When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

22 August 2006

Bedbug jihad update

Dear neighbors,

As a few of you in the building have inquired as to our progress with our anti-bedbug campaign, being Similarly Afflicted or Merely Curious, I thought that I would update you all on our progress.

It was about six weeks ago, in early July, that we noticed that we were getting up in the morning with ugly red welts on our legs and arms. We didn't see any bedbugs at first, but having talked with others in the building (and read the news about the massive bedbug infestations in New York City) we pretty much knew what was going on. The little f***ers do not spread any diseases (that anyone knows of), but their bites are very itchy and unpleasant, and anyway being fed on while one sleeps is enough to skeeve anyone out thoroughly.

The exterminator coming by twice a month to spray for whatever was not making it. We did some research**, and found that bedbugs require focused and determined and repeated efforts at extermination. It requires separate, and repeated, visits from an exterminator to control the problem; it can take weeks or months to bring an infestation under control, and we determined that we might well be better off buying some Dangerous Chemicals and methodically taking our bedroom apart and doing the job ourselves.

We found an excellent supplier of said chemicals in Rockland County, NY. www.bugclinic.com, the website of Environmental Chemical Co, Inc (674 N. Main St, Spring Valley, NY 10977; 845-356-2837), sells professional exterminator supplies to the general public over the Internets. Being a Southerner and so naturally enthusiastic (and having considerable aptitude) when it comes to killing shit, I bought about $150 worth of stuff (the cost of one comprehensive exterminator visit, by the way) to test out on our unwelcome guests, as follows:

-- AllPro Bug Killer Spray, 1 gallon, $20. A persistent, relatively low-toxicity (to mammals) agent that kills for weeks. You can spray this on your mattress, box springs, all over, and put the sheets and so forth right on top of it. It hasn't harmed us or the animals doing this, at least not yet (twitch, twitch.)

-- Two cans Whitmire PI Aerosol, $30 each (this stuff is like Raid on steroids, knocks down bugs fast, and you want to take major precautions when using it - do NOT inhale this stuff.)

-- One large container Drione Dust, $30 (silica gel + pesticide - very effective but messy and can't be used in areas where pets can get to.)

- 1 oz concentrated Gentrol (is supposed to disrupt the bedbug breeding cycle; this is my plan to salt the earth behind me in a few more weeks.) - $12.

I also followed their Excellent Directions for dealing with bedbugs, which involve a lot of cleaning and vacuuming and so forth.

I think that the most cost-effective solution is the All Pro Spray, at $20/gallon. This stuff is potent, works well, and a gallon will last a looooong time in apartments the size of ours. If your infestation is serious, get a can of the Whitmire PI too but use gloves and a mask (seriously) when you spray it, and air the rooms out well before you re-enter. The Drione dust is too messy and impractical to deal with, and I suspect that I was snookered on this Gentrol stuff but have not tried it yet to find out (and am not sure how I will assess the results once I do.)

It would be a very good idea to attempt some kind of coordinated effort to kill all the bedbugs in the building at once. If they keep migrating from apartment to apartment within the walls, we could be living with them for a very long time.


- bc

** See, e.g.: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/bedbugs/ (Harvard School of Public Health on bedbugs and their control) or any of the other reputable sources on the net.

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