Got Bed Bugs? Bedbugger Forums » Tools/ideas for fighting bed bugs

can you drown a bed bug?

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  1. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 11:38:04
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    well, after an experiment in which i just WASHED but did not DRY a blanket that had a live bed bug on it...my final verdict is...yes, you can drown a bed bug.

    so today my baby came running in *the story is in bits and pieces elsewhere on the boards*...saying, "mommy i think i saw a bed bug on the bed!" so i stripped the bed down, yanked off the sheets...and threw them into the washer while simultaneously searching for the bug.

    lo and behold, i found him, on the comforter...big and flat and moving. ok. so here's my chance to find out...DO BEDBUGS DROWN???

    i took the comforter and threw it into the machine, i know this bug was alive when i threw him in. added laundry detergent as normal, regular setting...and wash.

    i carefully take the bedding out...and yup, the bug is still on the bedding indeed. in a different place, but still there. so...i get scientific. i study this bug. i ask him questions. he doesn't answer. i blow on him. he doesn't move. i push him a tad. he doesn't push me back. it seems to me to be...this bug is dead.

    i go back 10 minutes later after blaring a light bulb on him. he is still in the same position...dead.

    i am posting this post. i went back to check on him. he's either not talking yet, or dead.

    hmm. i take a piece of tissue and move him from the bedding to a garbage bag. i tell him this is his last chance at being friends, because i am taking out the trash forever. he doesn't care because he doesn't protest. i drop him into the garbage bag. he sort of falls over. maybe he likes trash. or maybe...

    ...he's dead.

    so while it is NOT a harvard study that i did...after washing a bedbug alive in a washing machine on a regular cycle with a regular load of clothing/bedding, he came out dead.

    so at least SOME bedbugs die in the wash. it's not a cycle i would forgo in getting rid of them.

    now i'm off to inspect the rest of the area i found him in. the bed is metal, and the bed itself is simple and clean, but i might just take it apart and let it sit outside for a few days in the heat. it should be 90ish sometime within the next few days...and at 95 degrees, i hear it takes about 5 days for bugs to die. ah well...i have the time.

  2. Richard56

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 11:47:29
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    Did you try mouth-to-mouth?

  3. Richard56

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 11:50:15
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    On a more serious note -- and really not sure of this -- my assumption is that washing (drowning, etc) probably will kill bed bugs regardless of the water temp. My guess the problem is with the eggs and that's where the heat comes in -- be it on a hot water setting or drying on a hot setting.

  4. WGarrow

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 12:08:41
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    I have found those little blood suckers hard to squish. It's hard to imagine them surviving a wash cycle with detergent added, but I would dry on high heat just in case.

  5. spideyjg

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 12:25:59
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    Heating to 140+ in a dryer gets you a 100% kill of all stages.

    Can there be some mortality in a wash, sure it is conceivable but there is not that beautiful fact of "100% mortality of all stages" in that washer.

    Most of us old timers stick with the 100% mortality stuff.

    Jim

  6. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 13:00:30
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    lol...i should have tried mouth to mouth. unfortunately...his attitude towards me led me to believe that he didn't need any.

    my only purposes for this post were to: make a few people laugh because i know how hard these bugs can be to deal with, and to find an answer to the simple question: "can you drown a bed bug?" because while that question has been asked as ive learned, it has not been clearly and simply answered. and the answer simply put is...yes, you can indeed drown a bedbug. and if you can drown one, it would seem that you can drown more than one. of course, i would have to drown plenty of bedbugs to put that theory to the test, and i cannot guarantee that i won't ever have to try it. but for now...we will have to simply take the answer as "yes, you can drown a bedbug in the wash cycle" as a sufficient answer to this question until our funding for scientific studies comes in from the u.s. government. and while the time it takes to drown one is inconclusive, it took less than 30 minutes to drown our subject. and we cannot be sure if the chemicals we added to the water aided in drowing the bug, or if the water *which was warm* by itself did the job. unfortunately, we spent all 3million of the fund amount we were given on this study, so no extra funding was left over for continual study. however, with what we were able to accomplish, our basic question was answered and the results were satisfactory according to both myself and my staff...both of which demanded mommy take a picture of the thing so they can show daddy when he comes home and for eh...other practical and ethical purposes.

    why did i ask this question in the first place? mainly because ive seen posts online with answers varying from, "no you cant drown a bedbug because they don't breathe" to "no you cant drown a bedbug because insects can hold their breath (which makes sense but i still wasn't sure that it's IMPOSSIBLE to drown a bedbug)" to "you can easily drown bedbugs" (and that one came from a professional site). well, obviously my bedbug breathed at one point, he didn't hold his breath...and he seems to have died pretty easily. or the chemicals killed him. which is well enough...because i don't see anyone possibly washing clothes without chemicals of some sort and expecting them to be as clean as they would with detergent.

    lol, after all has been said and done, the verdict for THIS experiment is in, and the case on THIS bedbug is closed.
    ,

    oh...and bedbugs are easy to squish when you know how to do it right. you don't press on them like other bugs, you roll on them (like you roll your middle finger and thumb when you snap them together)...their upper body seperates from their underbelly and instant death. it works on bugs of all sizes and stages. this is how i used to tell nymphs from red lint (no lie...the first time a nymph bit me i was in my bed...and i kept feeling the bite but didn't see anything. i looked HARD and saw what i thought was red lint on my arm, and at the last minute...it moved!!! so i did the roll technique and sure enough, it came apart in a microscopic bloody mess ). if you don't want to actually touch the bug, you can fold it in cloth and slide *with force* your finger over the bug while pushing it onto a firm surface. if it's not dead when you next see it, you didn't do it correctly. do it again. what you're trying to do is literally roll it into a ball, except they don't roll up, they rip apart. i had my mom, who survived a bedbug outbreak in the 40's...teach me that trick. easy peasy squeazy! :o)

  7. Richard56

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 13:21:44
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    and bedbugs are easy to squish when you know how to do it right. you don't press on them like other bugs, you roll on them (like you roll your middle finger and thumb when you snap them together)...their upper body seperates from their underbelly and instant death. it works on bugs of all sizes and stages. this is how i used to tell nymphs from red lint (no lie...
    ----------------------
    But what if it turns out to be lint? Whatever I do, that seems almost impossible to get rid of.

  8. DougSummersMS

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 13:48:45
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    An american style washing machine will kill bed bugs, but it won't be 100%... You can drown bed bugs, but there is published research (article on NewYorkvsBedBugs on research from the UK) that documented survival of bugs and eggs under the conditions that are typical in the US.

    Heat is more reliable...(see Jim's post above)... I think the combination of both washing and thorough drying is reasonably effective or just using the dryer will give good results... if the right temps are achieved.

    In the US, the washing machines uses water from a hot water system that is usually well below the ideal temps for killing bed bugs... A washing system with a heating element (used in parts of Europe) can raise the temperatures up into the range that will reliably kill a bed bug and viable eggs.... US systems are temperature limited for safety to reduce burn injuries.

    You can drown a bed bug in water... David Cain relates an interesting story on this site about drowning a bed bug in a glass of water as a demonstration to a person that was advocating the use of kerosene...

    Washing machines will kill large percentages bed bugs... I just want to point out that washing with low temp H2O alone isn't 100%

  9. BugsInTO

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 13:57:55
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    Thanks for the info. I think that agitation in the machine is a big contribution to drowning. Makes it too hard for the bedbug to hold its breath under water.

  10. Jenn28

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 15:13:32
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    I once found a dead bed bug that had drowned in a pool of water that gathered behind my sink faucet in the bathroom. So yes, it is possible for them to drown Buggers!

  11. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 15:26:25
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    Richard56 - 2 hours ago  » 
    and bedbugs are easy to squish when you know how to do it right. you don't press on them like other bugs, you roll on them (like you roll your middle finger and thumb when you snap them together)...their upper body seperates from their underbelly and instant death. it works on bugs of all sizes and stages. this is how i used to tell nymphs from red lint (no lie...
    ----------------------
    But what if it turns out to be lint? Whatever I do, that seems almost impossible to get rid of.

    if it's lint...then don't stress it. your bed *hopefully* shouldn't be full of red lint. white and black lint are the usual colors. if it IS full of red lint...im pretty sure it would be hard to get rid of bed bug nymphs because you'd hardly ever see them. might i suggest eggshell white sheet sets to make detection easier? but if it ISNT lint...you've at least just killed yourself a bedbug.

  12. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 15:28:27
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    Jenn28 - 13 minutes ago  » 
    I once found a dead bed bug that had drowned in a pool of water that gathered behind my sink faucet in the bathroom. So yes, it is possible for them to drown Buggers!

    yup...it is. our very own website has confirmed this! : http://bedbugger.com/2007/05/18/dryer/

    now im reading here that US bedbugs tend to be resistant to drowning in the wash...well that's no fun, but also no surprise, since in the US something is always resistant to SOMETHING...but the article clearly quotes a specialist that says that even washing alone will indeed kill bedbugs in various stages.

  13. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 15:32:16
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    DougSummersMS - 1 hour ago  » 
    An american style washing machine will kill bed bugs, but it won't be 100%... You can drown bed bugs, but there is published research (article on NewYorkvsBedBugs on research from the UK) that documented survival of bugs and eggs under the conditions that are typical in the US.
    Heat is more reliable...(see Jim's post above)... I think the combination of both washing and thorough drying is reasonably effective or just using the dryer will give good results... if the right temps are achieved.
    In the US, the washing machines uses water from a hot water system that is usually well below the ideal temps for killing bed bugs... A washing system with a heating element (used in parts of Europe) can raise the temperatures up into the range that will reliably kill a bed bug and viable eggs.... US systems are temperature limited for safety to reduce burn injuries.
    You can drown a bed bug in water... David Cain relates an interesting story on this site about drowning a bed bug in a glass of water as a demonstration to a person that was advocating the use of kerosene...
    Washing machines will kill large percentages bed bugs... I just want to point out that washing with low temp H2O alone isn't 100%

    thanks SO much for the info, it's basically what i had been searching for online for a LONG time but never found...i agree wholeheartedly that the low temps aren't 100% effective...but that washing does indeed drown bedbugs and indeed cuts down on infestations in the clothing, even IF you have to say...line dry your clothing. so even a thorough WASH alone is better than NOTHING at all...right? but of course a dryer makes the 100% WAY easier to obtain...

    where was all of your great information BEFORE i spent that last 3 million on my famous experiment???!!!!???! :o/

  14. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 15:42:05
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    now im reading here that US bedbugs tend to be resistant to drowning in the wash...well that's no fun, but also no surprise, since in the US something is always resistant to SOMETHING...but the article clearly quotes a specialist that says that even washing alone will indeed kill bedbugs in various stages.

    It's not that we have a special species of bed bugs in the US that are extra waterproof.

    It's how washing machines in the US work that makes them less effective.

    Not all countries' washing machines work the same way. In fact, washers and dryers are often quite different around the world. (Just ask anyone who's lived for an extended period of time in a different country. Many universities offer international students orientations precisely because it's a good idea to give students crash courses in how to negotiate those differences. One example: it used to be the case in the Netherlands that you picked up your produce in the produce section of the grocery store and weighed it yourself there. The scales would spit out little stickers to take to the register. Americans, whose grocery stores do not work that way, would muck up the register lines because the registers wouldn't have any way to weigh the produce to figure out how much to charge. In the US, the scales are built into the registers in most stores.

