Infestation is Beautiful
September 22, 2010 10:50 AM   Subscribe

BDBGS! Last time Christian Swinehart was on metafilter, it was for his gorgeous visualizations of the narrative pathways contained in the Choose Your Own Adventure books. His new interactive visualizations plot bedbug reports in New York City between 2004 and the present.

Buildings collects data from the Bedbug Registry showing reports of infestations in residences and hotels. Clicking on an address displays the registry's user-submitted reports. Neighborhoods uses calls to the NYC 311 help line collected by New York vs. Bedbugs to tally complaints and violations both annually and per capita. The about sections investigate the limitations or hidden biases of these data sets.
posted by scarylarry (18 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Naturally I first read that as "BOOBS!"
posted by eugenen at 10:54 AM on September 22, 2010

What isn't clear right off is that you're supposed to click the arrow to the right of "ALL" in the box in the upper right to run the visualization across time.

Just watching this makes me itch, and I live clear across the country from NYC.
posted by hippybear at 10:59 AM on September 22, 2010


posted by hippybear at 11:00 AM on September 22, 2010

I can see that fleabags are concentrated as tradition would have it: west of Times Square. The Tenderloin must be tenderer than ever these days.
posted by Faze at 11:00 AM on September 22, 2010

Does anyone know what is the cause of this resurgence? I swear I've heard nothing about bedbugs until last year when I heard EVERYTHING about bedbugs.
posted by Dmenet at 11:20 AM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

bedbug epedemic is hitting most of the SAN DIEGO hotels right now, and is a problem being tackled at a cost of thousands of dollars
posted by tustinrick at 11:32 AM on September 22, 2010

Neat, yes, but without an overlay of population density there's really no way to determine where the bedbugs are really biting.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:36 AM on September 22, 2010

Does anyone know what is the cause of this resurgence?

I've read various theories. It could be because we no longer use DDT; because people use more directed pesticides instead of foggers; that people travel more...

One right-wing acquaintance of mine blames environmentalists because hotels are no longer washing sheets as often and when they do it's in cold water and it's all the greenies fault and I'm sure he could work Obama into it if I asked.
posted by The corpse in the library at 11:44 AM on September 22, 2010 [2 favorites]

Hehe, nice concentration in East Village and Williamsburg. Yummy!
posted by ReeMonster at 11:46 AM on September 22, 2010

(Viewing Neighborhoods) As you move through in time, notice that neighborhoods get redder and redder (higher concentration of complaints) and then it begins moving from neighborhood to neighborhood; as an example, look at Bushwick and surrounding neighborhoods.

I notice that my neighborhood is a dark red, um, is its also going to redder and redder? This is absolutely horrifying. I'm going to die.

Re: insecticides. One hypothesis for this resurgence that has been suggested is insecticide-resistance. Resistance to DDT has been observed in these insects since the 1950s. Darn evolution.
posted by Wolfster at 12:40 PM on September 22, 2010

What a fantastic visualization of such a shitty problem.

I get into a Facebook "conversation", with a friend of a friend, about bedbugs yesterday. The person claimed that it was all just a media distraction! Right.

Also, she was "arguing" with me pundit-style. Ugh. Some people are so unnecessarily contentious.
posted by defenestration at 12:49 PM on September 22, 2010

got* — EDIT pony, plz?
posted by defenestration at 12:49 PM on September 22, 2010

We were just commenting recently about how fleas were an inevitable aspect of pets until the advent of that once-a-month treatment you put on your pets' neck. Seems like the same sort of thing could work for bedbugs. The treatment prevents eggs from hatching, so you don't get the next generation.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 1:01 PM on September 22, 2010

Oh no, if you look at the limitations in the about sections links, one could hypothesize that the problem is worse than this.

“In examining the data it is important to remember that the reports are unverified and all data come from users who went to the trouble to seek the site out. As a result the results will tend to overemphasize net-savvy neighborhoods, perhaps (at least in part) explaining the report density in Greenpoint & Williamsburg, Brooklyn.”

“Typically, bed bug complaints only make it to 311 after the tenants have been unable to persuade their landlord to treat the problem in a timely fashion. As a result, areas with a predominance of condominums and co-ops will be underrepresented since there is no direct need for 311. Note, for example, the relative dearth of complaints from Manhattan’s Upper East Side despite its anecdotal notoriety as a ‘hot spot’.”
posted by Wolfster at 1:16 PM on September 22, 2010

Based on Google Trends, it looks like Canadians are especially affected, or at least are more worried about it. Also, Cincinnati has more hits than NYC. Ewww.

Also looks like the data center corridor of Herndon, Reston, and Ashburn VA is especially affected. Who knew that building out "the cloud" would bring so many bugs?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 4:50 PM on September 22, 2010

I was at a party the other day where someone was talking about bedbugs, and what followed was the same thing I usually see in that situation -- everyone who's had them scurries over to the person talking about them, nodding, wide-eyed and sympathetic, and everyone starts trading stories about what they did to get rid of them, how much of a nightmare it made their lives, which formerly-beloved possessions were thrown out without a second thought. It's kind of fun to see that dynamic.

See, I had bedbugs last year. It was fucking horrific and traumatic and awful. It seems like at that time, some folks were juuuust starting to wake up to the fact that this might potentially maybe be something that in theory could happen, but there were certainly plenty of people who had no idea that bedbugs were even a "thing."

Now they are all over the news. Every other day there is an article about bedbugs.

And now it is the only goddamn thing that anyone wants to talk to me about. In that situation, people will actually drag me away from conversations about things that don't make me retch to ask me for anecdotes and advice. People who have never even MET me know that I was that person that had bedbugs that one time. Some of my more clueless friends have even introduced me, by way of a conversation starter, as "She had bedbugs once!"


posted by louche mustachio at 5:50 PM on September 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wouldn't think bed bugs would affect Canadians. Just go on vacation for a few days in the middle of winter and leave your windows open. Bed bugs also will succumb to cold temperatures below 32°F, but the freezing temperatures must be maintained for several days.
posted by eye of newt at 8:38 PM on September 22, 2010

Yeah well, we don't have the 32°F here. We only have 0°C, and that just makes them angry.
posted by sneebler at 9:18 PM on September 22, 2010 [3 favorites]

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