Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Fleas: I'm Not Laughing Yet

Genevieve got some bites on her legs occasionally this spring. We looked at them and looked around, but didn't see anything, so we went on. Then I got A LOT of bites on my legs one night. In typical fashion, I ruminated on this until I was terribly afraid we had bed bugs.

Do not google bed bugs, like I did, unless you want to worry and lose sleep, like I did. I called two exterminators, who came and used flashlights to study every millimeter of all three mattresses in our house. One guy said to me, "If you've got 'em, you've got the cleanest bed bugs I've ever seen!" I was not amused.

I started to clean as if we had bed bugs. This involved washing and drying every scrap of fabric in the bedrooms; I couldn't bring myself to do that, so I *just* did the beds and curtains and changing pad. I vacuumed everything. I wiped down everything I could. I prayed. I cried. I snapped at people. Sometimes I apologized.

Genevieve and I kept getting bites. Then my sister looked at my legs and said, "Margo, those look like flea bites." So, with faint hope in my heart, I went back to Google, and after copious research, discovered that indeed, those were flea bites. And that since we don't have carpet or pets, the fleas were hanging out in our beds, waiting for a good long session with Genevieve and me (the two guys didn't get bit at all).

So now I started cleaning as for fleas, which is simpler: wash all the bedding, vacuum your fool head off for a week and make sure there's some boric acid going in the bag too to kill any survivors. I bought one can of boric acid, but other than the electricity and water for all that laundry and vacuuming, my frenetic cleaning spared us the expense of foggers and exterminators.



I learned that the beautiful nursery curtains that my mother-in-law made for me are washable. The fabric, 100% cotton, was marked dry clean only, but I was desperate, so I washed them on delicate and ironed them. No problem at all. In the midst of my despair, I did take a few photos of this, thinking to share this discovery with you.



All this happened in April. I kept on blogging and homemaking as usual, needing something positive to focus on. I tell you now because these kinds of dark personal stories are instructive and build the sister-love among us.

I think the fleas are gone, but it's still not funny to me. Maybe next year I can look back and laugh and say, "remember that time I thought we had bed bugs?"

P.S. Thanks to Jennifer Jo's post for inspiring me to share this story! More cheerful things to come tomorrow. . . Pin It

11 comments:

Christian @ Modobject at Home said...

Oh, you poor dear -- you've made my skin itch just thinking about your ordeal. Now that it's behind you at least you have a huge chunk of spring cleaning very thoroughly accomplished.

Jennifer Jo said...

They sound plenty nasty!

Having bouts with bugs makes me realize we're all just glorified animals. Nice thought, huh?

Deanna Beth said...

I'm still not laughing about the case of head lice brought to our family my my 13-year-old when he was in kindergarten. Maybe by the time he graduates...?

Beth said...

Poor you! So strange, since you don't have pets! It's maddening, not knowing what's causing a problem. I'm glad the Lord led you to the answers and that the fix wasn't too painful!

We have a fruit fly invasion ourselves, here.

Adele said...

Oh, what an ordeal! Not a laughing matter, I agree. But Christian is right-- your house is probably squeaky clean.

Margo said...

Yup, we're clean all right!

And Beth, I have yet to find a way to truly get rid of fruit flies. I just saw the first one of the season the other day. That means summer is around the corner for us.

Deanna Beth said...

Oh, fruit flies! I have a method that pleases me. Put out a small bowl of apple cider vinegar, into which you put a couple of drops of dish soap. The apple cider aspect attracts the fruit flies and the dish soap kills them. I'm always amazed by the number of dead fruit flies in the bowl by overnight.

Melanie said...

I think any bug invasion takes a while to reach the "I'll laugh about this later" stage.... We went on vacation for a couple weeks in the summer four years ago, and left the air off (why cool an empty apartment?!). When we got back, a bag of wild rice I'd forgotten about in the top cabinet had warmed enough in the summer heat to produce an *unbelievable* number of little rolly black bugs that were in every possible crevice of my kitchen. I still shudder to think...

Margo said...

oooh, Melanie, that reminds me of the time I was an ignorant housekeeper and kept all my bulk flours and grains in bags in my cupboard - until the day I saw bugs crawling around in the stuff!! Then I learned to keep most of it in the freezer.

Deanna Beth, I will try that method. I've put cider vinegar in a jar with holes poked in the top, but it doesn't seem to attract them as much as the real food in the kitchen.

Melanie said...

Yes, enter the jars and freezer containers, for sure ;-)

Kay S. said...

Fleas are potentially a year-round problem here in Florida. In addition to the methods you mentioned, the old home remedy around here is to lightly sprinkle your carpet, baseboards, furniture, etc with 20 Mule Team Borax. You sweep over it to help it sift in and then wait 2-3 days before vacuuming again. You are not supposed to use it if you have asthma or other lung problems, though.

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