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.