Michelle assumed her bug bites were from mosquitoes. In reality, bed bugs were responsible.
“It was driving me mad,” Michelle Saun, from New Orleans, emailed to tell us. “I would go to bed every night and wake up covered with mosquito bites.”
Living on the bayou, mosquito bites are not something Michelle was unfamiliar with; but over the years she thought she’d found a way to avoid the itchy, scratchy bug bites.
“It’s hot and humid down in New Orleans in the summer,” she writes, “so I tend to sleep in the raw. So I don’t get bitten up by mosquitos, I have an enormous mosquito net over my bed – and for the last two years it had done a wonderful job keeping the bugs off me.”
But one July, that changed.
“Despite my huge netting, I woke up one morning with bites all down one side of my body.”
Because mosquitoes are such a huge problem down south – especially in the hot and humid waterways – Michelle just assumed they were the culprit.
“But whatever I did to prevent the bites didn’t seem to stop them,” she writes.
Michelle invested in a new mosquito net and still woke up covered in bites. The bought a zapper that bathed her room in a blue glow at night – “and woke me up every time it zapped a bug.” She even bought anti mosquito torches, candles and air fresheners (which is dangerous, since citronella should only be used outside.)
“None of them made any difference,” she writes. “It was driving me crazy.”
Then, one morning, her boyfriend made a discovery.
“He was staying over for the first time, and I warned him about the mosquitoes. That gave him the idea to check under the bed – and guess what he discovered…”
Dried flecks of blood. Brown dots of feces. Tiny white eggs. All the tell-tale bed bugs signs.
“Oh my God, I was mortified,” Michelle writes. “It was so embarrassing. It turned out that mosquitoes were never the problem – and the netting I’d bought was actually trapping the real biting bugs in the bed with me, instead of keeping them out.”
Fortunately, Michelle’s boyfriend had only known what to look for because he, too, had been the victim of a bed bug infestation some years earlier.
“In fact, he’d recognized the bite pattern when he saw it on my body,” she writes. “The three bites – “breakfast”, “lunch” and “dinner” – are distinctive. He’d suspected right from the beginning that it wasn’t mosquito.”
Michelle and her boyfriend managed to get rid of the infestation themselves, using bed bug organic pesticide spray and other products, but she admits that the experience was not a pleasant one.
“I threw the mattress out,” is one example she writes about. “It was brand new and the labels on the bed bug killer products said I would be able to kill the bed bugs in it – but I couldn’t get the thought of those little creatures wriggling and writhing around in there.”
It’s also made her much more conscious of any of the possible places she picked up the infestation.
“I love vintage clothes,” she explains, “but also buy new sheets and bedding every season. It’s terrifying to think that just one bed bug could have snuck home with me on something I’d bought and started this whole problem.”
Today, Michelle washes and tumble dries everything fabric that she brings home; and checked the baseboards and mattresses of every hotel she stays in while she’s away.
“So far, so good,” she writes, “but the experience taught me never to make assumptions about insect bites, or what might be causing them.”