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In it for the Money: Bed Bugs!

Editor’s note: Nelson’s “In it for the Money” opinion column appears regularly in The Chronicle, roughly around the third Wednesday of the month. If you want to get a not-more-than-weekly update on what Nelson is thinking about, sign up for his quasi-automated newsletter.

We met our first bed bug while traveling in the spring of 2011. My wife had plucked the creature from a friend’s bedroom wall.

David Erik Nelson Column

David Erik Nelson

As tends to be the case in situations like this, the meeting began with a debate over whether the arthropod in question was in fact a bed bug. Because I’ve had the privilege of being born and gendered male, my initial response was a very confident declaration:

“That’s not a bed bug!” Then we Googled it.

It was totally a bed bug. It was, quite possibly, the exact some bed bug shown in the top result returned for “bed bugs.”

What followed was a complete and hysterical existential freak-out. We helped our friends tear apart their home, searching for signs of bed bugs with all the frantic compulsion of deeply addicted meth heads scouring the rug for that last lost shard.

Our findings were inconclusive – as lots of things look like bed bug carcasses when you are freaking out. So we elected to beat a hasty retreat – fleeing not just the house, but the city and state, and stopping only to spend an hour or two at a highway rest area tearing through our belongings in a disgusted search for bugs, nymphs, carcasses, or droppings.

Meanwhile, our four-year-old played in the grassy border unattended, attempting to coax robins into landing on a stick he held by pretending to be a tree. [Full Story]