Chicago vs. Bed Bugs

Advocating policy to control the spread of bed bugs in the City of Chicago

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Speak Out!

If you’d like to have your say, this is the place to do it.  You can join in by adding a comment; we’ll create separate posts or develop another discussion format if it becomes necessary in the future.  Chicagoans, please feel free to ask us questions about bed-bug related issues so that we can try to point you to a local resource for help.  And we’d love to hear your ideas for our mission.  We need all the support we can get.  Remember: We are all in this together.


52 Responses to “Discuss”

  1. Renee said

    Go Chicago!!

  2. Jessica said

    Hi Renee!

    Chicagoans, Renee is a co-founder of the original bed bug policy advocacy group, New York vs Bed Bugs. Renee has spent lots of time helping to get our organization off the ground, and she’s spent lots more time advocating good bed bug policy through our partner organization in New York City. We love her!

    Renee, thanks for stopping by and please join our discussions any time you like.


  3. John Sherman said

    Any recommendations on pest control companies?

  4. Jessica said

    Editor’s note: The following comment was posted on our Contact page; I’ve moved it here, to the Discuss page, to begin and continue an open conversation in one place. -Jessica

    John Sherman Says:
    October 27, 2008 at 9:42 pm e
    Please help! I’m disbled and have been dealing with these things for months. Nak Pest control came out once a couple of weeks ago and now the bugs are back. I was told that my contract would call for 3 sprays now I’m being told that the third would be at there discretion. My landlord has done nothing to help. Thanks.

    John Sherman

  5. Jessica said

    Editor’s Note: Moving this one too. I’m closing the comments on certain other pages to make sure we’re all discussing important issues in the same place: here. 🙂

    jmastersherm1 Says:
    October 28, 2008 at 2:21 pm e
    I really could use some success stories as this problem is literalluy driving me insane.

  6. Jessica said

    John, welcome to Chicago vs Bed Bugs! I’m sorry that you’re here under such trying circumstances, but I’m glad you found us and that you reached out to us for help.

    I encourage you to check out our Resources page; you will find a link to the City of Chicago Department of Public Health FAQ on bed bugs. At the bottom of that page, you will see a section written specifically for landlords and tenants. It clearly specifies what your landlord’s responsibilities are and what yours are. The current requirements are pretty clear, and you’ll see that you have legal ground to stand on.

    Then, I suggest you use a search engine to search under “City of Chicago Municipal Codes”. Once you find a copy of these codes, you can navigate to landlord/tenant codes, and you can compare what’s required by law with the verbage in the lease agreement you signed. It should match. At any rate, these municpal codes clearly state who is responsible for keeping the premises free from vermin (and other pests). This is more legal ground for you to stand on.

    Once you’ve found these documents, we can work on composing a letter to your landlord and/or property management company that will (hopefully) generate some action and also maintain a good working relationship between you and them. The main thing to remember is that we’re all in this together.

    I happen to have a copy of a really good, diplomatic, factual letter to a landlord laying around somewhere; we can work from that if it suits you.

    You also asked about good pest control companies, and I want to make it clear to you that the City of Chicago requires that your landlord contract with a pest control company to eliminate your bed bug infestation. So before you proceed, I want to make sure that you have indeed contacted your landlord and that he or she has contracted with a pest control company. Has this taken place?

    And to jmastersherm1 (which I believe is you also, John) :), there are many success stories out there and you will survive this, I promise.

    I will write more later and I look forward to hearing more comments from you and from others who might be able to help or want to share their stories.

    *We are all in this together.


  7. John Sherman said

    Thank you Jessica!

  8. Jessica said

    You are welcome, John! Let me know when you’re ready to start writing that letter. I’ll dig up an example for you and I’ll help you write yours, if you want. I’d love to continue this discussion here on the website because I think that others will benefit from seeing our efforts and the results we accomplish. Would that be okay with you?

    Take care, and hang in there!


  9. John Sherman said

    You know what Jessica? My landlord would not contact a PCO and decided to try a couple of half assed attempts with his home made concotion so I went ahead and called Nak. I hope I’m not in trouble! After 17 days of freedom the bugs have returned (in smaller #’s) and Nak will be out Saturday. I guess I should tell him but I already paid for the services.

    You see, the problem with this landlord is that he is very unreasonable. He’ll try to poison squirrels leaving chemicals by the curb that could injure children and domestic pets, but he would do virtually nothing for me and actually expected me to spray even with a torn quadracepts. Anyway, I hope all works out. Thanks for the info.

  10. John Sherman said

    Sorry to be a pain Jessica but I missed the section about Chicago’s Municipal Codes requiring that the landlord to contact a company but I’m sure you’re correct. Perhaps I should write a brief letter stating that I have contacted a PCO since he has refused to do so and explain that my reasoning for taking such action stemmed from the fact that the problem has persisted due to his attempts at self remedy. I also imagine that his using a home made pesticide and spraying without a license must be a violation of some sort? A letter might cover my behind. Any thoughts?

  11. Jessica said

    Hey John,

    Hope you’re hanging in there. And you are not being a pain!

    Listen, I firmly believe that most cases such as yours transpire because of lack of knowledge. I really do. Honestly, most people here in Chicago still don’t know what bed bugs are, or how to handle them, or how to keep from spreading them, or even that they spread at all! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve– recently!– heard this phrase “Well, dirty people bring them in, so…”. It’s sad, but it’s true. So even if your landlord is a bit of a nut, his actions in this situation probably stem from the fact that he really doesn’t know the scope of the problem he’s dealing with. I could be wrong, but it’s what I’ve gathered from my own research.

