Bedbugs pose problem in Allston

By Kate Augusto, News staff

Every night children fall asleep to the same rhyme: Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite. In the past few years, residents of Allston-Brighton have been faced with a skin-crawling truth – these bedbugs are not merely myth.

Zac Bozza, owner of American Pest Control, said the Allston-Brighton area is a hotspot for bedbugs. After about 50 years of almost complete disappearance, bedbugs began to make their comeback about seven years ago, Bozza said.

‘At first we only got a couple calls a year; now we get calls almost every day,’ Bozza said.

Bedbugs, which are about a quarter of an inch long, feed on mammal blood, with a preference for human’s, according to a pamphlet distributed by the Allston-Brighton Community Development Corporation.

Bozza said the creatures feed on people for 10-15 minutes at night when they are sleeping. The pamphlet explains that bedbugs, which multiply rapidly, are not known to transmit diseases to humans.

Landlords are financially responsible for removing bedbugs from infected apartments, Bozza said. If one apartment has them, he suggests treatment of all other apartments in that complex because they are known to move up to 100 feet from their feeding areas.

Bedbug infestations are one unattractive quality of Allston, which was recently rated the 14th worst place to live in America in a book by Dave Gilmartin, ‘The Absolutely Worst Places to Live in America.’

According to Gilmartin, Allston is an abyss of ‘sprawl, crime, boredom and ugliness’ and he lists ‘faux Irish pubs, garbage, [and] vomiting in the shrubbery’ as prominent attractions in Allston.

Robyn Henderson, a senior computer science major and a seven-year resident of Allston, sheds a different light on her neighborhood.

‘Allston has the most vomit on the ground per square foot out of any Boston neighborhood, but I like it,’ Henderson said. ‘It definitely has sketchy elements, but so does Mission Hill ‘hellip; at least [Allston] has a vibe.’

Greg Houghton, residence director for West Village B and C, said high-occupancy complexes with large turnover rates like hotels, hospitals, apartments and dorms are more prone to bedbugs than individual dwellings.

‘Most bedbugs find habitat along mattress seams, in sheets and bedding covers. So as long as a resident is proactive in maintaining a clean environment, they will help minimize the risk posed by bedbugs,’ Houghton said in an e-mail.

Stan Duci, director of customer service for the facilities department, said bedbugs are usually transported from the outside in items with cracks to hide in like old furniture.

Duci also said it is important to regularly wash bed linens, though on campus there is little evidence of a bedbug problem. In the three years Duci has worked with Northeastern, there have only been 10 work requests under the term bedbugs, none of which he can confirm ended up being bedbugs, he said.

Northeastern has a pest control staff that is dispatched right away at the mention of bedbugs, Duci said. The mattresses in the dorms further work to prevent bedbug issues, as they are fully sealed and impermeable to all critters who desire to live in the seams.

‘[When there is a complaint] we take the issue very seriously,’ Duci said, but ‘bedbugs are definitely not something students [living in residence halls] should worry about.’

Julia Weisman, a middler cultural anthropology major, said she likes living in Allston, despite her own familiarity with the bedbug problem.

Last year, Weisman said a good friend had a bedbug problem in the apartment she lived in with three other people.

‘Basically the bedbugs came from [her roommates] having a lot of parties [and] people crashing there,’ Weisman said. ‘There were a lot of places for the bedbugs to collect.’

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