Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bite Back with Bed Bugs on the Rise

(NC)-There's no doubt: bed bugs are still biting.

According to experts at Orkin Canada, the bed bug resurgence can likely be contributed to an increase in travel, changes in treatments, and incorrect management of infestations, among other factors. The pests' nocturnal habits and ability to survive for a year without a meal, in extreme temperatures and in almost any location - from homes to hotels to cruise ships - only add to the challenge.

The size of an apple seed, adult bed bugs are flat, oval-shaped insects that are light tan to brown in color. Bed bugs feed only on blood, and the pests swell and turn a reddish color after eating.

"Bed bugs are great hitchhikers and can travel easily from place to place," said Orkin Director of Quality Assurance Zia Siddiqi, Ph.D. "Anyone is susceptible to an infestation - we've treated multiple infestations in the past year in homes, small motels and luxury resorts. While it's never been proven that bed bugs transmit disease, it's important to stop an infestation before it gets out of hand."

To help identify and prevent bed bugs, travelers should follow these tips:

. Monitor for small brown or red stains on sheets that emit a musty, sweet odor, similar to soda pop syrup.

. Check for the pests along mattress seams and tags and behind baseboards and headboards. Bed bugs travel 15 to 20 feet to feed, so examine furniture (upholstered, wood, or even metal) and window treatments near the bed, as well.

. Be on the lookout for itchy, bloody welts on the skin, which may be a result of bed bug bites.

. After traveling, wash all clothing immediately and keep the luggage outside of the living space - preferably in the garage.

. Trap any suspicious pests and show them to a pest management professional immediately.

Bed bugs are extremely difficult to treat, so trust an experienced professional to determine the best treatment options. More information is available online at or toll-free at 1-800-800-ORKIN.

Judge Bedford's Decision on the Bedbug Case


Petitioner-Landlord, INDEX NO.
L&T 097059/2003

165 Ludlow Street, Apartment # 3-C,
New York, New York 10002,






Cyril K. Bedford, Judge, Housing Part


Robert Erlich, Esq., Of Counsel
Attorneys for Petitioner,
205 Lexington Avenue, 19th Floor
New York, New York 10017

Steven De Castro, Esq., Of Counsel
Attorneys for Respondent,
305 Broadway, 9th Floor
New York, New York 10016


Petitioner, Ludlow Properties, LLC. ("Petitioner"), commenced this holdover proceeding against respondent, Peter H. Young ("Respondent") seeking unpaid rents for 165 Ludlow Street, Apartment # 3-C, New York, New York 10002 ("Premises"). Respondent interposed a breach of warranty of habitability defense stemming largely from the presence of bedbugs in the Premises.

The trial was held on April 22, 2004 (Tape # 67959, Counter # 2625 to End; Tape # 67960, Counter # 0 to 276). After considering the credible evidence and testimony at trial, the Court makes the following findings of fact and conclusions of law:

The parties stipulated to most of Petitioner's prima facie case. Petitioner is the owner and landlord of the Premises which is a rent stabilized apartment in a multiple dwelling, duly registered in both respects. Respondent is in possession of the Premises pursuant to a written lease commencing April 1, 2003 and the monthly rent is currently $ 1,025.00. As stipulated by the parties, the sum of $ 6,550.00 is unpaid through April 30, 2004.
The Premises is a studio apartment with a sleeping loft raised on the brick wall on one side of the studio room with bathroom facilities within the Premises on the other. Respondent slept in the loft bed until he realized the Premises was infested with bedbugs when in the end of June 2003 he saw a posting (Respondent Exhibit "B-1") in the lobby of the building which read:
"ATTENTION TENANTS please be advised that the exterminator will be in the building on Saturday August 2nd between 9AM and 2PM for a special service for the bed bugs. Please remove all sheets and pillowcases from your beds. Place all dirty clothing in bags to have it cleaned. Pull all bookshelves and other fixtures away from the walls for better access to those areas..."