    Think about this one for a second: Would your landlord really be handling this the way he is if he knew and truly believed that bed bugs spread through walls and into adjoining apartments and that soon, his entire property could be infested– and that this could cost him thousands and thousands of dollars in the end? I doubt it.

    That’s why we’re here. This is exactly why I chose to form this organization. One of our phase one mission goals is to disseminate good information to and engage landlords and tenants in conversation about bed bugs because we want landlords to protect themselves, their investments, and their tenants AND we want tenants to protect themselves, their possessions, and their neighbors. And that’s what you will accomplish when you speak with or write to your landlord. Remember, he is running a business. It makes sense that he would want to protect his property, right? It’s an angle you might want to ponder… 🙂

    I just posted a copy of the City of Chicago Municipal Code 5-12 on our Resources page. Will you take a look at it? I pointed out the page numbers of the sections of interest to you specifically. And just so you know, the City of Chicago Department of Public Health Bed Bug FAQ link will take you to the page that says landlords should contract with a PCO and provide tenants with an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. Click the link and scroll to the bottom of the FAQ– it’s the very last topic covered.

    Hopefully, I’ve given you some things to think about in terms of how you will choose to approach your landlord. I am NOT a lawyer, and I do not proclaim to know the best way for you to handle this, but I can say with certainty that if I were in your shoes, I’d start off with a unified, “let’s protect your property AND help me sleep at night”, we’re-all-in-this-together letter.

    But again, that’s just my opinion.

    Hope this has been helpful. And I hope you keep writing. You could really accomplish something here, you know. It’s a great opportunity to try to give good, factual information to someone who really needs it. Oh, and I will try to post more codes of practice tonight so that you have an example of how bed bug infestations are best handled.

    Take care!


  12. John Sherman said

    Thanks Jessica. I was wondering if I could send you a draft of a letter I’m planning on writing to my landlord. I basically will be stating that I have contacted a PCO because our attempts to self remedy the problem have failed. I will politely let him know that I did so becuase not only has it taken a finacial and emotional toll on me, but additionally I do not want to be responsible for others in the unit to suffer as well.

    The problem is that I have already contracted and paid for services. I do not expect reimbursement but at the same time I do not want friction or to be held accountable for anything. My LL is very controlling but again verbal discussions proved futile and action had to be taken. His self treatment probably made things worse, so it is my hope that he’d appreciate my efforts. Legally, from what I’ve seen, I think I’m in the clear because I brought the problem to his attention and he failed to act accordingly.

    Anyway, if you wouldn’t mind, I think having some feedback would help since the PCO is due here again Saturday. Thanks.


  13. John Sherman said

    Oh and I was able to finally find CDPH Bed bug link yesterday and it was a bit loose ended. It seemed to be more of a suggestion than a legal obligation. Anyway, I’ll have a letter drafted for you. I would also be glad to review your letter. How can I e-mail you? Thanks again.


  14. Jessica said

    John, yes, send me a draft. You can send it to the email address listed on the Contact page if you like. I will help you in any way I can.

    And yes, I believe your assessment of the law and your position is correct. I also think that you are wise to engage in written communication at this point. It will help protect you in the long run, if necessary.

    Keep in mind that one of the things we hold true at Chicago vs Bed Bugs is that no person can truly be held responsible for a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs are like colds, remember. You catch them, and so does everyone else. How can anyone really tell where they caught a cold? 🙂

    Since your PCO is coming on Saturday, there are some things you might want to take into consideration when dealing with them as well. If you click on the Armed Forces Guide link on the Resources page, you’ll be able to access some of the best scientific research available anywhere. You might want to search under “bed bugs” and check out the recent research on pesticides and resistance. It might benefit you to compare the products/pesticides in that report with those currently used by your PCO. You can look at the work order you signed when you paid for their service the first time to find a list of pesticides used in your apartment.

    Once you do this, we can discuss good ways to talk to your PCO about pesticides and other recommended treatment methods, if you want. I do know of at least one licensed, trained, highly reputable pest management company in Chicago, but we’ll have to have that conversation offline or else I’ll run into advertising issues! 🙂

    I look forward to seeing your draft. And you’re doing great, you know. You’re really rising to the challenge, especially given the circumstances.

    You are not alone!


  15. nobugs said

    Rock on, Chicago!

    Sounds like you’re making a big splash, Jessica!

    Bedbugger loves Chicago vs. Bed Bugs.

  16. John Sherman said

    Hello Jessica:

    Sorry I disappeared but I’ve been very sick with a chest cold. LL was out of town but I left a message and will compose a letter. It seems like my neighborhood not only is infested with BB’s but Rats too! I didn’t realize that there were so many people around here with the same problem so it’s not hard to see how I got them. Anyway, I will send you a list of chemicals the company used and when I can muster up the strength I’ll draft my letter too. I’d like to keep things low profile regarding treatment for the time being though so I’ll e-mail you privately.

    Again, please accept my apologies for dropping out of site. In addition to being sick it I had a set back with my physical rehab too so I’ve been off the web for a few days. Hope all is well by you.


  17. Jessica said

    Hey John!

    It’s good to hear from you. I’m sorry you’ve been so sick. I think there’s some nasty virus going around or something. People at work are dropping like flies. 🙂

    You can send me a draft of the letter whenever you’re ready. Get yourself healthy first, though, okay?

    And you don’t have to send me a list of pesticides at all; I just thought it might be helpful to you if you compared the ones used in your apartment with the information about pesticide resistance, etc. available on the Armed Forces Guide to Pest Management database.

    Take care, and I hope you feel better soon!


  18. Jessica said

    Hey Nobugs!

