Bedbugs Use People As Popcorn At NYC Theater

When you’re trying to enjoy a movie, getting munched on by tiny, parasitic insects ranks right up there with suffering through Stephen Sommers’ filmmaking skills in terms of dampening the experience.

Bedbugs beleaguered a moviegoer at a New York’s AMC Empire 25 theater. She told Gothamist she was covered in bedbug bites half an hour into a show.

“The staff at the customer service desk confirmed that the theater has known of the infestation for days and that it will not be fumigated until (today),” the woman told Gothamist.

Staffers offered the customer a refund and concessions coupons.

New York City is currently experiencing a rather epic infestation of bed bugs. They’ve been found at several stores and even on subway benches. Bleeech.

Bedbugs Love AMC Empire 25, Hate Republicans [Gothamist via Hollywood-Elsewhere]

Previously: Bedbugs Shutter Hollister Store


Edit Your Comment

  1. Preyfar says:

    If the city is suffering an epic infestation, and that infestation travels from the theater home to you, and you get infested… is the theater liable or is it just “plain dumb luck” from a city-wide infestation?

    • sonneillon says:

      You have to prove that it was the ones from the theater and that the bugs didn’t come from another source, and you have to prove the theater acted negligently. Not impossible but the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. And a judge may still rule against you anyways.

    • Ard says:

      If the theater knew about the infestation and still allowed customers to view movies in the specific room(s) that the infestation was contained in before the bugs were eliminated then, yes, they are responsible. Not only are they responsible for the infestation that occurs in one’s home after the fact but also for the continued spread of the bugs throughout the city.

      I imagine that, at this point, no resolution to the problem will occur without a city-wide group effort. Never mind the fact that, had these standards been held from the beginning, the mass infestation would not have happened.

  2. Cyniconvention says:

    I can just imagine someone putting them on the seats purposefully for a creepy-crawlie parasite film.

    Make the person freak out even more when they get bit after seeing a tick bite someone and turn them into a giant mutant bug.

  3. kricka says:

    I used to go to this theater and spend all day jumping from screen to screen. So glad this never happened to me!! I seem to have left NYC just as the bedbug infestation went critical.

  4. Hi_Hello says:

    free city-wide extermination program??

    what about tourist who travel to ny?

  5. TheRealDeal says:

    I hate bedbugs. I was attacked by them while at a hotel in Louisiana and when I read about how hardy the actual bugs are, my main concern turned to preventing them from getting back into my house after the trip. Everything that couldn’t be washed at high heat (like my suitcase) was torched in the driveway. A bit rash? Probably. Worth it to be absolutely assured that they didn’t get into the house? Absolutely.

    • LatinoGeek says:

      You should’ve taken off, and nuked your suitcase from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

    • selianth says:

      I don’t consider that rash at all. Everything I’ve read talks about how hard they are to get rid of once they’re in your house. I don’t blame you one little bit.

    • JixiLou says:

      Not rash at all. When we stayed at a hotel that had bedbugs, we gave the front desk our suitcases and clothes to throw out. No clothes and toiletries were worth dealing with an infestation.

      I’m all itchy just reading this.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Definitely not rash, the cost of exterminating them from your house would probably be very high, and you may lose a ton of belongings that you have in your house, which basically means you might be paying to replace almost everything you own or else you will never completely get rid of the bugs. Better to lose a small suitcase of belongings rather than your whole house.

      • 339point4 says:

        Same here. We discovered bedbugs at a lake house rental last summer (thanks to my being allergic to the bites and apparently their main meal). Everything that couldn’t be washed was left behind. I planned to keep the suitcases wrapped tightly in double layers of garbage bags and duct tape for 18 mos, but chickened out and tossed them.

        It sounds ridiculous, but I’m still traumatized. Anywhere I sleep that’s not in my own house, I keep suitcases up on metal-legged luggage racks and thoroughly check beds and mattresses for any and all signs of the bugs. Even then, it’s tough to sleep.

  6. humphrmi says:

    The hard part is killing them. Chemicals will kill some of them, but the little buggers are smart and as they see their buggy colleagues falling dead, they flee into the walls and other rooms. So you pretty much have to mass-bomb the entire building, all at once. Otherwise, you’ll just be chasing them from room to room with foggers. The other problem is the eggs, if they’re inside something (a wall, even inside furniture) they’re likely protected from the chemicals and will hatch and re-infest. So you’ve really got to spray *everything*, and rather thoroughly.

  7. Sparty999 says:

    You put enough people in one place you are going to have these types of things… add bedbugs to rats and roaches… Move out of the city for a better life!!

    • louiedog says:

      Raccoons, black bears, deer, having to drive long distances, long waits for snow removal and utility outages, poor cellular service and slow internet options, fewer food options (ethnic groceries and restaurants are far away), etc. These are just a few of the things I dealt with growing up and my mother continues to complain about where she lives. There are annoyances everywhere, you just have to pick the ones that fit your lifestyle best.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t know…I live in a totally urban environment and my biggest pest problem has been one fly who refuses to leave my house.

  8. Angus99 says:

    The article mentions a bed bug sniffing dog! And I thought my job sucked….

    • DorsalRootGanglion says:

      The dog has it pretty well, from what I’ve seen. He’s trained to sniff out bugs and gets a treat when he makes a non-false positive. The handler I met is quite nice and, having dealt with his own bugs, decided to go into business making other people’s lives better.