Upon reading this posting, Respondent realized the cause of the hundreds of bite marks he had noticed on his body since mid-June 2003 and why he was often startled awake many nights during this period–bed bugs.
Over the next few months Respondent employed four methods to attempt a restful night of sleep--none of which proved effective. First he threw out his bed and all his bedding and slept on the floor after placing towels on the floor. He quickly realized this method was useless as he was still bitten hundreds of times. Next he put plastic sheeting on the floor in the sleeping area he prepared. This method proved just as useless. In the third week of August, he bought an inflatable mattress to sleep upon. Besides the mattress requiring re-inflation at least once during the night, the mattress was unacceptable as bedbugs still preyed upon his skin. Finally, since mid-September 2004, Respondent has been sleeping on a metal cot with a wire mesh covering (Respondent Exhibit "D"). This appeared to stop the biting of the bedbugs, but as demonstrated in the court room no real comfort was possible in this less than six foot metal cot.
For the period July 2003 through December 2003 Respondent saw bed bugs on a regular basis. Respondent found bedbugs on his couch as late as December 2003. Respondent testified that he threw out a couch containing bed bug nests, an armoire, a shelf, books, drapes, towels, linens and clothes. Respondent testified that threw out everything except family heirlooms.
Respondent related a story about his Christmas holiday in December 2003 at his family's home in Massachusetts. He had to enter the family home through the basement, take off all his clothes and place them in a plastic bag and then seal the bag with duct tape. He then took a hot shower for a half hour and was required to wear his father's clothes all weekend to make sure he did not bring any of the nymphs into his parents' home.
Petitioner had notice of the bedbug infestation since June 2003, according to Mr. Cruze of the building's management. Petitioner's then exterminator established an attack plan to combat the bedbugs (See: Respondent Exhibit "A"). It was in essence:
All sheets, quilts, comforters and pillowcases to be removed from the beds and washed using hot water and detergent. All night stands, bureaus, dressers and closets to be emptied and all furniture and stored items to be moved away from the walls. Once this criteria was met, the exterminators could begin treatment.
The treatment entailed spraying the mattresses, box springs and bedframes with products labeled for that application to target the bedbugs. Walls in the bedroom and living rooms were to be drilled and dust injected in the void areas. Baseboards, crack and crevices throughout the apartment were to be injected with aerosol products to flush out the bedbugs. The exterminator was to check outlets, picture frames, dressers and all furniture.

