I have to admit, I am not one of those people who pays much attention to things like bed bugs. I basically tend to assume that if I can't see it, it doesn't exist. Smart, right? I don't check Trip Advisor (at least not for bed bug reports) or the Bed Bug Registry, I don't put my stuff in the bath tub or keep it in the car before checking the room, I don't pull back the sheets and look behind the headboard to look for bugs or bug poop, and I certainly don't sleep in a bed bug sleep sack or use bed bug spray. Well, that is sure as hell going to change going forward (except for maybe the sack thing, that's a little over the top even after this nightmare).
I was VERY LUCKY in that a) I didn't check into the hotel until late at night, and bed bugs are noctornal (peak activity 10 pm - 6 am, per wikipedia), so b) I just happened to see one within minutes of entering the room. I was hanging out waiting for the bell hop to bring up my bags, perusing the dinner menu. He dropped my stuff off, setting everything except my suitcase on the desk. The suitcase was on the floor, but away from the bed and walls. I called in my dinner order, and just happened to bump into one of the pillows on the bed when hanging up the phone. The pillow fell forward, and I saw a bug crawling on the back pillow.
Even though I was not super up on bed bug trivia, I figured that's what it had to be. I snapped a picture before it could skitter away and consulted google and twitter. Yep. Definitely a bed bug, and a hungry one at that.
|They say they look like appleseeds. That's fairly accurate.|
|GAHHHHHHHHHHHHHH it's looking at me!!!|
I called the front desk and they sent someone up to escort me to my new room 5 floors away. I told them to send my dinner to the new room, and I got it shortly after arrival. I was sitting at the desk, trying to eat while reading zillions of tweets telling me to BURN EVERYTHING, when I noticed THIS on the door:
However, I REALLY wish they had offered me giant trash bags to put my stuff in after my first phone call. The whole time I was driving I was thinking about how my car may very well be crawling with bed bugs, and it seriously sketched me out. So if you are travelling with your own car and this happens, SECURE YOUR STUFF IN TRASH BAGS BEFORE PUTTING IT IN THE CAR.
The hotel Lara found was very nice and clean and new and a million times better than the first hotel. THANKS, LARA!!! I spent the minimum amount of time required of me in Harrisburg, then I hightailed it back home to follow @carmendhf's email advice. THANKS, CARMEN!!! And THANKS, RACHAEL and everyone else for all of your support too!!!
I sealed everything from my car in trash bags and put it in the screened in porch until I could process it (an area we never use; there was too much stuff stored in the garage for me to want to put it there). It's attached to the outside of the house, not part of the house, if that makes sense. I threw away anything I didn't absolutely need, and took all of the clothes to a laundromat to blast it on high heat. I also cleaned all surfaces with bleach or sprayed it with alcohol, and inspected everything for eggs. I decided I was okay with keeping my suitcase and just blasting it with my hair dryer on the highest setting. Basically, it was a GIANT GIANT PAIN IN THE ASS that I hope to avoid going forward.
The hotel has agreed to foot the bill for detailing my car and for my dry cleaning. I seriously think that if all of my awesome twitter friends hadn't caused such a ruckus, they wouldn't have been nearly as helpful. Social media for the win. Work also hasn't given me problems with reimbursement yet, so I think we are good to go. And no sign of bed bugs on anything, yay! I really recommend Akron Auto Polish if you live in the area...they even detailed the car seats for no extra cost and put some special enzyme in the rugs to kill anything we couldn't see. They did a way better job than the dealership does when they detail my car, and for a lower price.
Hope this helps anyone dealing with bed bugs, and motivates the rest of you to take the time to check your room, if you don't already do so. Because god DAMN are these things awful.
And now for some random bed bug facts (mostly wikipedia again) in case you STILL aren't sketched out enough to check hotels:
- Bed bugs smell like rotting raspberries.
- This is what the bites look like (don't click on that unless you have a strong stomach).
- Bed bugs only feed every 5 to 7 days, and they go back to their hidey hole after eating. This is part of the reason they are hard to detect.
- Bed bugs mate by traumatic insemination...the female has a vagina that can be used for copulation, but the male prefers to puncture her with his barbed genitalia and deposit the sperm right into the body cavity.
- Bed bugs will mount any freshly fed bed bug, so the males emit an alarm hormone to avoid being punctured. Females can produce the alarm hormone but usually don't because it's not worth spending the resources to produce it.
So, are you a checker? If not, did I convince you?