Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Vampire Gnats

Originally uploaded by NeedleNoodles

It seems like I brought something back from Arizona besides my art: an infestation of blood-sucking vampires!

I woke up last week with little pin-pricks all over my arms. I first suspected the huge spider that has been hanging out in my bathroom. I figured he might have gone wandering and accidentally got into my bed. Then when I rolled over he got mad and bit me. That's fair. I can live with that. I allow spiders to stay in my house, so I have to live with the consequences.

But when the biting was repeated the next night, I realized I had a bigger problem on my hands. Well, actually on my arms. They haven't bitten anywhere else. But its like 50 bites per arm, and in little lines.

I remembered reading about how horrible little things I will refer to as vampire gnats since I can't bring myself to use their real name have been showing up more and more often in hotels and catch a ride home in your luggage. I was in four different hotels recently, so I put two and two together and came up with the idea that that was what must have happened to me. (The great thing about being paranoid is that it is really easy to put two and two together. Sometimes too often.)

I immediately went out and bought two different insecticides. I washed my sheets in hot water and dried them in hot air. I threw out my blanket. Drenched my mattress in toxic chemicals. Put sticky stuff on the legs of the bed so the critters can't crawl up. Carried my suitcases outdoors, covered them in poison, and left them out there.

And all that without having ever having seen even one little visitor face to face.

So far, that has done the trick. No more bites for 3 days.

On the second morning after the treatment, I did see one climbing the bathroom wall. Tiny little thing, half the size of a small ant. Just one. But that is enough for me to be pretty sure I didn't imagine the whole thing. I flushed him. Damn lazy spiders aren't doing their job!

These things have a reputation of being hard to get rid of. Immune to just about everything. They can't fly, so as long as they can't cross that barrier on the legs of my bed I should be safe. And they can't live on anything other than blood, so they should die out without me to feed on. Unless they go into hibernation, in which case they could last six months or more.

I guess it could be worse. There are some crazy ants down in Houston that have learned to "pile up the dead, sometimes using them as a bridge to cross safely over surfaces treated with pesticide." Then they crawl in your computer and make it stop working.

Problem is we've got a couple of "unseasonably warm", by which I mean horribly, horribly hot, days coming up. Like a good Berkeleyan, I have no air conditioning. The heat makes it hard for me to sleep and makes me itch. So I'll lying there all night scratching my skin off and imagining bugs crawling all over me. It'll be just like losing myself to meth! (Not that I would know, of course.)

That reminds me. I've got to go buy a fan.

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