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How did folks rid their homes of bed bugs in the old days befor DDT?

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  1. Itchybutdealing

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 12:35:46
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    Can we pick up tips from them? Anyone know this obscure bit of history?

  2. Louise

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 13:08:37
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    According to my mother-in-law, they just lived with them and tried to keep them under control. It was not an uncommon thing to have bedbugs. People would go visiting in the winter, the coats of the visitors would be laid on the bed, and when they returned home...well, let's just say that if they hadn't had bedbugs before the visit, they had a good chance of coming down with a case of them now!

    She can remember helping her mom every Saturday with the beds and bedding. This was in the days before vacuums (and washing machines!), so her mother would pick them off with her fingers. I'm not actually sure what she did with them after picking them off...squished 'em , I guess.

    No dryers, either. I can't imagine.

    My dmil says that once they starting using plasterboard on the walls inside the house, they disappeared. I suspect some DDT and the flystrips hanging over the table may have had something more to do with their disappearance than the plasterboard...

    I *really* don't want to go back to the "good old days"...at least not insofar as bedbugs are concerned...

    Louise

  3. cilecto

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 13:28:34
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    Sulfur, arsenic, cyanide, pyrethrum, DE.

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night...
    - Psalms 91:5-7

    (Not an pro)
  4. earthangel

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 18:14:51
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    Also up to some point weren't mattresses stuffed with straw, and re-filled annually?

    Anyhow I would guess that mattress re-filling would also be a measure taken.

  5. DeathToBBs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 20:28:35
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    Louise - 7 hours ago  » 
    According to my mother-in-law, they just lived with them and tried to keep them under control.
    She can remember helping her mom every Saturday with the beds and bedding. This was in the days before vacuums (and washing machines!), so her mother would pick them off with her fingers. I'm not actually sure what she did with them after picking them off...squished 'em , I guess.
    Louise

    My question to Louise is what did your MIL and her mom do about couches and toys and tables and chairs, etc. to help control bbs since bbs can also live in other things besides beds.

    As far as what she did with the bbs after picking them off. Well I have an idea, she should've boiled water in a bucket and just threw them in there and watch their fate into burning hell.

  6. DeathToBBs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 20:50:01
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    earthangel - 2 hours ago  » 
    Also up to some point weren't mattresses stuffed with straw, and re-filled annually?
    Anyhow I would guess that mattress re-filling would also be a measure taken.

    Yes, this is true. Hence the saying "making your bed". People really did used to make their beds in the old days, literally. They made them from straw. Now, by the term "make your bed" in modern times means just putting sheets on the mattress and/or make sure the sheets do not look messy. Also called "fixing your bed". Why should we fix our beds, are they broken? LOL! Just thought I share that little tidbit.

  7. hathead

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 20:50:51
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    i wonder about the other furniture too, in the old days
    but my plumber told me that when she was young, they got bedbugs
    her mother (with 11 children!) washed all the bedding every day!!!
    and turned over every mattress every day and picked off the bugs and the eggs

    and it took years to get rid of them
    amazing story

    my plumber is about my age (50 or maybe a bit older)

  8. Vell23

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 22:59:14
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    Well in the Caribbean my grandmother said they used kerosene oil, she said they don't like oil, someone else told me that to, but I don't advice y'all to do that cuz it is flammable, but yea she said kerosene worked

  9. parakeets

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 19:39:58
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    I heard that in some Algonquin tribes (the tribe my grandmother was from belonged to the Algonquin Nation) they would follow a "scorched earth" policy where every several years they would burn everything down to the ground, move, and start the vilage over again. Scientists now know that it is very wise to rotate the crops and move the plantings to different fields every couple of years, so what the Natives did made a lot of sense. I realize how the same policy could also address clutter, and bedbugs too. I went to a bed bug conference where they referred to people who threw everything out when they moved to make sure they didn't take bedbugs with them as following a "scorched earth" policy.

    (Note: I'm not sure how much of this is true or just lore. I don't even know if there were already bedbugs on our continent or if the Europeans brought them when they arrived here.)

  10. Louise

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Nov 8 2009 0:38:30
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    DeathToBBs - 2 days ago  » 

    My question to Louise is what did your MIL and her mom do about couches and toys and tables and chairs, etc. to help control bbs since bbs can also live in other things besides beds.
    As far as what she did with the bbs after picking them off. Well I have an idea, she should've boiled water in a bucket and just threw them in there and watch their fate into burning hell.

