Thursday, January 17, 2008

Adopt A Sofa?

I hate to see things go to waste, especially when the things are nice and could be recycled by using them. Just before Xmas I saw a sofa downstairs at the dumpster of the apartment building where I live. It was really nice with a plush Navajo pattern and it even had one of those hide-a-way beds inside. It was too nice just to be carted off to some landfill, or at least that's what I thought. Someone in the building was just getting rid of it to make room for a new Xmas sofa is what I figured. WRONG!

The sofa had bedbugs! I paid another tenant in the building to help me carry it upstairs, set my old sofa out on the curb (it was gone the next day) and proceeded to curl up on it with a good book before I began to notice the welts on my skin an hour later and the the little red bite marks. Sadly, I allow it to go on for another two weeks until I went to Wikipedia to look-up the different kinds of indoor insects it might be. By then, I'd actually bagged two bugs so I knew what they looked liked. Well, here's what I found:

Bedbugs (or bed bugs) are small nocturnal insects of the family Cimicidae that live by hematophagy, that is by feeding on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts.

The common bedbug (Cimex lectularius) is the best adapted to human environments. It is found in temperate climates throughout the world and has been known since ancient times. Other species include Cimex hemipterus, found in tropical regions (including Florida), which also infests poultry and bats, and Leptocimex boueti, found in the tropics of West Africa and South America, which infests bats and humans. Cimex pilosellus and C. pipistrella primarily infest bats, while Haematosiphon inodora, a species of North America, primarily infests poultry.

Adult bedbugs are a reddish brown, flattened, oval, and wingless, with microscopic hairs that give them a banded appearance. A common misconception is that they are not visible to the naked eye. Adults grow to 4 to 5 mm (one-eighth to three-sixteenths of an inch) in length and do not move quickly enough to escape the notice of an attentive observer. Newly hatched nymphs are translucent, lighter in color and continue to become browner and moult as they reach maturity. When it comes to size, they are often compared to lentils or appleseeds.

Bedbugs are generally active only at dawn, with a peak attack period about an hour before dawn, though given the opportunity, they may attempt to feed at other times. Attracted by warmth and the presence of carbon dioxide, the bug pierces the skin of its host with two hollow tubes. With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anesthetics, while with the other it withdraws the blood of its host. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place. The bites cannot usually be felt until some minutes or hours later, as a dermatological reaction to the injected agents.

Although bedbugs can live for a year or as much as 18 months without feeding, they typically seek blood every five to ten days. While bedbugs that go dormant for lack of food often live longer than a year, well-fed specimens typically live four to six months. Low infestations may be difficult to detect, and it is not unusual for the victim not to even realize they have bedbugs early on. Patterns of bites in a row or a cluster are typical as they may be disturbed while feeding. Bites may be found in a variety of places on the body.

Bedbugs may be erroneously associated with filth in the mistaken notion that this attracts them. However, severe infestations are often associated with poor housekeeping and clutter. Bedbugs are attracted by exhaled carbon dioxide and body heat, not by dirt, and they feed on blood, not waste. In short, the cleanliness of their environments has effect on the control of bedbugs but, unlike cockroaches, does not have a direct effect on bedbugs as they feed on their hosts and not on waste. Good housekeeping in association with proper preparation and mechanical removal by vacuuming will certainly assist in control.

Scary stuff huh! Don't worry, I got the sofa out of my place days again. Now I just have to figure out a way to get rid of the bugs. Now that part won't be so easy. Find out more about this cardon dioxide drawn (every time you exhale), body heat sensitive, bleed sucking six-legged pest at:

Now, here's a poem that will leave you itching:

Provocative, But No Documentary

She says she dismantles explosives for a hobby.

But the conversation really accelerates when I tell her
I’ve never put much faith in Father X’mas. It’s at that
point we realize we’re wearing identical hearing aids and
that a psychological suspense writer usually has a thumb
missing. The bond is complete. She shows me evidence
of gun powder stains using words that bounce against
my rubber dinghy as my toes dangle in the sea water.
She’s confused sometimes; she feels the cry of the world
sounds more like a dog’s yelp than pimples popping. She
says she would personally wipe-up every crisis if she’d
only remembered to pack a ratty gym towel in the duffelbag.
And the fog rolls in turning out to be colossal…

a Trojan horse with reclusive habits…
a phantom of utopia suffering from Down’s syndrome.

And life never utters just one complaint. The equator
strikes out in the third inning with men on base. An
asterisk precedes summer with a little reference in the
footnote. Even the lighthouse flashes back to more
murderous thoughts and the entire epidermis would turn
gray were it not for the high-voltage lines.

Whatever happens though, she’ll blame it on the soy sauce.

Poem forst published at:
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Copyright 2008 by Maurice Oliver. All Rights Reserved.

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