dave_littler (dave_littler) wrote,

Cohabitating with Insects

For as long as I've lived in my current place, there have been silverfish here. This has never been a large concern to me; they're unobtrusive, they live off of garbage, they breed at around the same rate at which I can smoosh them anyways, so it's never been able to get out of control. Besides which, my neighbors report that they have these little vermin as well, so even if I were to take the trouble to destroy their population, their friends and relatives next door could just come scurrying on over to fill the ecological niche in no time at all anyways.

That battle is lost.

However, of late, there has been a new addition to my home which is significantly less welcome, and which I am much less apt to cede victory to. I speak of that blight which is bedbugs.

For those fortunate enough to be blisfully ignorant of the habits of these creatures, I offer the following primer: They are around the size and shape of a period on a printed page when born, and about five times that size as adults. They lurk in and around your bed during the day, and during the night, they scurry out, crawl about your body and drink your blood. And ONLY your blood. That is the entirety of their diet. Human blood. This is conceptually horrifying to me for reasons I will discuss below. When well-fed, they breed quickly; they can lay about five eggs per day, and eggs take around seven days to hatch.

Astute readers will have realized by now that I have a significant advantage in this struggle: I work at night and sleep during the day. As such, they are habitually malnourished and thus they breed nowhere near as prolifically as they otherwise do. This has the ancilary benefit of meaning I get bitten very seldom; no small thing, this, as their bites itch such as you cannot imagine. However, there will be those few of them who are brave, adventurous, and/or ravenous enough for my blood to come out during the day.

As is my wont, I have perhaps devoted too much thought to the nature of the parasitic relationship these things enjoy with me. This having been said, here's the way I view it: They feed exclusively on my blood, and this means any bedbug in my home after the second generation is made entirely OF my blood. These are literally bits of my body now running around independant of my will and acting against my interests. This is somewhat like a Frankenstein-style monster coming to assault me during the night, stealing my hand, and then sewing it onto the wrist of a second creature. This second creature comes the next night, holding me down with my own hand so that my arm can be cut off. This arm is added to a third creature, which then comes and elbows me in the face the next night so that my other hand can be stolen...

Another concept suggests itself, which is somewhat more upsetting still: A tumour is a lump of your own cells which have gone "wrong" in one way or another, multiplying at its own rate without regard for the well-being of the rest of your body. Bedbugs are made of the cells of your body, and do the same thing. They are like an externalized tumour which hides from you during the day.

I have spent the last month and more struggling with these creatures, and have spent hundreds of dollars in this fight. I have come to enjoy, in a perverse way, the act of hunting them down to their lair during the day and destroying them. Especially when they're bloated with my blood, I adore the act of smooshing them and seeing their - MY - blood gush and geyser out of them. It is satisfying in a way which is somewhere between the way that popping a zit is satisfying and the way that delivering the final blow in a fistfight is satisfying. Nevertheless, I have long since come to the point where my skills as an amateur bedbug extermination enthusiast have yielded as many results as they can; though I can kill them as fast as they can breed, their eggs remain difficult to destroy before they can hatch. Every time I go three or four days without a bite and without a sighting, I allow myself a momentary delusion that perhaps I've got all of them. And then I see a new hatchling, kill it, and allow myself a momentary delusion that perhaps it was the last one, and I killed it before it could breed. But I know this is absurd.

I've already had exterminator over once, and the difference is quite noteworthy, but the battle does not seem to definitevely have been won just yet. Yet I am loathe to spend an additional $180 for their reccommended second visit, and 90 day guarantee be damned.

Sadly, this cohabitation - which I think I can at least say has never reached the point of "infestation" - has prevented me from having many guests over to my place for long in the past month and more, and this defeat is perhaps the most stinging and most telling for me. Steps must be taken.
Tags: bedbugs, personal crap, real-life drama, writing

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