    Okay, I asked my MIL about this today. She just chuckled. She said didn't really have a whole lot of "stuff" (toys, books, clothes, etc.), and they weren't really a problem in other pieces of furniture (at least not that she can remember). They were mainly in the mattresses and the walls. The walls were made of wood boards - major cracks! Her mother would pour boiling water down the walls, making sure to get every crack, in order to kill the bedbugs hiding there. Eventually they papered their walls and painted it with something called "calcimine" (I think that's what she said) which had lime in it, and apparently the bedbugs didn't like lime very much.

    She and her brother slept on a straw mattress, and the straw would be replaced and the cover would be washed in hot water.

    Her parents had a "real" mattress, although it apparently had a zillion pleats. She can remember her father jumping up out of bed every once every couple of weeks and exclaiming that he just couldn't sleep!!! (Both her father and her brother reacted quite badly to the bites; she and her mother "weren't ever bitten"...) Her parents would then go and sleep on the floor of the dining room. The next morning her mother would work on their mattress, picking off the bugs (and I assume the eggs) from each pleat, and washing the sheets (by hand, in hot water, with lye soap and no gloves). She can't recall what her mother did with the bugs she found; she thought she may have squished them or put them into a pot of water or kerosene.

    She insists that bedbugs were very common and that most people had them. (Shudder!) I'd like to know how anyone DIDN'T have them in those days!

    Louise

  11. BBcoukHome

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Nov 8 2009 8:02:15
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    When you research for long enough you do find a lot of things that people did to control the problem in terms of physical processes because control with chemical products was still an emerging subject. There is a lot of talk about the "bug powder men" who would stand on the street corners and sell their wares. Most appear to have been sulphur based and using products that we now know are not safe to consider.

    We even see gases like cyanide being used into the 1940's and there is one case of a scorched earth policy in a large part of London in the 1950's. The whole neighbourhood of railway workers cottages was demolished and burned, a top the pire was an effigy of a bed bug.

    I just spotted an interesting reference from a war time diary of a POW in Japan in 1943:

    http://www.far-eastern-heroes.org.uk/James_OToole/html/dairy_1943.htm

    23-5-43

    The bed boards are infested with bugs chaps up all night killing em & shaking blankets, can't keep the bastards down; doesn't effect us so much as we have iron beds & by de-bugging once a week they can be kept down.

    I have interviewed people who used such processes up until the 1960's but they lived in areas of the world more adapted to such practices. In such environments I can only assume that the infestations were at such levels that exposure was due to more than just staying away from home.

    As for if the Europeans introduced bed bugs to the USA I think you will find that the cave dwellers beat us to that one. A many have found moving without taking bed bugs is difficult, they hide well and not many are prepared to walk away from everything which frankly is not needed with modern treatment options. Strongly believe that bed bugs have been a constant issue for society for millennia and that rather than eradicating them we simple pushed they back into the dark corners where we stopped looking.

    Now they have got brave and have pushed back out again and are on the move able to recapitalise on the evolutionary niche that they fill so well and this is due in part because society has changed. No longer do people strip and clean their beds in the same way that they did up until the 1950's. If nothing else it showed the early signs of an infestation and deeper cleaning and treatment could be started early.

    We are also a more mobile species that our predecessors' and thus more prone to get exposed that generations before us.

    I dare say if you throw in a loss of bite response through unexposed generations and you will increase the numbers that do not respond when initially exposed and thus more people spread unknowingly.

    Will modern control be achieved by looking back at what people used to do and encouraging that as well as utilising modern tools and procedures I certainly hope so.

    I can feel a wave of nostalgia wafting through me again and I may have to spend the afternoon reading the fine works of Tiffin and Son bed bug exterminators 1705 - 1940's. Enlightening text for anyone interested enough in bed bugs to wade through old English text.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

  12. BugBoy911

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Nov 8 2009 15:28:16
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    Pyrethrum and DE Dust really are two perfect weapons against the bedbug, one providing fast knockdown and the other for long term control and prevention. Whats needed to apply correctly and safely are the correct tools and the knowledge of "how to apply correctly." With all the fancy "Thermal, Freezing," I find its just not necessary and thew working with clients and staying in contact find that defeating bedbugs takes a few weeks and a really good careful first application of contact kill insecticides with no residual to using long term residual prevenatative insecticides to prevent ANY future inhabitants within ANY crack and crevice within a room. If you hit a possible harborage point with the correct pesticide you will make it very difficult for a future infestation to break out. DDT is not necessary in the war against bedbugs, whats needed is fair priced treatments, PCO's that specialize specifically in bedbug elimination and prevention, and enough time in your day to complete such a task. I find the new fancy thermal or the use of DDT have more of a chance for things to go bad than conventional crack/crevice/general/preventative treatments done by one who understands the bedbug.