  9. PanCake BuTT says:

    I for one, ♥ bedbugs, no real issues with them. I even breed them and train them at home !

  10. Floppywesl says:

    Whew….I thought it was crabs again…damn those revenge crabs!!!

  11. jefeloco says:

    Phil, I would like to personally (indirectly through the comments) thank you for the Sommers reference. Every time my wife wants to see one of his movies I die a little on the inside.

  12. Sanshie says:

    Spraying for the bugs won’t help if they’ve laid eggs in your bed. You either have to get rid of the bed, or purchase a high quality mattress and box spring encasement. These will prevent the pests from getting out to you and biting you at night when they feed. And will eventually (1-2 years!) suffocate the little bastards. Cheap vinyl from Kmart won’t do it. It has to be made of material and a zipper that have been proven to resist bed bugs. Our exterminator explained all this and pointed us to ebay to get ours.

  13. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Shouldn’t this have an “Om Nom Nom” tag?

  14. The Marionette says:

    I’ve known not to put my head on a head rest at a movie theater since I was a kid. In fact when I go I tend to take a small sheet to at least cover the head rest, if not the whole seat.

    • haggis for the soul says:

      It’s pretty bad when you’ve got to wear a hazmat suit to watch a movie.

    • domac says:

      My sister buys a new sheet every time she goes to the movies theater and drapes it across her seat before she sits down. After the movie is over she tosses the sheet into the garbage.

  15. cmdr.sass says:

    Reason #47 why I love NetFlix and RedBox.

    Also, would you take a concessions coupon from an establishment infested with bugs of any kind? I wouldn’t. How insulting.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Yeah, um that’s kinda gross, unless you want to be eating the bugs, or byproducts of the bugs…

  16. mxjohnson says:

    We were attacked by bed bugs in a restaurant in Waikiki. I’d tell you the name of the place but Consumerist might not like that. The management’s response was the same as the movie theater in New York: “Yeah, we have bed bugs, we have an exterminator who comes in once a month to spray for them, they’re pretty much everywhere in Waikiki.”

  17. ChuckECheese says:

    Bring back DDT!

  18. Outrun1986 says:

    I’ve heard you can suffocate them with high heat, like really high, about 130 degrees or higher. You have to remove everything from the building/house/structure before doing this though, or else everything else will melt because most things don’t stand up to 130 degree heat. But if they are everywhere in NYC and the building is in NYC, they will just keep coming back regardless because people will just keep bringing them in.

  19. JamieSueAustin says:

    One of the libraries in our area has them something terrible, but they won’t do anything about it. I personally think a business that operates knowing that it has bedbugs should get in serious shit.

  20. dg says:

    OK, this is officially my #1 Reason NOT to ever go to the Theaters again…

    As for the OP – sue the theater. They knew they were infested, they knew that they wouldn’t be sprayed until several days later, they had a duty to close until they were sprayed.

    Replace bedbugs with “attacking rats” and see what you think….

  21. u1itn0w2day says:

    I understand how bed bugs are transmitted or spread but I’m still a liltte puzzled how they have become a problem. Is it lack of cleaning or dirty enviorments? Are modern day fabrics the perfect home for them? Is there a chemical that was used in fabrics decades ago that coincidently acted as a deterent? Are they coming from overseas? from animals?

    I’m just curious as to how bed bugs have become an infestation problem.

    • aloria says:

      They are very hard to get rid of, especially in a place like NYC where everyone lives in an apartment. They can hide in pretty much everything, so even if you fumigate your apartment, they’ll hide in the walls or migrate to another apartment and then come back.

    • El-Brucio says:

      Apparently it’s a combination of them becoming resistant to some insecticides, and a move in recent years to exterminate other kinds of household bugs with bait traps rather than spraying all over the place which may have been keeping their numbers down.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      Until the early 1970s, synthetic pesticides like DDT were widely used and they were very effective at killing insects like bedbugs and mosquitoes. They also resulted in serious environmental consequences as well as negative effects on human health.

      By the early ‘70s several bird species like the bald eagle, California condor and brown pelican were near extinction due to the effects of DDT. Meanwhile, DDT was found to be carcinogenic and an endocrine disruptor in humans. As a result, the widespread use of DDT was banned in 1972. Other synthetic pesticides were restricted in use as their negative health and environmental effects were understood and publicized.

      Even with the ‘better living through chemistry’ era over, it took until recently for the bedbug to regain its foothold. Now that we know the downsides to hosing things down with synthetic pesticides, there isn’t a cheap and easy way to get rid of the critters – hence the infestation.

  22. mydailydrunk says:

    AMC 25 is on 42nd street = many tourists who are staying in nearby hotels. Take a guess what the pest vector is?

    I miss the deuce of old.

  23. u1itn0w2day says:

    I’m curious. I have had good luck repelling things like misquitoes and fleas by taking B complex vitamins and/or brewers yeast.

    We had a dog who had bouts with fleas. I never had a problem with flea bites yet others did. Now I never use strong odor colonges or soaps either which I also think helps. I also can work outside early in the AM or early evening with no problem getting misquito bites. Again still taking B complex & brewers yeast.

    Is it at least possible to deter the buggers from biting you and/or eventually cut their food supply.

    Sidenote, it’s been mentioned that alot of insects have had a rebirth since the use of things like DDT stopped decades ago. Would this affect spiders, we seem to have more spiders of various kind than ever. But I guess that means they have a food supply as well from the long term non use of things like DDT.