I wrote this story a few years ago and recently felt compelled to dig it out as bed bugs seem to making, yet another, comeback. I wanted to share my knowledge as I was fortunate enough to learn firsthand.
"Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite," has a whole new meaning to me. As some of you may or may not know, I am (was) an Administrative Coordinator at a County Cooperative Extension office. We have an on-site entomologist, so whether I like it or not, I have bugs shoved in my face on a daily basis. I truly don't mind it as I have learned a whole lot in the last year. And surprisingly, I am not as much of a girly girl as I thought I was.
Our entomologist teaches classes on bugs periodically and I find his materials extremely interesting. I can even identify termite droppings! How cool is that? And did you know that ants make their own pet cemeteries where they dispose of their dead? Did you know that the smallest snake is no bigger than a fishing worm? It is called a blind snake. An elderly couple brought in a baby food jar with what looked like two fishing worms, but they were upright in a striking position. It was the strangest thing I had every seen in my life. "Honey I shrunk the snake." I stared in awe at the jar and then asked if I may see it. At closer glance, they were, without a doubt, miniature snakes. It was craziness!!
When I first started working at the office, I went to get something off of the printer and I noticed some handouts on bed bugs. I didn't even know there was such a thing other than the little poem recited before bedtime, which, by the way, I no longer allow in my home. I sat down and began to read the information while scratching and clawing at my body. Grossssssssssssss! Not only do they exist, but they are making a comeback after a lengthy sabbatical.
About two weeks ago, I was sitting at my desk when this young girl walks in and asks if the Dr. was in. She had a cup in her hand so I knew she needed "something" identified. Since I had become an "old pro" I asked her if I could take a look at what was in her cup. She handed me the cup and I will never forget that moment as long as I live. I looked down into the Dixie Cup and immediately snapped, "WHERE DID YOU GET THESE?!!!" The cup contained various sizes of the God awfullest looking creatures you have ever seen. Blood splatters were all over the cup. I recognized them immediately from my recent research. They were BED BUGS!
She went on to tell me how she and her husband had taken their children to Disneyworld and had stayed in a Howard Johnson's hotel outside of Orlando. She said they went to bed at about midnight and she woke up at 1:30 a.m. because she felt something on her face. She got up and went in to the bathroom and turned on the light. She had these bed bugs all over her. She ran into the room, turned on the lights and the bed bugs were all over her husband and children. Can you imagine? Can you JUST imagine?!!! I could not sleep for three days after looking into that cup.
As soon as the Doctor arrived back at the office, I told him the story. He immediately became concerned that she brought them in an open container as they are so infestuous. I assured him that we had contained them to the cup and the microscope. I immediately started bombarding the Doctor with questions because at that point, I was never going to stay in a hotel ever, ever again. My first question was, "If you sleep with all the lights on, will they still come out." To which he replied, "No, they are nocturnal." I asked him if there was a way that you could tell if bed bugs were present in a room before you brought your suitcases onto the Stephen King set.
He said, "Always carry a small flashlight with you when you are traveling." (Thank you, but I think I will get one of those spotlights the car dealerships use to advertise a big sale...."Step away from the bed with your fangs where I can see them!") He then went on to tell me to lift the fitted sheet and you can see the traces of bed bugs clearly. They leave reddish brown stains (uncouth bugstards) along the cracks and crevices of the mattress. You will see the photos in the links I have provided for you below. He also said that if it is possible, to check behind the headboard as that is a common place for them to "rest."
The next morning, I phoned my friend Susan who has been in the Hotel Management business for many years. She confirmed my worst fears...yes, they are a problem at a lot of hotels. And don't be fooled by the quality of the hotel; bed bugs are even showing up at five star hotels.
Another area of concern relative to bed bugs is the purchase of new mattresses. A lot of mattress companies will pick up your old mattresses when delivering the new. Infested mattresses are placed in the same trucks with the new mattresses giving the bed bugs a chance to take up residence in the new mattress sets.
I know you are totally creeping out about now and I hated like Hell to share this story. However, I felt that it was so important as many of you travel extensively and hotels are your home "suite" home for many days of the year. Please educate yourself on this menace. You should find all the information you need on the Internet.