I’m leaving for Toronto later today to attend a conference. I’ll be staying in a no-frills hotel down the street from the fancy hotel where the conference is being held. Normally I’d be worried about forgetting to pack my medication or my shoes or something, but this time I’m worried about bed bugs, since Toronto is the bed bug capital of Canada.
I’ve checked the Bed Bug Registry: there have been two reports of bed bugs at the hotel where I’m staying, and one at the fancy hotel where the conference is. I’ve watched three youtube videos about how to inspect a bed and a hotel room for bed bugs. I’ve packed a small but powerful flashlight for carrying out such an inspection. I’ve watched a video about how to process your luggage upon your return home, to kill any undetected bugs that hitched a ride with you.
You know, the internet is a terrific resource for finding stuff out, but sometimes you find out stuff you’d rather not know. For instance, did you know that library books are a vehicle for the spread of bed bugs? Someone with bed bugs reads in bed, and puts the book on their bedside table, where bed bugs crawl in and hitch a ride back to the library and then to the next borrower’s house. Bestsellers pose the biggest risk, since they get around more. But even an unpopular book can be risky because DID YOU KNOW that a bed bug can live six months without a meal?? (A meal, incidentally, is human blood, and they prefer to feast on your face, neck, upper torso or hands.)
I also read about a lawyer who specializes in bed bug cases. He won’t permit his clients to come to his office because he doesn’t want bed bugs. Instead, he meets them in the Starbucks across the street. Nice.
If you really want to avoid bed bugs, you have to avoid hotels, libraries, coffee shops, used furniture, movie theatres, public transit, apartment buildings, New York City and any other place where people congregate or where there’s upholstered furniture. In other words, you can take precautions but it’s impractical – and possibly impossible – to go to the lengths necessary to completely prevent bed bugs.
Even worse – as hard as it is to prevent them, it’s even harder to get rid of bed bugs.
It makes me itchy just thinking about it.
Not that I’m obsessed with bed bugs or anything, but a quick search reveals that this is the fifth time I’ve blogged about them.
Anyway. Remember that Night Gallery episode where the earwig crawls into the guy’s ear and eats its way through his brain, causing him excruciating pain? It finally crawls out his other ear, and the doctor says the good news is that the earwig is gone, but the bad news is that it laid thousands of eggs inside his brain. Apparently the actor who played the victim was dying of stomach cancer when it was filmed, and he stopped taking his pain meds in order to more convincingly portray someone in excruciating pain.
Which reminds me: I have to go pack my ear plugs.