  13. Beth

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Feb 21 2010 16:13:18
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    thanks bugboy! enlghtening, how people used to battle these things. I guess I shouldn't cry so much. I wouldn't if I hadn'tjust spent my whole back disability check on a compuer and a truck---yes, that's money I'll NEVER have again. EVER.

    amy

  14. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Feb 21 2010 22:49:14
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    BugBoy911 - 3 months ago  » 
    Pyrethrum and DE Dust really are two perfect weapons against the bedbug, one providing fast knockdown and the other for long term control and prevention.

    Really? Pyrethroid resistance is quite common in some places.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  15. Beth

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sun Feb 21 2010 23:28:35
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    yes my bugs are pyrethroid resistant. I'm not even sure why they try to use it anymore on the bugs in NY.

    amy

  16. Winston O. Buggy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Feb 22 2010 9:37:23
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    As a point of information in regard to a common misconception of available data not ALL bed bugs are resistant to ALL pyrethroids and not in ALL formulations. In the period say 40 -60s there are a number of sub factors that probably helped other than effective chemicals. A lot of those are house hold cleaning tactics like spring cleaning, washing and hanging out things, beating carpets etc. In addition clutter was probably not as prevalent and furniture was not of particle board with 100s of screw holes, seems, cracks and crevices. Vacuums were new and had some pick up as opposed to some of our current day hand held mini vacs. I am always surprised how many people don't have vacuums. Also there was less of a stigma involved and folks battled it together and openly. And of course a lot of dangerous old country methods were employed. But the most effective control was through the use of insecticides which were effective and in formulations that were available for bed bugs control.

  17. bugration

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Mar 9 2010 8:50:27
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    I can imagine how prior to the 1950s most ordinary victims were forced to use primarily manual methods of control. But I wonder how the very wealthy coped? Were other methods available to them apart from ordering their staff to fanatically clean?

    It just seems so horrendous that in the 1930s some cities had an infestation rate of as high as 33%! I assume the rate of infestation must have gradually increased through the ages, so I wonder which time period one could compare our situation with today? Are we now experiencing comparable infestation levels with the 19th century, Middle Ages, Roman times etc?

    For some reason I have trouble imagining famous figures like Lincoln, Churchill, Hitler, Napoleon etc just coping with bedbugs as a part of life!

  18. greenapplepest

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Mar 9 2010 9:05:09
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    Itchybutdealing - 4 months ago  » 
    Can we pick up tips from them? Anyone know this obscure bit of history?

    I know they used to use kerosene to get rid of them in the old days

    Mike S

    Green Apple Pest Management Solutions Inc.

  19. spideyjg

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Mar 9 2010 9:38:27
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    People did many really dangerous things in the past in attempts to kill bugs. Just because it can kill a bug doesn't mean it is safe.

    In the 30's the Ministry of Health had a huge report that detailed many a plan and kill method of the time. Using a powdered form of mercury, that is the form most hazardous to humans, was one.

    Common in the days before DDT was cyanide fumigation which killed many a PCO and the gas was trapped in furniture and could harm the residents as it seeped out.

    Jim

  20. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 10 2010 0:56:05
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    greenapplepest - 15 hours ago  » 

    Itchybutdealing - 4 months ago  » 
    Can we pick up tips from them? Anyone know this obscure bit of history?

    I know they used to use kerosene to get rid of them in the old days

    I am sure Mike meant to say "and this was extremely dangerous and so please do not try it."

    People have been in the news lately trying to get rid of bed bugs using gasoline, and possibly kerosene, and harming themselves, burning down their homes, etc.

  21. greenapplepest

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 10 2010 1:13:49
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    Nobugsonme - 13 minutes ago  » 

    greenapplepest - 15 hours ago  » 

    Itchybutdealing - 4 months ago  » 
    Can we pick up tips from them? Anyone know this obscure bit of history?

