Friday, September 3, 2010

Feeling itchy

So much for that cute little bedtime saying "Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite." That was when I assumed bed bugs were some extinct or mythical creature. But now, there are images of them all over my television screen. I can't possibly suffer through one more story in the news about bed bugs. I've shared with you my disgust of bugs before. Nothing's changed—despite a full summer of courageous bug killing at my house.

Sadly, my first indication that bed bugs were making a comeback was not through a media report. Last spring, I was making small talk with a friend and she casually mentioned she was dealing with a bed bug problem in her apartment. While trying to mask the extreme look of horror working its way to my face and taking a couple steps back, I think I said something mildly sympathetic. It wasn't exactly an invitation to learn more about the problem, but learn more I did! I got a first-hand account of what bed bugs do to people and homes, how she discovered them and the extreme measures she had to take to get rid of them. I'll spare you the details but "eww, eww, eww!" about sums it up. (Suddenly I'm feeling itchy…kind of like the first time I heard the story, after which I promptly went home to do all my laundry and vacuum the furniture.)

Now these insects are showing up in 5-star hotels and even invading the Toronto Film Festival. Makes me never want to travel again. I know I can't live in fear of these tiny little guys forever, but I think I might try to (illegally) get my hands on some DEET just in case. (Sorry EPA, but desperate times call for desperate measures.)

I always pictured the end of the world would come in the form of a massive earthquake or some other disaster that plays out in blockbuster movies, but if the bed bug "crisis" keeps up, I'm worried that gazillions of teeny tiny creatures might drive us all to the brink of insanity. Excuse me while I go change my sheets again.


  1. Did you mean DDT and not DEET? Deet you can get, at least in the amounts it comes in bug sprays.

    I share your disgust. I am not a hater of bugs as much as you are, but the thought of bugs in my bed makes me shiver.

  2. Apparently 30% of hotels in NYC have them . . . not going there anytime soon.

  3. This from the Strib:

    Bedbug facts

    Plus: Infestation tips

    By KRISTIN TILLOTSON, Star Tribune


    • They are about 1/4 inch long, shaped in a flat oval and reddish-brown in color. They have no wings.

    • They feed only on blood (human or animal), usually when their victims are sleeping, as they might spend 5 to 10 minutes ingesting several times their body weight in blood.

    • They don't spread disease, so are not tracked by state health departments.

    • Fewer than half of people who get bit show a visible reaction on skin.

    • They leave behind tiny reddish-brown to black waste speckles on mattresses and sheets.

    • They hide in wall crevices, between floorboards and behind wall sockets as well as mattress and upholstery seams.

    • They can live for a year without eating.

    • Females usually lay at least a few eggs every day, up to 500 in their life span.

    • Bedbugs are not more attracted to dirtier environments (but are much harder to eradicate in clutter).

    • When traveling, thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking; check bedsheets for telltale blood or waste spots. If any bugs or spots are found, request a room change immediately, preferably in another part of the hotel.

    • In hotels, keep your suitcase on the luggage rack, away from the bed. If you're really paranoid, bring along a giant plastic sealable bag to encase your luggage.

    • Hang clothes in closets, but don't put them in hotel drawers.

    • When you get home from a trip, vacuum your suitcases and wash all your clothes right away or put them in a sealable plastic bag until you can.

    • Don't put purses and other personal items on floors in public spaces.

  4. Oh Tim, I am both disgusted and thankful that you shared this with me!! :) I like the giant plastic sealable bag idea! Think I might need to go wash my sheets yet again now! LOL!