I am a man who keenly — even passionately — enjoys his sleep (I’m asleep right now).
Alas, this no longer jibes with living on Vancouver Island, which I should remind everyone is ONLY ONE FERRY RIDE FROM THE LOWER MAINLAND!
The problem? In 2023, Vancouver had the highly itchy honour of earning the #2 spot on Orkin’s Top 10 Worst Cities in Canada for Bedbugs (Prince George also made the list, but lower down at #22).
Toronto is #1 on the list, which you probably already guessed because when it comes to being on a list, it’s ALWAYS Toronto in the #1 spot.
Bedbugs are often described as being about the size of an “apple seed,” which incorrectly suggests a wholesome nature to insects that hide in bedrooms in order to suck blood all night.
It is more accurate to describe them as being the size of “tiny vampire perverts.”
I don’t mean to victim-blame here, but unpleasant physical contact with bedbugs is a consequence of certain lifestyle choices.
What I mean is, the risk of bedbugs goes up dramatically for people who enjoy sleeping, particularly sleeping in a bed.
Further, the more time you spend in or near beds — hotels, dormitories, hospitals, homeless shelters, furniture stores, coffins — the more likely you are to be itchy, grossed out and regretful for not paying more attention during personal hygiene classes in junior high school.
If you suspect you have been bitten by bedbugs, there are a few important things to do right away:
• Furiously scratch. Bedbug bites itch, and you should not be denied the small satisfaction one gets from self-inflicted infection and scarring.
• Sob uncontrollably. A bedbug infestation is a big, awful deal and if crying all the time is good enough for Roy Orbison, it’s good enough for the rest of us.
• Get yourself an assault rifle and defend your home. (NOTE: only for American knuckleheads.)
Experts recommend a thorough inspection of the home, in case you have some other residential pest, such as silverfish, earwigs or giant Asian murder hornets. I’m kidding! Silverfish don’t bite.
During your inspection, look for the following tell-tale signs of bedbugs:
• Reddish-brown stains. These come from exactly where/who you think: you. More specifically, your blood leaked or crushed out of feeding bedbugs.
• Skin castings. Not yours (which also piles up in the bedsheets at an alarming rate), but the empty, pale yellow skins from bedbug moulting, which they do five times.
• Dark specks. In addition to blood and dead skin moults, bedbugs also leave their poo in your sheets. So, no five-star reviews on the Airbnb website for these guys.
Let’s take a moment to step back from all this and take a deep breath. If you made the mistake of being conscious while reading the last couple of paragraphs, you may be experiencing what doctors call “the Screaming Meemies,” or a closely related condition: “the Heebie-Jeebies.”
You may have sweaty palms. You may be itchy. You may be contemplating how to safely set the master bedroom on fire.
These feelings are natural and part of the beautiful circle of bedbug life, which includes laying many clusters of eggs in the cracks and crevices of bed mattresses, box springs, headboards, bed frames and your terrible underpants.
Bedbug bites rarely need treatment, because they are 100% fatal to humans.
Wait, sorry… checking my notes… I see that should read NOT fatal to humans, just very itchy and very icky.
Treatment is generally unnecessary unless you are allergic to blood, dead insect skin and poo in your sheets.
While bedbug bites are not fatal, what they do to your home can make you wish they were. It can be very difficult to get rid of a bedbug infestation because a) bedbugs hide well; b) they can live for months without eating or watching television; and c) the first rule of bedbug home infestation club is you do not talk about bedbug home infestation club.
What I mean is, when you have bedbugs in your home, you do not have friends or relatives in your home.
You will probably need a professional exterminator and/or arsonist to come by and use a combination of pesticides and non-chemical treatment to kill the bedbugs and their eggs, which were probably also laid in your ears.
You can help by vacuuming, which not only keeps the dust down, but will remove a few free-range bedbugs. Empty the vacuum cleaner after each room. Maybe buy a new one before starting on the next room, and then the next.
Wash all bed linen, towels and clothing in water that is at least 10 million degrees centigrade, which I admit is technically more than the professionally recommended 48.9 C required to kill bedbugs, but feels more satisfying.
Now, I’m not saying my wife and I currently have a bedbug infestation. However, my legal team advises me in the strongest possible terms to also not say we don’t currently have a bedbug infestation.
After all, we are deep in the heart of winter, and a few of the Alberta relatives are making alarming noises about a nice long February visit to Vancouver Island.
They don’t want to go to Toronto or Vancouver or Prince George. No, they want to stay with us. And the bedbugs that may or may not already be here.
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