Bed Bugs Putting the Bite on You

By Frank Szivos

The bed bugs have landed; the bed bugs have landed, get out of bed and string up a hammock.

I don’t mean to sound like an alarmist, but run for it now while you can; and then keep going because there’s no escape. Sleep standing up if you can, but stay out of the bed. Face it, we’re doomed.

Ok, I exaggerate a tick, I mean a tich. But bed bug invasions have made headlines with more of these critters showing up then politicians on your doorstep during an election. Most recently, stories about these blood sucking critters infesting hotel rooms are popping up. Can you believe it, these bed bugs have the nerve to invade even high-end hotels.

Witness a story about a New York hotel where rooms go for more than a monthly luxury car payment that described how bed bugs are feasting on guests tucked in their plush, cozy beds. Some travelers were so outraged, they’re suing hotels. While they’re at it, why not sue for the outrageous room rates, too.

Most recently, the Nike flagship store in Manhattan also recently closed because bed bugs with a high sense of fashion were found in the clothes. Hard to imagine a bed bug crawling around wearing a Nike sweatshirt.

Now that you’re half crazed with bed bug fear, here’s another nerve wracking question: If we brought in a lineup of disgusting bug-like creatures could you identify it.  If you’re going to fear the enemy, you better know what they look like.

Imagine a lineup of a cockroach, tick and bed bug on a well-lighted platform while you stand behind a one-way darkened window. Don’t fear, they can’t see you. The cockroach is just too big and nasty looking. The cocky way, it swishes its antennae around is enough to make you sick.

The tick is swollen with arrogance or someone’s blood. Wouldn’t you like to pull out its germ-ridden pincers? But there, last but not least, is the bed bug – reddish brown in color, kind of oval and flat and typically no bigger than something caught between your teeth.

Don’t let its unassuming size and blank eyes fool you. It’s a nasty, blood-sucking creep that wants to snuggle up to you and then bam – you have dozens of bites all over you and you’re scratching like a dog.

So where do we find these invaders? Typically they hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, box springs, headboards and frames. Because they like to hang out around beds, I believe is evidence that they’re basically lazy, but that’s still going to require a lot more research.

Chances are they’re not going to pop up in your bed by magic. You’re likely not to know that you’ve had a close encounter with a bed bug until it’s too late. The most likely place to bed now with them is in areas where there’s heavy human traffic – hotels/motels, dormitories, apartment complexes and barracks. You sleep in one of these places and a sneaky bed bug might burrow in your clothing or luggage after feasting on your blood, and then follow you home.

Once there, it crawls out maybe with a few cousins and they’re loose in your house. Badabing, you have a bed bug infestation. If you have to stay in a hotel, how can you protect yourself against this gang of creeps? Throwing the deadbolt and slipping on the safety chain won’t help. You could be sleeping with the enemy.

Some bed bug experts (thank God, they’re out there) recommend sleeping in pajamas that will limit the amount of exposed skin. They tend to like hands, neck and face. You might consider crawling into a large garbage bag, at least 35 gallons that you can climb into and cinch up around your neck as you sleep in a hotel bed. Be prepared to sweat.

But why now; where the heck are they coming from? I believe it’s safe to assume that the invasion is not a terrorist plot. But Homeland Security is investigating. The infestation is has most likely occurred because we no longer use DDT because of its harshness to the environment, but it was effective practically wiping out the bed bug back in the 1950’s.

So we’re gentler and more aware of caring for the environment. But the bed bugs have capitalized on our compassionate side (I told you they were nasty).

With all this mounting evidence that bed bugs are amongst us, check your house for telltale signs. You’re not likely to see them congregated in one place carrying plaques as if they were part of a protest rally. They’re stealthy, but they do leave behind a streak of bodily junk behind.

It tends to be a mark between the mattress and the box spring that looks as if some kid was drawing a line. Once you spot the bed bug tracks, slowly back out of the room, then run like a sprinter for your car and call a professional exterminator. Please don’t consider setting your bed on fire to drive them out, it could be dangerous. What’s more, you can’t starve them out since they can go a month or more without eating. If only I could do that.

But know they’re out there, stalking us in our beds, waiting to suck our blood like microscopic-size vampires. Expect them to be featured in several horror movies soon. And no doubt, some of these creeps will become infamous. I guess everything gets its 15 minutes of fame sooner or later.

Frank Szivos is a free-lance writer who is ever vigilant against bed bugs.  He can be reached on Facebook.

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