Everyone is freaking out about bedbugs right now; you can't pick up a newspaper or magazine or click on a website without another story of infestation by these insidious little bugs. Former SNL star Maya Rudolf and her husband, director Paul Anderson, were driven from their house by the bugs a few years ago.
But what does it actually feel like to have them? I asked my friend D.M. (a pseudonym ... understandably she doesn't want to have this story come up when a potential date or employer Googles her!) what it was like for her when bedbugs infested her apartment in Detroit.
"It went on for months before I knew what it was," she said. "I always had something wrong with my skin on and off, so at first I thought I was reacting to a soap or laundry soap." She describes the bites as "like the itchiest mosquito bite you ever had."
Interestingly, she said you don't actually feel the bite when it happens; they have a sort of anesthetic in their biting structure that keeps it from hurting.
She discovered what had happened while innocently flipping her mattress one day:
I saw hundreds of them between the bed and the box spring. They were of several sizes. It was so gross when they started crawling around. I almost vomited. I imagined them running all over my body while I slept.
I'll jump in here to note I know D.M. to a be clean and hygienic person; she's been an overnight guest at my house and we've worked together in an office setting where she was among the most "together" people in the bunch. If they can strike her, they can strike anyone.
Understandably, this triggered a pretty big freak-out. She had to take her two cats to be checked; her vet told her pets are not commonly hosts to bedbugs. She was able to get rid of them, but not after losing a very expensive mattress set and some stuffed animals with much sentimental value. "I felt disgusting and filthy, despite the fact I did not cause this and could not have prevented it," she said. "It's very traumatic because you don't know if they are coming back. I didn't feel comfortable sleeping in my apartment for a long time."
The infestation was traced to another apartment in her building which was so heavily infested with bedbugs there was no way the tenant could not have known what was going on, she said.
Moral of the story: If bedbugs invade your home, it's not your fault ... but for the sake of others, get to spraying right away!