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Love, Marriage, Bedbugs!

November 13th, 2010 · 5 Brilliant Opinions · Travel Tips

Two and a  half years ago we flew to Atlanta for a friend’s wedding.  The couple had a long engagement …so we were excited to finally see them tie the knot. The bride and groom were kind enough to hold a block of rooms for visiting family and friends at a 4 star hotel.  Our room was great.  We had a one bedroom and used the sleep sofa for the kids.  I remember waking up the next day and complaining about mosquito bites on my legs.  I could not figure out where I got several mosquito bites without the  windows being opened.  My daughter is allergy prone and I noticed she also had some itchiness but with the hustle and bustle of the festivities, I put it out of my mind.

We spent our time in Atlanta visiting our oldest daughter and her children, sightseeing and shopping.  We returned to NYC, busy work schedules, preschool and Kindergarten activities for our kids.   My daughter developed a rash on both arms and both legs.  I thought perhaps it was poison ivy.  A trip to the pediatrician left us both baffled and she recommended Benadryl to relieve the itch.

Shortly thereafter, Big P is checking on the kids and notices a bug on our daughter’s upper bunk.   This was not a roach.  Big P placed it in a plastic bag.  We got on the computer and started researching.  At that time the bedbug epidemic was not well publicized in the media.  When I googled “bedbug” – an exact replica of the captured  bug appeared on my computer screen.  I realized the rash was my daughter’s reaction to bedbug bites.  My son had some mild itchiness but no obvious bites.  I was pretty itchy and had a few noticeable welts.  Big P had no itchiness and no bites (can’t explain that one -?sour blood).  I realized we had not only brought home pictures, cake and candy covered  almonds from the wedding in Atlanta, but we had now inadvertently infested our home with bedbugs.  It took us 3-4 months, more loads of laundry, vacuuming etc that I had ever done in my life and a great exterminator –  but we got rid of them.

Now when I travel – I do the following  inspection when I enter a hotel room.  I don’t sit on the bed or place my coat or luggage on the bed.  I either place my bags on the sink counter, in the bath tub or on a luggage rack.  Then I do a “Charlie Sheen” on the room. No I’m not looking for an expensive watch or a call girl …I’m looking for bedbugs.

I strip the bed down, removing sheets, pillow cases, bed ruffles, mattress covers, duvets and I inspect the creases in the mattress and or box spring for bedbugs. Adult bedbugs are reddish brown in color and resemble small apple seeds. Bedbug babies may look like little poppy seeds – but they are moving!   I also look at the headboard and joints of wood bed frames for signs of infestation.  This may be evidenced by actual bugs or in day time, evidence of bedbug “poop” – small brownish red spots on the bed frame or joints of furniture.  I also inspect behind picture frames on the walls (a favorite hiding place for bedbugs).

When our home was infested we found bugs in the small span where the door frame meets the wall – so I know that is also a key place to look.  If I don’t see any signs of infestation, I relax, unpack and enjoy my stay.  However, I am always on alert.  If my kids are scratching, I inspect their skin.  Bedbug bites tend to be grouped in threes (known as breakfast, lunch and dinner) while mosquito bites tend to be solitary.  I also check the bed sheets.  In retrospect, I had seen spots of blood on my children’s pillowcases in NYC but thought it was related to them losing their baby teeth.  Specks of blood on a pillowcase or sheets – even in the absence of visible bites – is bedbugs- until proven otherwise.  If you determine there are bedbugs – report it to the hotel staff – get out of there and read this bedbug article to prevent transporting bedbugs to your primary residence.

When we return home from a trip we take all of our clothing directly to the laundry room and wash in hot water and dry on high heat.  I know some people vacuum out their suitcases – but I’m not that anal – yet.  In addition, all our mattresses are in protective covers with the zippers duct taped.  With schools, department stores, movie theaters and hotels facing bedbug infestations, I know we may get another infestation.  But this time I know the signs, I’m on offense and I  feel confident I  will detect a problem before my family starts to suffer.


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5 Comments so far ↓

  • calvin


  • Ann

    Calvin – I’m not sure I’m smarter than a bedbug! Also try using lowercase letters…. All caps is like yelling on the net. Thanks for reading,

  • Lisa

    Your story is very similar to mine. About 2-3 yrs ago, I was spending the weekend at my mom’s house and woke up with what i thought was hives. I took Benadryl to no avail. My physician cousin said it looked like a bug bite but it was the dead of winter so I thought he was out of his mind. (As you said, there was no bedbug epidemic at that time.) Anyway the next day, I woke up with the hives again. I searched thru the mattress and found one little tiny bug. Looked it up on the web, and there was an image of my torturer. That bastard! What was crazy is that no one else in the house had the allergic reaction to the bed bugs. Don’t know if this is true but I read somewhere that not everyone has an allergic reaction to the bites and that more females are allergic to the bites than males. So maybe that’s why your husband wasn’t affected? But if i hadn’t had the allergic reaction, my mom wouldn’t have known she had bedbugs. She was less fortunate than you though because she ended up getting rid of most of her furniture. Those bedbugs were invincible! It was a stressful time. I still hate thinking about it!

  • Ann

    Lisa – I think it is true that females tend to be more affected. We were lucky and had a “mild” infestation according to our exterminator. That being said I would rather have rats than bedbugs. Stay vigilant and thanks for reading!

  • calvin

    ok i wont yell anymore …..BUT…it was about BEDBUGS.

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