    It’s so good to see you here. Chicagoans, Nobugs is the creator and owner of Bedbugger, which is, as I say on our Resources page (you can link to Bedbugger there), the most comprehensive bed bug resource on the planet. And I’m not kidding. 🙂

    Nobugs is also a co-founder of New York vs Bed Bugs, the original bed bug policy advocacy group, and she has helped generate awareness of Chicago vs Bed Bugs by posting about and mentioning our organization many times over the last week or so on Bedbugger. We really appreciate that.

    Chicago vs Bed Bugs loves Bedbugger right back!!

  19. John Sherman said

    15 days since 2nd spray and no sightings. I don’t want to jinx myself because I got re-infested 17 days after the first spray but I’m cautiously optimistic. In the meantime, as I said earlier, this whole neighborhood appears to have a big BB problem.

  20. Jessica said

    Hi John! I’m glad to see you. And I’m really glad that the bed bug situation is getting better for you. That’s great news.

    Hey, just so you know, most professionally accepted bed bug practices call for more than one treatment– it’s standard protocol. From what I understand, this is because bed bugs are usually not eliminated with one treatment (hardly ever, really, from what I’ve read). So, if you got bites after your first treatment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you got reinfested. It means you had to be human bait for awhile, if you know what I mean. It’s disgusting, but it’s true. Bed bugs have to come into contact with a pesticide in order for it to work, and usually, this means they have to leave their hiding spots to feed on you in order to come into contact with a pesticide. Gross, huh?

    Anyway, I thought you might feel better if you knew that what you experienced was what most people experience after a first treatment.

    And John, from what I’m gathering from all the research I’m doing to accomplish our organization’s goals, LOTS of Chicago neighborhoods appear to have big bed bug problems. I can’t wait till we’re all talking about it, you know? Then, it really will feel like we’re all in this together.

    Take care, and please keep us posted, okay?


  21. John Sherman said

    I definately will. Thanks for all your support Jessica and let me know how if I can help.

  22. Jessica said

    You are very welcome, John. Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help you.

    And, since you offered… 🙂

    I’m meeting with a local organization tonight to discuss a partnership or joint effort of sorts, and I believe that after the meeting I will have a much better idea of what work needs to be done now and in the near future. I’m sure I could use your help in lots of ways– you seem to be good at finding, researching, and interpreting relevant information, so that might be something you could contribute if you’d like. And it sure would feel good to know I’m not alone here.

    I’ll let you know what you could help with once I’ve narrowed down our priorities, and you can choose to participate in whatever way suits you best if you’re still interested. Sound good?

    Hey, you could be the very first member of Chicago vs Bed Bugs!

    Take good care.


  23. […] you live in Chicago, go say hi to Jessica and let her tell you about just why we’re all in this […]

  24. John Sherman said

    Sure, let me know when your ready.

  25. Jessica said

    Okay, John, I have a couple things I’ve been meaning to accomplish, and from what I learned last night, they’re pretty important. Here’s what I’d like you to do, if and when you have time, and only if you want to.

    -First, visit the Illinois Department of Health website and familiarize yourself with their bed bug information page. Hopefully, you’ll pick up on some stuff that is a little concerning. 🙂

    -Then, find out how to contact them, and do so, either via email or via telephone (you can remain anonymous if you want to). Find out these three things:

    1. Who, exactly (try to get a name if you can) is in charge of the information that’s posted on that bed bug info page

    2. What, if any, are the standard policies and procedures for treatment and control of bed bug infestations in the State of Illinois, and how are these regulated and upheld? I don’t think the state has standard policies and procedures yet, but if they do, see if they’ll email you (or me if you prefer) a copy, and

    3. What person (get a name if you can) or department or agency is in charge of creating and regulating policies and procedures for pest control operators in the State of Illinois.

    And there you have it, my friend: your very first opportunities to contribute to this cause of ours (and help the founder out because she’s having trouble keeping up with everything all by herself). The purpose behind these tasks is to begin the process of advocating a good state-mandated policy for the treatment of bed bug infestations so that our pest control operators have the best tools available to them (which will contribute to better, safer, more effective treatments here in Chicago, too) and are monitored in a way that benefits everyone, including them.

    If you don’t get around to doing any of this, I will understand, believe me. But if you do, I will be so grateful and appreciative. And you can feel free to tell us about what you discover here on the discussion board as you go along. Take as much time as you need.

    Oh, and by the way, I’d like to list your name beside mine and the name of our new adviser, Doug Summers, MS, on our Join page as an official member. Would that be okay with you?

    Thanks for offering to help, no matter what. It means a lot to me.


  26. David said

    You are making HUGE progress! Chicago should be very thankful for what you are doing. I do have a close contact who retired from the Dupage Department of Health. I’ll see if I can get some helpful information (or names) from her.

    What you are accomplishing is exciting.


  27. Jessica said

    Thank you, Dave. Shall I add you to our member list? I mean, since I’m delegating tasks and all, and you seem so willing to help…


    Folks, Dave is one of my oldest and most cherished friends. He has been an active, determined, supportive participant (and cheerleader, mentor, sounding board, punching bag…) in all the experiences that led up to my decision to found Chicago vs Bed Bugs and advocate good bed bug policy in the City of Chicago.

    Actually, you know what? I AM going to add your name to our member list, Dave. You’ve earned it. And I’ll hold off on delegating any tasks your way until you’re ready (or until I need to vent, whichever comes first).

    Thanks for stopping in and showing your support. Make sure you tell your DuPage contact that we need Cook County information, okay? Oh, and feel free to open up discussion about any relevant topic you can think of, anytime you like.


  28. David said

    Wow, thank you and I’m honored. I can’t do “delegated” tasks right now but I do listen very carefully to your “vented rants” (hint,hint). Doing things in the background, not being noticed, and being that “silent” support is what I do best.


