Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 15
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
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Bedbug Infestation Plagues Tenants, Raises Concerns at Borough Council

Dilshanie Perera

With the ability to survive for weeks or even months without feeding on mammalian blood and a life span of an average of 10 months, the tenacity and longevity of bedbugs make them formidable opponents when it comes to getting them out of your home.

Tenants in various apartments at 205 Nassau Street have been dealing with this burgeoning problem for months, and building owner Sanford Zeitler has recently been issued a notice by the Princeton Health Department requiring him to rid the errant insect from the premises using a licensed exterminator within 30 days.

According to the State’s Administrative Code, if an insect infestation is restricted to one dwelling unit, the burden of eradication falls upon the occupant, but if two or more units are compromised by insects, it is the owner’s responsibility to restore the building to an insect-proof condition.

The situation on Nassau Street was brought up at last week’s Borough meeting by Councilman Roger Martindell. “The people who live there are currently suffering — financially, physically, emotionally,” Mr. Martindell said. “We need to help the occupants deal with the issue on a more coordinated basis.”

Barbara Trelstad, also on Borough Council, pointed out that “the onus has been unfairly put on the tenants,” who have been required to throw away many possessions, including mattresses, furniture, and other personal items that had become infested.

Council President Andrew Koontz noted that the problem of bedbugs had been brought to the attention of the health department over a year and a half ago, and since then the department has been engaged in compiling information about the pest. Facts about bedbugs and instructions on what to do in the event of an infestation can be found at the Health Department’s website at

With bedbugs making the news in New York City and other area locations, Mr. Koontz warned that since the insects are “on the rise in the region, it would be best not to help yourself to free furniture out on the street. It may be out there for a reason.”

The Health Department also cautions against bringing in discarded furniture into one’s home, as it may contain bed bugs or bed bug eggs. Thorough examination of second-hand furniture is recommended.

One can recognize bedbugs by their thin, brown, oval-shaped bodies that are “roughly the size of a tick.” Both young bedbugs, called nymphs, and mature adults feed on blood and are nocturnal.

The creatures typically live in crevasses of furniture, picture frames, or mattresses, and the infestation will usually begin closest to the source of blood. Bedbug bites may look like a rash or a series of dots and may become swollen.

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