Leslie Earnest of the Los Angeles Times reports on bed bugs today.
Can I just be blunt here? I like it when reporters, like Earnest, talk to Dr. Michael Potter of the University of Kentucky. They often seem to know what is what.
Bedbugs hitchhike on humans or in luggage and burrow into bedding, books, sofas and just about any cozy place, even picture frames. Once they establish squatter’s rights, evicting them isn’t easy. Or cheap. Casting them out of the average house in Southern California can cost thousands of dollars and require multiple visits.
“The last customer we dealt with compared it to having her home destroyed by fire or flood,” said Sean Murray, manager of exterminator Orkin’s branch in Pasadena.
Thank you for skipping the BS about bed bugs not being a real health concern. Would you like your home destroyed by fire or flood?
Okay, reader, that may sound extreme. But consider this: floods and fires, like bed bug infestations, come in all sizes. None is a cake walk.
[Consider the example of one] West Hollywood teacher. She had just outfitted her apartment with a new bed, sofa and window treatments when a mysterious rash blanketed her body, sparing only her face, hands and feet. Her students took note. “It was like, ‘Miss, you’re scratching again,’ ” she said. “It was just such a nightmare.”
Doctors were stumped by her condition, which continued to worsen. When she noticed fluid settling in her ankles and at the back of her neck, she went to a hospital emergency room, where she got relief for her symptoms in the form of a cream that she slathered all over her body, including under her fingernails.
It took “divine intervention” — actually, the Internet — to pinpoint the cause. She clicked on “bedbugs” and raced to inspect her bed, first finding black marks on the mattress, then the bugs themselves. She tossed out her down pillow, sheets and every blanket.
Fluid settling in her ankles, wow, that sounds almost like a health condition, prompted by a bed bug allergy!
Another woman, in Pasadena, fought bed bugs for a while and then eventually moved because of them:
There wasn’t much to pack. She had thrown out beds, dressers, clothes, shoes, an alarm clock, a television set and five boxes of books. Stuff that was too precious to dump went into storage to give bugs time to die.
“The losses are astronomical,” the woman said. Worse yet was the psychological toll. “I didn’t sleep for five weeks. I don’t believe I’ll ever be the same.”
Now she’s a bedbug expert, having given herself a crash course on insects she considers “biblical.” It particularly creeps her out that they like to stay close to their hosts.
“Host is the word,” she said, drawing it out. “They are parasites.”
Information, typical stories, and not one single word trying to diminish the economic, emotional, psychological — or even “health”– impact of bed bugs. This article, I like.