  29. John Sherman said

    No problem Jessica, you can add me to the list. I’ll dig up some info ASAP. Please remember though I can’t spend a lot of time at the computer with my Quad rupture so my sluething may take a little time.


  30. Jessica said

    John, I feel your pain. I am only up at this hour because I hurt my back and I am really, really hurting. I managed to use a whole bunch of pillows to prop myself up and type, but I don’t think it’s going to last too much longer…

    Take all the time you need. I understand. And I’m so glad you want to help!

    Thank you.


  31. Kelly said


    I am a reporter working on a story (for a college newspaper) about bed bugs in Chicago. One of my interviews fell through, and I’m looking for someone who has/had them to interview sometime soon… like before 6pm today or tomorrow morning.

    Please let me know if you are interested.

    E-mail weirdfishes80 [at] gmail [dot] com.


  32. Jessica said

    # Jessica Says:
    November 20, 2008 at 8:39 pm e

    Founder’s Note: Comments are held for moderation by the site administrator– that’s me, Jessica– before they are posted publicly. I review and will eliminate and/or modify comments that could be harmful to our organization or its readers in any way. I firmly believe in open, honest dialogue and will ONLY eliminate and/or modify comments if it is absolutely necessary to do so in order to protect the organization or visitors to our site.

    Tonight, a comment was held for moderation, and when I reviewed it, I found it necessary to modify the contents of the comment in order to protect someone who may not have consented to allowing his or her name and phone number to be posted on a public website.

    There are two things I want to make very clear, folks. First, you are welcome to post your own personal information if you so choose, but I ask that you consider the types of information you want to make available to the public before you do so. Please do not post personal information about others. And second, please consider the intent behind your comment before you post it. Because I will. And if I sense that someone is trying to advertise without contacting me to find out if it’s okay, or do anything else that is otherwise underhanded or sneaky, I will not hesitate to modify and post your comment, call you out publicly, and ban you from ever commenting again. We’re trying our hardest to accomplish some GOOD for Chicagoans and the City of Chicago as a whole here. Try to keep that in mind, okay?

    Here’s the post I modified tonight. It was written at 7:23 PM today (11/20/08). Author of this comment, please do not do this again. Consider this a warning. Thank you.

    You might want to call a lady named (deleted) she contacted me about going to Chicago to do a K9 inspection. I told her I did not see myself going their in the near future. As it turns out I have contacted a PCO their that will have some inspections for me early December. Her name is (deleted) at (full phone number, area code and all, deleted).

  33. Dave said

    Hi Jessica,

    Just a few ideas for you. I noticed on the Cincinnati-Hamilton county PDF that the task force was brought about by representative Dale Mallory. Also in the task force was very specialized or educated people. I would bet money somewhere there was a “regular person” like yourself who made sure this problem got some attention. The name Bernadette Watson caught my eye. My point is whoever that person is could be a unimaginable source of information for the cause.

    Also, does Chicago keep track of vermin complaints like Cincinnati’s CSR? If they do, is that information public or private? If public it would be a good way to illustrate the rate of growth of the problem.

    I just wanted to throw that at you.


  34. Jessica said

    Dave, feel free to throw these kinds of things at us any time you like!

    I’m so glad you looked at the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Joint Bed Bug Task Force Strategic Plan. If anyone else wants to take a peek, you can view the document here or find it on our resources page, along with many others.

    You’re absolutely right, there was probably at least one (if not many more) “regular person” involved in the development of the task force in Cincinnati, and he or she (or they) might be able to offer us some valuable insight. I hadn’t thought of this! I will definitely add this to my (steadily growing) list of research projects.

    And unfortunately, at the moment, anyway, the City of Chicago does not classify bed bugs as “vermin,” or at least not in any identifiable way. From what I understand, bed bugs are treated as vermin in landlord/tenant situations, as described by the municipal codes governing landlord/tenant agreements. It’s important to understand, though, that no legal precedent has been set in the City of Chicago, so it’s sort of a gray area for both landlords and tenants at this point. This means that although it’s pretty easy for most people to assume that bed bugs should be (and therefore are) classified and treated as vermin (just like roaches and rats), bed bugs have not been officially classified as such. And THIS means that things are probably pretty hairy between landlords and tenants dealing with bed bug infestations right now.

    There are two ways in which this problem will eventually be resolved. Either the city will officially classify and treat bed bugs as vermin (which is what many other cities are doing or have already done) OR a landlord/tenant dispute involving a bed bug will be settled in a city court, and legal precedent will then be set and likely followed. One of these two scenarios will eventually occur. I’d bet on it.

    And, finally, from what I’ve gathered during my research, the city does not distinguish bed bug complaints from complaints about other vermin, nor does the city track bed bug complaints in any way. This is a huge problem for multiple reasons, most of which I’m sure you can imagine.

    I’m planning to write a post about what I encountered when I called 311 to find out what tenants in the City of Chicago should do if they think there is a bed bug infestation in their apartment or building. It was enlightening. And scary!

    Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us some ideas, Dave. I really, really appreciate it.


  35. Anonymous said

    Hi Jessica,

    Silly question but does “something” have to do to be classified as vermin? Webster’s dictionary states, “1 a: small common harmful or objectionable animals (as lice or fleas) that are difficult to control c: animals that at a particular time and place compete (as for food) with humans or domestic animals2: an offensive person”. Maybe I’m crazy but if head lice can be classified as vermin why not bed bugs? It would be interesting to find out what that process is and who makes the final decision.


  36. Jessica said

    Dave, turns out your question is not so silly at all! In fact, I’m finding all sorts of really important information in the process of trying to come up with an answer for you. This is good!

