The Huffington Post: Nicholas Brown’s bed bugs, volumes 3 and 4

by nobugsonme on November 2, 2007 · 5 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, how to get rid of bed bugs, humor, laundry, new york, pest control, pest control services, signs and symptoms of bed bugs, usa

Somehow I got behind on Nicholas Brown’s bed bug saga; two more installments have appeared.

He posted volume 3 last week, which chronicles the “laundry and first treatment” phase. Somewhat unconventionally, Brown as his roommates Katherine and Jihad had not done much prep before their PCO showed up. He was kind enough to come back a few hours later, and so the team flew into motion. Brown’s style is engaging and the laundromat saga, in which the pushy ladies of the laundromat are put in their places, is fairly fun reading:

Our neighborhood has relatively few Laundromats and almost no one has a washer and dryer in-building, resulting in an atmosphere of intense and sometimes uncomfortably physical competition for the few available dryers. The already charged atmosphere is made particularly dangerous at our local Laundromat by a series of heavyset neighborhood Grand dames who are willing to throw their weight around. When I walked into the Laundromat, Katherine was facing down one such woman who had taken her clothes out of a washer and thrown them on the floor.

“What, you want to use all the dryers here at once!” the woman said

“Actually, yes.”

“Your clothes are dry.”

“They have bugs,” Katherine said.

Apparently she hadn’t mentioned this earlier. The effect was satisfying. Most people took at least a small step back and the grand dame who had been facing us down retreated completely. One woman, who had been rummaging through our clothes in an attempt to clear a dryer for herself, jerked her hands back so rapidly and with so much revulsion that it looked like the beginnings of an epileptic fit.

Volume 3 concludes with the “wait and be bait” period following the first treatment.

Volume 4 details various “crackpot” ideas for fighting bed bugs. My only critique would be that he nixes the idea of freezing books (when, in fact, freezing is a legit method for killing bed bugs), and freezes his VCR instead (note: I would not do this with electronics).

What Brown describes well is the experimental nature of so many solutions bed bug victims concoct. The last time people in New York City commonly had to deal with bed bugs was before World War II. Some of the folk remedies of that time worked and were dangerous, others probably did not work. In 2007, we are luckier than our ancestors; we have resealable bags, washing and drying machines, zipped encasements. Information travels faster now, but so does misinformation. Caveat bedbugger.

Brown also captures well the stress of life during bed bug wartime. By day 24 he says,

Our nerves are on edge. While it’s true that bedbugs generally fall into the category of ‘pests,’ it is underreported that they are also life-changing experiences. It is said that the three most stressful times in life surround divorces, moves, and new children. Bedbugs are surely a close fourth.

If I forget to take out the garbage one morning, I come home to find an angry Katherine. If I Jihad or Katherine move my things, I become irrationally angry. We lurk about the apartment during the day waiting to explode at one another. We are all angry at the creatures, but it is very hard to take out fury on an insect so we target snide remarks and well-timed sighs at one another instead. The emotionally traumatizing effects of these creatures are probably foreign to anyone who has not had them, but bystanders beware: bedbug victims are emotional landmines. Do not misstep near us.

Wise words. I hope Brown and Company have gotten a follow-up treatment 10-14 days after their first treatment. Judging from his description of the bed frame, they had a lot of bed bugs. From what we hear, one treatment is rarely enough, even in lighter cases.

Like the saga of Amanda’s bed bugs over at Apartment Therapy, Brown’s story is compelling reading. Like Amanda, he also introduces an unsuspecting new audience to the horrors of dealing with bed bugs, that we here at are all too familiar with. Some of the comments on the earlier installments are a healthy reminder that the vast majority of folks still are blissfully ignorant about bed bugs (a double-edged sword if ever there was one).

I don’t think we ever got the final update on Amanda, unless I missed it? Last entry I saw was #8, in which after two treatments, her bed bugs were “back.” (By back, I mean, they “never entirely left.”)

1 November 2, 2007 at 7:08 pm

“they are known to emit a scent that warns other bedbugs of danger. ”
-Ive never heard this. Is this true?

2 hopelessnomo November 2, 2007 at 10:59 pm


(E)-2-hexenal and (E)-2-octenal have been categorized as a bed bug alarm pheromone

-PDF: E. D. Siljander, Foraging and Communication Ecology of bed bugs, Cimex lectularius L.

3 nobugsonme November 3, 2007 at 3:06 am

Niceone, Nomo. You’re the Research Queen.

4 kembowchemistry August 26, 2008 at 3:34 pm

My mother next door neighbor has bed bugs. She washes her clotes in my mother washer machine. Can they be transferred off of her clothes onto my mother’s? Can they even survive inside the washer machine?

5 nobugsonme August 26, 2008 at 9:54 pm

Well, it’s possible, if the wash is not at a high enough temperature.

I would be more worried about a bed bug falling off while the clothing was being brought into your mother’s home, or while being put into the machine.

Your mom’s friend could even bring bed bugs in via the clothing she’s wearing, or in a bag she carries.

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