bedbugs and our interdependence

by nobugsonme on October 25, 2006 · 1 comment

in activism, bed bugs, information and help

Here are some search terms people used to find this site in the last 24 hours or so:

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May I comment on a few of these choice phrases?

First, “alternatives to killing bedbugs.” Here’s the short and long answer: None. Nil, zip, nada. You must kill them. Or they will breed and breed and breed, spreading to your entire neighborhood, and onwards. If you take public transport they will slowly work their way home with all the other riders. If you have a job, they will infest your workplace and all your coworkers. If you go to restaurants, movie theaters, hospitals, etc., they will too. And eventually they will have spread so thoroughly everywhere, that when you do decide you’ve had enough, you will not be able to get rid of them, because you will continually be reinfested by everyone else around you.

I do understand the desire to avoid violence to even those animals that will harm you, but get over it. These pests are bad. Kill them all. Think of your dear poor granny suffering from them, or your baby niece, or your beloved boyfriend. And get rid of these little monsters for good.

Next, “Can I catch bed bugs from someone else?” Yes, you can. But maybe not like you think. You’re likely to catch them if you spend a lot of time in their home, and also if they spend a lot in yours. Or if the person is not cautious enough (and really, really, really cautious is necessary) and spreads them by taking them to work or other shared spaces. or if they give you stuff that has bedbugs in it. And sometimes this is not easy to see.

Of course, this does not mean you should shun a loved one, friend, or co-worker with bed bugs. Instead, be cautious. Tell them you won’t be visiting them at home for awhile. But do support them. Because they’re going through hell right now. And one big part of that is the fear of telling anyone, and if you do tell anyone, the knowledge that all they can think about is whether they’re going to catch them from you.

If your loved one or friend has a mild or average infestation, they should not be walking around with the bugs on them all the time. But bed bugs do make fine hitchhikers, and they may hitch a lift in a purse, briefcase, backpack, the cuff of your pants, or shoe, at least some of the time. And if one of those is a pregnant female, or if there is a young male and female (and the young ones are nearly impossible to see), you have enough bedbugs to create a very big problem.

On the other hand, if you live in a city that is infested, keep in mind you may pick them up from the clean-looking businessman in line in front of you at the deli, or the cute kid leaning against your seat in the bus. Or from something you buy in a reputable, clean-looking store. Keep some perspective. Everyone does not have bed bugs, and even people who do are not always carrying them around. But do exercise caution.

I feel quite strongly that those of us who do have bedbugs should be very careful of how we go out of our homes and what we take with us when we go. I would be mortified if a friend, co-worker, or relative got them from me. Moreover, I can see that if strangers get them from me, not only am I spreading bad Karma. They can also come back and infest me long after my problem seems to be gone.

People take different approaches to avoiding spreading the bugs. Personally, before leaving home, I shower and put on clothes that have been washed and dried on hot and then stored in a sealed bag, I do not sit down in my home, and leave promptly. I try to only take things I have kept sealed.

It is about not spreading this thing to others. It’s not merely simple altruism; if you spread it around, it will come back to you. And if you put the effort in to exterminate, that’s the last thing you want to happen a few months or years later.

This may sound corny, but it is so true. This is one situation where “Each man for himself” is not going to work. We must work together.

If all you care about is your own pest-free condition, you will be in for a big shock. These bugs show how closely we are all connected and how much we need to co-operate. So dispose of your items only after destroying them and marking them as infested; be honest with landlords and others about your home’s condition (lest it spread to others, causing them suffering–and then potentially coming back to you later); exercise caution in what you take and wear out of your home. Try not to spread this. In helping others, you will also be helping yourself.

Finally, someone searched for “bitten badly by bed bugs review”

What is that, some weirdo journal for bed bug bite fetishists?  A quarterly magazine with photos of people who’ve been badly bitten by bedbugs? 

The mind boggles.

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