    Okay, first, the Chicago Residential Landlord and Tenant Ordinance, Chapter 5-12, Section 110 says this:

    In addition to any remedies provided under federal law, a tenant shall have the remedies specified in this section under the circumstances herein set forth. For the purposes of this section, material noncompliance with Section 5-12-070 shall include, but is not limited to, any of the following circumstances:

    And one of the following circumstances is:

    “Failure to exterminate rodents, insects, or other pests”.

    Interesting, no? It seems to me that I was off track in the first place! Apparently, there is no gray area at all, at least in terms of landlord/tenant responsibility.

    But tracking complaints of vermin in the city is another story altogether. I know the city keeps track of reports of rats in alleys and such, because I see warning signs posted all the time. But I’m not sure about other vermin, like roaches. I’ll have to find out ASAP.

    This is interesting!

    Oh, I never answered your question, Dave. Sorry. It seems to me that most creatures classified as vermin have the potential to carry and/or transmit diseases to humans. I could be wrong, but that’s what I’ve gathered.

    Thanks again, mon.


  37. Dave said

    Hi Jessica,

    Your right about vermin and disease but if they are a nuisance they would also fall under the same category. Keep in mind lice, ants, moths, and etc don’t carry disease. Bees, wasp, scorpions, and fire ants don’t carry disease but have stingers with poison. From what I have read this changes from region to region. So scorpions wouldn’t be considered a pest here in Chicago but in Texas it would. So I guess the question is: how do we make bedbugs a “official” pest? I’m not a bug expert but it may give you some things to think about.

    Dave : )

  38. Jessica said

    Yes, Dave, you are absolutely right, and I’ve re-thought and updated some of the tasks on our Activism page accordingly. Check it out!

    Thank you. And keep those ideas of yours coming, okay?

  39. David said


    Here is some information on the lawsuit on Presidential Towers in Chicago for bedbugs.

    I’m sure you already know all this but just in case you didn’t I hope it helps.


  40. Jessica said

    Hey Dave! Good to hear from you, as always. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’ve been trying to dig up information on this Presidential Towers class action suit, but I’m not having much luck. I’ve found some other interesting tidbits, though.

    First, I found this comment about Presidential Towers on

    It was written in July of this year, so pretty recently, even though the class action suit you mentioned was filed in 2007. Sounds like there’s an ongoing problem over there, which isn’t all that surprising. Presidential Towers is HUGE.

    Anyway, the person who posted the comment said:

    I have been visiting Emergency care / Dermotologist since June and taking steroids as per doctor’s prescription Service desk didn’t respond/took no actions towards my concern – to check if apt was treated until complaint was escalated to supervisor
    Service Desk supervisor gave wrong information that Pest control visited apartment and treatment complete Instruction how to control bed bugs were suppose to be sent but I received instruction printout after escalating to general manager .My Neighbouring apt later informed me that they had complained abt bed bugs in June to the mgmt and are going through this pain since then… When the Mgmt came to know of the bugs in next door apt they should have took the preventive care and try seal the bugs and avoid from spreading to other apartments like it did by invading my apt. As per policy all neighbouring apt should have been treated

    I feel so bad for this person. But there are some good signs here. Silver linings and such.

    First, it’s good that management even HAS a printout about how to control bed bugs and DOES give it to residents. I know, I know, it should have been distributed the very second an infestation was reported, but it’s something, right?

    It’s also good that the person who posted this comment has a general idea about bed bug policy, and knows enough to understand that the apartments adjoining an infested apartment should be inspected and treated, if necessary.

    There’s a lot of bad going on here, too. It sounds chaotic and mismanaged at best, doesn’t it? It also sounds like the managers of Presidential Towers could really use some rules and regulations and guidelines enforced by the City of Chicago. A policy to rely on– a set of measures to take if and when these situations occur.

    Because these situations seem to keep happening over at Presidential Towers:

    There are more. I think I’ll write a post about this sometime soon. It’ll be after all the other things I’ve listed on the Activism page, though, probably.

    Thanks, Dave. I really appreciate you.


  41. Janie said

    Way to go, Chicago!

    I moved from Chicago to New York 3 years ago for school, and I’ve been battling bed bugs for the past year. Something that really sucks about bed bugs in New York is after a point, when you realize how widespread it is in this city, it’s very disheartening.

    It seems that the best defense is awareness, education, and prevention. Good for you for mobilizing now! Somehow I think that Chicago stands a much better chance at controlling this scourge, thanks to your actions.

    If I move back, I promise to be responsible and not bring my “friends” with me. 🙂

  42. Jessica said

    *Founder’s Note: I just moved this comment to our Discuss page from a page that’s closed to discussion. 12/29/08 6:34 pm.

    12/29/2008 at 11:56 am

    John says:

    Hey, guys

    I had a cushy pad at Wolcott and Wilson, but got laid off (system administrator) and couldn’t find work! Down and out, I wound up working day labor and living in an SRO which is truly “The Slums of Lincoln Park.” Thank the good Lord most everything’s in a storage locker and it’s a relatively minor infestation.

    I feel as if I have a radwaste or biohazard problem and I don’t know what to do. I majored in chemistry and worked in a lab, so do-it-yourself fumigation came to mind, along with black-market
    DDT and anything else that’s poisonous. Kill temp for hatched bugs is 113 F. for seven minutes–all the experts agree with that. Try finding a washer that gives the requisite temperature for at least that long–or even a dryer–and what about the eggs?

    I feel like a pariah, a Typhoid Mary, whatever. Most of what I read on the Net, “dept of entymology-dot-edu” notwithstanding, seem to have their own opinion. [Big city] department of health, it’s all the same. I need a decontamination protocol that rivals that of a level 4 biohazard facility. I am collecting specimens for my own experiments, since no one else seems capable of methodical research and finding out exactly what kills them one hundred (100) percent of the time. Let’s put our heads together.



