Bedbugs still biting at Neill-Wycik

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By Stephanie Cesca

Neill-Wycik Co-operative College is planning to buy 100 new beds by the end of the semester to help cure its chronic bedbug infestation.

This in addition to the 100 the co-op bought last year to help solve the problem.

The residence, which houses about 400 Ryerson students, and Pitman Hall, one of Ryerson’s official residences, haven’t been able to get rid of the critters since the infestation broke out a year and a half ago.

And they aren’t getting any help from the Toronto Health Department to deal with the recurring problem, although a pest control expert says they probably should.

Stephen Robe, a zoology professor at the University of Toronto, said bedbugs are difficult to eliminate because of their strong will to survive.

Although they don’t carry diseases, the insects inject their saliva into the human body, causing welts or rashes on the skin.

“You always know when you have them because it smells like dried blood,” said Robe.

Mary Margaret Krapper, spokesperson for Toronto’s public health unit, said cockroach and mice infestations are considered health risks, but bedbugs aren’t so worrisome.

“They’re not considered a health hazard,” she said.

Despite the problems, Wycik manager Peter Allen, said the infestation isn’t as out of control as last year.

Wycik was fumigated before students moved in last September. Since then, some units have been sprayed two more times.

Liza Nassim, manager of Ryerson’s student housing services, said Pitman Hall’s infestation has been isolated to two floors.

Allen said the new beds are steel which means they have fewer crevices and cracks than wood-frame beds. Allen said it will cost around $25,000 for the new ones.

Tracy Knoop, a 13th-floor Wycik resident, says she can’t handle any more unwanted visits by exterminators. She says her unit was fumigated twice, and she has used up four cans of bug spray in the last two months.

While Wycik’s management and maintenance staff has been helpful, Knoop says she’s tired of the inconvenience of the frequent exterminations.

“The stress — to have your life packed up in boxes — is unbelievable.”

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