    I know they used to use kerosene to get rid of them in the old days

    I am sure Mike meant to say "and this was extremely dangerous and so please do not try it."
    People have been in the news lately trying to get rid of bed bugs using gasoline, and possibly kerosene, and harming themselves, burning down their homes, etc.

    well of course that is what I meant to say. Kerosene isn't very green and that is my philosophy. I am in the business so long and have been trained by people who have used those products.you are right that I didnt mention not to under any circumstances use kerosene!!!!! I thought it was common sense like telling people not to use DDT, Anyways apologies are def in order. I'm sorry all

    Mike S

    GREEN Apple Pest Management Solutions Inc

  22. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 10 2010 10:49:32
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    greenapplepest - 9 hours ago  » 

    well of course that is what I meant to say. Kerosene isn't very green and that is my philosophy. I am in the business so long and have been trained by people who have used those products.you are right that I didnt mention not to under any circumstances use kerosene!!!!! I thought it was common sense like telling people not to use DDT, Anyways apologies are def in order. I'm sorry all

    Hi Mike,

    No need for apologies. For most people that may be a given, but you'd be surprised what desperate people will try.

    Even if kerosene was "green" it would still be extremely dangerous and not a good idea under any circumstances.

  23. theJ

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 10 2010 14:20:32
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    Nobugsonme - 3 hours ago  » 

    greenapplepest - 9 hours ago  » 
    well of course that is what I meant to say. Kerosene isn't very green and that is my philosophy. I am in the business so long and have been trained by people who have used those products.you are right that I didnt mention not to under any circumstances use kerosene!!!!! I thought it was common sense like telling people not to use DDT, Anyways apologies are def in order. I'm sorry all

    Hi Mike,
    No need for apologies. For most people that may be a given, but you'd be surprised what desperate people will try.
    Even if kerosene was "green" it would still be extremely dangerous and not a good idea under any circumstances.

    Unless you are trying to perform insurance fraud. (i'm kidding as well)

    I'd imagine it would be a lot easier to control manually back then because there wasn't as much "stuff" laying around for them to hide in. Think about all the things sitting around you as you type on your computer. TV's, DVD's, photo albums, alarm clocks, a dozen pairs of shoes, clothes clothes and more clothes, etc. There are just too many places to search now a days.

    Still, I can't imagine what i'd be doing right now if i didn't have my Packtite...

  24. 4blossoms

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 10 2010 15:38:38
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    earthangel - 4 months ago  » 
    Also up to some point weren't mattresses stuffed with straw, and re-filled annually?
    Anyhow I would guess that mattress re-filling would also be a measure taken.

    I had read somewhere that the dried leaves of a variety of plants called "bugbane" (or bugwort, snakeroot) were traditionally stuffed into mattresses in Eastern Europe and Siberia to deter bed bugs. Apparently they have some type of naturally occuring chemical that bed bugs dislike. The latin name for bugbane genus is Cimicifuga ("cimex" meaning bug--specifically the bed bug, Cimex lectularius, and "fugare" "to drive-away" in reference to the insect-repelling attributes).

    I'd love to hear about it if anyone has used this plant in the war against bed bugs.

  25. spideyjg

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 10 2010 15:42:54
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    4blossoms - 3 minutes ago  » 

    I'd love to hear about it if anyone has used this plant in the war against bed bugs.

    Repelling bugs is not a war strategy. Tactics and products that capture or kill are the only things that will win.

    Trying to run them off is a losing proposition.

    Put on your best Robert DeNiro voice.

    I want that sonofbitch dead! I want it's family dead! I want it's eggs steamed to a crisp! I want to get up in the middle of the night and piss in peace!

    Jim

  26. wchicago

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Mar 10 2010 21:42:27
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    Put on your best Robert DeNiro voice.

    I want that sonofbitch dead! I want it's family dead! I want it's eggs steamed to a crisp! I want to get up in the middle of the night and piss in peace!

    *snort* giggle
    spidey i *totally* want you to make a motivational youtube video on fighting the bed bug war -- in your robert de niro voice of course

    but seriously 4blossoms, spidey is right. what experts here repeatedly say is that repelling them just drives them deeper into their hiding places (like your walls, floors, etc) spreading them around your home and maybe even to neighboring apartments and thus making the war ultimately harder to win. the ONLY time i could see a repellent being even a little bit useful would be if you were going temporarily to someplace you thought might have bed bugs and wanted to keep them from wandering onto your stuff for a few hours (like on your bag at a movie theater). but even then, it makes way more sense and is probably more effective to just packtite or otherwise thoroughly debug your stuff when you get home.