  43. Jessica said

    Hey John!

    I’m glad you found us, but I’m sorry you found us under such bad circumstances.

    I have to tell you that what you wrote really cracked me up. Believe me, I understand exactly where you’re coming from, especially when you say you feel like you have a “radwaste or biohazard problem” and you need “a decontamination protocol that rivals that of a level 4 biohazard facility”. THAT is a great way to describe what it feels like to deal with a bed bug infestation.

    They just WILL NOT go away, will they? I know.

    I also have to tell you that black market pesticides will likely not do the trick. Plus, you could get yourself in a whole heap of trouble and make yourself (and maybe even your neighbors) really sick if you even attempted to go that route. I’m assuming you were joking about that. 🙂

    You know, the scary, sad, and unfathomable truth about bed bugs is that there is no magic bullet that works to kill them 100% of the time. It’s true. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of “Well, DDT was a magic bullet! Why can’t we come up with something like DDT?”.

    Here’s the thing about bed bugs: they develop resistance to pesticides with astonishing ease. So even if you and a billion other scientists put your heads together and came up with a magic bullet, there’s a good chance that bed bugs would become resistant to it at some point.

    Did you know that bed bugs began to show signs of resistance to DDT back in 1947? Yep. Nobugs over at recently wrote a post about this PCTOnline article by Dr. Michael Potter, professor and urban extension entomologist at the University of Kentucky. According to Nobugs, Dr. Potter says:

    Failures were first noted in barracks of the Naval Receiving Station at Pearl Harbor in 1947 — only a few years after the product was introduced. During the next 10 years, other cases of DDT resistance were confirmed, and by 1956, the National Pest Control Association was recommending malathion as an alternative.

    We’re seeing the same sort of thing happen right now. Bed bugs are already beginning to show signs of resistance to the pesticides most often used by pest management professionals to kill them.

    For the record, I don’t think it’s a matter of no one being capable of doing the methodical research it takes to find out exactly what kills bed bugs. There’s a reason bed bugs have been around since biblical times, you know. And it’s not because people haven’t been trying to get rid of them all along. 🙂

    So, since there is no magic bullet, at least at this point (though I hope someday there will be!), the only way to exterminate bed bugs is, as Dr. Potter says in the aforementioned article, through thoroughness: “Thoroughness is the key word and only experience will teach a man how to best find every possible place bed bugs may be harbored.”

    Thoroughness means implementing an integrated pest management plan that includes a thorough inspection (which can take several hours), and a variety of tools, including vacuums, steamers, washers, dryers, pesticides, and many, many others. Thoroughness, by the way, also means cooperation, because in many cases, in order to eliminate a bed bug infestation, all the tenants in a building must cooperate with pest management professionals and landlords. And of course, landlords must cooperate, too.

    John, I would be very happy to put my head together with yours to come up with a solution to this problem. But I’m more inclined to try to encourage the City of Chicago to control the spread of bed bug infestations NOW. Big city departments of health are not all the same. Check out what’s going on in Toronto, and you’ll see what I mean. It’s not going to be quick or painless, but our city certainly has the power to control (and someday eliminate) bed bug infestations.

    I hope you’ve made your way over to our Resources page. There are lots of things you can do to make your living situation better. I think you’d make a lot of progress pretty quickly by taking the right approach with the people who manage the SRO. I think the Metropolitan Tenants Organization might be a great place to start.

    Thanks for commenting, John. I really hope you continue to do so. I love your sense of humor. Oh, and remember, you are not alone.


  44. Jessica said

    Hi Janie!

    Thank you so much for the encouragement! We’re working hard over here in Chicago, and we hope our efforts pay off for everyone in the long run.

    It’s terrible to hear that you’ve been battling bed bugs for the past year. It really, really is. What a nightmare. It sounds like you’ve still got your head on straight, which is something of a miracle, isn’t it? Be strong. It will end someday.

    Have you been to New York vs. Bed Bugs yet? I know Renee and crew would love to hear from you.

    Best of luck to you. Stop back and let us know how you’re doing, okay? And if you ever do move back to Chicago, you know where to find us. 🙂

    Take good care.


    *We are all in this together.

  45. Dave said

    Hi Jessica,

    I have to say the blog is growing more impressive by the day. It’s like watching a kid grow up right before your eyes. Adding the poll was a great idea. Does the poll give you a general location of who answered. I’m thinking it could be a wonderful tool to see how widespread this problem is (a informal tracking system one could say). I also think you should get the Noble Peace Prize for what you are doing. The work is that good and unfortunately your audience is growing.


  46. Jessica said

    Hey Dave!

    You hit the nail on the head, my friend. I added the poll (upper right corner of every page) in order to make an effort to gather SOME data about bed bug infestations in the City of Chicago, since apparently the city isn’t doing so (yet).

    It is quite informal, and no, the poll is completely anonymous, so it does not show any geographical data, but it’s better than nothing. I set the poll up to record one vote and only one vote per IP address, so it’s somewhat reliable in that sense. But, obviously, it can only count the people who vote, which means the numbers recorded in the poll reflect a very small percentage of the people who visit our website (because not many people are voting) and the people who visit our website reflect a very, very, very, very small percentage of the people living with bed bugs in the City of Chicago.

    It’s something, though. 🙂

    And come on, now, Dave. I don’t think this work is exactly Nobel Prize-worthy!!! I appreciate your kindness and your encouragement, though, I really do.

