This Girl Got Bed Bugs in Montreal. Here’s How

I chose the least gross picture I could find.

After three months of living in a developing country, host to many creepy crawlies including cockroaches as big as my thumb, spiders as bit as a tea saucer, and the biggest grasshopper I have ever seen in my life I have arrived home in Canada, to our predictable, boring, and decidedly safe country. The day after I arrived home, I gazed happily at the clean streets and grey skies, as the cold 21 degree air raised delicious goosebumps on my skin. Inhaling a deep breath of the non-cigarette scented air, I thought “Man, am I ever glad to be home!”


A bad picture of the HUGE grasshopper. That is my finger for scale.

Project number 1 was to find a place to live. This I did in two days. Having just come back from Turkey, which is cockroach central, I was very extremely careful about checking for pests, and probably asked the super about it five times. I also called the neighbours to confirm. The place was clean. Hurrah!

My roommate, Baptiste, and I then had to furnish the place. Step 1 was beds. Passing a mattress lying out by the side of the road, Baptiste made as if to take it.

“No Baptiste,” I said. “There be bed bugs in these streets, and they are scarier than the Hells Angels, the Charter of Secularism, and all the people convicted in the Charbonneau Commission combined. They will cause you physical harm, make you feel like you don’t belong in a place, and take your money all in one fell swoop. Let’s please not take that chance.”

Baptiste thought that only a jerk would leave out a perfectly good-looking mattress without cutting it up if it were infested with bed bugs, but I was adamant. No roommate of mine was going to bring pests into our happy domicile. Plus, I wasn’t entirely sure that a person dealing with bed bugs would be clearheaded enough to advertise that a mattress was infested when they put it out by the curb.

Since garbage picking for beds wasn’t an option for me (though *ahem* some other furniture may have been sourced that way), I found two beds and mattresses on Kijiji and got the guy to drive them over for me. Baptiste and he hauled the frames and mattresses up the stairs, and they ended up leaning against the wall until we got around to putting them up.

When I took the mattress off the wall to sleep on it, I noticed something curious. A little bug, placidly climbing up the wall. Stolidly – almost stoically. He didn’t have any wings, so there was no way he could attain the heights he clearly hoped for without walking. He was the veritable Lillian Alling of bugs.

“Lillian Alling” was little and brown and very scary, so I screamed. Then I realized how little he actually was and got a hold of myself, got rid of it, and didn’t think much of it . . .

. . . until the next day. Baptiste and I finally got around to putting the frames together, and I noticed little black spots on mine. Suddenly, another scary brown bug darted out of one of the joints. He met his death by “end of a pen,” as I inadvertently smeared him all over the place.

I still didn’t think anything of it, but I was paranoid about having pests so just out of curiosity the next time I was hooked up the internet I looked up what bed bugs looked like . . . you know, just in case I ever had to deal with them.

I think you can probably see where this is going.

Turns out that little black spots on your furniture are bed bug poop, which is actually digested human blood. That smear sustained at my hand – er, pen – was probably half digested blood.

I should have known something was up when the first part of the name of the guy I bought the beds from was “Thug.” Won’t be making that mistake again.

The rest of the story is that we had to deal with them fast, so I called the super.

“Uh, hi? Yeah, so remember how I made such a big deal out of the apartment not having pests? And how I promised I would be a really good tenant. Yeah, well, I mean, this is really embarrassing, and I know we only signed the lease two days ago, but I found a bed bug!!!!!!!! And it’s all my fault because I brought them in. Please help!”

I was hoping that the super would say something like, “Oh, well, I’m sorry to hear that Kate, but it happens. Just let me wave my magic wand and the exterminator will be there in two minutes. We have a protocol for this because it’s just so common and anybody could be affected. In fact, bed bugs are like STIs – no matter whose bed you end up in, it could happen to you. Even just one time! They might not even know they’re infected! It’s totally not your fault.”

He actually said, “Oh. Let me call the landlord. Are you sure it was a bed bug?”

I said, “Yes. I’m dead sure.”

“Well, we’ve never had these before, so I don’t know what to tell you. Except don’t take anything out of the apartment because you don’t want to scatter them in the hallways and infect other units.”

Having already brought the beds all the way up the stairs (we live on the top floor) I gulped inwardly.

“I’m very very sorry,” I said, overwhelmed by a wave of embarrassment.

To be continued…

In the meantime, here are some facts from the infinitely reliable sources of the internet and my own experience.

Only 70% of people react to bed bug bites.

It is best not to get bed bugs on a long weekend, because you have to wait that much longer for extermination.

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