25 June 2013

I Got A Bug Problem

Before I begin this post, I should probably warn you that it contains pictures of bugs. Ew.

So when I said I was going to have lots of time on my hands this week, I wasn't anticipating that I'd be spending it ridding myself of bed bugs.

You read that right, bed bugs.

You see, Chicago in general has a bed bug problem, and the nasty little buggers have been marching to my neighborhood in order to give us a nice send off before we leave. I'm pretty sure our woes began when we got back from Father's Day at the park. Remember when I said I had 8 mosquito bites? Yeah. So then over this most recent weekend, I noticed a few spots popping up on Abigail's arm too, but as she hadn't spent much time outside, I didn't know what to make of the spots. Then last night, I got up off the couch to grab something and I noticed a bug on the pillow behind me. Matt and I corralled him into a ziplock bag and I did some quick Googling.

The apartment complex manager assures me it doesn't have to be a bed bug and urged me to call maintenance and schedule an appointment to have it confirmed.

Screw that shit. I called a professional. Joe will be here at 1pm.

Without further ado, here he is! WARNING! BUG PICTURE COMING NEXT!

He's kind of small as far as Google pictures of bed bugs go, but I don't want to give him the opportunity to break any records.

Living in the Bug Bed Ritz reminded me of the time we stayed at Roach Motel and even did a stint in Bug Super 8 Hell. So here you have a history of my bug problems.

The Beginning
My foray into the world of bug roommates began when I lived in a seedy apartment complex in East Lansing during college. There is a bit of space under the front door, which lead directly outside, and I had a fair number of bugs parading through. The complex manager failed to act, so I decided to let a spider move in to the space behind my door. He did a good job of stemming the tide of bugs, but he hated when I swept near his web. So we had this agreement that he killed bugs and I wouldn't clean within two tiles of his web. That worked out well until one day my cat found him and tortured him to death.

Too Many Legs
That same complex also delivered my next headache: long, hairy centipedes. By this time, the complex finally sent a bug guy out, who confirmed the bug with that technical name you just read. Faster than superman, these bugs are super ugly, but mostly keep to themselves. Whenever I'd kill one, all the legs would fall off and twitch spastically for a few minutes.

A few days before graduated and moved out, I found a giant spider living under my fridge. Whenever it'd come out of hiding, I'd spray it with Windex or 409 or whatever I could get my hands on, but it never died. One day he came out of hiding long enough for me to soak him. He slowed down and curled up, giving me enough time to dump some bleach on him. I continued to dump one chemical after another on him, until Matt (who was just my boyfriend at the time) made me stop for fear I was creating some sort of uber toxic mess. We let him sit until we were sure he was dead, then Matt bent down to scoop him up and he sprang into action and attempted to run away.

Thankfully he didn't make it.

Florida, Part I, or, The Ants
Matt and I escaped our first year of marriage unscathed, thankfully, in a nicer complex in a suburb of Ann Arbor. But our first winter in our first apartment in Florida was inundated with ants. They preferred cat food and each morning, I would find a solid stream of ants leading from the cat food to a crevice in the floor. I had to move the bowl of food around the apartment twice a day, otherwise the ants would find it. The apartment complex was so loathe to do anything that I actually got into a cussing match with them one time over it. I'm not proud and I did call to apologize later. The problem never fully cleared up until my parents came to visit us and my dad showed me a few other places the ants were coming from and how to caulk them up.

A big pile of ants on the right and a broom on the left.

Florida, Part II, or Roach Hell
When we relocated back to Florida for Matt's third and final year of law school, Abigail about 4 months old, we found an apartment with a good reputation and pest service included in the rent. Little did we know, it was also infested with roaches.

We started seeing a few roaches right away, but I just assumed they had stowed away in our boxes which had spent the enture summer in a storage unit. But after we were unpacked, washed, cleaned, and put away, the bugs kept coming. Abigail was still getting up once a night, and as I stumbled into the kitchen to prepare a bottle, I'd see a handful of tiny beetles scurry away under the toaster. Sometimes a roach on the floor would scuttle away, always too quick for my blurry-eyed, sleepy self to kill. I called the complex to complain and they started sending the bug guy out more frequently, but after a month with no relief, I finally corned the technician one day and explained the two-month long situation. He did a thorough check of our kitchen cabinets, pulling out pots and pans and pointing out roach droppings and shaking roach egg casings out of the crumb trays of the toaster, identifying the little beetles as baby roaches. I. Was. Horrified. He heavily treated the areas where he thought the bugs were stashing their eggs and scheduled us for a bug bombing.

A medium-sized palmetto bug, aka, cockroach.

The bombing was a big pain; we had to empty our entire kitchen, move everything off the bathroom counters, put away all of Abigail's things, and find a friend's house to crash with the kitties for 4 hours, but after the bombing, we only ever saw a handful of roaches in our apartment during the rest of our time in Florida.

PS, The apartment complex bought us a new toaster.

The Summer of Spiders
The place where we stayed over the summer was located in a very forest-y area and had a random contingent of fishing spiders in it. We found them both inside and outside and they nearly always elicited a scream from me. As huge as they were, they were scaredy cats and easy to kill. So easy, in fact, that my husband felt bad for them. I didn't.

Chicago Bed Bugs
And that brings us back to now. After we found the bug last night, we went on a witch hunt, overturning the couch and our mattress and scouring through every blanket, towel, and bedsheet we could find. We only found one other bug, but we have enough bites to prove a larger bug colony somewhere nearby.

Joe my savior technician just called and is running ahead of schedule. He should be here within the next few minutes. Alleluia.


Matt said...

Three cheers for Joe!

Blanca Douglas said...

Perhaps the most worrying thing about these bugs and their presence in our homes is that they tend to bring with them possible causes of sickness and various health problems. And an infestations can leave you and your child vulnerable, if left unchecked. I hope that you and your kid are in a better spot right now compared to before, and that you have already nipped these infestations in the bud. Thanks for sharing, and take care!

Blanca Douglas @ Safeclean Ealing