    Thanks for the compliments about the site, too. There are more changes on the way, so stay tuned…


  47. john edwards said

    *Note: Comment edited (just a little) for content.
    -Jessica 01/06/09 8:00 PM CDT

    Yo, Jessica

    Thanks for the feedback. BTW, did you know that permethrin–an ingredient in foggers–is in the same toxicity category as Vikane? You know, the nerve gas? And so is nicotine sulfate! Nicotine oil has been an insecticide and sheep dip since year one. Domestic tobacco leaf is 2-8 percent nicotine oil by weight (The Merck Index, 1940s).

    I don’t know if Vikane fumigation is 100 percent for 24 hours, but gas it and heat the house to…what? 70C?…and keep it there for a week. Does anyone know? Researchers found Vikane in between the walls of houses hundreds of feet away, at low multiples of max OSHA levels. They cover the house with a tarp, then open the windows and blow it out with fans. Polyesther supposedly outgasses Vikane for 40 days (shirts? sofas?) Net hearsay. Who knows?

    Now, here’s my question: What percentage of residences are infested? Apartment=whole building, in my book. Any guesses?

    P.S. Anyone thought of an AA-type meeting? S*, I’d do it in a park. No risk assessments for transmission via clothing, but spread via public transportation in Europe. That why the CTA announced it’s cleaning the Evanston Express trains?

    Try to relax. Worst-case scenario: ditch everything and leave. I’m planning to, including my cell phone, good suit, and screw it.

    Thanks for your comments, guys!


  48. Jessica said

    John, you’re hilarious. I’m glad you stopped back. You gave me so much to think about, I don’t know where to start! This is good.

    First, you seem really interested in learning about how pesticides work (or don’t work!) to kill bed bugs. I love it when people do their own research. It’s empowering, you know? Especially when you’re living with bugs that crawl out and feed on you while you sleep. That can make a person feel pretty powerless.

    So, I wanted to point you toward The Armed Forces Pest Management Board, Defense Pest Management Information Analysis Center Literature Retrieval System (LRS). You wouldn’t believe the information that’s available to you there. Some of the books and articles about bed bugs were published in the 1950s. Try typing in “bed bug resistance” and doing a search. It’s really interesting stuff– you’ll find a ton of scientific data about pesticides and bed bugs.

    I don’t know much about Vikane at all, but I do know that it and thermal treatment seem to be pretty effective in single-unit dwellings (houses). This is because bed bugs have nowhere to run when the treatments take place. In multi-unit dwellings, they can and will escape treatment through wall voids. Unless, of course, the entire building is tented and treated. I have heard of an entire apartment building that was treated with Vikane, but I don’t know what the results were. I can’t imagine that it would be a good investment, though, simply because the building could be infested with bed bugs again at any time– even the next day.

    The only real solution I can envision is through aggressive integrated pest management. And education. If people know how to avoid catching bed bugs in the first place, or if people know what signs to look for and are able to catch and properly treat infestations at the outset, the spread will slow and eventually stop.

    My best guess at how many residences are infested, in terms of multi-unit dwellings, is that your best guess is pretty accurate. I know that inspecting and sometimes pre-treating all adjacent units is recommended by almost all competent professionals these days. That could be eight units, if only one unit is infested. If more than one unit is infested, which is likely, then, well, I know you can do the math. 🙂

    Where did you hear that the CTA was cleaning the purple line trains because of bed bugs? Is that true, or are you being funny again?

    And finally, I will attend an AA-type-support-group-meeting with you, in a park or otherwise, if we can get some people together to join us. I think it might be really, really helpful to a lot of people. Let’s see if we get any comments from people who are interested.

    John, I don’t want you to ditch everything and leave. You could wind up in another infested building someday soon! Bed bugs are spreading everywhere, in Chicago and in the suburbs and all across the country. It’s not worth abandoning your possessions, believe me. They are bugs. We are people. And many, many people are living with bed bugs right now, all over the world. If they can do it, you can do it. You’ve just got to empower yourself, and come up with a plan to make your living situation better. It’s obvious to me that you’re smart enough to do it– there’s no doubt about that. I’ll help you in any way I can.

    Take good care, John. I hope to hear from you again.


  49. Ramona said

    I have been contacting the health dept authorities to try and get proof from the management company that they indeed did spray and or inform the other tenants in this complex that there were bedbugs. SO far to no avail. He was requesting compliance documents from the manager there and I told him they could tell me till they were blue in the face that they checked the other apts BUT i wanted proof! We have since requested ALL the work orders for our apt since moving in just to have the paper trail that they did not spray the whole month of Dec. We do have grounds to break the lease but where to move? If we dont have them eradicated we will just move them to a new place and go through all of this again.
    By the way this is my son and girlfriends apt in Chicago. We live in central Ill and just made a trip up there to help sort out this mess and help locate the source and bag up and organize items in their apt. They have all of their unnecessary items in large contractors bags out on their balcony trying to freeze the buggers out. This was after we washed and dried every single item. We did over 40 loads of laundry. So i am trying to help them long distance which is a little difficult but they are so overwhelmed and depressed over this situation to say the least. My son doesnt get bitten per say no marks but his girlfriend has scars all over her arms and legs and feet from these things. She is highly allergic to the bites. Besides the fact that they were getting bit from late Sept until Nov 26th before they found out they were bedbugs at first we thought spider or mosquito or something along those lines. Well sorry this discussion is immensely long but i wanted to post this story for others to see what they have been going through.
    I know this apt has a total of 17 mouse holes with some access points by the baseboard register pipes some have just been chewed through the wall. When we moved in in July there was evidence of mice then. They are not eating the bait boxes or getting in the mouse traps but boy do we find their telltale signs.(We have pics) They are not in the kitchen cupboards thank goodness.
    We have caught no mice on the glue traps BUT we have caught red nymphs and 1 other BB. We have captured two live ones in the livingroom after they had sprayed the day before and they were out in broad daylight just sitting there looking at us….UCKK
    One was a male and one a female. We identified this fact from pictures on the internet and a magnifying glass. The apt complex is spraying in the apt again on Monday this will make the 4th spraying since Dec 31st.
    According to the institute of Kentucky & Ohio entomology dept these buggers would use a mouse as a host or stay in their nest. As well as several other sites say these BB can travel on any warm blooded vertebrae. Even though they prefer human hosts
    The baseboards in the master bedroom in this apt are over 5 inches in some places so trying to find any BB under there is next to impossible or treating with steam would be out of the question. The void between the outside wall and the inside wall is too deep. We are on the third floor.
    Basically whenever i call any officials trying to get information and or help I get the biggest runaround ever. Usually being transferred three to four times and having to repeat the information that many times also only to find that i am still not talking to the right person… what a nightmare this has become.

