Most people will do anything to get rid of bed bugs if they have them, however in Leonina Heringer’s case it’s quite the opposite. Heringer is from Somerville and is collecting bed bugs. According to her sister, Clarinda Freitas, people will bring Heringer bed bugs in little glass jars. So what does she do with these bed bugs exactly? First of all, they are dead bed bugs and Heringer in return is finishing up an informational video on bed bugs for Somerville’s public-access television which will also be aired on public-access TV stations in nearby cities and towns as well.
This past Monday Heringer was outside her apartment with an old mattress that she had sprayed with ketchup. This method is used to discourage people from buying or picking up old mattress, a common method of getting bed bugs.
Heringer’s “crusade” began in 2004 after talking with a member of Portuguese Baptist Church in Cambridge and listening to the woman describe their bed bug problems. The woman informed her that bed bugs were all over the floors and her own 9-month-old baby couldn’t even crawl around in her own home. Heringer decided showing sympathy wasn’t enough, so she took action.
After the landlord’s response wasn’t satisfactory Heringer took things to the next level and brought the issue to the attention of the Health Department and starting writing articles in the Brazilian Times about bed bugs. After including contact information in the articles many people starting contacting her. Now she’s taken it even a step further and with help and funding of 1,700 she was able to make an informative video on bed bugs. Within the video she helps viewers learn how to identify bed bugs as well as how to prepare themselves for extermination. The video also features interviews with exterminators which is extremely beneficial for viewers.
Heringer has learned a lot about bed bugs herself and when she travels she is extremely cautious. Traveling is one of the many ways to pick up bed bugs. When she travels, she won’t bring her luggage into a hotel room until she has checked for bugs. At the beginning she was alone but now she has an entire team behind her with support. Heringer’s goals are to inform everyone about bed bugs and hopefully answer questions and misconceptions many people have. Heringer says that many people will try to treat the problem themselves with other bed bug repellents which is dangerous because a mosquito is very different from a bed bug.
Heringer has been called “The Bed Bug Lady” but she looks at her nickname as a compliment, though some have thought she was infested with bed bugs this is not the case. Heringer has never had a bed bug problem herself but rather was a woman with a good heart who decided to more than just sympathize with those who have had to live with bed bugs. Heringer decided to take action and because of her actions people are becoming informed. With the rising bed bug epidemic we can only hope more people will be inspired by Heringer and take action themselves.