Checking for Bedbugs: New Law Could Help NYC Residents

bed bugsIf you live in New York City and have never encountered bedbugs, well, consider yourself lucky. The situation has become so dire that a bill has been passed by both houses of the New York State legislature that, if signed by Gov. Paterson, will require New York City landlords to reveal "a building's recent bedbug history" to prospective tenants, The New York Times reports.

A collective sigh of relief should be heard from potential renters around the city...

According to the Times, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development has recorded almost 11,000 phone calls to the city's 311 help line regarding bedbugs -- that's up from 537 such calls in the 2004 fiscal year. As for "confirmed infestations," they've risen from a mere 82 in 2004 to 4,084 in 2009, the Times reported.

Bedbugs have become so prevalent in New York that the pests have even managed to infiltrate the holy grail of poshness that is the Upper East Side. In early May, New York Magazine delved into the lifestyles of the rich, stylish and bedbug-weary. Indeed, the nasty buggers are so stealth-like that they're able to infiltrate the barriers imposed by New York City's finest (and no less stealthy) exterminators.

Unfortunately for cash-strapped renters, bedbugs can be an extremely expensive, not to mention exhausting, conundrum. New York Times health columnist Tara Parker Pope reports that the issue often costs New York City residents $5,000 or more.

But is there any hope or home remedy available? Thankfully, yes, say experts. MSNBC spoke with Dini M. Miller, Ph.D., an associate professor in Urban Pest Management at Virginia Tech Department of Entomology. Miller provides a slew of information and advice on bedbugs, addressing the effectiveness of insect repellent and Lysol, and why some people get bitten and others don't. Miller also explains where to look for bedbug bites on your body, and discusses how to treat bites, including the psychological damages the critters can cause.

And as for determining whether or not you actually have bedbugs, the University of Minnesota fills you in on everything you need to know: what bedbugs look like, their life cycle and how to detect and control and infestation. Treating a bedbug-infested home requires professional pest control assistance, the University suggests. Tips for preventing bedbugs from making themselves comfortable in your apartment are also discussed -- those of you who scavenge for used furniture on the streets of New York City may think twice after reading.
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