Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Flea in Winter

Marke but this flea, and marke in this,
How little that which thou deny'st me is;
Me it suck'd first, and now sucks thee,
And in this flea our two bloods mingled bee;  
- From The Flea, by John Donne

I awoke the other morning to discover a bright red constellation of bumps all over my back and a sprinkling of the same on my legs.  Uh oh.  The moment I saw them, they immediately commenced to a terrible itching.  It's bloody cold outside, I thought, what on earth could be biting me?  By rights, all biting critters should have been wiped out by the killing frosts that have swept through the state.   They tortured me all summer, the wretches, couldn't they leave me in peace for a few months?

As I pondered the origin of the bumps, a terrible image intruded into my thoughts.  A specter so awful as to make me want to run and hide from the mere idea.  Once thought, it could not be un-thought - and it suddenly seemed so obvious.  I remembered that a few weeks back I had stayed at a hotel...and some hotels are now apparently the safe haven of those most heinous and skulking and cowardly of creatures; the blood-sucking succubi, the disturber of peaceful slumber: the lowly bed bug.  Could I have unwittingly freighted the fiends back in my suitcase to Oklahoma??  No!  Just a few days prior to acquiring my scarlet road map of bites, a friend had told me that she herself was reeling from an infestation of the parasites and that she was in the midst of banishing them from house and home.  The coincidence of the thing!  Could it be that I too had fallen prey?!

In between scratching, I began to research my enemy.  Bed bug sites abound on the internet.  First I did a quick check on  The hotel had not been sited for bed bugs.  Phew.  I learned about the hallmark sign of the bedbug, the tell-tale "breakfast, lunch & dinner" bites: three bumps in a neat row.  I found out that 60% of people bitten have no reaction at all - but for those that do - well, let's just say that the photos were not pretty.  I learned that they can go long periods between feasts and that they scuttle off to dark corners come morning or bright flashlight - as if ashamed of their own handiwork.

I peered into the deep pile of the carpet; I lifted pillows and checked our bedding: all looked innocent.  And then I checked the sheets again.  I was just about to holler 'nuff when something told me to take a closer look.  And that's when I saw it.  Something small and brown and moving and dare I say, hungry-looking.  I called for the magnifying glass.  I called for back-up.  I peered into the thick glass.  The hideous creature loomed large and distorted and then, sensing the game was over, it leapt with all of its might to escape my gaze and my grasp.  And that's when it revealed its true nature to me.  Not a bed bug, but its wretched but more easily exterminatable cousin: the flea.

Do not ask me how a flea came to reside alongside us in bed.  No doubt he hitched a ride on Ike's toasty body and finding the temperature in the house quite to his liking, decided to set up shop and get to work.  It was his undoing.  With a movement as swift as a sword raking through the air, I snatched the interloper and sent him swirling down the sink drain.  Take that you robber, you thief!  Be gone from here and trouble us humans no more!  I hope you remembered your life jacket!


  1. Oh no! Luckily you found the culprit! That would really surprise me too seeing a flea in this cold weather.

  2. Oh dear. Maybe time to fumigate the dog bed, too? Our last dog was allergic to fleas. I can't count the times the poor guy had to wear an Elizabethan ruff. I hate fleas.

  3. Our vet says to keep up the flea/tick treatment in the winter because of this reason. Oy! I'm glad it's not bed bugs. We've had that problem in the past when the dogs would sleep on the beds with the kids, now they sleep on the floor (and they are treated in the wintertime too). We didn't have to fumigate, just vacuum really well (maybe even vacuum the dog) and flea shampoo for the pups.

  4. oh no! My house is pretty much flea free, but I have noticed my peewee scratching a little more than I would like. But I have to say, your storytelling skills make even fleas sound like fun. :~)
    - ourhometoyours

  5. Nolita - good to know. I thought maybe I'd gone a little nuts. I just bought a flea collar. Ike takes a monthly pill for heartworm and fleas...but apparently that's not so effective. Vacuum the dog...can't wait to try that!


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