Bed Bug Panic Subsides, Along with Complaints and Violations
Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Bedbugs taking over New York City? Scratch that.

Make no mistake, the irritating little critters are still crawling all over the place. But new numbers obtained by NBC New York suggest the panic has subsided and the battle against the blood-sucking critters is headed in the right direction.

Complaints to the city's Department of Housing, Preservation and Development are down 12 percent, from 9,029 in this fiscal year to date, compared with 10,241 for the same period in the previous fiscal year.

Violations against landlords are down 19 percent., from 3,559 to 2,893. And bedbug-related calls to 311 are down 17 percent, from 8,736 to 7,245. The fiscal year begins in July.

"I think the hysteria has gone down," said Natalie Raben of M&M Environmental, a pest remediation firm.

She said the company is still receiving the same number of bedbug-related calls as last year, but the tone of the callers has changed from panic to acceptance.

"People have gotten used to bedbugs. It's not as shocking anymore," she said.

One Lower Manhattan resident, who asked not to be identified, recently hired a bug-sniffing dog to confirm that in fact, he and his wife do have bedbugs.

But he said that after researching what to do, they decided they don't need to spend thousands of dollars or throw away their clothes. High heat dryers can treat the bedding. And a thorough cleaning and inspection can manage the rest.

The tenant added, "I liken it to a mosquito bite -- which are nagging but it's not the end of the world."

Of course, not everyone feels that way.

You can still find thousands of New Yorkers creeped out by the tenaciously hungry insects, and other experts predict another bedbug boom this summer, following the mildest winter in years.

Still, for the first time in awhile, the numbers at least seem to be heading ever so slightly in the right direction.