You know our house is a classy joint, because our bed bug traps are top notch…


August 8, 2012 by rebelwithalabelmaker

I am writing to give you all the juicy details of the bed bug extermination, because I’m sure you’re dying to know. I’m sorry it took me so long to blog about this (even if you aren’t). It’s hard to keep up on computer stuff when you live in a house where you can’t sit down without begin bitten. I am currently on a flight to Victoria, and I know people complain about the tiny seats in airplanes but not me. Not anymore. From now on every time the person beside me complains about airline seating I will say “look on the bright side–at least you aren’t being bitten” and that will amuse me.

Right now the person beside me is Gary, though, so I will amuse myself by telling you about finding a bed bug exterminator. Which is urgent business. Picture me on the phone, hysterically pacing outside on the deck in 33 degree heat, covered in dozens of welts.

Me: So, I have bed bugs and I’m wondering what you offer.

Exterminator #1: We have a heat treatment and a chemical treatment.

Me: Uh huh…


Exterminator #1: So, do you want a heat treatment or a chemical treatment?

THAT WAS ALL SHE WAS PLANNING TO TELL ME. I asked for her to sum up the two treatments, so she explained that for the heat treatment you pay about two thousand dollars, and for the chemical one it’s about six hundred, but you have to remove everything you own from the house and put it in garbage bags and not take it out for six weeks. Everything. Clothes, toys, the panels that cover electrical outlets, light fixtures… Electronics. Including Apple electronics. Food. Even the sugary food.

Also, because you have to do all this work, they have a policy of booking appointments for a minimum of one week away. I explained that I would be dead by then, and called the next guy.

Me: So, I have bed bugs and I’m wondering what you offer.

Exterminator #2: I can come over tomorrow morning and do an inspection. Don’t touch anything, because you don’t want to disturb them and spread them to other parts of your house.

Me: (Thinking about the old tenants moving out, us moving in, us ripping out all the carpets and dragging them through the house, me trying the bed out in three different rooms to see where it felt most “cozy”, etc). Um, that ship has sailed.

Exterminator #2: Pardon?

So, Exterminator who is not actually named Exterminator #2 (because that would not be a particularly glowing name for a company unless that company sold laxatives) arrived the next morning. He looked through the whole house and told me that he does a chemical treatment and even offers a guarantee. This is good because Exterminator #1 does not offer a guarantee, and I see why because they have been treating our mouse problem on and off at the old house for three years. It’s kind of ironic that I called them Exterminator #1.

Exterminator #2 explained patiently how I didn’t need to bag up everything I owned–just the clothes from our closets, the bedding, and so on. I was all on board until he explained that chemical treatments can be sprayed on the walls but not deep into the bug hiding places, and so what we you need is to develop a routine of sleeping in the infested rooms so that you draw the bugs out to feed. As they’re feeding they cross over the poison, and they reliably die sometime several hours after they’ve fed on you. He is explaining this all casual-like, as though it is not the psychological equivalent of “wash your clothes and dry them on hot, pick up clutter, and also every night we have to stick your head in this blender”.

Bed Bug Bites are not like mosquito bites. They are eighty gagillion times itchier, and they bite you lots of times. Dermatologists recognize the bites by the distinctive clusters or lines of “three or more” bites that they call the “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner” pattern. Our infestation, rather severe and long-standing, has had the time and population necessary to set up a complex society with a caste system. The higher class bed bugs dine in meals involving so many courses that I am surprised our house is not cluttered with microscopic sets of china and wine pairings.

In a show of heroics, Gary has volunteered to take the hit of sleeping in the bed at night. Of course, that was back when he thought that certain parts of the body didn’t tend to get bitten by bed bugs, but I am not providing more details on that because it’s a part of his body that I’m pretty sure I’m not supposed to blog about. Although he hasn’t explicitly stated that I can’t.

He will tomorrow.

This whole arrangement is horrifying to watch because I love my husband. And also because I am worried that at some point he might decide it would be fair if we took turns. So I am helping in my own way, by researching bugs all day long and talking about them non-stop which is awkward in certain social situations.

Last week, I ordered a trap off of the internet. The one that got the best reviews. It works by actually generating the Carbon Dioxide to attract the bugs, then trapping them in a plastic casing they can’t get out of. In addition to the actual trapping part, it also contains a reservoir, piping, and CO2 refills. There were two envelopes, labelled Carbon Dioxide Generating Compound #1 and Carbon Dioxide Generating Compound #2, which you had to mix in exact proportions before adding water. Once the reaction started, you should be able to observe Carbon Dioxide being generated.

Me: (Observing) Okay, this is definitely yeast and sugar. Very expensive yeast and sugar.

So, realizing that 95% of what I currently treasure most about my husband could be replaced by a mixture of yeast and sugar, I head to the internet again, googling “making your own Carbon Dioxide”.   My keen research skills very quickly unearth 1) multiple recipes, and 2) the interesting fact that Carbon Dioxide is integral to maintaining a thriving marijuana grow op.

After several afternoons spent reviving my understanding of high school chemistry and inspiring some pretty interesting ads on my google account, I am good to go. I have figured out how to make Carbon Dioxide in various amounts, how to create traps that bugs can’t get out of, and how to use the internet without sitting down. I have various models of traps that I’ve been working on, comparing and contrasting different designs and making notes. Every morning I call Gary and ask how many bites, where etc. I feel like a scientist. Specifically, Philip Zimbardo.

I am using a mix of yeast-sugar and dry ice baits in my traps…one of my nicer ones is pictured below.


The wine glass keeps the ice far enough away that the bed bugs don’t feel the cold and run away, and the felt makes it easy for them to climb the outside of the trap. The flowers are just for elegance. I’m sure this is what Martha Stewart does with all of her bed bug traps.

4 thoughts on “You know our house is a classy joint, because our bed bug traps are top notch…

  1. Cornish5 says:

    To be a real scientist, Liz, you need to record the number of new bug bites over time.
    So, you need to count every morning on each person. Then record it in a notebook. Boom! Science!

  2. Liz says:

    Yeah, science is so great unless you’re being scienced upon… and by the way, I have totally been recording numbers and such… 🙂

  3. Well, trapping bedbugs using a wine glass with dry ice is indeed clever. Others used Alka-Seltzer as an alternative to dry ice because it can also create carbon dioxide (that attracts bedbugs) when mixed with water. Anyway, who have you chosen to exterminate those bedbugs between the two?

  4. Suzie Pfingsten says:

    You are still one of the most entertaining people I know! Thanks for the laughs … but sorry you had to go through this to get such a great story! I am feeling itchy for some reason!

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