Bed Bugs Begone! Scourge of Apartment Dwellers on the Way Out?

bedbug Bed Bugs Begone! Scourge of Apartment Dwellers on the Way Out?

Beating a retreat, or here to stay? (TomSpinker, flickr)

Can New Yorkers finally stop examining the buttons of their mattresses, the crevices in their floorboards, every speck of dirt on their sheets?

Well, don’t go picking up furniture off the street anytime soon, but better days may lie before us.

A data analysis done by DNAinfo found that 2011 was the first year that the number of bed bug-related complaints and city-issued violations dropped—from 2,649 in 2010 to 2,361 in 2011, based on numbers from the city’s 311 complaint line.

Has the war to conquer cimex lectularius finally reached a turning point? Or have New Yorkers, fed-up with endless pesticide applications, finally reached an unhappy 19th-century-style co-existence, wherein we scrub our walls with turpentine every few months and hope for the best, 311 be damned?

Neither, says DNAinfo. Tenants and landlords, no longer novices when it comes to bed bug battles, are waging their wars with the help of private exterminators, so less people are filing complaints. (And many afflicted buildings, like the Ritz, are loathe to have their bed bug-infested laundry aired.)

“Before, a lot of the landlords didn’t deal with the problem,” Jeffrey Eisenberg, founder of Manhattan-based extermination company Pest Away, told DNAinfo. “Now, they do deal with it so people don’t have to call 311 to report their landlords.”

Of course, bed bugs are a stealthy and surprisingly tenacious menace, and they could just be regrouping in anticipation of their next assault. We doubt they’ll vanish from our apartments, or our nightmares, anytime soon.

kvelsey@observer.com