Unless you’ve experienced the psychological, time consuming, savings draining horror that is Bed Bugs, you will not understand the shear terror and dread that runs through ones mind upon finding that first elusive, blood stuffed bug.
I found the first one on our couch. OUR COUCH!
I had been getting bites for about 5 days. Just one or two on my feet and lower legs every morning. It took me about the same amount of days to realise that these weren’t mosquito bites as I originally thought. London was experiencing a heat wave in late September/early October and Martin and I had been sleeping with the bedroom window open. The window doesn’t have a screen, so I just assumed that I was getting bitten by mosquitos in the night. That was until the bites continued even after we started sleeping with the window closed.
We had been exposed to bedbugs by a house guest (unnamed for own protection) whose apartment had experienced a pretty severe infestation over the summer.
So I went on the hunt.
I started in the guest room. Nothing. I then did a quick check in our room. Again, I didn’t see anything suspicious.
Then, I went downstairs and started flipping cushions on the couch and there it was…
(Apologies for the itch inducing properties of this photo and this story)
I caught it in a cup and then yelled at Martin to get off the phone. I needed to make a call. I phoned two pest control companies, and decided to go with the second company. They seemed to really know what they were talking about and really calmed me down.
The first thing you need to know about bed bugs is that every instinct you have after you realise you have an infestation is wrong. Just plain WRONG! Let me explain…
1. Holy crap! We need to throw out the mattress and bed and every other piece of furniture in our house. WRONG! The bugs do not “burrow”. In most cases, and if dealt with quickly and properly, you do not need to throw ANYTHING away. Moving your mattress and furniture around just spreads the infestation.
2. I need to wash all of my clothes in boiling water. WRONG! You really don’t. Just the clothes you wear during treatment. Unless the infestation in severe, they won’t be hanging out in your closet or drawers.
3. I’m going to spray these suckers with some bug spray! WRONG! That just causes them to go into hibernation and they can live without feeding for a ridiculously long time. So you’ll get your house treated and then they’ll wake up and BAM! Infestation round TWO!
4. I’m going to sleep in a different room so they don’t bite me. WRONG! They will FIND you and infest your couch or any other room you try to hide in. They are smarter than you. Don’t ever forget that.
5. I’m going to cover up my entire body when I sleep. WRONG! Unless you cover your face as well (and do this without suffocating yourself in your sleep), they will bite your face. Best thing to do (which is what I did), is expose parts of your body that are generally covered by clothing. I slept with my stomach and lower back exposed and they generally feasted there. I did get some bites on my face and fingers though.
6. I’m going to go stay with a friend after they spray my house. WRONG! You could spread the infestation to your friend and once a room is sprayed by a professional, you MUST sleep in your bed to bait the bugs out of hiding so they make contact with the poison.
7. I’m dirty. WRONG! Well actually, I can’t say for sure this is wrong in all cases, but most of the time you’re NOT dirty. Bed bugs don’t care what your home is like, they just want a warm host and a quiet place to breed.
8. I am a social pariah! WRONG! Bed bugs are more common than you think, like 1 in 19 people in Manhattan alone have been affected, and people need to educate themselves on prevention and the REAL facts.
9. I don’t want to spend lots of money dealing with this, I’ll take care of it myself. WRONG! Get professional help quickly and you should be able to get it sorted out before it becomes a major problem. Yes, it’s expensive, but bed bugs are not to be trifled with so do it properly the first time. Also, make sure you do your homework before deciding on a pest control company. The cheapest are usually not the best and, trust me, you want the best when you’re dealing with bed bugs.
10. BED BUGS ARE THE DEVIL! WRONG! They are just doing what they are designed to do by nature. Unfortunately, the worst part of a bed bug infestation is the psychological effects.
I found 6 bugs in varying life stages throughout the entire infestation period. Luckily, because I react to the bites (FUN FACT: Not all people react to bed bug bites…Martin does not, lucky git!) we were able to identify and treat the infestation while it was still in the very early stage.
It’s been two months since I’ve had a confirmed bite. Every itch I get, sends waves of dread throughout my entire body, but so far, the one treatment has worked for us.
So, remember, bed bugs are smarter than you. Get educated because apparently the 2012 Olympics is going to spark a massive explosion of bed bug infestations in London.
Oh, in case you were wondering, we went with this company: Bed Bugs Limited