  27. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Mar 15 2010 7:17:53
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    Hi,

    This morning I received a new item for the bed bug museum. A set of 6 Victorian or earlier postcards unused detailing the story of a young lady who moved into a new apartment only to encounter bed bugs. It will take me a few days to scan and get them online (its a busy week) but the first reads:

    "A lady took apartments,
    Which looked quite clean and snug
    And felt herself quite happy-
    Never thinking of a bug"

    The last reads.

    At last she pounced upon her foe,
    And put him in a jug,
    And let it have a cooling swim,
    "that terrifying bug"

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    If you have found this information helpful please consider leaving feedback on social media via google+ or FaceBook or by like/loving the images.

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about products.
  28. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Mar 18 2010 9:12:22
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    Hi,

    The postcards are now live int he gallery here:

    http://www.bedbugbeware.com/museumgallery.html

    Enjoy and please let us know if you can work out an age for them.

    David

  29. BronxBitten

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Apr 20 2010 17:35:10
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    amazing. truly. a little acceptance and human resilience will have to go a long way. can't fight evolutionary genius. and i must say, bugs are frighteningly brilliant, aren't they? tonight i begin the battle. godspeed, fellow soldiers! any advice on how to cope until we have enough $ to pay for formal treatment throughout our old home in the bronx? its a series of row houses and before we know it we'll all be affected. right now there are only two homes. ours and the ones next door who are the "culprits" but the neighbors next to me are quite disgusting, and though cleanliness is not a determining factor, i'm talking about frightening sub-human conditions b/c the downstairs tenant next door is mentally ill. SHOCKINGLY, HE WASN'T THE ONE THAT BROUGHT THE BASTIDS TO US! AHHAHA ain't that special? life will always manage to test you. i can't wait to dissolve into energetic mist, til then, we'll have to stick to the human form and keep on. *le grande sigh*

  30. BronxBitten

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    Wed Apr 21 2010 16:42:19
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    the notion of burning down a home seems so incredibly appealing. starting over, complete transformation, fire as an elemental solution to a truly pervading problem. im still in shock here and can't help but fantasize about all the ways it would be so much easier to just get rid of everything. except there's so much who knows whats what and where to start in a house this old and full and multi leveled. fire makes sense. did i mention i've been fantasizing about it?

  31. Itchy-Scratchy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Apr 21 2010 17:35:34
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    bugration - 1 month ago  » For some reason I have trouble imagining famous figures like Lincoln, Churchill, Hitler, Napoleon etc just coping with bedbugs as a part of life!

    I hope Hitler DID have bedbugs. At the very least.

    I agree with BronxBitten. I can't even count how many times I daydreamed about burning down my apartment building. And after a few months, even DDT was starting to seem appealing.

  32. cilecto

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Apr 21 2010 18:20:57
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    If you're going go the thermal route, you might as well do it in a way that helps you keep the house. In the bigger scheme of things, it's probably cheaper.

    Hitler probably did not have bedbugs once in office. I have a pretty good idea, unfortunately, what his staff likely used.

  33. Bed Bug Epidemic

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    Fri Jul 23 2010 15:38:33
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    browsing through old posts and came across this.

    I was talking to my grandmother about this and she told me she hadn't remembered this until I mentioned my problem. She said she recalls her mom and dad with a rolled up newspaper and kerosene...burning the bb's on the metal frame under the mattress, she was about 5 years old she thinks and now she's 85.

    Crazy.

  34. Ratorja

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 23 2010 17:50:25
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    Cool, thanks for bumping this, BBE.

    My mom said that my grandma (who grew up in Queens, NY) always used to say that's one thing she hated about New York - the bed bugs. It sounds like they didn't do anything about them really, just lived with them. I wish my grandma was still alive so I could ask her about it. This had to have been during the 1930s or so.

    An interesting thought occurred to me. I've read a lot of literature about the Holocaust, and I know lice were a big problem, but I don't remember reading ANYTHING about bed bugs in the camps. I wonder if they were a problem too, and just more accepted as fact than lice was.

  35. cilecto

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 23 2010 18:06:33
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    I recall reading Menachem Begin's autobiography "The Revolt". Begin was imprisoned by the Soviets (not the Germans) in 1940-41 and describes his reaction to BB the first night. A bunk mate reassured him "you get used to it". I recall him writing that he did.

