Bed Bug Lady Leonina Heringer of Somerville, Massachusetts

by nobugsonme on November 16, 2008 · 2 comments

in activism, bed bugs, boston, massachusetts, public health

Leonina Heringer of Somerville, 55, known to many as “The Bed Bug Lady,” is making a video for Somerville’s public access cable station.

According to the Boston Globe
, she’s been giving people advice on avoiding and getting rid of bed bugs since 2004.

She started her crusade in 2004 after a fellow parishioner at the Portuguese Baptist Church in Cambridge, among others, described their bed bug woes. The bugs lived in the floor, the woman told her, so she couldn’t let her 9-month-old baby crawl in her apartment.

Where others might offer sympathy, she took action. When the landlord’s response proved unsatisfactory, “I brought the case to the Health Department and started writing articles in the Brazilian Times about ‘percevejos,’ ” Portuguese for “bed bug.”

Heringer included her contact information in the articles. People started calling – some from as far away as Connecticut.

Heringer knows the importance both of support for bed bug sufferers, and the importance of activism.

… she has helped people directly, served on a city action group and the Greater Boston Bed Bug Task Force, and raised over $1,700 to pay for video services from Somerville Community Access Television.

Mike Ginieres, an environmental health officer with the Cambridge Public Health Department, is helping with the video.

And the wonder of it is, she’s never even had to deal with bed bugs in her own home. In my experience, many people don’t really understand the problem of bed bugs until they do.

It seems like one person really can make a difference.

Leonina Heringer is our first ever Bedbugger Hero/Heroine of the week!

I can’t wait to see Heringer’s video, and I hope it will go up on YouTube, so that our site and many others can share it with the world.

1 Renee Corea November 16, 2008 at 3:03 pm

Very interesting.

I’ve had a few Somerville items in my mind for some time. For one, they had a 10-point policy as early as 2005, with an emphasis to not blame tenants, and an alert going out to medical providers and community agencies, a policy that clearly directed landlords to hire professionals, to inspect adjacent units, that asked tenants to contact their landlords immediately or the Health Department itself.

For another, they called their working group, the Cimex group…

Here’s the PDF Somerville fact sheet and 10-steps for landlords and tenants from the Health Department.

A great deal of that would still be appropriate today. Perhaps the emphasis on destroying furniture, for example, is no longer the approach of choice, but in many ways large and small, it shows great attention to what is necessary and useful. Note especially the clear statement that bed bugs are not anyone’s “fault.”

Here’s an article from 2005 about some of the challenges with landlords and tenants that features a quote from Ms. Heringer about the stigma.

2 nobugsonme November 16, 2008 at 11:17 pm

Thanks, Renee! Nice finds.

The fact sheet is good. I love Heath Departments which tell people:

If you suspect or identify ‘bed bugs’:
City of Somerville Health Dept
617-625-6600 x 4300
Ask for assistance or leave a message.


On the other hand, the one step in the ten steps that troubled me was the suggestion to put bed legs in bowls of water or to cover with sticky tape. Doing so means bed bugs in the bed can potentially be trapped in the bed, and not cross poisons and die. (Yes, we do share what some people suggest– a controversial protocol for “isolating the bed”— but putting the bed legs in a moat, alone, is more of a problem than an isolation strategy, IMO.)

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