What’s the new “four-letter” (6 character) word in Pottstown?


Category:  Cimicidae.  

Sharing certain characteristics with vampires, this member of the cimicidae family of insects is always an uninvited guest that moves into your home unannounced – takes up residence in your bed (your sanctuary)  -  and multiplies like crazy…

Jeopardy wait (thinking…)    BUZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

What is a Bed Bug Alex?    CORRECT …

the right answer will give you no points, no dollars and whole lot of  hassle.  Let’s talk about sshhhhhhhhhh  bed bugs.  The conversation will be most effective if it includes  Borough leaders, School leaders, County, State leaders each and every landlord / tenant / homeowner / business.

Remember, “it takes a village to raise a child” ?  Well….it takes a village AND an army of good exterminators to keep our families safe from bed bugs  but  but  but   it’s so embarrassing – like airing your private moments in public.  Yeah, I know.  Renters are contacting me daily, they are MORTIFIED by their circumstances and THEY DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ABOUT THESE BLOOD SUCKING LITTLE FREAKS OF NATURE.

There’s an automatic fear factor these insects inspire in everyone whose had or just heard about these micro-monsters.  Stay tuned and let’s examine the facts.  Starting with their history – hint: (they’ve been around FOREVER, as in 400 B.C./Ancient Greece.  Hey – they might have helped shape Aristole’s views on physical science)!!

I’m not going to go into their history here.  If you have them,  you likely don’t give a damn about their world travels or their forefathers.  So I’ll leave you on your own to read the brief history below – or NOT:

Early History of Bed Bugs in America

Bed bugs are the shameless hitchhikers of the world.  They travel in purses, computers, computer cases, suitcases – any place that has a crevice or a comfy nook, including clothing.  If you live in an apartment house or attached housing – they will find you if your neighbors have them too.   So don’t dwell too much about how you got them, you’ll never settle on the answer that satisfies.

Often, the first sign that you have them is a puzzler:

Over a bowl of Cheerios at the kitchen table one morning you, or a member of your family, is mindlessly scratching at welts or bumps that seem to appear overnight.  Never mind…it’s probably mosquito bites, you think to yourself. But it goes on day after day new spots in new places….THAT’S A BIG CLUE.  

Stay calm and don’t panic.  Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease but they CAN take a toll on your sense of well-being.  Go easy on yourself, these little buggers don’t discriminate – they like the blood of the rich and the poor alike.  Good housekeepers or not-so-good, young and old are all perfect hosts to the bed bug.  Everyone reacts differently to them. 

YUCK!!

Bed bug welts develop after a person has been bitten by a bed bug

Next:  How to Find Bed Bugs in Apartments this is where the fun begins.  From here, finding and treating an infestation requires team work and attention to minute detail.

DO NOT SKIP THIS ARTICLE.  

Spotty evidence found on mattress seam

What to do now?  If you are a homeowner, contact a reputable exterminator.  If you are a tenant, contact your landlord and request a reputable exterminator.  By reputable, we mean someone who isn’t going to be enticed to accept a $100 bill from the landlord to SAY that they have done the treatment.

Treatment isn’t cheap and it’s not always 100% effective but if done incorrectly it’s NEVER effective.

So, who should pay for it?

Note:  a local exterminator shared a story about Wells Fargo who took back a property in default.  Riddled with bed bugs, they paid to exterminate the next door neighbors attached home too.  THAT’S THE SPIRIT!!!

“My landlord said I am responsible for them, but I say the bugs were already here when we moved in.”  There is no way to tell who’s right – compromise is the key – after all – bed bugs will be just as happy to move into a McMansion as they are in your rental.  It’s in everyone’s best interest to work together, including the landlords/tenants/homeowners of attached dwellings.

Senator Larry Farnese Introduces Bedbug Legislation

and that is where our local, county and state officials come into the scene…

“The bedbug population has increased by 500% in the past several years,” said Senator Farnese. “Philadelphia ranks second only to New York in terms of the severity of the problem. We must do what we can to protect people against exposure to these pests.”  I’m not convinced that a new law is the answer, who will enforce it?  But I do believe our leaders can take a stand on educating the public.  In Pottstown, there is a big information gap for sure.

