Endearingly whispering “Don’t let the bed bugs bite” in your child’s ears as they drift off to sleep seems to be taking on a new reality. Once a sing song phrase that was interchangeable with “Mama’s going to buy you a Mocking Bird,” bed bugs seem to have arrived on the scene in a big, unexpected way. We’ve read about them in the press. Hotels are shutting down, retail stores are shutting down. High end … low end … it doesn’t seem to matter. Friends who are traveling take pause when booking their hotels, trying to determine which place will afford less risky sleeping accomodations.
I haven’t given much thought to this pandemic, until today. My high school kids came home reporting that a student at school had brought a bed bug into school in his back pack. This coincided with a newspaper article from two days ago about two other schools in town where the same thing happened. Unfortunately, this student happened to be in my daughter’s health class, and she is reporting that she is not attending school tomorrow (“It will ruin my social reputation for life and turn our home upside down if I get bed bugs” she states).
The school called homes this evening to report this occurence, and to say that it was being dealt with in accordance with health department recommendations. My son appeared out of nowhere in an outfit dug out of our basement that I had never seen before – reporting this is how he would dress for school in the AM, ready to attack. Some neighbors are talking about stripping down their kids when they walk in from school and throwing everything in the washing machine, others are being a bit calmer and recommending prudent checking of surface clothing and backpacks. Many high school students facebooks report a boycott of school tomorrow.
All of this has made me question, just where are all these bed bugs coming from … all of a sudden. It is a bug that has been around, troubling souls, for hundreds of years. But after WW11, bed bugs were essentially wiped out in developed nations with the use of the pesticide DDT, now banned of course. With the increase in international travel and immigration, bed bugs are back. And you don’t want them near you. It sounds nightmarish (on the level of dealing with lice, if not greater) of eradicating these things from your premises if you are one of the lucky ones they decide to visit.
Has anyone had any experience with bed bugs? Somehow I need to convince my daughter that one bed bug in a large school does not require running for your life. But I also must admit that my back has gotten awfully itchy while writing this blog…