Coping with bedbugs
Or bed bugs - it can be spelled both ways, but either way, it's an eye opener!
They come in many ways, apparently, being clever hitchhikers. We think ours came home on a used book I bought (though my mother-in-law was also a good candidate for a minute there - darn it). They are apparently endemic in hotels.
What makes it an issue relating to home organization is that to purge them, you have to be able to closely examine all cracks and crevices in your bedroom, and especially on your bed, on a nearly daily basis for about a month (if you're lucky - longer if you're not). You need to be able to remove the mattress and box spring, take the bed apart and look at all the components from front, back, top and side. You need to take all the dresser drawers out and check them as well as inside the carcase and under and behind it.
Then, the bed needs to be isolated when in use so that the bugs' access to it can be controlled. At least a foot or two clear on all sides.
We live in a small house and have a small bedroom (8 and a half by 11), and it was just packed (I'm nothing if not efficient!). We could barely stand on both sides of the bed much less take the thing apart, and we had two loaded shelf units and a dresser so close to the bed that contact with the bedding overnight was inevitable. It was bed bug heaven! We had (and still have) no idea where they were hiding - shelf units, clothing, dresser, bed, stuff kept at bedside... cracks in floor, behind the door mouldings, where wall meets floor, oh it makes me tired just to think about it.
Almost everything has come out of the room for a while, and we'll be vacuuming daily. We have traps on each bed leg and a double-sided tape barrier around the bed (on the bed). We have encased our mattresses and box springs with cases that need to stay on for at least 18 months, so that if any eggs were laid inside there, they will hatch and die. The other option is pyrethroid pesticides - the pest control officer is coming tomorrow and will likely recommend spraying. The spray is a residual so kills bugs for a couple of weeks, and more than one treatment is apparently often needed. I'm not keen on poisons, especially in DS's room, but everything I've read so far suggests that the non-chemical approach will fail and that we will have to have the spraying done. So I'm not sure whether to just go for the spray now or be sure that I've given my best shot to avoiding it.
Germane to home organizing is the question of how we will re-organize the bedroom once the invasion is repelled. This question is necessary partly because we won't be sure for a long time that we were successful. The bugs can live for up to 18 months without food, so if some have been squirreled away in our bags of stuff taken out of the bedrooms, they may swing back into action if we release them too soon and we may have to start vacuuming to excess again. But also, I think this experience will have a lasting effect in that having a bedroom that is so cluttered as to preclude a thorough vacuuming will generate a sense of rising panic in us. We may put the headboard against the wall again in the future, but will probably be happiest if we can push the bed away and check behind it every so often. That means nothing under the bed that precludes pushing it, and no shelf unit for my sweaters at the foot end! Wah!
So it's not really about being clean but about having limited bug hiding places available and having the space to check them often.
A few entertaining factoids about bed bugs: no matter where they enter your house, they will find their way to the bedroom because they are attracted to the CO2 that you exhale as you sleep. The eggs hatch in about 10 days. They will usually nest within a meter or two of the bed, often on the mattress itself. There is very little available in the way of lures or effective traps.
And their bites are often characteristically made in rows of two or three, referred to as breakfast-lunch-dinner bites. Some people react strongly to the bites, others not at all. Me, not at all. If I lived here alone I still wouldn't know that I am sharing the place with bugs. The pest control officer I spoke with on the phone says he can guarantee they're biting me, but that I'm just not reacting.
Anyway, I can't replicate the wealth of information that is available about bed bugs on the internet or from other sources, but I hope this will function as a bit of a primer and a heads-up for those of you who have not yet had to get to know these little creatures.