Treatment is done with insecticides and always requires more than one visit.  If your landlord or exterminator tells you otherwise, let them know that YOU know it’s not so and point them to this blog.  I’ve talked with local professionals and I will give references.

Now for the BIG bombshell:  Maybe you’ve told yourself that you are not Martha Stewart, (by way of saying you’re a lousy housekeeper).  Maybe you teeter on the edge of becoming a star on one of the “Hoarders” programs.  If you EVER EVER hope to be free of bed bugs you will have to look these issues SQUARE in the eye.  If you don’t keep your home clean and you have lots of clutter…

BED BUGS might be nature’s way of telling you to clean up your act and get rid of the useless stuff you’ve been holding onto. Think of it that way.

YOUR ENVIRONMENT WILL NOT RESPOND TO TREATMENT. And, that’s bug-a-boo Numero Uno for exterminators.  

If you are not willing to clean house don’t waste your money or your landlords money because NOTHING will change.  Get used to the discomfort and the welts – the bed bugs are there to stay.  I’ve seen enough to know that there is huge room for improvement from a lot of renters in Pottstown.

You have a responsibility to follow all the advice you are given by the pest control company and your landlord.  

On the bright side, sometimes the things we dread most are the things that actually bring us to the brink of self-actualization.

Make no mistake, bed bugs are a community challenge and one that requires everyone to get to know their neighbors and to work together.

Every pest control company I spoke with agrees that Pottstown has an infestation of bed bugs.   

Here are some tips from the pros:  

-if you have to put infested mattresses and furnishings out for trash pickup PUT A SIGN ON THEM so others won’t pick them up and take them home.  ***The borough should formulate a plan for disposal.

-do be cautious about bringing used furnishings, clothing, toys or pillows into your home.  If you buy used clothing bring it into the house in a sealed plastic bag.  Immediately put the clothing/pillows/stuffed animals, etc…into the dryer, on high for 20 minutes.  The heat will kill bed bugs and their eggs.

-don’t ask your guests to strip naked at the door before they enter your home.  This gesture will not be well received.  But, if you are a friend, don’t avoid the people you know who are dealing with bed bugs…be a real friend, lend a hand while taking precautions to safeguard your own home.  Tell them about this blog.  

IF YOU HAVE A COCKROACH OR RODENT PROBLEM and your landlord refuses to take care of it, CALL Montgomery County Health Department.  They will inspect and issue a citation to the property owner if they find evidence of an infestation.  They do not handle bed bug complains however.  (Pottstown) 610-970-5040 

For referrals to reputable exterminators email me:  ptownadvocates@hotmail.com

 

7 responses to “What’s the new “four-letter” (6 character) word in Pottstown?

  1. WATCH OUT for Aaron’s Rents. My wife picked up a chair there and now we have bedbugs, didn’t have them before. I think you got to be careful of rental furniture and thrift stores.

