Out of the corner of my eye I saw something move across the sheets.
A tiny brown speck a little larger than a sesame seed. But a sesame seed on a mission – a mission to crawl across my bed.
It was in my bed and it was a bug
Bed + Bug = BED BUG
I scooped it into a nearby water-glass and immediately started ripping apart our master bed.
If you’ve even seen our bed, you know that there are a lot of layers. Comforter; immediately into the washing machine on EXTRA hot. Down duvet; TRASH. Sheets and pillowcases; pile on the garage floor and into the washer immediately after the comforter. (Always separate your colors, even in times of infestation) Limited Edition Pendleton blanket (that everyone offers to buy); Zip-Loc bagged and into the freezer for now, dry cleaners the very next morning. Feather bed; TRASH. Heating pad; TRASH. Pillow inserts; TRASH.
What happened next was an atomic level of vacuuming. And trust me, I know how to obsess with a vacuum cleaner. I vacuumed that mattress like I was Christina and Joan Crawford was standing behind me with 2 wire hangers in her hand. Didn’t really matter, because I was dragging it to the street anyway; as soon as I was satisfied…that Joan herself would be satisfied. My mind was already racing about buying that new mattress/box spring combo, and I might as well order a new sisal rug from Pottery Barn too, because the current rug was also going to the street.
I know enough about bed bugs to look in all the mattress crevices. That’s where they hide…AND lay eggs. (Insert shudder here) Our mattress and box spring are actually covered in a tiny blue polka dot pattern that is absolutely maddening when one is searching for insects that are the size of…well, tiny blue polka dots.
Still, even with a magnifying glass and a flashlight, I wasn’t finding any creepy crawlies.
I dragged the mattress off the box spring and resumed with the vacuum. Still nothing. Until I lifted up the box spring and looked underneath. 2 more little brownish/yellow bugs moving slowly across the black lining. I flicked each of them into the glass with the first intruder.
The first bug was overjoyed (I’m assuming) with the companionship and immediately climbed on top of the bug closest to him for a humping session. Great…I was his “wingman”.
True story; for a brief moment in grade school I wanted to be an entomologist – although I’m pretty sure that I called it a “Bug Scientist” at the time. I was always bringing home crickets, praying mantis, monarch caterpillars, water striders, black widows, big red harvester ants, cicadas and anything else with six or more legs that I could coerce into a Miracle Whip jar with air holes poked into the lid. I’m still fascinated by insects. Just ask Jamie. I talk to the honey bees and garden spiders in our yard every time I see them and last summer I thought I had a pretty good relationship going with the praying mantis that lived on our back deck. I’ve held off hiring an exterminator just so I can keep these little interactions. Sure, about once a month I might see a palmetto bug scurry across the kitchen floor (they sneak under the garage door and eat Harley’s dog food) but that’s the price I was willing pay just to keep a one-sided relationship with a feral praying mantis.
But not anymore – I draw the line at being something’s dinner while I sleep – these buggers were going down.
I called Orkin then next morning.
But something about the bugs I was finding in our room didn’t seem right. They were beautiful; richly colored and almost velvet-like. Not the blood-engorged monsters that kept popping up with Google and Bing.
So I tried searching under “Bugs That Resemble Bed Bugs”.
And there they were, carpet beetles. Makes sense because they looked just like Persian rugs. (I know you can’t tell in this picture, so you’ll just have to believe me)
Not bloodsuckers, but still invasive. They eat mohair teddy bears, Pendleton blankets and cashmere sweaters. All favorite things of mine.
So that you, gentle readers, may learn from the wisdom of our experience, here’s a few of the common household invaders that might be mistaken for bed bugs;
Fingers crossed that none of you will ever have to deal with that kind of stress.
The Orkin man arrived, 3.5 hours after our scheduled appointment, the next day and confirmed my conclusion.
NOT bed bugs. WHEW. Huge Relief.
Actually, he said they were tobacco beetles, but he was clearly wrong.
They were carpet beetles.
Trust me, I was going to be a entomologist when I was 9.
Another good story. Now you will have me looking at my bed with a magnifying glass!
I pray that you never have that level of panic in your life…….
