Invasion of the Blood-Sucking Bedbugs

I know two people who’ve had bedbug infestations. And I’m doing the little freak over this. My family knows. They think I’m nuts, particularly my children. Yesterday my sister-in-law sent an email to tell me that when she was shopping, a lady next to her said that the pests are arriving from China in shipments of clothing. That their larvae may be on items you purchase. Advice is to place clothing in the dryer for 20 minutes.

I’m thinking: China is supposed to be angry with us.

One of my friends with an infestation found a bedbug in his neti pot. He’s had four exterminations and still spotted a bug in his shower.

About four years ago, when I l still lived in Manhattan, I read about the resurgence of bedbugs. Some Park Avenue matron had them and they’d spread throughout her building. The tab for, finally, getting rid of the bloodsuckers was $200,000.

Again, let me say that I’m doing the little freak. So, I’ve decided on the Bush Doctrine of preemptive strike. I’ve purchased bedbug-proof mattress encasements, several sprays, a luggage protector, and a product called Diatomaceous Earth that contains the “skeletal remains of fresh water diatoms, mined from the earth.” This powder is supposed to lacerate the bodies of the bedbugs but it, also, can shred your corneas.

My mattresses are covered. And, recently, when I traveled, I started to zip my plastic suitcase protector over my carryon/rolling luggage. But the luggage won’t roll when covered in plastic. My solution was to pack my clothing in the luggage protector, zip it securely, and, then, place this in a large, handled paper bag to put in the overhead. When I arrived at the destination airport, I discarded the paper bag. And I pronounced myself “brilliant.”

Now, I’m worried about visitors, people, including my children, who won’t be as cautious as I am. Who worry about, maybe, what they consider to be more important issues. Of course, you know, I worry about these, as well. I’ve merely added vampire insects to my list. I’ve looked at the sites. I’ve seen the magnified pictures, the two hollow feeding tubes that pierce the skin when the little nasties are out at night or near dawn to feast. And feast they will. They dine for about 10 minutes. Many may be at the banquet. And they can live a year without feeding.

Be very afraid.

So, I have an arsenal. To prevent the hematophagous hitchhikers from taking up residence in my apartment. So far, though, the Diatomaceous Earth remains unused. I like my corneas. Truth is I don’t know what I’m doing.

This is how bad it’s gotten: I lay in bed last night, thinking of a solution. I could put a room-temperature cut of steak on a plate and place it on my bed. And, then, I would wait for the party. After all the guests arrived, I’d use my weapons of mass destruction. Back ground music might be The Ramones, singing I Wanna be Sedated. I think I’m losing my mind and as my children would say, “The terrorists have won.”

MISSY BEATTIE lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Her email address is

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: