an honest PCO, a clever move

by nobugsonme on March 1, 2007 · 18 comments

in bed bug art, bed bugs, moving, new york

I subscribe to google alerts, which bring me news of articles. They also capture a lot of people blogging about bed bugs–most of which are not very interesting at all.

This, however, was another story, the known universe. The blogger’s friend had bed bugs:

She changed apartments since the last time I saw her, too. The previous one having been infested with bedbugs. “They were everywhere. Falling down from the ceiling, even. I started having these phantom bug attacks even when I went outside.

When the exterminator came to fumigate, he told her, “Listen: don’t tell your landlord I told you this, but this isn’t the first time I’ve fumigated this place. There’s a real problem here. Between you and me, I think you should move.”

The next day (she) checked craigslist, found a listing and jumped ship immediately.

I was touched by the PCO’s advice to this sufferer. I wonder how often this happens. I know PCOs can’t normally do this without losing the landlords as customers, but I wish they would.

Oh, and the blogger’s friend moved by clever means: she moved during a cold spell and left everything outside in freezing weather en route. I guess your chances for that have passed, New Yorkers, for 2007. Now you’ll need to wait for a week of 104 degree heat and leave that aluminum U-Haul truck baking for a week. In a very sunny spot. And hope it reaches 140 F for more than four hours, and kills them. (Note: we do not recommend this method. Environmental temperatures are not likely to solve your bed bug problem.)

I’m waiting for the drive-in-and-park frozen meat locker we can rent for a week while moving. Any investors for that idea?

1 ICHEUMON March 2, 2007 at 9:49 am

While it certainly is noble and seems like the right thing, pest management personnel have been sued and actually assaulted for instances when they have shared this type of information. Many people and management not want the fact that
they have bed bugs, a roach infestation, lice or that a building has a host of moisture related pests due to a moisture issue shared. Many firms have appropriate guidelines
that prohibit such exchange of information and some contracts prohibit it under penalty and recourse of legal action. Unfortunately mums
the word and probably should be or some apartments would never even be treated if they thought neighbors might found out. Bed bugs still carry a stigma and that’s one of the good things this site is doing a good job in changing.

2 nobugsonme March 3, 2007 at 12:23 am

Hi Icheumon,
Thanks for your comments!
I totally understand why PCOs can’t and don’t do this. This woman was lucky, but I know this is not going to happen.
I hope we are able to play a part in removing the stigma, and raising awareness!

3 freaked October 9, 2007 at 12:40 pm

If one were to move during a winter freeze, how long would you need to leave things out in the cold for that to work? I’m assuming that ANY attempt is not a guaranteed solution. But let’s say I had a treatment yesterday, do everything possible (bag clothes, etc), get another 2 treatments and then get rid of my bed and sofa, move the rest into a storage unit that is cold for a couple months- and then move?
Can you tell I’m freaked? I’m in an apartment building w. 30 units and they’re in other units as well. Although they paid for the first professional treatment, the landlord is not being proactive about the rest of the building so I don’t have a lot of confidence in a positive resolution. Realistically, I think my best option is to decrease my chances of spreading them in a new home.

4 nobugsonme October 9, 2007 at 12:49 pm


I am sorry to say, your chances of killing bed bugs by leaving them outside in the coldest period of winter are slim.

What is this cold storage of which you speak? How cold is it? “Unheated” I would not rely on. I am not sure there were more than a few days of below-freezing temps in NYC last year.

However, if you had access to truly sub-zero freezer storage, that might be promising, and in this case, I’d err on the side of caution and go for a couple weeks, to be safe.

We are told that you can also have the contents of a moving truck treated with vikane gas. This is supposed to kill everything in the truck, if done properly. Only licensed professionals can do it. See our FAQ on DE (FAQS button at top, then treatment).

Unfortunately, if you live somewhere like NYC or Boston, you might well move into a second infested home. Vikane has no residual effect and you can be reinfested by other means, so be careful about your new home.

5 nobugsonme October 9, 2007 at 12:51 pm

Another option would be to try and organize your neighbors. This building needs aggressive treatment. We do have a FAQ in the tenants and landlords section on organizing fellow tenants to demand proper treatment, not just treatment. It might help.

6 freaked October 9, 2007 at 2:39 pm

thanks very much for your quick responses. this site is great too. what a nightmare.

um- cold storage- like maybe moving to a river front property on the north pole? 🙂

i’ll see what i can do to organize the neighbors but i don’t have a ton of faith. i spoke with one and he said it should take care of it if i get my new mattress and put duct tape on all the zippers. right.

has anyone tried a sleeping suit of some kind? i guess they’ll attack whatever area is open and i don’t want these things on my face. sorry if this question belongs in another spot.

7 nobugsonme October 9, 2007 at 2:51 pm

You may be able to find a cold storage facility that will store your stuff in a sub-zero space. They do rent out such facilities for food storage. Your stuff, if carefully sealed in an airtight manner, would do well there. If you find one, let us know. I know people do this, but no one has told us where.

You’re right the neighbors do not sound promising. Vikane gas in a truck and a new apartment are probably best if this is the case.

Sleeping suits: everyone tries, and everyone gets bit in the face. And no, this does not mean you should cover your face. (Others have asked.) Many find that leaving their feet and part of their legs exposed helps.

8 James Buggles October 9, 2007 at 7:07 pm

I can’t speak to this issue, but last year was quite cold in New York with many sub-freezing days. NoBugs, you must work at home. 🙂

9 nobugsonme October 9, 2007 at 7:10 pm

Not sub-zero for weeks on end, without any warming up, though, am I right?
It was also in the 60s for the first half of the season, more or less through the first week of January…

10 James Buggles October 10, 2007 at 3:42 am

Correct, but as this chart shows it never got above 40 in February and temperatures often fell into the teens. That’s what I remember.

11 nobugsonme October 10, 2007 at 11:30 am

That’s my point, James–you need solid freezing temperatures for weeks on end in order for people to have any confidence with “leaving stuff out”. Temperatures that fluctuate are no good, and I would not rely on them. So when the OP is hoping to wait until it gets cold enough to kill her bed bugs outside, I say, I would not hold my breath. 🙂

12 freaked October 10, 2007 at 11:38 am

yes, well, i decided it would be best to move to water front property in the arctic to try to insure freezing temperatures but it might not happen there either.
or i found this.
i actually wrapped my feet in tape last night but it didn’t catch anything. one has to try to maintain a sense of humor, not always easy though.

13 nobugsonme October 10, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Great bed idea, Freaked. I will start recommending that. It’s a bargain at only $3300.

14 freaked October 10, 2007 at 1:17 pm

well, maybe you can get readers a discount?

seriously- have you ever heard of a class action suit against a multi-residence building where the owners have been completely negligent? or has anyone tried small claims for reimbursement of expenses/ lost wages etc.?

apparently one apartment in my building has had 2-3 professional treatments but the landlord wouldn’t pay for the last one. when others have complained about bed bugs in their apartment, management has denied that they exist. in mine, however, the landlord called my roommate after he put an old mattress on the street and they said there were “thousands” of bedbugs swarming on it- but they didn’t treat the apartment. my roommate didn’t think it was bedbugs because he’d never been bitten. it infuriates me that they could’ve been addressing the problem for a few months and seem to just want to ignore it.

i realize you’re not lawyers here but i’m curious if you know of any precedents- other than the case in new york where the infestation was extremely severe and the tenant withheld rent.

15 nobugsonme October 10, 2007 at 1:42 pm

All I know is here.

And you might find some of the tenant organizing information useful.

16 James Buggles October 10, 2007 at 9:40 pm

Like I said, I can’t speak to this issue. Just pointing out that it was damn cold last winter. You did once write about someone who tried this manuever in New York. You were more optimistic back then. I agree it doesn’t seem wise. Vikane is the way to go if cost effective. Otherwise, discard and start over. Or perhaps pay for your own PCO and then move. That might be the cheapest solution.

17 nobugsonme October 11, 2007 at 12:05 am

HI James,
This is probably the post you were thinking of? I am pretty skeptical about freezing or heating using mother nature. In the case mentioned above, the person reported success. Of course, we did not get a three-month follow-up…

18 Gerry Weitz November 18, 2008 at 1:23 am

The Pest Control Operator in this case was in a common ethical dilemma often faced by professionals, such as doctors, psychologists and ministers, who are entrusted by their patients and obligued by that trust, even when there is a greater good. That silence must almost always be kept because the greatest good is to remain silence so that future sufferers are willing to seek help from a confidential relationship.
Besides, in this particular case, if the PCO was so ethical, perhaps he should have either given up working for the half-hearted customer or perhaps worked harder to solve the problem.

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