Thursday, March 10, 2011

Not For The Faint of Heart

Warning this post could make you itch uncontrollably.

Or have nightmares of bugs crawling all over you.

Or both.

And I should probably go ahead and apologize to my mother, because she won't be able to sleep for an entire week after reading this.  Sorry Mom.

And you can thank my dear cousin for instigating this post, so she'll be accepting all complaints.

Seriously though, as itchy as this is to read you need to know.

A Personal History Lesson

In February 2009 I went to Myrtle Beach with my dear friend to run in a half marathon.

We had a great time, finished the race (which was an accomplishment in our book) and stayed in a pretty nice hotel near the ocean.

While waiting on us to finish the race, my better half spent the morning in the hotel room and happened to notice a couple of bugs crawling across the other bed (the one we hadn't slept on).  After investigating further and removing the sheets he found several little black spots and more bugs underneath the sheets.

So we checked out, filed a complaint with the manager, and after some hassling they refunded our night's stay.

On the trip home I was feeling kind of itchy, but didn't really think much about it.  Chalking it up to utter exhaustion and hypochondriac tendencies

A day later my arm looked like this:

They were also all over my back, but I'll spare you the pudgy pictures.

After seeing a dermatologists and talking to my parent's faithful bugman, the conclusion was I had been attacked by Bed Bugs.

So History Doesn't Repeat Itself

This was an experience to say the least.  We had to throw out almost everything that we had taken with us on the trip. (To prevent bed bug infestation in our house).  It took a while but the hotel did pay for damages (primarily our luggage we had to get rid of) and doctor's bills.

There is a Bed Bug Epidemic going on in the United States right now.  It's becoming a major issue in hotels and vacation rental properties.

Bed Bugs are something I like to call 'tiny vampires'.

You know "I vant to suck your blood" (Romanian accent here)

They are parasitic insects, that feed on human blood.  I'll spare you the gruesome details, but if you have a strong stomach you can find more information here.

Bed Bugs are cunning little things.  They are very small, nocturnal, and love small dark places.  And they love to lay their eggs in fabric seams.

They remain close to their hosts (that's you) and are commonly found in beds, couches, and luggage.

So hotels are the prime breeding ground.

And it's not just the cheap ones.

What you can do to prevent an attack

Before you leave for your trip (or even book your hotel) look up your place at The Bedbug Registry.
This is a free database of user-submitted bed bug reports.  It's worth taking a gander.

In the room pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress.  Take a flashlight and look along the mattress seams.  Things to look for: little black spots (smaller than a poppy seed), live bugs.  Here is a great video on how to perform a thorough inspection.

If you find bedbugs, let the hotel know and move to a different room.  However, usually if one room has it, that means the entire hotel is infested so you might want to look into finding another place to stay.

When you come home unpack in your garage or outside.  Wash everything in hot water and dry on high heat immediately.  More tips from an entomologist here.

Because I love ya' more than my luggage.

And don't want you to have to throw out your luggage.

Be safe.  Be informed.  Be bug-free.

Starting to feel a little itchy,


Laura M. said...

This was probably the most informative and beneficial (although icky) post I've read in the past few days. Thanks for the links! I don't vacation very much, but I didn't realize bed bugs were more common than we thought...

Uncle Tractor said...

I just got back from travel. I travel a lot, but have never had a problem. Still, this post made me wonder. Thanks for the link to the Bedbug Registry. I'll check the places I might stay! Thanks Laura!

Simplifying in the South said...

@Laura M: Your welcome! I know it's a 'icky' topic, but I really wanted people to be informed. And not go through the same things I did. Thanks for stopping by.

@Uncle Tractor: I'm glad you've never had an encounter with pesky bed bugs when you travel. Watch out for them though, they seem to be everywhere!

Tanja from Minimalist Packrat said...

Ewwww. What an experience and not in a good way! I've heard about the bed bug explosion that's been hitting hotel rooms. I can't imagine it. I read one article where the people had to throw away their own mattresses and everything because they inadvertently brought them home with them. At least you didn't have to do that! said...

ewwwwww- yes, i'm itching now! i think i am seriously gonna vacuum my mattresses this weekend - just because.

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