Bedbugs 101

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The big questions

How do I find signs of bedbugs?
Inspect your mattress, box spring, linens and the wall behind your headboard for reddish-brown stains (blood spots) or sesame-seed-like specks (waste).

What do bites look like?
People can react differently, and about 30 percent don't react at all. On those who exhibit symptoms, they'll appear as small, itchy raised bumps that form in straight lines.

How do I confirm I have them?
Catch one! Bedbugs are most active about an hour before dawn. Keep a flashlight next to your bed and scour your body and bedsheets then. Don't move too quickly, though, or you might scare them back into hiding.

Is the landlord responsible for getting rid of my bedbugs?
They're responsible if you're a renting tenant living in a building with three or more rentable units or if you live in city-owned housing. If they don't assist you, report a violation to 311. Apartment owners are obligated to rid their units of bedbugs.

Where can I find more info?
The Bed Bug Registry (bedbugregistry.com) is a free database where tipsters can anonymously report bedbug sightings at residences and businesses. One caveat: The registry does not vet the postings, so there's the potential for inaccurate reports from angry tenants, competitors or just plain liars. Bedbugger.com's biggest draw is its message boards, which often serve as group therapy.

The stats

1. We're their favorite victims: According to Terminix, New York City is ranked as the top bedbug-infested city in the country, followed by Philadelphia and Detroit. In the past year, one out of 15 New Yorkers has battled bedbugs.

2. It's a growing problem: In 2004, the city received 537 documented complaints from residents; in 2010, the number jumped to 10,985.

3. Some notable infestees include ELLE offices, Google's Chelsea office, Hollister Soho location, Abercrombie & Fitch South Street Seaport location, New York Public Library Mid-Manhattan branch, the Empire State Building, AMC Empire 25 movie theater in Times Square and Goldman Sachs.

The pros who can help

EcoChoice Bed Bug Control (212-389-1207, ecochoicebedbugcontrol.com)
The environmentally friendly crew uses steam heat instead of aerosol sprays.

The Bedbug Inspectors (917-455-6865, thebedbuginspectors.com)
Bedbug-sniffing dogs are pricey ($350 per visit), but they're also the quickest and most accurate detection service. Their dogs can track down a single bug or egg immediately with 95 percent accuracy.

Pest Away Exterminating (212-721-2521, pestawayinc.com)
Owner Jeff Eisenberg has earned write-ups from The New York Times, AM New York and The Wall Street Journal, among other outlets.

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