Budget Breeds Bugs: Why Cuts Could Produce Pests

Cutting a little known agency could help bed bugs thrive

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Andrew Siff reported on the city's bed bug problem in September 2009, after a infestation at John Jay College.

    When it comes to the budget, it is hard enough for New Yorkers to sleep tight.

    But now, they may have to worry the bed bugs will bite.

    Tucked in the myriad cuts in this year's tough-times fiscal plan, is a reduction in the size of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service, an organization devoted to agricultural solutions and education -- which means fighting pests.

    "It would be a big loss," said New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, who chairs the council's Bed Bug Task Force. That's right, task force. The increase in infestations has led to more study, more fear, and Brewer believes, the need for more funding and research, not less.

    "With roaches, we know how to get rid of them. With bed bugs, we don't know. This would be a loss in terms of coming up with solutions," says Brewer says.

    Blogger David Becker, who writes a column called Friend of a Farmer, points out that among the staff at the soon-to-be-gone agency is a group called the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program.   

    "It would be ludicrously pound-foolish to eliminate these jobs," writes Becker.

    Of course, the state budget is not a done deal, and there's still time to restore funding for the bug experts, among others. And there are plenty of unofficial experts around.

    In a recent story on News 4 New York, a Manhattan couple explained what they learned about how to get rid of the microscopic pests.
       
    "You should freeze some of your laundry, it sounds ludicrous, but you do what works," said Charles An of Chelsea. His wife Liza even designed her own bed bugs PSA, which you can view here.