[Editor’s Note: Every so often somebody writes something so interesting on our super-secret internal email list that we feel obliged to share it. This time it was a rant on the return of bed bugs of all things. Since Angry Military Man is too busy to post this himself, the duty has fallen to your hombre-in-chief Angry New Mexican. I’ve also included a few select comments by other Angry Men which tickled my funny bone. Enjoy, muchachos!]
Angry Military Man
Bedbugs are real, they are very thin (thinner than a sheet of paper) tiny as bags (width of a full grown adult is about the size of pen dot) that hide away in tiny crevices (like between pages in books), cracks (in the floor/ceiling/wall/electrical wiring) and especially fabric (bedding, box springs, rigs, chairs, etc).
They go several days to weeks between feedings, and each feeding launches them to the next stage of growth (about 7 levels) at which they then begin to breed profusely. The eggs they lay take between 3 days to 3 weeks to hatch. They can go without feeding for over a full year before starving to death, and 4-6 months without oxygen.
They are immune to most all commercial pesticides in use (even Borax). Effectively, only direct contact enzyme killers that eat away the protein exoskeleton, and silica based powders that slice and dice em work. The trouble with all other poisons etc that are residual contact killers is that bedbugs can sense and avoid them… very very well. Roach bombs and fumigation don’t have particles small enough to reach into the cracks where they hide, so only very special nerve gas agents actually work to kill them if you tent a building. The military learned to deal with them in the third world countries by temperature control. Cover a building and raise the internal temperature to above 130 degrees for 12 hours will kill them, as does below freezing (the ENTIRE building) for 6-9 days.
Their one Achilles heel so to speak was DDT. They couldn’t sense it, and even the remotest traces of it killed the fuckers dead in minutes. This is why people think that bedbugs are a myth. For nearly 4 decades America sprayed every damn thing with DDT, which soaks into wood and has the ability to residual kill bedbugs for 30-40 years. So with every building essentially a chemical death trap for the critters, they essentially disappeared. However they existed elsewhere in the third world etc. Once the US banned the use of DDT back in the 70’s the defense against them declined.
Fast forward to modern day, and you get travelers from overseas, who get hitchhikers in their luggage and either bring them home, or bring them to a USA hotel. Being that cleanliness has nothing to do with the bedbugs (it neither draws nor kills nor deters them and in fact apparently encourages the spread of them as they scatter and spread when smelling cleaning agents) almost every single major 4 and 5 star hotel checked by the health departments in NYC, LA, Boston, and SF has tested positive for bedbug infestation in at least some portions of the hotel.
Cities are getting them faster as the article mentions due to used furniture and clothing, but they spread in other ways (physical contact on the streets from person to person in the dense subways). Building to building, and through electrical wiring and plumbing. as well as through used books (they LOVE hiding in between pages). They have also been cropping up in new books (that go through warehouses housing old books) and mattresses (through the delivery vehicles carting off used mattresses next to new ones).
Thankfully they are nothing more than a nuisance unless one is highly allergic. But they are near impossible to get rid off, and truly do take over one’s life.
For those not in the ‘know’ my Brooklyn apartment building got them and though we never got rid of them, I managed to control them in my place so that I went months without a sighting or bite, and when I finally moved I managed to rid myself of them so that they did not follow me. This is very rare and in bedbug support groups I am known as one of the ‘survivor’ stories.
I like nature and all, but I like DDT, too. We need some non-“Silent Spring” hippies to study its actual effects. This is something all non-hippies can get together on. The rich stop being infested with bed-bugs (though the irony of that kind of egalitarian problem amuses me) and the poor stop dying of malaria by the hundreds of millions. DDT – it’s what kept America great for a thousand generations, until the stupid Empire killed it off…
Well there was one real complaint about DDT, it was killing bald eagles. Bald eagles may be pathetic as hunters, but they sure do look awesome next to the flag. America. Fuck Yeah!
Angry Military Man
I imagine if bedbugs keep spreading as fast as they are, in no time at all we will be repealing DDT laws.
Believe me living in NYC I ran into plenty of hippies/liberals who got the nasty things. A few months of living that life is enough to make even the most hardened leftist shout, “Fuck the bald eagle eggs and spray the strongest shit you got”.
I know — I tried to coax my chemist buddy into making me DDT in her lab, and at one point actually started work on making homemade chlorine gas to ‘fumigate’ my apartment. Luckily common sense over-rode my desire to kill all the biting fuckers and I realized how bad an idea it was. I mean I actually liked most of my neighbors and all.