Question of the Day: The Bed Bug Paranoia Scale

Bedbug_main According to the New York Times, "in 2009, 1 in 15 New Yorkers had bedbugs in their homes, a number that is probably higher now."

Argggggg!!!!! I had two New Yorkers over to my house this weekend. I better find the Lysol and decontaminate their chairs. 

I stayed in three different hotels this month. Arrrgggg!!!!

Question of the Day: On a scale from 1 to 100, how would you rate your bedbug paranoia? (I'm at a 92.)


23 thoughts on “Question of the Day: The Bed Bug Paranoia Scale

  1. Probably somewhere in the 70s, rising to the 80s when publicity ramps up.
    We get signs in the hallways reminding us that bedbugs can and do travel in kids’ backpacks. There’s a LOT of rental housing in this area, a LOT of international migration, and that means a LOT of bedbug cycles.
    Plus, we travel through hotels every summer.
    The kids now not to settle down until we’ve pulled back the hotel sheets and checked behind the bedboards. But what are you going to do about backpacks at school!?

  2. Pretty low. I must admit, reading the last post here that mentioned bedbugs was the first time I’ve even thought about them since 1996, when I was working a job that required constant travel and had to stay in some of the more godforsaken areas of Illinois.
    Lice are a different matter. We’ve had several rounds of head lice over the years, and my daughter has long, thick, wavy hair that is a real PITA to comb out. Goddamn do I hate lice. Do they serve any function at all in the biosphere? Why can’t they go extinct?!!

  3. “my daughter has long, thick, wavy hair that is a real PITA to comb out”
    Mine too. But, I think the problem with lice (and bed bugs) is the over reaction. We’ve gotten so used to sanitized environments that we can’t tolerate a little dirt and bugs. I’ll admit, we haven’t had a bed bug infestation, so I don’t know how much distress one would cause. And, we’re fortunate that our neck of the woods is fairly easy to keep the bugs down (no real problem with mosquitos, ants, termites, or cockroaches). But, I’m always reminded of the note they leave in hotel rooms in Hawaii (“Please remember, you are in a tropical environment. Bugs will occasionally be seen. If you call, the front desk will respond to requests to remove bugs from your room.). They’re not talking about bedbugs, of course. But, bugs are part of our world.
    Not sure what role lice play in the world, though, I’ll admit. Mosquitos are important, though, even though they’re hateful.

  4. My bedbug paranoia is just about at 100. I’m certain it’s not a matter of if, but when. At least lice is pretty much confined to hair. Bedbugs ruin your furniture and you have to throw out your belongings. Not cool.

  5. 1 in 15 is 6.7%. I suspect that the percentage isn’t evenly distributed among New Yorkers, either, and that you probably don’t mix much with the higher-percentage crowed or sleep in the same hotels. So, my fear is at about 0, and while yours should be higher, because of having kids, it should be quite low, too.

  6. bj, we have friends who’ve had bedbugs. It Is Bad. They bite you and suck your blood. Repeatedly. The bites itch. A lot. Once they are in your home, they are very hard to remove. Super-heating is probably the only way to go, but if you have any fragile furnishings or clothing, you will have to throw them away. A single bedbug can live a year without eating, so if you miss one, eventually, they will come back.
    Bedbugs combine the thrill of mosquito bites with the joys of sleep deprivation (thanks to the anxiety of being bit). From what I’ve seen, it’s not good.
    Matt, if your kid goes to a school with any percentage of kids who live in apartment buildings, and any percentage of the apartment residents travel internationally or get their upholstered furniture used, or both, your risk is pretty high. And if you sleep in a Holiday Inn Express or a Hampton Inn or a Marriott, your risk of bedbugs is pretty darn elevated. Bedbugs don’t require poor personal hygiene to spread.

  7. I don’t worry about bedbugs much. It seems to be something that happens in Philly, but not at my end of the state. Like high murder rates or not seeing people wearing mullets.

  8. I’m married to an entomologist. A student of mine knew this, and brought in some bedbug samples for him from an apartment she moved into in Champaign, IL. She and the landlord were fighting over payment for fumigation. Landlord claimed she’d brought them in.
    I also recently wrote an article in the local paper about confirmed specimens here in the rural western Nebraska Panhandle.
    You’d think I’d be more OK with things, but I’d classify myself in the 90s based on a few things.
    1. My known psychological reaction to a leech glomming onto my ankle.
    2. My significant reaction to mosquito bites.
    3. My difficulty in getting to sleep when I know there’s a mosquito in the room.
    Parasites . . . *shudder*.

  9. My anxiety is at 110 after having gone through a class trip 3 years ago where 75% of my students ended up with bed bugs. There’s nothing like being 6 months pregnant and being made to camp out in the woods, only to come home and find out that you may have infested your home with parasites! My anxiety has remained in high gear after that event. We rarely stay in hotels and rarely go to the movies. However, I check for them regularly before sitting down in public places, slightly obsessively vacuum the house, and have the mattresses in covers. We need some new chairs and a new couch, and I am panicked about having to buy new furniture b/c stores are not immune to bed bug infestations. Ugh.

  10. As a regular person, my paranoia scale is about here yours is – around 90. As a political scientist, I see this as a great example of agenda setting in the media – maybe not for you all in NY where I hear they are very bad, but for those of us in areas where it hasn’t really hit yet. All I see when I turn on the news is BEDBUGS, BEDBUGS, BEDBUGS and I can help but freak out!

  11. here in the rural western Nebraska Panhandle
    Fortunately, I won’t go west of Grand Island this weekend.
    Anyway, maybe the bedbugs are Teh Stimulus. Cash for Cankers.

  12. Laura,
    You’ve triggered a roach-filled Terminix ad on the right hand bar of the blog. Good work!
    Some years ago in DC (before the bedbug scare really got going) we had a lot of unexplained bites. Since we’ve been in Texas, there have been far fewer mystery bites, although I did once flick a flat bug off me that was the spitting image of the photo. However, Texas is so full of all sorts of insect life that it could have been something completely different. One thing we may have going for us is that in warm weather, little geckos roam all over the house, eating bugs and bug eggs.

  13. Maybe “Cash for Cankers” isn’t going to catch on, but convincing if you convince enough people to buy new sheets and a sofa, the economy would really improve.

  14. I think we have them. At least, hubby and I have both had several bites in the last few days, on parts of our bodies that are always hidden under clothes. None on the kids. If I knew the number of bugs was going to stay low (1 bite per night), I think I’d just tolerate them. But I don’t want the numbers climbing, so we will have to start on some kind of decontamination. Ugg.

  15. Some friends of the family just solved their months-long bedbug problem with Diatomaceous earth. They had spent several thousand (!) dollars with Orkin which hadn’t worked at all and finally were desperate enough to try something else.
    It’s a chalky white powder made of ground-up fossilized marine animals. You can buy it at the hardware store.

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