Good Night,

Sleep tight,

don’t let the bed bugs bite.

-Ancient bedtime incantation against the blood sucking buggars

Image result for bed bugsBED BUGS! Feel it. That uncontrollable desire to itch or scratch? Don’t hide it. I know you did. I spent years being the go to in infestation control for multiple buildings. It is a creepy feeling. I have seen infestations so bad that there was a symbiosis created by tenant and insect, to the newest ones that are picked up in life transit.  We have all heard the news reports of the explosions of bed bugs on airplanes, in churches, movie theatres, low rent motels, high rent hotels, and schools. These are travelers, see bed bugs are searching for hosts. They love our carbon dioxide. The ones in public spaces are seeking a person to take them home. There is so many because 1000’s can literally be born in days. The female bed bug is impregnated by thousands of mates all at once, and births the babies in a cycle.

They are translucent until they feed. There source of food? Us. If there is a huge infestation, and they cannot sufficiently feed I have seen situations where they will feed on a pet, but usually a pet in used as a public transit mechanism for them to go to other places and spread their colonies. By what are they making a comeback so strongly in Canada? Well, we had them obliterated, unfortunately the chemicals used to wipe them out were also wiping us out via carcinogens. Dang it.

Image result for bed bugsBy mechanical function how early an infestation is detected states how many sprays are needed (minimum usually two). If you rent, the landlord in Alberta is responsible for footing the bill for the spray (sorry homeowners, its on us for our own). The responsibility of the tenant (and the infested if you own) is to promptly follow through on all instructions laid out by the pest control company to ensure the efficacy of the sprays.

Appears very simple. One notes like the picture above or less and calls in; or has noted 3 clustered bites (breakfast-lunch-dinner)together resembling small or large mosquito bites and calls for pest control (keep in mind not everyone shows bites, for the bite showing is an allergic reaction so you can be being feasted on and never even know it, it is why in communal living like hotels, condos, and apartment blocks random inspections help by trained pest control).

Yet this is not a simple carpet beetle infestation where carpet replacement or vacuuming will cure, or flour beetles that require cleaning and food disposal. This is a very intimate type of infestation and that can be missed is that part of the process is mental health supports. Sadly in 2013 in Montreal, a gent with pre-existing mental health conditions completed a suicide due to recurrent Bed Bug infestations. Though I can attest one does not need pre-existing mental health or health conditions to provide an unkind end.

Image result for bed bugsBed bugs get in your most intimate spots–truly. They disrupt sleep. They interrupt sexual relations. If you talk to others about it, they recoil and stigmatize you. See we assume bed bugs equate to dirty lifestyle or living. That is a fallacy. Bed Bugs are seeking food (us), they do not care if you are a hoarder or a minimalist, hospital clean or junkyard mucky, young, old, senior, Millennial, wealthy or poor. They just want your blood.

One would then think, well treatment happens it ends right. No, it does not, one is encouraged not to abandon their resident during treatment cycles as you are literally the bait to contain the infestation. Best case scenario, after two weeks it is free and clear with maybe a lingering of psychosomatic itchiness. Worst case scenario, multiple sprays and many if not all belongings disposed of to ensure reoccurence stops. Literally losing one’s life (material, or completed suicide).

What can this do? Lack of sleep is never a good thing for the human body. Isolation due to stigmatization is never a good thing. Fear of an area of the house (usually happens with where you sleep), but can happen with the whole residence. During treatment cycles, prep, stress, already existing mental health concerns can be exacerbated or new ones can be created: panic attacks to psychotic breaks are not out of the realm of possibility for a rather mentally healthy individual (recurrence after treatment has also been termed Post Traumatic Bed Bug Stress Disorder). For addictions, they can get worse and reach crisis levels, most prevalent being gambling, alcoholism, and drug use. One can also become more open to addiction symptoms to deal with the stress and trauma of the infestation. Sadly as well, pre-existing domestic violence can increase rapidly around this as the infestation can become the focal point of rage and blame.

Knowing that inspection brings people into one’s sanctuary (home); treatment brings others into the sanctuary and tears it apart; living with the buggars has its own terrors. Is it any wonder that mental health is something that needs to be navigated, acknowledged, and treated during and after this time? If we ignore it, we are simply ignoring what is right for our neighbour and ourselves.

Best pest control company I have worked with in Calgary is Martin’s Pest Control.

Image result for bed bugs

 

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