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One Family’s Campaign against Bed Bugs

This article was originally posted at The Globe and Mail

When our second treatment didn’t seem to work, I called Chris Ashby, an entrepreneur who started the company BC Bug after battling bedbugs for months, becoming increasingly frustrated with the companies he was using. Chris was sympathetic and offered a quick treatment at a discount since I had already doled out so much money.

Ivan, our junk removal guy, also offered up loads of advice on his three visits. (We ended up throwing out all of our bedroom furniture, even pieces that weren’t affected.) He told us about bedbug traps, assured us we were doing the right thing by tossing the furniture.

The dogs from our first PCO came back for two more extremely thorough inspections (free of charge) and found nothing. BC Bug, though also unable to detect any “activity,” treated our house twice on my insistence.

We haven’t had a bite in weeks. But BC Bug recommends waiting four to six weeks after the final treatment before bringing new furniture into the house. So, more than two months after those first bites, we are still sleeping on the floor and the couch, still living out of plastic bags.

There are long-term ramifications to the bites, the bills, the bags. I have become anxious about public transit, movie theatres and random people brushing up against me. I can’t imagine ever sleeping “tight” again. And heaven help anyone who recites that stupid bedtime rhyme to me.

Will the sting of this nightmare ever disappear? At this point, it seems unlikely. Once bitten. Forever shy.

Tips on what to do if you get bedbugs

  • If you see a bed bug, kill it. They multiply quickly; an adult female can lay up to five eggs per day.
  • Hire a good PCO; don’t try to do it yourself. According to the NPMA survey, bed bugs are the most difficult pest to treat (worse than cockroaches, ants and termites).
  • If you throw out furniture, make sure it’s wrapped and dispose of it properly. Don’t leave it outside for someone else to take.
  • Vacuum daily and empty the vacuum immediately into a bag that you then seal.
  • Wash all clothing and bedding in hot water, followed by at least 20 minutes in the dryer (dryer only for pillows and stuffed toys). Then seal and bag everything until your house is clear. Try to keep some sort of order to the bagging so you can find things later.
  • Buy bins with airtight lids for frequently used clothing.
  • Buy bed bug covers for your mattress and box spring.
  • If you’re buying a new mattress from a company that also picks up old mattresses, make sure it doesn’t use the same truck to do so.
  • For any hotel stay, check for signs of an infestation before settling in. Regardless, store your suitcase on the luggage rack, and as far from the bed as possible (BC Bug recommends keeping luggage in hotel bathrooms). Don’t put anything in the drawers.
  • Find a mentor who’s been through it. I had a bed bug-surviving friend in Toronto giving me advice and support throughout. This was a life saver.
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