Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Originally published on 10/19/2010

Bed Bugs are taking over the United States. Lately you can’t watch the news without hearing about some college dormitory or hotel being evacuated as a result of Cimex lectularius (that’s Latin for bed bug) infestation.

When I first heard about the rash of bed bug infestations the news came from my mom and I’ll be honest, I didn’t give much thought to the story. You see my mom is the reaper of bad news. Every family needs a bad news reaper. You know, the people who have radar for stuff like product recalls, tainted food scares, inclement weather advisories, flu epidemics, anthrax and the terrorists living next door, stuff like that. Also we are Italian so it is genetically impossible for her to deliver any sort of news sans histrionics. If you’ve seen Moonstruck and My Big Fat Greek Wedding, that’s what I’m talking about. If I have any hope of freedom from anxiety, I must assume a “take it with a grain of salt” attitude. Couple this with the fact that I only ever thought of bed bugs in the context of stuff like Humpty Dumpty and the Little Piggy that cries wee-wee-wee all the way home, and you can see why I gave little credence to the possibility that bed bugs could be mounting an attack on American soil.

Honestly, until recently the only time I ever thought of bed bugs at all was when I tucked my sons into bed as very young children. Bed bugs were part of my nightly mantra…” I love you. Don’t forget to say your prayers. Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” And sometimes for good measure I’d throw in, “…and if they do, be sure to bite ‘em back.” This rendered several minutes of tickling and belly laughing, especially by Jared, but now he just rolls his eyes. (He’s fifteen, but I still try to tuck him in at night.) Anyway, the point is I never thought of bed bugs as anything more than creatures invented by Italian mothers to insure you changed your sheets every week. Now I know I was dead wrong.

Bed bugs are very real. They love warm, cozy places, which is why they like spooning in bed with you, but don’t be fooled by the cute name. In addition to mattresses and box springs, bed bugs like to stow away in all sorts of places made from fabric, wood, and paper: upholstered furniture, bed frames, behind wall paper and picture frames, cracked plaster, window and door frames, flooring cracks and carpets, baseboards, ceiling moldings, draperies, and electrical boxes to name a few.

Bed bugs are as slim as the width of a credit card and squeeze into just about any crack or crevice; unless of course, they are engorged with blood…your blood. They are nasty, noxious, nefarious, nocturnal little vampires who feed, or rather feast, on the blood of their prey. Given the chance, they will pierce you with their beak-like mouths and inject anesthetic into your skin, which allows them to go undetected as they suck your blood.

Bed bugs are not poisonous, but their bites can cause itchy irritating welts or rashes on your skin. They are not known to transmit blood-related diseases and according to experts, there is no known serious health risk of any kind associated with bed bugs. EXPERTS! SCHMEXPERTS! I’ll give you “no known serious health risk!” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Like their creepy crawly cousins, the cock roach and spider, bed bugs are the root cause of a syndrome of symptoms collectively known as the Heebie-Jeebies.

Symptoms of the Heebie-Jeebies include scratching the phantom itch, mostly on the head and other difficult to reach areas of the body; frequent involuntary shivers, shakes, and shudders; insomnia; and pathological avoidance of potentially high bed bug traffic public places (i.e. Niketown in New York City, hotels, movie theaters, public transportation, etc.). A general feeling of grossed-out ickiness and anxiety paralyzes sufferers of the Heebie-Jeebies so do not tell me that bed bugs don’t present a health threat or a threat to national security. They do.

The experts are hypothesizing that the EPA’s ban on DDT is to blame for the recent surge in infestations as well as our difficulty in eradicating the little suckers, but I have a different theory: biological warfare. That’s right. Osama bin Laden hasn’t just been spelunking around in desert caves, making crude videos. No sireebub. He’s been genetically engineering pesticide resistant bed bugs for the last ten years. Mark my words. In his next crackling low resolution Youtube video, Osama bin Laden will take credit for bed bugs of mass destruction.

You forget, Mr. bin Laden, we are Americans. We have stood united against the threat of terrorist pests in the past and we will do it again! We will not be paralyzed by bin Laden bed bug induced Heebie-Jeebies! The joke is on you. HAHAHA. Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

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