 91% rubbing alcohol, not diluted; but be careful as alcohol is flammable and has fumes).

Updated to add this:
I originally noted above that “dish detergent” is a good contact killer but all dish detergents may not be helpful in this regard. Entomologist Lou Sorkin notes in an email as to recommended types of detergents:

“Citrus oil component helpful. d-Limonene and linalool components. Dish detergents with grease cutters good. Dawn is one.”

Also for items where it’s appropriate (e.g. wood furniture): “Murphy’s oil soap also has been used with good results.”

(end of update)

If an item is upholstered or has hidden areas (bed bugs love tight little spaces!) — be wary.  A contact kill spray isn’t likely to do it in such cases. If you can’t treat items thoroughly, then you can’t be sure there aren’t bed bugs inside. (There are some suggestions for methods in our FAQ on How to get bed bugs out of your clothing, furniture, and other stuff.)

And sometimes it’s best to just skip it– because, ultimately, no curbside or Craigslist find, no matter how fantastic, is worth getting bed bugs.

Certainly not this:

curb appeal

Image credit: “curb appeal” by paul stumpr on flickr; photo used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.

Be sure and check out our other posts on Bedbugger.com about Craigslist.

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1 Lou Sorkin August 7, 2015 at 3:37 am

“or wash in hot soapy water (dish soap, diluted, is a contact killer, we are told, as is 91% rubbing alcohol).”
Is it all dish soap or only certain ones containing a grease cutting agent or one with a citrus component?

2 nobugsonme August 10, 2015 at 12:45 am

Lou notes in an email as to types of detergents:

“Citrus oil component helpful. d-Limonene and linalool components. Dish detergents with grease cutters good. Dawn is one.”

Also for items where it’s appropriate (e.g. wood furniture): “Murphy’s oil soap also has been used with good results.”

3 nobugsonme August 10, 2015 at 12:50 am

Updated to add this:
I originally noted above that “dish detergent” is a good contact killer but all dish detergents may not be helpful in this regard. Entomologist Lou Sorkin notes in an email as to recommended types of detergents:

“Citrus oil component helpful. d-Limonene and linalool components. Dish detergents with grease cutters good. Dawn is one.”

Also for items where it’s appropriate (e.g. wood furniture): “Murphy’s oil soap also has been used with good results.”

(end of update)

Thanks for keeping me on my toes, Lou, and for keeping us all so well-informed. 🙂

4 Timothy August 12, 2015 at 3:10 pm

There are some great freebie giveaways on the side of the road. You can protect them from bedbug infestations. All wood furniture can be cleaned with alcohol. You can let it stay out in the cold below freezing for 2 weeks and leave it out side in warm weather as the bugs will leave the furniture to feed. They thrive in warm moist places so leave in a dark place to hatch the eggs and so long as its moist they will hatch and leave. All the best with these treasures.

[Admin note: experts who participate on this site tell us that leaving items out in “warm” or “cold” weather is not a reliable treatment for bed bugs. Temperatures in the core of the items would have to be carefully monitored to make sure they reached and maintained the appropriate temperatures for long enough to kill bed bugs.]

5 nobugsonme August 12, 2015 at 4:55 pm

Added to comment above:

[Admin note: experts who participate on this site tell us that leaving items out in “warm” or “cold” weather is not a reliable treatment for bed bugs. Temperatures in the core of the items would have to be carefully monitored to make sure they reached and maintained the appropriate temperatures for long enough to kill bed bugs.]

In addition, but not added above:

I have not heard the suggestion about leaving items in a moist area, so I will leave that for experts here to comment on.

Paging Lou!

6 loubugs August 12, 2015 at 5:31 pm

“All wood furniture can be cleaned with alcohol.”
— You will ruin the finish. Murphy’s Oil Soap is better.
“They thrive in warm moist places so leave in a dark place to hatch the eggs and so long as its moist they will hatch and leave.”
— No, they don’t thrive in warm, moist places; they do very well where you like to stay. Warm is fine. Moisture could lead to mold growth, actually.

7 Sung Doss August 31, 2015 at 2:29 am

It s not unusual to see curb alerts on Craigslist, where a poster lets others know of something laying on the curbside to be freecycled. Bed bugs in hotels?

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