I’ve been learning a lot about bed bugs recently. It’s not by choice, rather, it was forced upon me to educate myself once my fiancé Cat and I found bed bugs in our new apartment. For a week Cat had been developing bites along her arm.
“It’s probably just mosquitoes, or bugs from camping last weekend.” I told her, thinking she was being overly emotional about bumps along her arm. You know how women are.
It turns out they were bed bugs. When I found the first one, crawling on the white bed sheets, reddish and brown and fat from my fiancés forearm, I put it in a Tupperware bowl and told her later that night that we did in fact have bed bugs. I had found two this afternoon.
The look on her face said it all.
“Really? Bed bugs? After all of this?”
She looked like she might collapse.
She looked like how I looked two hours before when I found the bed bugs. I cleaned our whole apartment after finding the two bed bugs and paced the living room with a beer trying to decide what to do. Then I smoked a cigarette and collapsed exhausted on our couch thinking that I was done with this thing called life.
Cat was supposed to take a relaxing month off of work to plan our wedding and grieve over her mom’s recent death. She was going to settle into our cute new apartment in the Marmalade district and start nesting, or whatever women do, to feel good about starting a home.
Three weeks later though, she’s a homeless couch surfer and I am a bed bug-apartment-exterminator ambassador trying to negotiate how to get bed bugs out of the apartment and whose fault it is and so on. Hence, why I’ve been learning a lot about bed bugs.
Did you know, bed bugs feed once a week on human flesh but can live up to seven months without feeding on anything? Also, they can live in electrical sockets, baseboards, and yes, of course your mattress and box spring. And perhaps weirdest of all, they’re attracted to your breath. They follow your breath, like some weird stalker. It’s very creepy really.
Bed bugs leave eggs in your clothes and bite in patterns. They only come out at night and it’s nearly impossible to see them in the day. You can see the traces of what they’ve left behind. It looks like crumbs on your bed sheets, tiny black dots no bigger than the point of a pen splattered along your windowpanes and baseboards.
Bed bugs have been around for many years but have recently grown due to increased travel, resistance to insecticides, and stricter EPA standards. Damn you EPA! I’ve learned that until the 90’s bed bugs were virtually non-existent because of a certain chemical they sprayed buildings with. That chemical however, turned out to be highly toxic and would cause birds to drop out of the air dead or something, it was probably DDT. Since that chemical was outlawed, bed bugs have returned and given truth to the once meaningless phrase, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Because now, they roam rampant over cities and apartment complexes undeterred by how clean your apartment is or whether or not this is an especially busy time of your life and you have no time to deal with fumigating your apartment before you get married.
Last night Cat and I spent our time drying her clothes (because heat kills possible bed bugs) and watching Batman.
We’ll probably have to do the same tonight. And tomorrow. Tomorrow someone is supposed to come by and spray our apartment.
And maybe after that she can live in peace again. But it might be better to move, if we could get out of our lease that is, which I don’t think is possible. Even after having bed bugs, it’s hard to get out of a lease. You never realize how much of a death certificate you are signing when you sign a lease.
After we got the bed bugs I looked up our written agreement on Pest Infestations. It says that we are responsible for bringing any pests into the apartment. The owner is not liable and the responsibility to pay lies with the tenant.
We probably glanced over that part when we got signed the lease. Thinking “We’ll never get bed bugs. That could never happen to us.”
But it did.
Bed bugs don’t care about your plans. They roll in and leave you dealing with the consequences. Like life they stand indifferent, annoying, and impossible to get rid of.