My Bed-Bug Reality
A Cautionary Tale
Several years ago, I moved from Southern California to Sioux City, Iowa. I discovered that the cute childhood phrase is not as desirable when it applies to a real life situation. Bed-bug’s are vicious, blood sucking parasites. I grew up in a place where the worst thing was a cockroach, while disgusting, next to a bed-bug, cockroaches are a welcome pest.
The children and I moved into a new, old house and shortly after we took up occupancy we started to wake up with red, itchy, angry bumps. Never being exposed to the little vampire like bugs I thought maybe the house was infested with fleas. I contacted the landlord, and he called an exterminator. Knowing what I know now, the exterminator should have been able to accurately spot what was a bed-bug infestation, but I think the landlord was already aware as I later learned that he had lost several tenants due to “flea bites.”
Sleep Tight, Don't let the Bed-bugs Bite
The turning point for our new life in Iowa was when my son found a bug that he had never seen before sucking the blood from my three year old daughter’s face. He captured the bug and we put it in a plastic bag and brought it with us to a scheduled doctor’s appointment to talk about the horrible itchy bumps that had inflicted the entire family.
The doctor took a look at my sample and told me that it was a bed-bug. What? Bed-bugs are a real thing? I thought that it was just a phrase people said at night, I didn’t know that the phrase had actually originated as a cautionary measure in hopes that the person attempting slumber may have a good night’s rest while avoiding blood-sucking parasites.
Through my bed-bug journey I became very educated with the tiny, aggressive creatures. What I learned is they are the best little hitchhikers on the planet. If you stay in a hotel room they can jump in/on your luggage and take a ride home with you. It only takes one bed-bug to totally infest your home. So leave your suitcases outside, possibly in the garage for a week before taking them in your house. the little suckers will be hungry by then and will make their presence known. “There's no such thing as a bedbug-free hotel. Every day, every hotel is at risk of a guest bringing bed bugs into the hotel; not many hotels are proactive and thorough with developing bed bug detection and elimination procedures” (Usbedbugs.com, 2012, p.1)
Always Check Your Hotel Room Mattresses and Curtains
When you stay in a hotel room, you should always check the sheets, the mattress, and the currents. Pull back the comforter and examine the sheets. Are there brownish stains on the sheets or the mattress? After bed-bugs suck one’s blood they will detach from their human host, sometimes leaving a blood trail as they crawl to their sleeping/waiting area. Also after they eat, like most creatures, they go to the bathroom. This is an interesting thought, your blood digested and then secreted through the bowels of the bug. After you look for the reddish –brown trail marks pull down the mattress fold, they like to hide in any dark and warm areas. Then look at the creases where the curtains gather. You will want to separate the creases and look for either eggs, or little bugs. “Bed bug eggs are white and pear-shaped, when they first hatch, bed bugs are clear, and lighter in color. As they get older, they become browner” (Bureau of Environmental Health, 2009, p.1). Research indicates that they are highly active between 3 and 5 am. Many people are not allergenic to their bites, so they may go years being the victim of bed-bug feeding and not even know it, ouch!
Because of the cost of treatment, as it can be extensive, depending on the volume of the infestation, we had to leave all of our belonging’s and start over. I took a couple of bags of clothes that I washed and used high heat before I put them away in our new house. I do not know how it happened maybe one of the little hitchhikers climbed into one of the bags, that I had promptly thrown away, and jump off the bag on the way to the trash bin outside. In no time infestation-our worst nightmare started over.
Bed Bugs Attack
Without Proper Diligent Removal, Bed Bugs Will When The Fight
At first I thought I was just experiencing P.T.S.D( Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), as I felt things crawling on me at night, I would hurry and flip the lights on, and at first I could not catch them. So the kids and I abandoned the bedrooms, bought new clothes, an air mattress, bedding, and made our bedroom in the living room. After several nights of the new sleeping arrangement, I decided to check-out the furthest bedroom from the living room, and quickly turned the lights on, one late evening. I found little running bugs on the mattress. It was settled, our creepy crawler hell had once again begun. It wasn’t long before the starving bugs were on the search of their food source in the living room. Before our nightmare was over, the children went to visit their grandparents, and I was sleeping in the car. They had won. I conceded, alerted the management company and moved again. I had to again start over.
Although my ending could have been happier, at least we were allergic to their bites and became aware that something was going on, many people may have no idea. Although the allergic reaction was a good thing, it resulted in scars on my arms that I still have several years later. A Bed-bugs life span: “Female bed bugs lay from one to twelve eggs per day, the eggs are coated with a sticky substance so they adhere, eggs hatch in 6 to 17 days, and nymphs can immediately begin to feed; they require a blood meal in order to molt, Bed-bugs reach maturity after five molts. Developmental time (egg to adult) is affected by temperature and takes about 21 days at 86° F to 120 days at 65° F. The nymphal period is greatly prolonged when food is scarce; Nymphs and adults can live for several months without food, the adult's lifespan may encompass 12-18 months” (Smith, 2012, p.1).
Bureau of Environmental Health(2009). Frequently asked questions about Bed-bugs. Retrieved April 23, 2012