I am happy to report that we have yet to bring bed bugs into our home, despite their rampant takeover of most of Edmonton's condos, apartments and second hand shops. But I'm beginning to realize its not an outside possibility. I need to mentally prepare for the possibility.
"Even new clothing has been found to have bugs at varying stages of growth," said one expert speaking to my sister-in-law's inner city agency staff.
Last weekend, I had the misfortune of seeing all four stages of the bug- whitish eggs huddled around a dowel on a close friend's bed frame. Among the eggs were small, dark dots of larvae that moved ever so slightly. The larger stage 2 and 3 bugs stretched between 2 and 4 mm from head to bottom- and reminded me, not pleasurably, of the wood ticks I grew up fearing (being raised in the Rockies has its disadvantages).
The bugs had infested my friend's bedroom- and she was instructed that, until the sprayer`s came, she should stay in her room. That way they wouldn't migrate into other parts of her suite hunting for blood (who knew that our blood smelled so good- or strongly!). So she was supposed to camp out in the bed bug nest for the weekend? Waiting out the exterminators?
Instead, I convinced her to come to our place, where she stripped her clothes off in the garage and exchanged them for bed-bug free ones of mine.
We've learned a lot from this:
1. Mattress bed bug covers: Use them! It won't prevent bed bugs, but it will save your mattress if you get them.
2. Most people around the world just deal with pests like this since resources for fighting them are unavailable. One South American friend said that back home they rub bed legs with Vaseline. They also place the feet of their bed in bowls of alcohol (bed bugs can't fly or leap).
3. Heat all second hand AND new clothes or linens in a hot dryer for 20- 35 minutes.
4. Be careful buying second hand furniture. If you happen to have -35 C like I do, perhaps let the furniture freeze for a week or two (and hope the buggers don't go dormant!).
5. Bed bugs are gross. But they aren't the end of the world.
Just recently they've found bed bugs in our Edmonton Public Libraries. No doubt the tricksters are in our mall;s change rooms, school lunchrooms and bus stations.
I wrestle with the fear I feel of these tiny creatures. It makes me think twice about sitting next to the haggard guy on public transit or borrowing books- but what happens when our commons becomes infested?
Is isolating ourselves really the answer?