I remember when I was a little girl, I would occasionally stay with my grandmother. She would tuck me in at night saying, “Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” I didn’t know what those were, but was pretty sure they were nasty.
It turns out that bed bugs are nasty. In recent years, there seems to be a resurgence in infestations. I haven’t heard much about them lately, until now, and had forgotten to look around when I entered a hotel room.
My research tells me bed bugs live solely on blood and are active mainly at night, when they bite people who are sleeping. They pierce the skin with an elongated beak and feed for 3-10 minutes, then crawl away. Oh, my gosh! How could anyone sleep through that?
Here’s how. At the time of the bite, they inject an anticoagulant and anesthetic, so most don’t realize they have been bitten until the mosquito-type welt appears a day later. Their favorite hiding places are, as you may know, mattresses, box springs and headboards – easy to get to us that way. They generally live in an eight-ft.-sq. area. Somehow that’s not reassuring!
Now that you have all these great facts about bed bugs, I can tell you the story. When discussing my column about cockroaches of two weeks ago (seems like I have a bug theme, doesn’t it), my friend, Sharon, told me about her recent encounter.
She has a granddaughter who is a super athlete and plays basketball year-round. Last week they were in Cincinnati at an event and all the families of the players pulled into a motel to spend the night. It was an upscale place, no reason to have any kind of concern about the accommodations. They checked in and spent the night, but they didn’t hear from the other families until the next day. It seems Sharon and her family parked in front, but some of the others went to the back of the motel to enter. That’s where they saw a truck that said, “We kill Bed Bugs,” and they observed a large tube installed into the window of a room, apparently used to kill bugs. It was the room next to the one another family in their group had been assigned.
Upon spotting the truck, those people immediately went to the front desk to quiz the management about the problem. After denying it for a while they finally admitted, yes, they were treating the room next to the one these people were going to be staying in. The family cancelled their stay and went to another motel, never sharing all this information with Sharon and her family until the next day.
Of course Sharon wishes there had been more communication between the families before hand because they would also have left the motel. Imagine checking people into your hotel when you’re treating for bed bugs even on the same floor, let alone next door. Who knows how fast those parasites can travel and maybe, like termites, they just move on to the next place anyway.
Quickly, Sharon gathered all the information she could about what to do with their suitcases full of clothes. How would they treat for bed bugs? They didn’t know if their family had come in contact with any, but who wants to take a chance of bringing them home!
She and her family decided to leave the suitcases full of their belongings in the garage for 24 hours, where it would be hot. Hopefully that would take care of it. Also, all the clothes were washed in extremely hot water. What an end to a crazy weekend. It still amazes me that the family didn’t share the bad news with others.
To this point, all is OK at Sharon’s house – no sign of those creatures. But it just reminds you that bed bugs are still around and maybe we should think of that whenever we go away from home!
(Melanie Behrens – email@example.com)
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