Bed Bugs: An Update From The Trenches

Bed Bugs: An Update From The Trenches

Sarah Rae Smith
Mar 30, 2012

033012-bedbugbags.JPG This week my apartment has felt like anything but home. Since I first shared that it had bedbugs, my world has flipped and literally turned upside down. Still fighting the good fight, here's an update on our progress, the things that have worked and the things that have totally, totally sucked.

There are several facts about bed bugs, ones that you don't read about on all the blogs, that I am about to share. They aren't really about getting rid of bed bugs, they are more the side effects of treatment and the toll it takes on you physically and mentally.

What I've Learned
• Even when you find time to sleep, it won't be good sleep. Anything that moves could be a bug. You will have to check it out.
• Just talking about the little blood suckers will make you itchy, even if you don't have bites.
• The chemicals that exterminators spray are really quite strong. Be prepared to open every window in your home for at least 5 hours before you can sleep without gagging. A box fan would speed this process up tenfold.
• Your floors will be slightly slick in places that received more spray than others.
• Anything left on the floor could be and will be sprayed. That includes books, laptops or anything on low tables.
• There isn't enough anti-itch cream in the world once they start to bite.
• Once your apartment is sprayed, you will have to do it again, suffer bites in between and continue to be annoyed for several more weeks.

Since my last mention of the infestation, I've had not only an exterminator come, but every last piece of laundry, fabric (including shoes, bags and the like) and blanket has been dried on high heat for at least 20 minutes. No, not all my clothes survived the dryer. I said goodbye to many of my favorite dresses and several shirts. But I'd much rather lose clothes than my sanity.

I've also sprinkled DE around the apartment and in between matresses and box springs. The only downfall to DE is that it takes a full 10 days to kill a bed bug once it's walked through it and doesn't really do anything for eggs that are unhatched. It will, however, break the cycle of reproduction and that's a good thing.

It's been a hard five days of no sleep and spending long hours at the laundromat. It sucks to keep everything in airtight bags and not really live in your home. This is, again, a reminder that bags must be air tight otherwise your labors to wash and dry items has gone to waste.

The lack of sleep is starting to get to me. The idea of using your body as bait at night to lure out any remaining live bugs is enough to give anyone the heebie jeebies. You become this giant flesh buffet. Even if they don't cross the poison line left by the exterminators, leaving yourself out for exposure makes you feel awkward and ridiculously exposed (even if you're wearing long underwear to bed to cover as much skin as possible).

Since things have been sprayed I haven't had a live bug sighting, but I have been bitten. The exterminator has come back and resprayed, rendering our apartment useless for a solid two hours while the fumes clear. During this process, floors cannot be mopped or swept for 10 days. Although normally I would rejoice at this break from household chores, it's felt like an eternity and I'm ready to scour every last bit of our apartment.

Although some folks might be comfortable vacuuming out their box spring, I've never been that attached to mine and it was sent to the curb (with a note of caution). Maybe there's a new bed in my future. Who knows. The point is, the violation that occurs with an infestation like this is more than just the physical labor to remedy the situation. It takes an unforseen toll on you that I don't think I'll ever be free of as long as I'm a renter or in a place that has frequent new neighbors. It's exhausting and is the antithesis of a happy and healthy home.

So in short, there's little sleep, more bites, floors that aren't to be eaten off of or even walked on without shoes, but hopefully it's accomplishing something. Only time will tell.

(Image: Sarah Rae)

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