Lou Sorkin, “The man who lets the bed bugs bite”

by nobugsonme on February 21, 2009 · 2 comments

in bed bugs, new york, new york city

The New York Times had a slightly more personal story on our friend Dr. Louis Sorkin yesterday, “The man who lets the bed bugs bite.”

In it, Lou talks about how people have always brought bugs to him at the American Museum of Natural History, asking for identifications. And ten years ago, they started bringing bed bugs.

Around 1989, someone brought in our first bed bug. Most entomologists had never seen a live infestation before. Now, infestations may be approaching the levels of 50 years ago, before DDT was used.

Some of the chemicals used now appear to have similarities to DDT, but bed bugs have developed ways of bypassing the toxicity. Some bugs were recently collected here in New York, and a journal article reported that they were 300 times more resistant than other bed bugs to one of the common insecticides.

That’s why pest control companies do all sorts of things besides using chemicals: heating, freezing, steaming, vacuuming. The hardest part of controlling bed bugs is finding them. Most of the literature out there talks about a quarter-inch-long reddish-brown insect, but a bed bug is a millimeter long when it’s born, about the thickness of a credit card.

That lack of information about the appearance of nymphs is indeed a big problem, and Lou persistently mentions this to journalists when he talks to them. It’s a good thing he does, since news articles seem to almost always only describe the appearance, size, and color of adult bed bugs.

Lou also talks about his bed bug colonies, and how he got interested in the crawly world of entomology as a child.

Check out the rest of the article; I know you’re very glad, as I am, that we have Lou as an active voice, trying to educate the world about bed bugs.

And see my earlier post from today with amazingly detailed photos courtesy of Lou, of bed bugs harboring in a bed frame, headboard, and box springs.

1 Michele casto February 22, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Need some major advice! live in apt complex where I told Chips Townhouse of my problem and they said they know. They have not done nothing to help get rid of the bed bugs. I have been buying ufo residue from a local store in my town 6 gallons. It is supposed to be good for 2 monthes. We been to hospital and they said if we dont like it to move. How? we have no where to go, no money, no job, in college. If they know of the problems shouldn’t the Chips Townhouses have to help us? Where am to take my kids? I look like I am diseased. I had throw everything away, I thought they were gone last night I saw more in the bathroom. I have no more money left and I feel so helpless.

2 nobugsonme February 23, 2009 at 2:12 am

Hi Michele,

I am sorry you are going through that.

You need to check up on the laws in your city/county/state regarding the landlord’s duty to get rid of bed bugs (and the laws in most locations probably mention pests in general terms). It _may_ be the law where you live that the landlord needs to get rid of them, but I am not sure where you are, and we don’t have information on every region.

A local tenants’ advice organization may know if you cannot locate this information. A public library reference librarian should also be able to help you look up local laws re: landlords and pests. In some cities, people have gotten help by calling city or county health department, or the local agency that inspects rental housing. It is worth a try.

If your infestation is visually obvious, you will likely have an easier time if an inspector is brought in. In rare cases, people have even got local TV news consumer reporters to come in and report on the problem. If you can do this, it may help. Any of these steps may piss off the landlord, but staying in an infested and untreated apartment is not a good option, and you may decide it’s worth it.

In any case, find out the local laws first.

I hope this helps.

I also recommend you post this on our forums where you will likely get more responses: http://bedbugger.com/forum/

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