The exterminator's report indicates that bed bugs are tenacious and adapt very well to their environment and can go a whole year without feeding. They can migrate to other apartments quickly through the walls on the interior and exterior. Bed bugs can go from endemic to epidemic if not handled properly (See: Respondent Exhibit "A"). The exterminator had anticipated two extermination treatments along with sealing of the cracks in each apartment, to control the bedbug outbreak in the building which affected nearly nine of the sixty apartments in the building. The infestation seemed to be clustered in a specific area of the building. Each extermination was expected to last two to three months.
Petitioner chose to adopt the methodology in the report to combat the bedbugs as suggested by his exterminators (Respondent Exhibit "A"). However, the exterminators in attempting to eradicate the bed bug infestation in the Premises ended up exterminating in the Premises on five occasions in the year 2003 starting in June 2003.
In addition to the bedbugs Respondent also complained to Petitioner concerning the condition of the shower stall and the kitchen unit shortly after he moved into the Premises. For three weeks in January 2004, three of Petitioner's workers labored in the Premises to correct the conditions. Petitioner's workers removed the old shower stall unit and installed a bathtub (Respondent Exhibit "E-3") which leaked after installation and caused damage to the studio room floor (Respondent Exhibit "E-4"). To date, there is a maze of piping from the kitchen area to the newly installed bathtub.
The Court finds the condition of bedbugs in the building generally was known to Petitioner early in June 2003 and with respect to the Premises particularly in late June 2003 when Respondent informed Petitioner. An abatement based upon the implied warranty of habitability pursuant to Real Property Law § 235-b protects only against conditions that materially affect the health and safety of tenants or deficiencies that in the eyes of a reasonable person deprive the tenant of those essential functions which a residence is expected to provide. (Sollow v Wellner, 86 NY2d 582 quoting Park W. Mgt. Corp. v Mitchell, 47 NY2d 316). Respondent showed through his graphic testimony that the bed bug infestation impacted or affected his health, safety and welfare and use of the Premises. There can be no doubt that the presence of the bed bugs in the Premises satisfies the above criteria for an abatement under these set of facts.
It is now for the Court, in an apparent case of first impression involving warranty of habitability due to bed bugs to determine the diminution in value of the Premises. Although bedbugs are classified as vermin, they are unlike the more common situation of vermin such as mice and roaches which although offensive do not have the effect on one's life as bed bugs do, feeding upon one's blood in hoards nightly turning what is supposed to be bed rest or sleep into a hellish experience. Therefore, the cases involving abatements for "vermin" (i.e. mice and roaches) are of limited precedential value for the Court in fashioning an appropriate abatement.
The only reported cases involving bedbugs which the Court was able to find come from the early 1900's and predate warranty of habitability. These early cases revolve around whether the presence of the bedbugs constituted a constructive eviction. The cases turn on the severity of the infestation.
The Court is mindful that with time the prevalence of cases in which bedbugs are involved is sure to increase to an epidemic as the foothold the bed bugs have obtained in the urban setting of City of New York grows ever larger. However, in fixing what is a proper abatement the Court is also mindful that the condition may not be attributable to a landlord, and that the landlord may attempt multiple exterminations to little or no avail due the resiliency of bedbugs from eradication.
In this case the bed bugs did not constitute mere annoyance, but constituted an intolerable condition, notwithstanding the landlord's efforts to exterminate them. Respondent however did not vacate the Premises or raise the defense of constructive eviction. In circumstances as in this case where a landlord has tried repeatedly to exterminate but the infestation is so overwhelming that although the tenant may have been relieved of his obligation to pay rent had he vacated, as he did not equity requires the court take into account the purposes for which the Premises was still being utilized by Respondent. Stated differently, the Court looks to what essential functions or uses Respondent still used the Premises notwithstanding the bed bugs.
Clearly one essential function of a residence is a place to sleep, but it is not the only function. Respondent continued to use the Premises for shelter, eating, bathing and for work purposes which are other essential functions, or activities a premises is utilized. This in no way diminishes what Respondent went through, however whatever benefit was still being derived by Respondent from the Premises is fair to take into consideration in determining the abatement.
Based upon the small size of the Premises, the severity of the bedbug infestation, the effect the infestation had on Respondent, the lack of showing Petitioner's efforts to eradicate the bed bugs on a building-wide scale, Petitioner's diligent efforts to eradicate the bed bugs and the use Respondent continued to make of the Premises, the Court finds an abatement of 45 % commencing July 1, 2003 (date rent first sought in the petition) through December 31, 2003 to be appropriate [6 x $1,025.00 less 45%= $ 2,767.50]. Respondent is granted an additional abatement in the sum of $ 150.00 for the other conditions complained of.
There was no testimony that any bedbugs were seen or present after December 2003. Presumably the multiple exterminations have finally turned the tide, and hopefully rendered the Premises bed bug free. Although Respondent continues to curtail his full use of the Premises by sleeping on the metal cot rather than buy another bed for fear of re-infestation, there was no showing or testimony by a qualified expert that this is a potential risk due to a latency period before one can determine whether the eradication is successful, this precaution adopted by Respondent on his own cannot serve for the Court to grant a continuing abatement after December 31, 2003.

Accordingly, final judgment of possession in Petitioner's favor in the sum of $ 3,632.50 [$ 6,550.00, less abatements of $ 2,767.50 and $ 150.00] representing unpaid rents less abatement through April 30, 2003. Issuance of warrant is stayed five days.

This constitutes the decision and order of the court.

Dated: New York, New York
June 10, 2004

Cyril K. Bedford
Judge, Housing Part

Thursday, January 10, 2008

bed bugs, killing their eggs

Information from

“But what to do about these pests? First, believe it or not, check for
bats. Bedbugs often feed on bats. If the bats decide to move into your
attic, it won't be long before the bedbugs decide to take a look at
the rest of the house. Eradicate the source and you've gone a long
way towards eradicating the bugs. Another possible carrier is the

“Bed bugs are mostly found in bedrooms as they generally feed at night
when the host is asleep. When not feeding they live in the bed frame
or cracks and crevices around the room. They do not harbour in the
mattress or bedding material. They are reddish brown in colour turning
blood red after feeding. The adult reaches approximately 5mm in length
and passes through five nymph stages over a period of time to 128
days. The female lays her eggs in batches of 10 to 50, they are white
in colour and deposited on various surfaces with a thin glue. They
take on average 10 days to hatch and can mature into adults within one
to two months given ample food.

The female is then ready to start laying eggs. The speed of
development depends on temperature and food availability.
Surprisingly, bed bugs can live longer without food and can go without
feeding for up to 140 days; the adult typically lives for about 10
months but can survive for a year or longer in cool buildings. This
sensitivity to temperature means bed bugs will start to die if
temperatures drop below 9ºC or rise above 36ºC. However, modern
buildings have created ideal conditions for the bed bug with central
heating and easy access to adjoining properties being commonplace.”