    My friends in the Netherlands, in fact, didn't have a dryer. Not because they were poor, but because dryers were, frankly, pretty uncommon there. Most Dutch homes have indoor clotheslines. Of course, plenty of Dutch homes shut off the water heater every night, something I found out when I went to bed after my friends and couldn't figure out why I couldn't get hot water to the sink in the bathroom I was using when I went to wash my face that night after they were asleep.)

    At any rate, despite my long tangent, my point is this:

    Doug's description notes that in some countries, there's a heating element in the washer itself (if I'm reading him right) that heats the water for the wash up right there and then.

    In the US, we have water heaters in our homes that are huge in comparison to some places in the world. We store hot water in one place and then pipe it to the appliances that use it.

    Doug's description and my experiences in the Netherlands suggest to me that in some places, the water is heated up at the washer.

    Since heat dissipates with time and surface area, our hot water in washers may not be as hot as the hot water that goes into washers in places where the washers themselves heat the water for a particular load of wash up.

    Or, at least, that's how I read Doug's post.

    The bigger issue I would have with overreliance on washing alone is that it's the heat that we know kills the eggs. Given how small and well hidden the eggs generally are, the drying step is so important from my perspective precisely because it's a reliable way of getting at the eggs.

  15. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 15:50:50
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    buggyinsocal - 1 minute ago  » 

    now im reading here that US bedbugs tend to be resistant to drowning in the wash...well that's no fun, but also no surprise, since in the US something is always resistant to SOMETHING...but the article clearly quotes a specialist that says that even washing alone will indeed kill bedbugs in various stages.

    It's not that we have a special species of bed bugs in the US that are extra waterproof.
    It's how washing machines in the US work that makes them less effective.
    Not all countries' washing machines work the same way. In fact, washers and dryers are often quite different around the world.

    hmm, i don't recall saying that we have a special species of bed bugs, nor did i say they are waterproof...as a matter of fact i don't believe they are waterproof at all, hence the making of this entire post. maybe you saw that, but i didn't write it.

    i understand already the rest of your post, because a poster before you easily and quickly explained it. and regardless of "how" the machines work, the article i posted clearly says that even washing alone, will kill many bedbugs. it went so far as to say ALL of the hatched bed bugs were killed when washed with a regular load of clothes, even without drying them. gotta admit though...the article didn't say what part of the world this applies to...just that it applies.

    and again, my bedbugs have obviously died in the wash, even on the warm setting. while i do advocate using hot water, even warm water is better than no water because again...it is possible to drown a bedbug, no matter WHAT the water temperature is. drowning is drowning, no matter how hot or cold the water is.

    so my point here is this: it IS INDEED possible to drown a bed bug. that is all my point is about here...and that's really all this thread is about. oh, and to provide a bit of light hearted humor.

  16. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 16:38:04
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    Uggnobugs,

    Just remember that while you may have intended the post to be humorous, people dealing with bed bug infestations are often very stressed and hugely sleep deprived.

    Plenty of people read posts long after the conversation has ended, and when I write, I try to write with an eye toward how many different readers in the future might interpret the same posts.

    While your intent might have been to raise a little levity in an otherwise stressful situation, it is quite likely that someone else months from now might happen along the post and not notice any hints of irony in it.

  17. Jenn28

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 17:51:42
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    Uggnobugs,

    I see what you're trying to do. I got a chuckle out of it. I am not going through an infestation anymore, but if I was, I'd have a laugh all the same because you really need it when you are going through this. Tired or not. This sight has been very helpful not only in teaching me what to do and not to do and learning about others experiences, but it also helped me have a bit of a laugh when I needed it the most!

  18. Eve

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 18:03:34
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    Frankly I think your post succeeded on two levels. It made me laugh. And the science is at least as good as what I see from some entities that actually get paid to do it (a recent post comes to mind). The world needs more funny mad scientists.

