City trying to get handle on resurgent bed bugs
For more and more New Yorkers, it is no longer possible to sleep tight the bed bugs are biting.
As complaints about the tiny bloodsuckers skyrocket, the City Council Tuesday took up a package of proposals aimed at curbing the nocturnal nuisances, which many say are rampant.
Im petrified to turn the lights off at night, said Mary Pane, 50, of Manhattan, whos had bed bugs for more than a month. Im not getting proper sleep, I cant concentrate at work.Complaints to the city about bed bugs in private apartments and hotels have more than doubled during the past two years, to 9,213 in fiscal year 2008. City officials and advocates for victims say the number of cases is likely higher because a lot of people dont lodge complaints and infestations in public housing are referred to a different agency.
In 2008, there were 22,218 bed bug-related calls to 311, though some were repeat callers or simply people seeking information.
Jody Gangloff-Kaufman, an entomologist at Cornell University, who testified before a joint City Council committee, said bed bugs, once nearly eradicated in New York, have re-emerged in recent years. The banning of certain chemicals, like DDT, is among the reasons for the resurgence, experts say.
Theyre nearly impossible to get rid of, said Gangloff-Kaufman. Our grandparents knew how to deal with it. We dont.
Four bills sponsored by Council member Gale Brewer (D-Manhattan) would create a bed bugs task force, ban the sale of used mattresses, establish training for exterminators and regulate the disposal of infected mattresses.
Dr. Edgar Butts, an exterminator and veterinarian for the city health department, said his agency would support the task force but stopped short of endorsing the other proposals.
Those who have lived with the pests say it often takes multiple exterminations and sometimes thousands of dollars to get rid of them.
I threw away everything, said Sirajul Laskar, 42, of Jackson Heights, who added that 22 of the 52 apartments in his building have had bed bugs. "They sprayed three times and still bedbugs.
Marlene Naanes and Melinda Hsia contributed to this story