It's gross and that's really been the hardest part overcoming the stigma." And that's something everyone my girlfriend and I included need to do if we ever hope to get this problem under control. We have to accept that the only thing bedbugs care about is blood and that they will suck it from a bum as quickly as a movie star (just ask actress Mary Louise Parker from "Weeds," who recently had a bedbug scare in her home). Other than that, specialists recommend being wary of buying used clothing and furniture and avoiding clutter.
With that out of the way, we need to start talking about the problem so that first time bedbug sufferers like my girlfriend and I won't feel so helpless and ashamed when their bodies and beds become infested and, more important, so they will report bedbug activity before it gets out of hand.
Last, we have to come to grips with how rampant this epidemic is. "I don't want to be the one tooting the horn saying it's doomsday and that bed bugs are falling from the sky," Agurto said. "But I can't think of a person alive who doesn't know someone or at least know of someone who has had a problem." But don't take it from him alone. If you really want nightmares, take a look the Bedbug Registry (www.bedbugregistry.com).
Started in 2006 by a computer programmer living in San Francisco, the Bedbug Registry is an anonymous record of bedbug activity across North America. It has maps tracking the spread of infestations and a search engine that allows you to see how close the creatures are crawling toward your house, hotel, or workplace (36 reports within two miles of Guardian headquarters yikes!).
Maciej Ceglowski got the idea for the service when he found bumps on his body and dying bugs in the coffeepot at a San Francisco motel. "I reported the problem and got a resigned shrug from the front desk," Ceglowski said. Then he researched the issue and realized that because it's so hard to get rid of bedbugs, it would not be in a hotel owner or landlord's interest to publicize an infestation. "I started the site because I thought it would be a good way to fight back against bedbugs."
But is that even possible? With bedbug activity steadily rising in all corners of the world, a simple solution seems doubtful. Which raises another question: how soon before we all have bedbugs?
"Well, that's hard to answer," Potter said. "But there's absolutely no reason to think that our problem is going to get better or go away. We're in for a real struggle with this critter."
Great. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Under normal circumstances, I would have stopped worrying about these bloodsuckers after a week of not seeing them in my apartment. But now that I've done all this research, my girlfriend and I are faced with another tough decision: do we tell our landlord or do we just hope our last home treatment actually worked?
We're still thinking about it.