November 26th, 2005

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Modern life holds modern terrors–such as, for example, modern weapons in the hands of modern terrorists.

But one ancient problem that was thought to have been more-or-less eradicated in this country is making a comeback, to wit: bedbugs.

Yes, yes; my mother’s old going-to-bed rhyme “Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” has become the trendy thing to say, at least in New York City which, according today’s New York Times, is experiencing something of a bedbug renaissance.

This article is available only with registration. It’s rather long and I can’t quite do it justice with only a short excerpt, but here’s a summary anyway:

“It’s becoming an epidemic,” said Jeffrey Eisenberg, the owner of Pest Away Exterminating, an Upper West Side business that receives about 125 bedbug calls a week, compared with just a handful five years ago. “People are being tortured, and so am I. I spend half my day talking to hysterical people about bedbugs…

Unlike mice and roaches, which are abetted by filthy surroundings, bedbugs do just fine in a well-scrubbed home, although bedroom clutter gives them more places to hide and breed. When engorged with blood, they grow slightly plumper than the O on this page, although the nymphs, which appear almost translucent before their first meal, are not much bigger than the period at the end of this sentence.

And contrary to popular perceptions, they don’t dwell just in mattresses and box springs: any wall or floor crack the thickness of a playing card can accommodate a bedbug. Although some people try to treat the problem themselves, most people hire exterminators, at a cost of $300 per room.

The modern bedbug is immune to hardware store-variety insecticides, and setting off a cockroach bomb in the bedroom will only scatter them farther afield. And because they are active only at night, many people don’t discover them until their population has grown into the hundreds, or even thousands.

Lurking in this article is a hint as to some of the reasons for the upsurge:

In the bedbug resurgence, entomologists and exterminators blame increased immigration from the developing world, the advent of cheap international travel and the recent banning of powerful pesticides. Other culprits include the recycled mattress industry and those thrifty New Yorkers who revel in the discovery of a free sofa on the sidewalk.

That banned pesticide is primarily DDT. And therein lies a very serious subject–the myriad ways in which the banning of DDT has caused problems throughout the world, problems far greater than New York City’s bedbug colonization.

If you’re not familiar with the subject and are interested in learning more, please ponder this and this, for starters.

I certainly hope that DDT is not as dangerous as we’ve been led to believe, not only because I’d like to see it used successfully to stem the tide of the scourge of malaria, but because I remember following in the wake of large trucks spraying it every summer when I was a child. My strong suspicion is that I received quite a hefty dose myself.

Well, at least I can comfort myself with the fact that when I would stick my little feet into those X-ray machines all shoe stores used to sport when I was a child (those of a certain age will remember what I’m talking about; those of you who are younger will no doubt be very puzzled–but here’s an explanation), they were always malfunctioning (the X-ray machines, that is, not my feet). So I may have been spared a fairly nasty overdose of X-rays to go along with that DDT.

18 Responses to “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”

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  3. Judith Says:

    “These New Yorkers almost certainly deserve the bed bugs. . . . May the bed bugs continue to bite them. It is the least that they deserve.”

    Gee, thanks a lot, you troll. I live in NYC, my apartment had bedbugs, and I am a friend and fellow traveller of Neo’s. And bedbugs are reappearing all over the country, and it would only be poetic justice if they appeared in your bed, in whatever smug conservative enclave you live in.

    i’m glad that article appeared in the Times though, because it’s one more bit of evidence I can wave at my landlord if he tries to sue for the rent I am withholding.

  4. erasmus Says:

    Assistant Village Idiot:

    You are right. A subsequent study, by Professor Gus (“Guess” to his friends) Nordheimer at Southern Vermont Tech found Ohrenschmalz’s study flawed. Unfortunately, Ohrenschmalz’s widow, after the Doktor’s untimely death in 1993 (are there “timely” deaths?) burnt his papers with the professor. “He spent so much time with those Wanzen (bedbugs), and that was no boost to our inmtimacy,” she said at the cremation.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Ms Neo continues to hit home runs. This post is a great prep for Neo’s forthcoming finale of “A mind is a difficult thing to change.” People ensconced in a rigid world of thought can now contemplate the possibility of bloodsuckers lurking in the lining of Victoria’s Secrets (Might that be the secret?) or creepy crawlies cavorting in the crevices of the cabin. “Hey! Maybe we need DDT. I was just protecting the Brown Pelicans, but right now I’m beginning to itch and what the hell else is going on out there that I should be changing my mind about.” Great post Neo. Mark

  6. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    @ erasmus
    I believe that study was later found to be flawed. Bedbugs have been shown to sense what answer the interviewer would like, and intentionally choose something more irritating.

    The study is still referred to in a general way in the literature, but always with a note of caution.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    I am constantly amazed at the myriad ways in which humans who are ignorant, may be fooled by those with more knowledge.

    Knowledge definitely is power, and it is a power that is very useful precisely because most people don’t realize who has it, and therefore are unwary of being manipulated.

    They know the government has power, but do they know that the media has the same power? Do they know scientists and lawyers and billionares like Soros has the same power?

    Perhaps not as widely as people know the government has power.

    Which is the point. Know thy enemy and know thy self, but it is ultimately true that people who don’t know their enemies also won’t know themselves either. Which is very useful to some people.

