Bedbugs Invade the Upper East Side

New York magazine delves into the UES's dirty little secret

By Erica Butler
|  Monday, May 3, 2010  |  Updated 4:06 PM EDT
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Bedbugs Invade the Upper East Side

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Bedbug infestation on Upper East Side.

Persian rugs, Italian draperies, and priceless antiques are all things you wouldn't be surprised to find in an Upper East Side apartment.  But there's one thing that many of these pricey pads have that you would not see coming--bedbugs.

An increasing number of these nocturnal pests, who are almost transparent but become blood-reddish after feeding, have been spotted in New York City's poshest real estate, dispelling the misconception that these bugs only affect low income communities.

"The stigma is, ‘You’re dirty, you’re poor. God knows where you’ve been.’" Jeff Eisenberg, an exterminator who does a lot of work in the Upper East Side, told New York Magazine. "But bedbugs have nothing to do with dirt. They only want the blood meal."

Citywide, the number of violations in the area have gone up significantly in the past few years.  In 2004, the Health Department reported 82 violations with bed bugs.  Last year, the number jumped 4,084 violations, which may be an under reported number because of the stigma attached to these creepy crawlers, especially in place like the Upper East Side. 

Eisenberg told the magazine that he was told by a city Housing Department official, that most reports of bedbugs are given by renters who are looking to get their landlords to take care of the problems.  Others who own their homes usually handle the issues themselves instead of calling 311.

Bedbugs are nocturnal pests that love to burrow in the headboards and fabrics in the home. Because the female can lay 500 eggs during their lifetime the epidemic can quickly become worse.When they come, they inject their supplier with two tubes.  One is an anticoagulant and anesthetic that is careful not to alarm the victim of what is happening, while the other tube extracts the blood.  Most people will recognize a bedbug bite from their pairing of three, either in a straight line or a triangle. 

With the outbreak increasing, residents are asked to beware of exterminators who are selling ineffective products to help those desperate for a quick fix. 

The New York City Housing Authority offers an opportunity to contact their customer contact center to request an exterminator from their department.  In the meantime, New York magazine lengthy account of a few Upper East Sider's bed bug nightmares is enough to haunt your dreams...

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