  50. Jessica said

    Hi Ramona!

    I’m so happy to see that you chose to talk about the ordeal your son and his girlfriend are experiencing. Bed bug infestations cause so many serious problems for people in so many different ways. It’s hard to imagine another circumstance which causes all of the following, all at the same time:

    Financial strain— repeated extermination is not cheap, nor is repeatedly purchasing large garbage bags to store laundered clothes, or bug-proof plastic bins to store books and CDs, or good zippered mattress covers (at least $100 each, usually)

    Physical strain— it’s not easy to get zippered covers onto a mattress and box springs; it’s not easy to heft an entire wardrobe to the laundromat; it’s not easy to lift and move couches and dressers and bookcases in order to inspect for bugs

    Health issues, ranging from discomfort to potentially serious allergic reactions and sometimes require medical care and prescription drugs, like antihistamines or anti-inflammatory drugs

    Mental stress, caused by the knowledge that bugs are feeding on your blood while you sleep and there’s not much you can do about it– which is psychologically disturbing for many people– and is exacerbated by prolonged lack of sleep

    Landlord/Tenant disputes which sometimes lead to

    Legal issues

    Interaction with local public agencies (health departments, etc.) for help, which can be harrowing, to say the least

    And finally, the stigma, which unfortunately causes embarrassment, shame, and isolation

    Ramona, it must be so difficult for you to know that your son and his girlfriend are suffering so much. It sounds to me like you are doing an amazing job of being supportive and helpful to them, and I commend you for that.

    Now, about those mouse holes… You are right, bed bugs can travel on warm-blooded vertebrae. I’m under the impression, though, that it’s more likely that the bed bugs in your son’s apartment are traveling through the mouse holes on their own. From what I understand, it’s likely that the bed bugs are hiding in a wall void close to a mouse hole, and creep out through the hole to feed.

    So, I think that your instinct to connect the mouse holes with bed bugs makes a whole lot of sense. I just don’t know that bed bugs would hitch a ride on a mouse when they are perfectly capable of and really, really good at traveling on their own.

    I did a little more research for you this morning, and I found a couple websites for you to check out that might be helpful to you as you try to help your loved ones here in Chicago:

    1. Lawyer’s Committee for Better Housing (LCBH): (copied and pasted directly from the About page) “Our approach ranges from advocacy and intervention on behalf of the tenants to litigation, such as seeking a receivership in housing court so that rents can go to a third party and necessary improvements will be made. Our work with tenants includes educating them on their rights under the Chicago Residential Landlord Tenant Ordinance, condominium conversion laws, state laws, fair housing, foreclosure and other laws as applicable.”

    2. Illinois Tenants Union: (copied and pasted directly from the Home page) “We are an organization which advocates for residential renters.”

    3. Better Business Bureau in Chicago and Northern Illinois

    Also, I am happy to recommend a good, trained, experienced pest management company that specializes in treating bed bug infestations to you if you’d like .I know of one in the City of Chicago that I feel comfortable recommending, but I have to do so in a private email (I don’t want to get into advertising issues on the website). You can email me at jessica_kevan at yahoo dot com if you’re interested.

    It would be difficult (if not impossible) to eliminate the infestation completely and forever without the cooperation of the entire building and the landlord, but it would probably provide some temporary relief and possibly an ongoing relationship to keep the bed bug population in your son’s apartment to a minimum until you find a good solution.

    You’re right about moving– odds are that the bed bugs would move with your son and his girlfriend, and that would be terrible for them and for their new neighbors and their new landlord.

    I hope I’ve helped you a little bit, Ramona. And I hope it helps to know that you, your son, and his girlfriend are by NO means alone. I’ve received many, many emails from Chicagoans who are experiencing the same hardships that you are.

    Please, please keep writing here on the Discuss page, if you can. It is SO important for people to see what this is like.

    I sincerely thank you for contributing to our cause. That’s exactly what you’re doing, you know? By engaging in open discussion, you are contributing, and I thank you so much.


  51. EJ said

    To all those who have noticable bites-
    Try Avon’s Skin So Soft. I didn’t think it would work, but as soon as I put it on, I never got another bite. It even took the redness away.

    I spent hours and hours reading different websites and forums before I got that information. It stoped my co-workers from asking if I had a rash.

    I still can’t put my head on a pillow because of my trauma, but at least I can sleep at night.

  52. Jessica said

    Hey, EJ. Thanks for sharing with us. I know, bed bugs can be traumatic. Have you noticed that people start itching when you talk about bed bugs? And that lots of people can’t talk about bed bugs at all? It’s just too disgusting for people to think about! I keep saying “Imagine if you had to go to sleep every night knowing that bed bugs were going to feed on you.” Yep, it can be traumatic, even for people who’ve never had them.

    Thanks for telling us that Skin So Soft stopped your bites. I haven’t heard that it works for most people, but if it worked for you, then I say use it!

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