    On another point, the rich people in the West’s arrogant presumption that they know what is best for the poor peeps in the world, makes me sick, and it makes a lot of other people worse than sick, it makes them dead. Which is sort of convenient to the rich dudes I would presume. Less people taking up their precious oxygen and resources.

    There are 2 ways powerful people treat their inferiors. The way they would like their superiors to treat them, with gifts, duties, jobs, and loyalty. And whatever they can get away with, through exploitation of the poor.

    The progressive agenda of “not exploiting” the poor, is just another way of not giving them the tools to defend themself against the exploitations of the billionares that fund the progressives. The only way to not exploit the poor, is to make them rich, and nobody is getting rich in Africa except the dictators funded by European cowardice.

    African nations without the technology, nuclear generators, and DDT required to stave off economic and human starvation, will be no threat to the self-appointed aristocracy of planet Earth.

    Perhaps that is why they are so scared of Afghanistan and Iraq. It is the beginning of the end for the status quo, the status quo that dictated that third world nations will remain third world nations open for plundering by the U.N.

    Indeed, in this brave new world of ours, be afraid, be very afraid of what the downtrodden will do to you once the United States has lifted them from out under your bootheels, my fellow Europeans and human fools in Arabia.

    Christopher Hitchins knows that this is the new crusade, the new and true revolution. Few others can look past their fear to see the truth however.

  8. erasmus Says:

    History will judge why a “bedbug renaissance is occurring under a conservative administration. The only major study on the political stance of bedbugs was conducted by Dr. Proofessor Joachim Ohrenschmalz at the Technische Hochschule (Institute of Technology) in Grumsheide, Germany, in the early 1970s. Of The 12,120 bedbugs (Wanzen) studied. 37% identified themselves as left/liberal, 34% as centrist/conservative, 8% as right/radical, and 21% held no political opinions at all.
    These, of course, were German bedbugs, some of whose ancestors lived and bit in the Weimar Republic and during the Third Reich.
    A similar study of NYC bedbugs should be immediately initiated. Grant money must be made available. This is definitely not pork.

  9. PatCA Says:

    I truly hope that the anti-human enviro movement is a wave that has broken, crashed to the shore, and is now spent.

    In CA we are overrun by coyotes in urban areas and ants in our yards and houses. Every year some jogger is killed by a mountain lion and several other are maimed. The experts always say, but, we took their habitat, you know. It’s another variation of the “we deserved it” meme re 9/11.

  10. David Thomson Says:

    These New Yorkers almost certainly deserve the bed bugs. The majority of them supported the liberal agenda for decades—causing enormous suffering and grief throughout the world. Millions have literally died due to the bans on DDT. The psuedo-educated residents of Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs gullibly fell for Rachel Carson’s idiotic “The Silent Spring.” May the bed bugs continue to bite them. It is the least that they deserve. These morally challenged folks are responsible for the deaths of countless innocent people.

  11. Paul Says:

    As a Southerner I can remember those creepy crawly things from my youth. I didn’t like them then and I do not like them now ! As for the merits or demerits of DDT, I haven’t a clue !

  12. Anonymous Says:

    Three decades of eco-imperialist hysteria based upon a junked-science book “Silent Spring” yet the National Cancer Institute concluded that DDT is not carcinogenic. Since 1999 alone, nearly 91/2 million people have died from malaria bacasue of Rachel Carson. Eco-imperialist lie-millions die.

  13. OBloodyHell Says:

    NeoN, if half the crap in the world were as deadly as these alarmist neoluddites claimed it was we’d all be festering mounds of sores… those rare individuals still alive.

    If mag fields from HT wires were actually cancer forming, then the number of ex-children of the fifties with eye and brain cancers from watching the TV at 2 feet away would be pandemic.

    Likewise, as you note about envirotoxins — if it were half as deadly to humans as they say it is, then the preponderance of them used in an earlier era would be producing results quite notable in this day and age.

    > Speakin’ of infestation…can we spray DDT on liberals?

    Yes, but it only sends them off on a rant. As mentioned above, it’s pretty much harmless. About the only way to kill a Useful Idiot with DDT is to drown them in it.

    Not a bad idea, I’ll grant, but it’s rather direct and overt and thus generally frowned upon. The neighbors will talk.

  14. cokaygne Says:

    DDT was banned because of its impact on breeding birds at the top of the food chain – bald eagles for example. The problem is that instead of banning widespread application (in my youth, same as yours, trucks used to go up and down the street spraying clouds of DDT to keep down the mosquitos), we banned its use altogether.

  15. dilys Says:

    Oh my yes, I can close my eyes and look down and see those glowing five-year-old feet through the viewing tunnel at the Buster Brown shoe store.

    If it was going to do me any great harm, I wouldn’t have lived to this nice respectable age.

  16. camojack Says:

    Speakin’ of infestation…can we spray DDT on liberals?

  17. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    Shameless self-promotion to those who know me as a regular here. I have started my own blogsite @assistantvillageidiot.blogspot.com.

    The first entries are light and one is topical. Though I comment almost exclusively politically and socially here, my own blog will include language and history as well. I will soon start including my Underground DSM-IV, which includes diagnostic tricks you won’t learn in school.

    I announced this over at Dr. Sanity as well, but not at every blog I frequent.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    For a good read on DDT and other environmental issues I recommend the books of the late Dixie Lee Ray. Quite eye-opening happenings surrounding the banning of DDT!

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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