  2. We got lucky where we live. Our landlord took total responsibility for the infestation that was in our apartment building. The entire month of July was devoted to eradicating the issue. First, he had an exterminator in to inspect all units. Besides all the bites I had, he also found evidence of them in our box spring. We got lucky. Mine and my husband’s bedroom was the only room he saw evidence of their existence, and the box spring was the only piece of furniture we lost. Our mattress has a cover on it. So, that same day, our landlord had provided somebody to pick up the infested pieces of furniture. I think he did it more so he wouldn’t get fined for furniture littering the alley, but at least he provided a type of removal service to us. The exterminator sprayed it down, my husband and I covered it in plastic, put a note on it telling of the offenders living in it, and we took it outside. I spent the Monday through Friday of that week prepping for our first treatment scheduled for the following Saturday. It was extensive. I had to go through all of our closets, every piece of our belongings in our bedroom, both the kids’ rooms, and the living room. Everything that we were keeping had to be cleaned up and bagged up. I’d say we got rid of about 50% of our things. My kids were incredibly understanding, and they both took care of their own rooms with some help from myself and my husband. Every piece of clothing we were keeping had to be bagged up, taken to laundry, washed on the highest water setting, dried on the highest heat setting, and then placed into new plastic bags. I wound having to trash many of the crocheted items I had made because yarn just can’t handle that kind of care. The day of the 1st treatment, we had to vacuum everything thoroughly, take the bag out of the vacuum, put it in a tightly sealed trash bag, and dispose of it right away. We put both the kids’ hamsters in the bathtub (bathroom wasn’t an area of treatment), took our 3 cats to my mother in law’s, and had to find something to do with our kids that would take at least 4 hours. We got back, found the checklist from the exterminator that was also going to the landlord, and found we had prepped perfectly. We had another treatment 2 weeks later, and a final one 2 weeks after that. Every time, we had to prep the same way. The exterminator needs to be able to get everywhere easily. The only thing we changed was our pet situation. 2 of our cats didn’t handle the visit at my mother in law’s very well. So, the 2 hamsters and 1 cat would go to her place, and we kept the other 2 ladies in the bathroom with what they would need. We lived out of plastic bags for a month. We haven’t seen a bedbug about 1/2 through the process, and my bites have now completely healed up. I do have a bit of scarring, though, from the bites. I honestly think it could have been a lot worse. We got lucky in that the only furniture we lost was our box spring, and that mine and my husband’s room was the only room with an infestation. I tried really hard to be positive about the whole situation. It gave me the push I needed to purge, and it really helped that my kids were so awesome during the entire ordeal. Plus, our landlord dealt with the problem like he was supposed to.

    • WOW that’s a very encouraging story…thanks so much for sharing it here. Your positive attitude is an excellent example for anyone facing this situation. It’s terrific to hear that your landlord handled everything in good form! But your cooperation and willingness to do what was necessary was the key to success. Your kids are amazing too!!

      Did you have to clean hard surfaces too, like kitchen chairs and dressers? If so, what did you use? How do you feel now, in terms of cleaning out and getting rid of stuff? If it happened again, do you feel better prepared? ,

      • No, we didn’t have to prep the kitchen stuff,but our dressers we did have to clean. First I vacuumed out the drawers, and then I wiped them out with lysol wipes. I still feel fine about cleaning out. It was something that needed to be done. We’re a family of four. We’ve lived here for a little over 9 years now, and it was great to get rid of the clutter. I’d say we’re pretty much experts now. So, if it happened again (and it could. we live in an apartment building with around 20 units), I think we would definitely be better prepared. My mother in law lives in the Pollock building, and she just told my husband this past Saturday that they’re having a problem with them AGAIN. She said they’ve been moving new people in, and I guess at least one of the new tenants brought them back in.

        • Thank you for the clarification. One of the techniques described to me by an exterminator is to get small plastic containers and set the bed legs inside of them. Pour about a 1/2″ of mineral oil into the containers, keep your bedding off the floor and the bed away from the wall. The little devils will climb up the containers and drop into the oil, unable to escape the thick gooey mess, they will meet their demise!! And, the best part…the satisfaction of finding them “belly up” in the oil – where they belong!!!

  3. THANK YOU PINKLUV. For one, I appreciate that you admonish people to keep records – I hammer away on tenants continuously about taking photo’s, keeping records and sending registered letters to their landlords so they KNOW they were received. Happy to know you survived your bed bug scourge, but…again…I am completely discourage by MCHA and their behavior toward people in Pottstown. This has GOT TO CHANGE.

  4. Bed bugs are the devil & no landlord wants to assume responsibility, it is very hard to escape the emotional scars they inflict , its even harder when u have done all there is possible to defeat this parasite & battle corruption within Montgomery County Housing Authority , in order to keep a roof over ur head …..never give up document every thing I can’t even express how important it is to have documents…Its not what you know its what you can PROVE .# Bed Bug survivor….

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