Those carpet beetles will do a number on very expensive violin bows. Surprisingly the bow that my son poked into the wall and then I put on top of a high cupboard for several years (out of sight out of mind) didn’t get eaten. Or the horse hair decoration for his Scottish glengarry that sits on a shelf out in the open. But the $300 bow safely ( I thought) tucked away in the violin case was shedded into tiny pieces. Come to find out from the luthier that carpet beetle love closed away dark spaces…….they don’t like light. They advised us to spray the case and put it out in the sunlight.
Sounds like s good halloween story to me.
NO KIDDING??? Horsehair???? I know we have a few pieces with horsehair…but thankfully they are exposed to the daylight. I actually put a light in the linen closet that stays on with the hall light…….silverfish are still a problem around here. Unfortunately.
Oh they looooove horse hair. Alastdair Fraser the famous world renowned Scottish Fiddler ( look up Fire and Grace) had to replace his horse hair on his bow every month for quite a while. His bow probably cost $1000.
When we bought a new cello the people gave us sachets of herbs to put in the case to try and keep off carpet beetles.
Oh, thank you! My best laugh of the day…….eeuuuww to any bugs in the bed.
I KNOW!!!! RIGHT!!!! ANY bug, I felt like the dirtiest/nastiest person on the planet. Usually when that happens….I watch “Hoarders” and immediately feel better about myself.
What did Orkin do? I live on LI and they have permanently taken up residence in one closet (ick, I know). Everything in that closet is now in an industrial sized ziplock (thank you, Dollar Tree). If we renovate I am ripping up the floorboards of that closet in this 86 year old house – I’ve read they live in them and a/c ducts. You can see I’ve done quite a bit of research .. almost too much. They also mysteriously appear late spring in one corner of my living room. Worse, I’ve in fact found them on inorganic items – why? I won’t call an exterminator because we have a cat. Glad they weren’t bed bugs!
I’m not sure what Orkin sprayed, but we have a dog….and it’s supposed to be safe for her. He did put sticky traps under the sinks, but they catch exactly 1 silverfish each. I haven’t seen any carpet beetles since. And i have been looking, trust me. When I redid our closets, I lined the back of each with cedar. And here’s the best part. I filled the cracks under the baseboards with dry lavender…..bugs hate lavender… and cedar…..and cloves.
Nothing like a bug in the bed to send an adult into a major case of the heebie jeebies!! Living in West Texas, we have the fun bugs like scorpions….jeez…..why does everything in Texas either sting ya, stab ya, stick you or bite you?! We don’t have the house sprayed every year, because I really do try to keep things natural and organic here. I use herbs and essential oils whenever possible, but sometimes you just have to have the exterminator come and do his thing. Then we are good for a couple of years! Now if there was just a way to spray for the extermination of rattle snakes!
“why does everything in Texas either sting ya, stab ya, stick you or bite you?!”
I am in Texas also and I am sure my coworkers appreciated my out loud cackle at this comment 😉
That one made me laugh out loud as well…
I’ve been lining the closets in cedar lately and pushing lavender into all the cracks. I don’t like chemicals in my house……but I don’t like bugs that eat me either……
Therein lies the dilemma!
I hear that! We had scorpions when I was growing up outside of Denton. We had to shake out the newspaper in the morning before bringing it in the house. They also hung out around the toilets in the bathrooms. Didn’t have many rattlers…..that was much more a Lubbock thing.
The BEST start to my Monday morning! I loved reading this. And feel relief that I am not the only one who properly knows how to vacuum correctly in desperate times.
Rhonda, I own 4 different vacuumes! I kid you not. I’d vacuume every day if I had the time.
Whew!!!! I was exhausted just reading what you went through..calls for a tall cold one/for sure! I’m glad it’s all under control.
There was a bedbug out break in several movie theaters here in Phoenix recently. Seems the little critters were hanging out in the seats and when the people going to the movie got home with ugly bites on their legs and torsos they contacted our news stations. It’s been reported the situation has been resolved, but, I’m sticking to Netflicks!
EWWWWWW!!! Good argument towards Netflix, that’s for sure. We both travel a lot for work, so the possibility of having them is always looming.
James. . . love your stories – they are so entertaining
Awwww, thanks Bonnie, I’m glad you like them.