Out of everyone I know, I was the first person to have dealt with bed bugs directly. Having finished my great struggle with them in early 2005, it would be another year to year and a half before I even read or saw a single story about bed bugs in the mainstream media. As bed bugs continued their worldwide resurgence, I began to see more and more written about them. I knew they had hit it big time when I saw a bed bug story on the local dinner hour TV news show. By 2008, two people I knew were victim of bed bugs themselves. I feel no pride in having dealt with bed bugs before they became mainstream again. There’s no hipster bed bug award.
The lessons I learned from nearly seven years ago are still with me today. The first time I checked into a hotel after leaving grad school was a different experience for me. Previously, I would have just thrown my suitcase on the bed, taken off some clothes, and laid on the bed as I leisurely settled into my room; not so going forward. Mike the pest control guy taught me well. The key is to not leave anything on the floor of the hotel room until you’ve had a chance to check things out. The suitcase should immediately go on the luggage rack that most rooms have. Get that thing off the ground. If you want to take off your jacket or any of your clothes, hang them up in the closet, never initially put any of your clothing on the bed or in the drawers. You should immediately check out the bed first. Remove all the layers of bedding, inspecting each layer as you go for tell tale signs of bed bugs, either the bastards themselves or black/red specks which are their feces. Once you get down to the mattress, lift it off the box spring. Examine the seams all around the mattress because they love hiding in there. Move out from the bed next. Take a look at the headboard, behind it if you can. Examine the nightstand as well. Always look in areas that are hard to reach or against the wall. The carpet is more difficult to inspect as you just can’t rip it up to take a look. Don’t forget to look at the drawers in the dresser. Bed bugs can be transported in clothing, so you don’t know if the last guest might have left you some friends behind. Consider bringing a small LED flashlight with you when you travel as the light can greatly assist you in your hotel inspection.
Several decades ago, bed bugs were almost unheard of in the first world. The use of DDT had eradicated them from most developed countries. As increased air travel made the world smaller and as environmental restrictions made DDT use less prevalent, it appears bed bugs have returned for the long run. I wonder if we will ever be rid of them.
You can find the other posts of this series here.