I have found no incidence of books infested with bedbugs, but I
should think that any of the extermination methods below would work on
bedbugs as well. Are you quite certain your books have been infested?

“Adult female bedbugs lay two to four eggs a day in crevices in
upholstery, furnishings, baseboards or other trim, picture frames, or
pretty much anywhere else they can find a suitable crack in close
proximity to humans.”
“Adult bedbugs often live in structural cracks and gaps in bed frames,
night tables, and headboards; as well as in mattresses and structural
elements of a room. There, they lie in wait until you hit the sack and
fall asleep -- and then they make their move.”
“You should also remove all clothing from the room, including any that
is stored in closets, trunks, and night tables. Clothing should be
washed or dry-cleaned as appropriate to the fabric. In addition, any
luggage you have used recently should be available for inspection and
possible treatment by the pest control operator. (Bedbugs often
hitch-hike in baggage.)”

“By day they hide in dark, dry places in beds, mattresses, cracks in
walls and floors, and furniture; they are also found behind pictures
and wallpaper; hiding places are also used for breeding. The bugs are
frequently abundant in bedrooms in warm climates.”
“Infestations can be detected by the examination of possible hiding
places for the presence of live bugs, cast-off nymphal skins, eggs and
excreta. The excreta may also be visible as small dark brown or black
marks on bed sheets, walls and wallpaper (4). Houses with large
numbers of bedbugs may have a characteristic unpleasant smell. Live
bugs can be detected by spraying an aerosol of pyrethrum into cracks
and crevices, thus irritating them and driving them out of their
hiding places.”

“These are nocturnal animals. They don't like light, and so they hide
during hours when the room is lighted and feed only at night. Their
hiding places can include virtually ANY tiny crack or opening into
which they can squeeze their flattened bodies. This commonly is
bedside furniture such as night stands, chairs, or dressers, as well
as the bed framing and creases and folds on the mattress. They may
hide under lamps, behind pictures on the walls, under the covers for
electrical outlets, or even on the ceiling under the plates for
ceiling lights and fans. They may crawl into items stored under the
bed, or wander into the closet for the multitude of possibilities

“Even with the excellent tools available to the professional pest
management industry, it likely will take several visits to your home
to eliminate the bedbugs, once they have become well established.
These are tough insects to get rid of. The females can deposit up to
200 eggs over a period of several weeks, gluing them to surfaces
within their hiding places. Bedbugs cannot fly, but they crawl very
rapidly, and now are being found in rooms away from the bedroom as
well. They squeeze into wall voids where it is difficult to place an
insecticide, adding to the difficulty in their control.”

“Most important, though, would be to carefully examine our beds and
rooms for the bits of evidence of bedbugs that were discussed earlier
- fecal blood spots, bites over our bodies, and the insects themselves
behind pictures on the walls or in the folds of the mattress. We might
even notice a funny smell in the room that could be associated with
bedbugs. You could purchase some small glue pads to place under the
bed or under dressers, and possibly capture the bugs as they crawl out
from their hiding places. If these are used they must be placed where
household pets will not get them stuck onto their fur.”

From AntiqueWeb’s section on book preservations:
“I have an infestation. How can I get rid of bugs in my books?
Identify the bug if possible (trap one with sticky pest strips) and
try to answer the following questions that a professional will ask
1. Is the insect already dead or alive and how many insects are there?
2. How many books are affected and with what kind of damage?
3. Have you seen insects like these elsewhere in your home?
4. Where have the books been stored and are they damp or moldy?
5. How valuable and old are the books?

Isolate the affected books by placing them in a tightly sealed plastic
bag. Seek assistance from an entomologist. A local university or state
extension service should be able to put you in touch with one.
Fumigation must be performed by professionals under controlled
conditions. Non-chemical preventive measures against insects include:
1. Seal entry points including windows, doors and put filters on vents.
2. Keep room temperatures and humidity levels low (insects need water, too).
3. Keep the environment clean and dusted, and don't store books near
food or rubbish, etc.
Dessicant dusts like diatomaceous earth or silica, can be used around
the perimeters of a room, but will not be effective for insects with a
winged portion of the life cycle.”

