Warning: this post is gross and disgusting and may cause nightmares.
In that case, consider this my Public Service Announcement. This week, I took one for the team. On the butt. And lived to tell the tale.
I live in the foothills of California. We are in the middle of a draught. It’s also summer, which means it’s hot AND dry. We sleep with the windows open (with screens, of course) and fans going and not much else. And there are bugs.
I know this for a fact because earlier this week, my husband was making the bed (while I was making the coffee) and he spotted a rather large black “beetle” on the floor by my side of the bed. He picked it up in a tissue and squished it.
Are you grossed out yet?
He then carried it to the toilet and dropped it in, but he also happened to look at the tissue and was shocked to see blood. Bright red blood.
“Do bugs bleed?” he called to me.
I was busy and didn’t hear, so he reached into the toilet and retrieved the bug. (Smart man.)
Here’s what he brought to the kitchen to show me.
Now, you’re grossed out. Told ‘ya.
Long story short: this hideous-looking thing is a kissing bug. I confirmed my guess with my neighbor who is the head of the county health department. (Here’s what an un-squished one looks like–notice the cone-shaped nose.)
Kissing bugs wait for their prey to fall deeply asleep then they anesthesize a spot on exposed skin and suck the victim’s blood. In this case, mine. I know because I’m the one with a red, raised welt the size of a quarter on my posterior.
No photo. My gift to you.
I also learned that, thankfully, our local kissing bugs don’t carry the deadly, horrible disease called Chagas. The disease is most commonly found in South America, but it has shown up recently in Texas. That’s very bad news. http://rt.com/usa/204167-chagas-kissing-bug-silent-killer/
I’m relieved that I don’t have a terrible disease. I truly am, but I’m still very unhappy about being some ugly bug’s meal. So, I put the photo up on Facebook, and, as you can imagine, it created quite a stir. I learned a lot from this post, though, because I know a lot of very knowledgeable people.
An author friend who lives in my county wrote:
“They are also called kissing bugs because you won’t feel their bite. Yes, they are horrible and usually a bite will be red, swollen, and wide. Some people are terriby allergic to them. Boric acid powder kills them but it’s poisonous for cats and dogs–should be used in crevices. They like gopher holes, probably bite the gophers and ground squirrels.”
My dentist even commented:
“Those bugs are satanic! They stalk you and come out after you go to sleep. One of my kids is very allergic to them. They hang around other animals like cats,raccoons,etc. I generally check behind and under all furniture once I find one. I usually fine several every year around our place, really “bugs” me:)”
Another friend spoke from experience and shared a trick for keeping kissing bugs away,
“Kissing bugs live and breed in oak trees where rodents are nesting. Look for rat or squirrel nests and clean them out. I agree with the use of bay leaves. We always had bay leaves in our mattresses and pillowcases as a child. All of us were very allergic to the bites.”
I tore my bed apart, of course. Washed all the bedding. Vacuumed and dusted. And cut so many branches of bay limbs it looks like a laurel pyre under my bed.
For the past couple of nights, I’ve slept like a baby. I hope you’re reading this early in the day…it’s the sort of thing nightmares are made of.
But I did warn you.