Please note that we are not equipped to provide consumer advice on bed bug management (whom to hire, what to buy). Do feel free to contact us, but you may also wish to review the questions and answers below and our resources page.
Can you recommend an exterminator (pest management professional) — someone who is really good, the best in New York City?
- We don’t recommend pest control products and services as a matter of policy.
- Services vary according to the training, skill and work ethic of the technician actually servicing your home, the time scheduled for the service, and who is paying for the service and how much is being paid. Therefore, it is difficult to identify the best companies. Pest control companies have multiple tiers of service and there are thousands of technicians. People in building A may get two-person teams who will spend 4 hours doing everything including vacuuming. You, in building B, may get a 10-minute spray from the same company. The pest control companies and professionals who are lauded in the press may not actually perform said lauded services in your apartment.
- One of the most important considerations for bed bug eradication in apartments is the inspection of adjoining apartments, because bed bugs spread between apartments and floors. Your landlord/property manager is the only party in a position to order inspections of your neighbors’ apartments. Your landlord/property manager is in fact responsible for pest control services. For these reasons, you may not be able to eradicate bed bugs by hiring your own pest control provider. Where you choose to do so, we recommend that you advise your neighbors yourself.
- The New York City Department of Health has a good—if idealistic in the context of NYC practices—primer on choosing and working with pest control professionals (PDF).
- There are effective alternatives to conventional treatment; these include thermal (heat, even in single apartments), structural fumigation (not for single apartments), and containerized fumigation of furniture and belongings (particularly appropriate when moving).
My situation is X. Can I sue? My landlord/property manager/the New York City Housing Authority is refusing to/will not eradicate the infestation. What can I do?
- We cannot offer legal advice.
- But everything we know about the relevant laws and sources of help is here.
- There are many organizations in New York City that can assist you if you need legal advice. You can search for them by zip code at LawHelp.org/NY.
I want to prevent an infestation. What is the best mattress encasement?
- Despite common and unethical marketing claims, you cannot prevent a bed bug infestation with a mattress encasement. You can have bed bugs on the surface of the encasement itself, elsewhere in your bed/frame, and elsewhere in your apartment.
- If you have an active infestation and wish to use (or are directed to use) a mattress and box spring encasement, you should look for encasements specially designed for bed bug control. Though there are not many, there is more than one product/brand that would be adequate. The most crucial consideration after purchase is to prevent encasement tears (which can happen to any encasement, including high-end encasements, and happens rather often in the case of box spring encasements). Follow installation instructions and check for tears regularly.
- Further, you can solve a bed bug infestation without an encasement if necessary. Arguably, you are better off without one than with an encasement that tears easily.
Where can I buy diatomaceous earth/encasements/X in New York City?
No one has yet published a credible DIY bed bug protocol that we can recommend.1 However, we know that you may be in a situation where your landlord is not helping you or the pest control professional who treated your apartment did not help and you have nowhere to turn. We understand this reality. In such circumstances, “you need a professional” (our default response) would actually be irresponsible—there are many places, including your local drugstore, where you can buy products that will simply not work and will make things worse. So, we are going to answer this question, however cautiously.
- You can find diatomaceous earth (DE) (a desiccant dust used to control bed bugs) and encasements online. Or you can find New York City stores by searching for established pest control companies with retail shops — examples include Broadway Exterminating, 782 Amsterdam Ave, New York, NY between 98th/99th (212) 280-1657 broadwayexterminating.com; Bug Off Pest Control Center, 1085 St Nicholas Ave, New York, NY @ West 164th Street (212) 781-2304 bugoffpccenter.com, and Standard Pest, 25-80 Steinway St., Astoria, NY (718) 728-4040 standardpest.com. Please note that a recommendation or endorsement of their pest control services is not intended or implied — and we have no financial interest in mentioning their stores. These stores cannot sell you restricted use products (available only to licensed professionals), but you can find encasements, diatomaceous earth, monitors and other supplies.
- Because there are different kinds of DE products, we recommend that you look for DE products that are labeled for pest control (so that you can apply them according to label instructions and so that you can avoid certain types of diatomaceous earth that are harmful to your health and ineffective against bed bugs).
- You can find labels and material safety data sheets on the internet; search for MSDS and the brand name.
- The labels are to be read and followed. Try to make sure that when the bed bugs are gone, you will still have your health, and that of your family, neighbors, and pets, intact.
- Our strongest caution is to stay away from total release foggers or “bug bombs” — they are unsafe and ineffective against bed bugs.
- One of the most useful publications you can consult about bed bug identification, inspection, and non-pesticide control measures is the NYS IPM Program/Cornell Guidelines for Prevention and Management of Bed Bugs in Shelters and Group Living Facilities.
- Other publications that will be very useful, Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs in Residences and Controlling bed bug infestations: Information for the Pest Management Professional (United States) (PDF) from the University of Minnesota Extension, and the Australian Code of Practice.
- There is research on the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth and other desiccant dusts that you can review.
Is there any financial assistance (government or non-profit) for bed bug treatment?
- We are not aware of any.
Can you help us find a bed bug sufferer/victim for a news story/documentary?
- No, sorry we can’t.
Can we discuss a product or business opportunity?
- Thanks for thinking of New York vs Bed Bugs but we do not market or advertise pest control products or services.
Revised February 9, 2011.
- Entomologist Richard Fagerlund has published a recipe for a suspended DE homemade spray. However, it’s difficult to evaluate its effectiveness and recommend it. Our ambivalence is also complicated by Richard Fagerlund’s cavalier attitude towards bed bugs. In any case, you may wish to review this 2007 PCT article by William Quarles on diatomaceous earth (PDF). In another publication, Bed Bugs Bounce Back (PDF, BIRC, Mar/Apr 2007), Dr. Quarles considers Richard Fagerlund’s spray and reports on a limited test by a San Francisco pest control company. Dr. Quarles seems to think that dry DE residues would not be lethal. But the evidence for this is unclear (the conditions of the failed test and its duration are not described). He also thinks DE “should act as a repellent” to bed bugs. We are aware of no research that can clarify either statement. [↩]