Per the NY Historical Society, in this old post, microwaving books is a poor idea!
“Someone mentioned the use of a home microwave to kill bugs in books. I
strongly discourage such use for a variety of reasons the first being
the possible damage done to the paper at the fiber level. Other reasons
include the reaction of glues to microwaving also other components of
the binding may curl or cockle due to moisture being driven from them.
However, in my file of Horrors I did run across a short article from the
NY Post, March 27, 1989 where two forestry professors at Syracuse
University had talked about preserving books by tossing them in a
microwave and "nuke 'em for a minute". They did mention that some of
the glues melt and any metal associated with the book causes sparking
and they did have a few problems with charring the covers!!! but they
felt that they were close to practical use. It was a very short
article, but there was no mention of the effect on the paper. PLEASE
do not try this.”

Yet another site gives the green light to microwaving books! Note that
this is mentioned as working for silverfish and booklice. We don’t
know if it is effective on bedbug eggs.

“Books infested by silverfish and booklice can be placed in a kitchen
microwave oven for 30 to 60 seconds (Brezner 1988, Brezner and Luner
1989). Most books can undergo this treatment without any damage. The
glue on paperback book bindings may soften initially, causing the book
to curl a little, but if the book is set on a flat table, it will soon
straighten out. This treatment is not recommended for very old books
made of parchment or other fragile paper, or for books with gilding or
color illustrations that may contain metallic salts in their
paints—metals and microwaves don’t mix.”

“You do need to worry about taking the pests with you. Bed bugs may
be transported from place to place on clothing or in luggage or
furniture, and they can migrate from house to house. Eggs are
generally laid in cracks, not on people or clothing. The bugs are
nocturnal and during the day, they hide in cracks in the walls, under
the baseboard, in the springs of a bed, under the edge of a mattress,
under wallpaper, and in similar places. My advice is to fumigate
before leaving, only take furniture that is irreplacable. Get a new
box spring and mattress, eliminate most of your clothing and only
take freshly laundered clothing to your new place.”

“…depending on the material it is then frozen at -30 C for one week
after which it is reexamined and then refrozen if any signs of
activity remain. This is repeated until no traces of insect life are
left. The freezing process is necessary because even if all visible
insect remains have been removed, there could still be thousands of
microscopic eggs present which cannot be removed manually. Freezing at
the prescribed temperature will kill all insect life stages.”

“Once the infested materials are found, they should be isolated
immediately (archival boxes sealed inside bags are sufficient) and
then put through the above freezing process. If proper facilities are
not available on site, cold storage facilities can often be rented, or
cold storage trucks called "reefer" trucks can be brought on site.
Caught in time, infestations are relatively easy to control. With the
recent replacement of toxic chemical fumigants with the freezing
process, there is no risk to human health. If proper preventative
measures are in place, however, infestations should not arise.”

The idea of inspecting and brushing the gutters, page by page sounds
like an effective way of removing bedbug eggs:
“If clear evidence of infestation is discovered, the following action
should be taken:
• Isolate infested material from non-infested material immediately. If
in doubt, treat all material as if affected.
• Take books and papers from shelves and thoroughly dust them,
preferably outside. Brush book gutters carefully, page by page, to
remove hidden eggs. Remove and brush book jackets and plastic covers.
If this is done indoors, brush onto waste paper and then bag and
discard the waste.
• Move or dismantle shelves and carefully dust and vacuum the site,
including under rugs and carpets.
• Only reshelve books after thorough checking and cleaning.
Insecticides and mothballs are not recommended, as they can have
harmful effects on human health as well as on books and papers. It
should also be remembered that insecticides have little effect on
insect eggs, which may hatch weeks after sprays have ceased to be
effective. However, if the infestation persists a professional pest
control company should be contacted.”

Radio Frequency:
“The possibilities for radio-frequency insect pest control are
enormous. Radio-frequency insect pest control can be used to manage
insect infestations in libraries books, vellum books, papers and
documents, archives papers and documents, museum collections antique
textiles, oriental rugs, furniture as well as stored spices, nuts and
milled grains. It may be a solution to the problem of finding
suitable, safe and effective alternatives to fumigation libraries
books and documents. For a pesticide to be effective it must be toxic
so at some point the residual effects will be harmful to an innocent
species. Absolutely no chemicals are used by Midwest Freeze-Dry
during treatment in the radio frequency field.”

I suggest you call the local library and ask who they would recommend
to deinfest your books. Library archivists are pros in book
restoration and will more than likely have some good ideas. Before
spending large amounts of money though, be sure you actually have
bookbugs, er, bedbugs!

If any part of my answer is unclear, please request an Answer
Clarification, before rating, and I will be happy to respond.

Sincerely, Crabcakes

Search Terms
Book preservation + insects
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RF + books + insects