Friday, 3 September 2010

Unwelcome guests

Are you squeamish? Fastidious? Super-clean? Then look away now. Because bedbugs are on the rise across the world, infesting the most unlikely places.

Reports of bedbugs are increasing by around 28 per cent every year. They're plaguing many cities, the worst affected being New York.

In the Big Apple, prestigious office blocks, cinemas and shops have had to close while the bugs are routed. Even a branch of the lingerie chain Victoria's Secret had to shut.

Some British hotels are now using sniffer dogs to detect the intrepid insects. Dogs can find bedbugs in three minutes, much quicker than we humans.

Most people don't realise that they can appear not just in beds but in furniture generally, which means they're also being found in children's nurseries and schools. They often find their way into people's luggage.

They cause painful itching, nasty bites, allergic reactions and of course insomnia. And no doubt years of anxiety about strange beds.

Nobody's sure why they're suddenly proliferating. It could be resistance to pesticides, growing international travel, or just not dealing with outbreaks fast enough.

I've never been attacked by the horrible things, even though I've slept in plenty of strange beds in my time. But mosquitoes have had a good go at me.

It's yet another hazard if some casual sex is on the cards. Jump blissfully into bed with your new squeeze, and the bliss might rapidly turn into skin-scratching misery.

It's simple enough really. Just never go to bed. Stay up all night gambling, drinking and plotting revolution. Or sleep on a chair like Liz.
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I can't stop listening to: Catching A Tiger by Lissie Maurus

33 comments:

Alan in Belfast said...

I'll always remember collecting a couple of bed bugs up in a glass (picture on the blog) and taking them down to a hotel's reception in London's Bloomsbury district to accelerate the process of getting moved to a different room.

Uttering "I think there might be bed bugs" and holding out the glass certainly got a reaction!

Nick said...

Alan - They could hardly argue with the undisputable proof of infestation! I hope they assured you the alternative room was guaranteed bug-free....

Nick said...

Alan - Just read your blog post. I feel quite queasy just reading about your experience. AND they didn't knock £50 off your bill until you pushed them!

e said...

OMG, Yuck! And Alan had to ask for a reduction in the bill? What is the world coming to?

I lived in the tropics where we had all sorts of bugs and never saw or heard about bedbugs...

Happy weekend, Nick!

Nick said...

e - You were lucky not to find bedbugs in the tropics, where they exist quite happily. Happy weekend to you, too!

Grannymar said...

Nick I am suddenly feeling itchy! (shivers)Whaaa! Thankfully fingers crossed, I have never been troubled by these creatures in all my days of travelling.

Nick said...

Grannymar - Of course much of your travelling, and mine, predates the bedbug increase. Nowadays we might not be so lucky!

Eryl said...

A friend once told me that bedbugs smell like playdough when you pop them and I've been longing to test the veracity of that statement. Don't fancy the itching though.

Wisewebwoman said...

I bet everyone reading this started to itch and scratch, I know I did!
Thanks very much Nick.
XO
WWW

secret agent woman said...

I heard about this on the radio the other day. Makes me a little anxious about an upcoming trip.

Megan said...

Bleach. Lots of bleach.

Nick said...

Eryl - Goodness, I wouldn't want to even touch a bedbug, let alone pop it. I'll take your friend's word for it....

www - Funnily enough, even though I'm quite prone to sudden itching, reading about this didn't make me itchy at all. Probably because I've never been a bedbug victim.

Nick said...

Secret Agent - Well, I suppose the chances of encountering bedbugs are still pretty remote. You'd have to stay in an awful lot of hotel rooms to meet up with one.

Megan - Is that right? Not a good idea on highly coloured sheets though, surely?

kylie said...

we've had head lice infestations and they dont bother me, mosquitos are par for the course but the idea of bed bugs totally freaks me out!

Alan in Belfast said...

They do squash quite bloodily as your head rolls over them on your pillow during the night. Bllleeuuu ... not an experience to recall in too much detail!

Nick said...

Kylie - Sinister little things, aren't they? So small they can hide themselves away very easily....

Alan - I shall start wondering about those mysterious blood spots on the pillow now.

Suburbia said...

I am going to have to go and see Liz and see what she's up too!

I'm not sure what bed bugs look like, may Google them, if I can cope! However I did stay somewhere on a Greek island once in the '80's that had strange orangy brown beetles in the bed. I slept on the floor that night and then checked out!

Suburbia said...

Just checked, ewwwww! They were bed bugs...

Nick said...

Suburbia - Ooh, unlucky you. But I think I would sleep on the floor too in the circumstances. I wouldn't want to risk whatever the bugs were capable of. They might even have been poisonous.

I deliberately didn't use a picture of bedbugs, they're just too horrible!

Quickroute said...

Thankfully we haven't been infested yet but some work colleagues have have fleas and others bed bugs - apparently if you freeze your clothes for 3 days it kills the wee blighters

Nick said...

Quickie - And you're in the Big Apple, so you'd better keep a very close watch for the little buggers! I don't think there'd be room in my wee freezer for clothes as well as food....

Katherine said...

Eucalyptus oil keeps them away, apparently!

Nick said...

Kath - That's worth knowing. Apparently it also kills flies, cockroaches and spiders! So if you're off to New York - pack some eucalyptus oil....

Los Angelista said...

I'm headed back to NYC on the 15th and I'm taking eucalyptus oil for sure. I checked my hotel on bedbugregistry.com - and it seems to be clear, but there's no telling if it will be or not. I'm freaked out!

Nick said...

Liz - That looks like a useful website. I really hope you don't end up sleeping on a chair again. How about taking a sleeping bag, just in case?

Rummuser said...

I shall take your entire advise. Should not be too difficult.

Nick said...

Ramana - But surely you always stay up all night gambling, drinking and plotting revolution?

Kate said...

I always take a bug spray for the bed when I'm traveling - at home, well I just take my chance with any house guests!!!!

Nick said...

Kate - A wise precaution by the sound of it. Ah, house guests, who can tell what nasty creatures they're smuggling in?

heartinsanfrancisco said...

I've been reading about this for a couple of months. I guess Planet Earth was ripe for a hostile takeover. Ugh. It definitely makes me want to avoid hotels for awhile.

Nick said...

Heart - Yes, when we humans have stubbornly wiped ourselves out, bed bugs and cockroaches will take over the world. A pity there isn't some sort of gadget that beeps in the presence of bedbugs....

Val said...

I've experienced bedbugs or fleas (can't remember which) when I stayed at a not-too-clean hotel on holiday in the 70's. Horrible, itchy, nasty things.

They'd have been in the chairs too, btw!

Nick said...

Val - It sounds like you still remember the ghastly experience all too vividly! I think Liz's chair was the functional type without upholstery, so presumably bedbug-resistant.