Bed bugs on CBS, Fox: news media getting smarter

by nobugsonme on September 14, 2010 · 7 comments

in bed bug eggs, bed bugs

The news media seems to be doing a better job overall of getting the bed bug story right.

Today, there was a nice spot on Fox NY. It featured Dr. Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann (of Cornell University, the New York State Integrated Pest Management program, and the NYC Bed Bug Advisory Board), and Dr. Louis Sorkin (of the American Museum of Natural History and Entsult Associates), who demonstrated how bed bugs might harbor in the screwhead underneath a wooden chair and how bed bugs feed.

Fox reporter Dr. Sapna Parikh is seemingly unfazed by the adult and first instar nymph bed bugs feeding on her arm. I have no doubt it was Lou’s influence that ensured she had one of each, side by side, to truly demonstrate to viewers how different the two are in appearance, color, and size, as well as the before-and-after differences in the first instar nymph, after feeding for the first time.

Check it out: [non-working video now deleted]

Also, on Sunday, Doug Summers drew our attention to the following story on CBS Sunday Morning, which is also pretty good:

You can also watch it on the CBS site. And you can read it as an article here.

Of course, when reporters talk to experts, ask them the right questions, and give them enough time to talk, that makes a big difference. (This segment was over eight minutes long.) The most interesting soundbite in this piece was Dr. Gangloff-Kaufmann’s statement that

“It’s conceivable that at some point, everyone you know will have dealt with them in one way or another.”

This is, I think, a likely scenario, given how bed bugs are spreading, and how little of an orchestrated attempt we’re making to fight back, and it is a good message to get across to viewers.

I also especially appreciated the close-up footage of all the nymphs with the few adults between the upholstered furniture cushions.

And though it was a good segment overall, the CBS Sunday Morning piece had its annoying moments.

Was everyone else as irritated as socraticlogic and I by the bed bug animations which periodically ran across the screen, over and around the people being interviewed?

What is going on there?

These animated bed bugs are running around the screen while the narrator talks about Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann’s work:


Here, an animated bed bug scurries around while a woman talks about her fear of bed bugs:


Really, CBS, is this kind of embellishment necessary?!?

Still, I do think the bed bug news is getting smarter.

After all, the CBS story featured annoying animated bed bugs. And not animated versions of that other guy.

1 Lou Sorkin September 15, 2010 at 4:18 am

There also was a morning bed bug report on Fox NY where I covered bed bug biology, general information (true/false statements) and feeding with Sapna Parikh. She explained more about the bugs feeding on her in the morning. As you know by now, I stress that in order to understand the issue you first have to know the insect. The media covers a story and reports that there are infestations, tells the public to search in all kinds of places to look for bed bugs. Most of the stock photos and movie clips typically portray the adult insect, a relatively large dark-colored creature. The adult insect is easier to photograph. People who have experienced a bed bug infestation and searched for them wonder how can this insect escape detection, it seems so obvious. People who have been educated by news broadcasts, most online sites (not, but even some university and PCO/PMP sites) have been told many things, among them that the insect is wingless, reddish brown and are upwards of 3/8-1/2 inch long plus the immature stages are smaller and look like the adult. Actually due to poor public education, the person who has an infestation or a worried person who just searches may be looking for dark colored insects, things that are as small as and look like apple seeds. Immature insects never have wings. The adult bed bug has front wings (they are very reduced to pad-like structures and not fused to the body) and no hind wings: It is functionally flightless. Immature recently hatched unfed bed bugs are pale, almost whitish and around 1 mm long or around 1/32 inch long, about the thickness of a credit card. Most U.S. rulers are marked in 1/16 inch hash marks. There are 5 immature stages or nymphs and these are pale straw or tan colored and often have dark masses inside them (blood being digested). Freshly consumed blood displays brighter red and the body of the bed bug is more plump compared to a previously flattened shape. Bed bugs are not invisible but can be very small. I’ve also never encountered a giant 3/8-1/2 inch long adult common bed bug. Some of the life cycle images are also misleading, depicting the immature bed bug stages as small, dark replicas of the adult insect. Clearly that is not the case after reading my public service announcement of the day!

2 Lauren Salmen September 15, 2010 at 11:28 am

I have bedbugs and I live in Long Beach California . I have no money to pay for an exterminator and when I called my landlord, he told me it was a tenant problem . Seriously ?!? I would like someone to send me an e-mail and tell me what i can do to keep them from sucking my 4 year old daughters blood . She keeps having really bad reactions to the “bites” ..SOMEBODY HELP !!!!

3 nobugsonme September 15, 2010 at 1:51 pm

HI Lauren,

You need to check with someone besides your landlord to verify the laws applying to your situation.

I suggest contacting:

Fair Housing Foundation
(For Compton, Lynwood, Downey, Long Beach, Huntington Park, Norwalk, Paramount and South Gate)
3605 Long Beach Boulevard, Suite 302
Long Beach, CA 90807
(562) 989-1206
Fax (562) 989-1836

This page on their website suggests they could answer the question of whether you or the landlord are responsible for treatment for bed bugs.

Please repost your question in our active user Forums:

It’s a good place to ask questions and get support.

4 nobugsonme September 15, 2010 at 1:54 pm

Hi Lou,
You are absolutely right about the misinformation which is circulated. Correcting it is a slow process and you have done and continue to try to do this, and so patiently.

As I hope was clear from the post above, I think that making sure the public sees the various life stages in their fed and unfed states, and side by side, makes a huge difference. Thanks for everything you do to educate the media and the public about bed bugs.

5 lauren salmen September 15, 2010 at 4:38 pm

Yeah most definitely people ned to know what they look like at all stages and they should also know that the “bites” look just like mosquitos and flea bites. Thats what i thought was eating my daughter. It wasn’t until 3 months later and being misdiagnosed with scabies that I was told by a friend about bedbugs !

6 Lauren Salmen September 16, 2010 at 10:36 am

Nobugsonme, im curious to know your opinion on diatomaceous earth ? I have seen it alot when I google bed bugs . Does it really work and if so do you know where I can buy it ? Thanx

7 nobugsonme September 16, 2010 at 10:56 am

Hi Lauren,

We have a FAQ on DE which should answer your questions. If you’re going to use it, you need to be sure and take precautions to do so safely.

If you have additional questions, please consider posting them in our active user Forums:

You will get a lot more input there from myself and many others.

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