  36. Ratorja

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 23 2010 20:29:09
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    I was talking about this with my husband and I'm wondering if the circumstances around the concentration camps actually prevented bed bugs from being a problem. People had NO belongings, they were given clothing there, and sometimes even shaved before being allowed into the barracks and such. Maybe there was no way for bed bugs to come into the camps. I'm really curious now.

  37. Bed Bug Epidemic

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 11:15:56
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    Definitely makes you wonder. Interesting.

  38. ebug

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 18:01:37
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    Around 1941, my mother lived in an apartment building in a large city. When bedbugs got to be a problem there, the super told her that he waited until people were gone for the day and then turned up the steam heat. (Steam heat tends to be extremely hot and very dry.) Hence the thermal treatment is nothing new and can be effective. Later, in a house, she said they were a problem and she took the mattress apart, washing the ticking and setting everything out in the sun. She did this twice and did not get rid of them. Then she took the mattress apart for the third time and said she found that the bedbugs were living in the mattress springs, so she scrubbed the springs with hot soapy water (I don't remember if she said she used kerosene first), which finally got rid of them for good. I have heard that bedbugs were common during the 1930s and that everyone simply washed their bedding frequently, especially after company slept there overnight. Sheets and "whites" were washed in very hot water, which is probably a holdover from the days when the copper kettle was heated over fire in the yard every Monday for wash day.

  39. Eve

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 19:42:38
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    Actually sheets and whites were not only washed in very hot water but also ironed scrupulously by most self-respecting housewives. I remember dedicating quite a chunk of my girlhood doing this with a wringer washer and old steam iron. And the cotton sheets were made of did not want to be ironed so any bed bug eggs that may be been lurking would have been well and truly melted.

    In winter, the sheets were "dried" on the line also. I know cold is unreliable, but these poor bugs would have had the hot water, then the shivery clothes line and then my angry iron (I hated ironing).

    I remember cheering when no-iron fabrics started to become popular.

    Some people blame easy care bedding as one factor in the bed bug's renaissance. Though bed bugs were not a factor during this time (late 60s).

    Certainly until my infestation, I didn't really have a use for my steam iron. Now I do. <evil grin>

    Eve

  40. cilecto

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 19:55:06
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    But what about the bugs in cracks, crevices, etc?

  41. cilecto

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 20:46:51
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    Ratorja - 3 days ago  » 
    I was talking about this with my husband and I'm wondering if the circumstances around the concentration camps actually prevented bed bugs from being a problem. People had NO belongings, they were given clothing there, and sometimes even shaved before being allowed into the barracks and such. Maybe there was no way for bed bugs to come into the camps. I'm really curious now.

    So, you got me wondering and I did a little searching, found a 'blogger who published his survivor dad's writings and thoughts. He wrote this as a postwar refugee in Italy. Here's a poem that moved me (both for reference to BB and to the "fatalistic" outlook):


    We don't make a big deal if it.
    On the floor, we sleep overnight.
    They need no special place,
    and also, not a bed.

    They need no roof and no mattress.
    They are familiar from the camp,
    with the bed bugs and the fleas,
    do not scare them much,
    they are well familiar with them.
    It doesn't obsess them.

    Number 10 Salerno.
    Private lodging.
    A hotel in all its glory,
    For every veteran, there's a place.
    If not in the station,
    Then in the tunnel,
    In the length and breadth.

    Just like a hotel,
    When you get to 10 Salerno,
    There's no worry about a meal,
    Don't need much.

    "No Big Deal, 1945, by Samuel Mordecai Rubinstein"
    http://srmemo.blogspot.com/2008/08/1945.html
    (translation by Ci Lecto)

    On a lighter note, when I was dealing with the "issue" at my parents' two years ago, I needed to explain to my mom what was going on. I showed her the NYC bedbug info sheet, with the 100x magnified BB pic. My mom said "That's not a bedbug. Back home we had bedbugs, but they were tiny and red...".

  42. DLTBBB

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 21:15:00
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    I have to say, this is the most interesting thread ever.

    spidyjg: "I want that sonofbitch dead! I want it's family dead! I want it's eggs steamed to a crisp! I want to get up in the middle of the night and piss in peace!" --- all I can say is .. LMAO!!

    Cilecto: what a great poem. Really, what an interesting snippet of history.

    Ithcy-scratchy: every time I tell someone the story of my bedbugs it ends with, "I'm about this close to burning the place down." Yes, I know .. why burn it down if you can do thermal and keep your house, well, it has the added benefit of burning up all the clutter that is getting in the way of getting even the thermal done right now.

