Bedbugs have opened up a second front in what appears to be the pesky mites’ war on criminal justice offices in Downtown, showing up this week at the Legal Aid Society on Livingston Street.
The outbreak comes less than two weeks after the District Attorney’s office was red-faced (and red-bumped) to admit its own infestation — proving that these resilient creatures are not going down without a bite.
“Is this not the most ridiculous thing? First the DA, and now us,” said the society’s spokeswoman, Pat Bath, from the safety of another workplace away from the affected office near Adams Street. “People are moving to our other offices so they can get some work done. We’re taking precautions.”
Bath said that her office was buzzing with concern when workers “thought they saw one,” so she called in the big guns: a bedbug-sniffing beagle that locates the tiny colonies for extermination.
That mission revealed some bad news. Bath said that the beagle caught a scent and located only a single bedbug — but any insect aficionado knows that the apple seed-sized mites can reproduce quickly and lie dormant for up to a year, hiding in wood and cloth before they inevitably attack again, leaving tell-tale red bite marks all over the innocent.
Exterminators were poised to fumigate the office this weekend. In the meantime, legal workers on the seventh floor of the high-rise are apprehensive.
“We’re on bedbug alert!” one woman said.
Others were cautiously optimistic.
“I’m not too nervous — the whole process seems to be going smoothly,” said another worker outside the office. “But [the infestation] comes with a certain territory. I mean, we work with little kids.”
Whatever this office’s fate, the battle plays only a small role in a new citywide war being waged against bedbugs. Officials have said that one in 15 residents have been tainted by the mites — which are not only discovered from the bite marks they leave behind, but also from blood on bedsheets and little patches of excrement that look like ground pepper.