    Eve

  19. DougSummersMS

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 18:34:07
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    Here is the link for the article that Renee wrote about the laundry study that was performed in the UK

    http://newyorkvsbedbugs.org/2010/02/16/laundry-and-the-motivating-power-of-the-bed-bug-web-qa-with-richard-naylor/

    One workaround method would be to place a "tankless" water heater in line with the hot water supply for am american style washer. That way you could heat only the water that was being utilized by the washing machine without scalding people at the sink, showers or tubs. The washing machine could still be a hot water hazard.

    It is unsafe to turn your water temp for the whole residence high enough to make a large difference without creating a hazard for people that use the showers, tubs or sinks.

    It is the temp of the water and duration of the exposure... Not resistance on the part of the bed bugs that makes the difference... American designed washers typically don't have a separate heating element like the european design... I am not saying that american bed bugs can swim better than their european counterparts... They are not more resistant to drowning.... It is the temperature difference and duration of the wash cycle that makes the difference.

    I think laundry additives may also affect the outcome, but that was not evaluated in the study that was cited. There is a link in the article for the original study.

  20. MyWorstFear

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 19:16:50
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    I just wanted to add that if anyone is using one of those new-ish washers that supposedly save water, it would probably be a lot harder to drown a bed bug or anything else in there. Since I've never been in a showroom or store that had any of the washers actually hooked up to water so you could see/hear them at work, let me tell you it was quite a shock to see how the washer worked once it got into my home. My supposed top of the line washer literally SPRITZED a bit of water on the clothes and then spun them for like 3 minutes before it SPRITZED a little bit more water on them, over and over again. The bottom line is that the clothes did get clean (then again, nothing was actually dirty dirty) but by the time the clothes were finally soaking wet, I think anything with half a brain would have crawled out by then and lived!

  21. Eve

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 20:06:15
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    MyWorstFear: No chance they could die of dizziness and nausea?

    I'm as much a worrier about the fate of the world's water supply as anyone. But I think I'll take a pass on this design. I'd like a front loader so I can watch the bugs beating against the glass to get out, but it would still have to have water in it.

    Eve

  22. spideyjg

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Wed Aug 25 2010 21:25:20
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    It was a nice laugh Ugg. I like your sense of humor about the BB war.

    Jim

  23. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Thu Aug 26 2010 9:03:27
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    thanks everyone for your replies :o) . i looked at the bedbug picture i took today...i sort of *kinda* felt a little bad for the fella...and he didnt sign any consent forms about what i should tell his friends and family (should i happen to see them again...which i might) in case of his death (which was all in the name of science)...so i can't really help him now. and i don't forge signatures SO...

    and JUST to make sure he really drowned and wasn't joshing me...i went back to the trashbin that i threw him in yesterday (i forgot to take out the trash) and looked for him. yup...he was still there. either he's really dead ORRRR the next award winning actor.

    if you don't keep your humor these things will STRESS YOU OUT...lol. heck they stress me out even when i DO keep a light heart about it *or try to*.

    there's other good news too...i didn't spot any others. i put a light coating of sprayway on the bottom of the floor where it meets the wall in the area i found him in, but nothing else. i asked the girls this morning if they saw any other bugs or got bit and no. so i really do *pray* he was just a straggler that hitched a ride in from the park last week when the girls went out to play. because if not...i still have to do the experiment to see JUST HOW HOT it gets in the middle of a bag of laundry in the heat...and the government gave me an additional 3 million right before closing yesterday to help the cause...

    and i DO think those high energy washers they have now would have way more bbs living after the wash than the older modeled ones because they are using up to 30-40% less water. i guess not keeping up with technology DOES have it's perks.

  24. uggnobugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Thu Aug 26 2010 9:04:20
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    lol @ eve...i can see them trying to hold their breath enough to get to the handle on the machine...LOL.

  25. spideyjg

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    Thu Aug 26 2010 9:34:19
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    uggnobugs - 29 minutes ago  » 
    ..and the government gave me an additional 3 million right before closing yesterday to help the cause....

    3 million. Hell all I got was a found a quarter in the parking lot.

    I'd so love a lab and a white coat.

    Jim


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