Tales from the Crypt of Bed Bugs You Probably Have in Your Mattress


Remember the horrible bed bug invasion that was going to plunge New York into the Age of the Insect, when all Gothamites would have to feed their mattresses to the insatiable Bed Bug Queen living in the subway tunnels? It was going to be terrible, and then, magically, bed bugs vanished from the news…until now.

Gothamist recently interviewed a loquacious Brooklyn exterminator named Bill Swan, who reminded everyone that, unless they plan on paying for Bill Swan’s super-thorough $275 bed bug treatment, bed bugs are probably going to eat them alive, just like those scarabs in The Mummy. What follows are the most skin-crawling moments from Swan’s interview, including that time he told a prospective client that the bed bugs in his domicile were eating him.

On bed bugs thirsting for human blood:

Well, the occasional roach would be in your kitchen by a water source, eating your food and things like that. The few bed bugs would be eating YOU. They’re parasites. They feed off human blood.

On informing some hapless gentleman that he was being devoured by bed bugs:

I’ve come across a lot of different ones, but probably the one that was most shocking to me was when I was going to a single-room-occupancy to do a general treatment, for roaches and things like that. When I walked in, the gentleman was sitting on his couch, and his wall looked like it was covered in spots. And I’m staring at it, because it looked unusual to me, and I’m wondering why these spots looked like they were moving.
And when I got a little bit closer, there were hundreds and hundreds of bed bugs covering his wall behind his couch. I looked at the guy; he was chewed up, there wasn’t a spot on his face that didn’t have a bite on it. I said, “Sir. Look behind you.” He said, “They’re cockroaches.” I said, “They’re not cockroaches, they’re bedbugs, and they’re eating you.”

On the madness of not killing bed bugs:

The guy looked at me as calmly as you could imagine, and says, “In my religion, we don’t kill bugs. Just leave them alone.” Could you imagine? I swear to you.

On the merits of catching and releasing bed bugs as if they were blundering raccoons or opossums:

I says, “Ma’am. There’s gotta be a candid camera on around here.” I says, “Do you really want me to vacuum them up and release them off in the park like they’re squirrels or something?” And she said, “Yeah.” And I says, “Ma’am. I’ve gotta go. I’ve gotta go.”

On sniff-testing for bed bugs:

I tell ya, I’ve come in where people have actually disputed that it’s a bedbug and then they squish it and sniff it right in front of me.

On genetically superior bed bugs:

These bugs build up a chemical resistance if they’re not sprayed right, and the next generation will be able to survive a spraying.

On bed bugs as the inexorable force of destruction:

Any store you go into—a hardware store, a Home Depot—everybody has bedbug spray out there. These people buy ‘em and they wanna spray themselves. So what happens is you will kill a few of the bugs that are right near you. Then the eggs hatch ten days later, they come for you…

The lesson you should take from Bill Swan’s fear-based marketing strategy is obviously to move somewhere that bed bugs can’t follow you. Like Mars. Happy travels!

Brooklyn Exterminator Shares His Bed Bug Horror Stories [Gothamist]

Image via Getty, Brian Kersey

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