New York City is under siege from bloodsuckers, and this is not some fantasy novel or vampire movie shoot for a sequel to Twilight. No, from the offices of Bill Clinton in Harlem, to the rich bitch residential districts of Manhattan to tony stores frequented by beautiful people, bedbugs have made a big comback in the Big Apple.
CBS News and the Wall Street Journal have reported that the Victoria’s Secret store on Lexington Ave. in the Upper East Side was closed and fumigated due to an infestation of bedbugs. Dogs trained to sniff out the bloodsucking mites were then brought in to check the efficacy of the extermination.
We’ll Take Manhattan
According to the Web site Bedbugger.com, CBS itself has been victimized. Satellite offices leased by the TV network have been infested. According to the site, rival NBC has reported Selis Manor, an institution for housing the visually impaired located in the Chelsea neighborhood, is fighting a bedbug infestation.
Bedbugger.com also reports that another location in Chelsea, the Best Buy Baby store, is infested, and that the
Abercrombie and Fitch (A&C) store at the South Street Seaport has been shuttered because of bedbugs. The Wall Street Journal reported that a Hollister Epic store in SoHo is infested. Holister Epic is an A&C subsidiary.
This is just activity from early July. Other new infestations were reported at a Manhattan advertising agency and at a Brooklyn movie theater, according to the WSJ. Euro RSCG Worldwide’s offices on Hudson Street were closed on Friday, July 16th, after bedbugs were found. The agency, which confirmed that the creepy critters were found in five of its offices, reopened on Monday, July 19th, after it was fumigated. In Brooklyn’s desirable Park Slope neighborhood, patrons of the Pavilion movie theater claim that it was fumigated for bedbugs. Previously, after an earlier fumigation, the theater manager denied that it had a bedbug problem and stated that fumigation was a regular process so that it did not become a problem.
Bedbugs are so hardy, they can survive on a New York City subway car and hitch rides on unwary and unlucky passengers. Alec Baldwin’s character Jack Donaghy on the TV show 30 Rock rode the subway lamenting the infestation of his Upper East side aerie. Hearing this, a homeless person sitting near him scooted away.
A week ago, the Wall Street Journal reported that a triage room Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn’s East Flatbush neighborhood had to be fumigated. The hospital confirmed the infestation but kicked a reporter and photographer from the WSJ off the grounds.
The WSJ quoted a NYC Department of Health spokesperson as saying that eliminating bedbugs is the responsibility of the effected business or institution. The spokesperson denied that there was a threat of people being bitten while going to a business that had been infected.
“Bedbugs bite people when they are still, and that usually occurs in the home.”
Bedbugs do not spread disease, but their bite is extremely irritating.
Joel Fagin, the owner of Brooklyn’s Dial-A-Bug Pest Control, was quoted by the WSJ as saying there have been an increase in calls due to the hot weather, which is normal. According to Fagin, “Excessive heat stirs them up a little more.”
He says his company is now averaging approximately 30 to 40 inquiries daily.
A unique aspect of the recent upsurge in bedbug infestations is that it is an equal opportunity pest. Once thought of as mainly afflicting the poor in run-down neighborhoods, bedbug infestations have affected even the rich. Even former U.S. Presidents are not immune.
The New York Daily News reported in August 2009 that Bill Clinton and his staff had to abandon their Harlem office due to an infestation. August is a brutally hot and humid month in the Big Apple.
New York Magazine, in its May 2, 2010 issue, revealed that bedbug infestations were bedeviling Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side neighborhood. The NYC Department of Health Department recorded 10,985 complaints of bedbugs that led to 4,084 citations against landlords in 2009 versus 537 complaints and 82 violations in 2004.
Jeff Eisenberg of Pest Away Exterminating, who has made a name for himself as a top bedbug exterminator in Manhattan, revealed in the New York article that his firm alone has been averaging 50 to 75 calls from the Upper East side weekly, and this was before the summer time boom in bedbug activity.
Eisenberg says that In 2004 there was one only one bedbug violation reported in the Upper East Side and 13 in 2009. Bedbug infestations in upscale neighborhoods are vastly under-reported, he says, as the wealthy owners of apartments, brownstones or co-ops handle the problem themselves. They do not call up the Department of Health to complain as they are their own landlords.
Manhattan home-owners who have been afflicted with bed bugs tend to be silent publicly in order not to ruin their property values. They also suffer from the shame of suffering a blight typically associated with the lower classes and the “unclean.” Eisenberg says they hurt frequently themselves by going into a form of denial.
This covering up of a major problem based on the inaccurate perception that bedbug infestations happen only to other, more unfortunate people, could be a cause of the growth of the bedbug problem in New York City, according to New York Magazine. Homeowners suffering from bedbug infestations who delay dealing with their problem and putting off extermination gives the bloodsucking mites more time to breed, exacerbating the severity of the original infestation.
Bedbugger.com, Bed bugs at Buy Buy Baby in Chelsea, a fancy Hamptons rental, and possibly still in Hollister
New York Daily News, “Bill Clinton’s bedbug battle, Ryan Reynolds reaches out”
New York Magazine, “Bedbugs in the Duvet; An infestation on the Upper East Side”