    To all of you .. thanks for a really interesting read.

  43. Ratorja

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 21:46:52
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    Thanks for sharing that, cilecto.

  44. diebbsdie

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 22:38:46
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    did anyone read "angela's ashes?"
    i read it when i moved to nyc the first time in 2004, and McCourt's family had put up with bed bugs due to their extreme poverty.
    i remember reading it and shuddering to realize they actually EXIST! (my mother had told me there was no such thing when i was little and she would say that, now, very cliche phrase to me before bed...you know...the one i can't even bear to say out loud these days).

    little did i know what i was in for upon my return to NYC in 2009! glad i don't have them anymore, but the fear of getting them again is pretty bad too. not sure i'll ever feel comfortable sleeping without my climbup interceptors!

    take care everyone!

  45. cilecto

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Tue Jul 27 2010 22:48:42
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    > (my mother had told me there was no such thing when i was little and she would say that, now, very cliche phrase to me before bed...you know...the one i can't even bear to say out loud these days).

    B-10! B-10!
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/bed-bugs-to-be-on-rachel-ray-friday#post-60328
    (thanks, 'keets!)

  46. bugration

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Wed Jul 28 2010 9:39:18
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    diebbsdie - 10 hours ago  » 
    did anyone read "angela's ashes?"
    i read it when i moved to nyc the first time in 2004, and McCourt's family had put up with bed bugs due to their extreme poverty.

    This is why I still find it so remarkable how we went from 33% infestation rates pre-World War II to negligible infestation rates from say the 1950s until the early 2000s. There must have been so many other families like the McCourts who couldn't afford to have their bedbugs eradicated, so surely this would have been an endless source of reinfestation for those people who were able to afford bedbug treatment?

  47. cilecto

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Wed Jul 28 2010 10:13:48
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    > There must have been so many other families like the McCourts who couldn't afford to have their bedbugs eradicated, so surely this would have been an endless source of reinfestation for those people who were able to afford bedbug treatment?

    Perhaps people "discriminated" more about who they "mixed" with (in an attempt to avoid this they perceived to be "carriers"). I've been mulling this for a while...you know how it's often said that "the pill" triggered a sexual revolution? Could the post-WWII liberalization of relations between various groups have been enabled by DDT? Are we going to lapse into a more segregated society?

  48. O Buggery

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sun Sep 12 2010 13:45:57
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    My mother, now 80, grew up with bedbugs in sharecropper housing during the Great Depression of the 1930's. Based on what she tells me:

    - Lack of clutter??? Not on your life!!!
    Imagine living in two or three rooms max with family of four, rapidly growing to a family of seven - including one "special needs" (Down's Syndrome) child. You bake all your own bread, can all of your own veggies & preserves, and making a chicken dinner starts by catching & killing the chicken(s). You have no money or next to none, so everything is saved in case it might be needed for something someday.
    Believe you me, everything is everywhere, stacked to the rafters.

    - Walls were made of whatever timber, sticks, and boards were available; the gaps filled with horsehair and plaster. *If* you could afford it, you did mix some sort of poison in with the plaster, and with the paste you used to "wallpaper" with old newspapers (in order to cover even more of the gaps).

    - Furniture was hand-me-downs/castoffs from people who originally bought it used. My mother loves that quote from Maria in The Sound of Music - "These were the things the poor didn't want." If you ever did get hold of a decent piece, you weren't going to toss it just because it had bedbugs.

    - Mattress were ticking stuffed with cotton.

    - What "saved" them was the Kansas winter, followed by assiduous eradication in spring. Kansas does get to 20 below (F) for days/weeks at a time, so there go the bedbugs nested in outer portions of the walls.

    - When the survivors start coming out in the spring, clothing and bedding get washed in boiling water and detergent; and mattresses are sponged down inch by inch, and crevice by cranny, with alcohol.

    - And then you spent the summer squishing any bedbugs you could find, repeating the boiling & sponging when things became intolerable, and experiencing the ever-increasing aroma of bedbugs (including the mortal remains of all the bedbugs you've squished) from your mattress.

    Moral of the story: Fight Bedbugs Early and Often.

    Deeper, much truer and more real, Moral of the Story:
    Don't *Ever* Be That Poor.

    (I will now officially stop whining about the cost of my mattress encasement leaving me with only $25/week for groceries.)


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