A combination of a variety of things. Namely: cockroaches, palmetto bugs, ants, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, and now…bedbugs.
I woke up a day or two ago covered in itchy red welts all over my feet and arms. And I mean itchy. I couldn’t see anything crawling around but I had a hunch what it was. Upturning the mattress revealed the culprits. A nice nest of bedbugs had made my little room their new home.
I was suspecting this would happen. The landlord had a infestation in his room a week or two ago. He had to take his mattress and boxspring out of the room, seal off the outlets where the little buggers have been coming through, spray and fog the shit out of everything, and hope it works. It did, except the survivors made the journey through the wall of the trailer to my room. As I write this, said room is currently a foggy mass of poison which will hopefully get rid of the little blood suckers. Speaking of which, I used the same technique on my ex girlfriend with somewhat mixed results.
From what I have been able to find out, bed bugs are a major problem on the island. Walk down any side street and you’ll see mattresses sitting out in the hot sun. Apparently the little buggers don’t like heat. Now when I do laundry, I have to put said clothes in the dryer at high heat to make sure any stragglers don’t hang around. I’m replacing the linens, as the old ones are shot and I suggested to the landlord he might want to replace the bed as it’s pretty well shot too. Hopefully the fogging and spraying will send the leeches back to the hell from whence they came. It had better work. I really got bit up and while there is no danger or any disease, it’s still uncomfortable as hell. Did I mention the bites itch? They itch.
It’s not the fault of the landlord this time. Bugs are a way of life in Florida. Bedbugs are just the newest pest. I can hardly remember a day in the 38 years I have lived here where I haven’t at least seen a cockroach or palmetto bug scurrying about. My boats where constantly full of them. They would crawl in off the docks along the lines and make themselves at home in the nether reaches of the hull and lower decks. Spraying helps but when I had cats I had to be careful when I did. One of the worst spots was the old marina from hell. The docks there were full of bugs and every boat had them. My asshole neighbor with the wife who hated me would bomb spray his boats and sure enough, the survivors would come straight onto my little yacht.
Ants are just as bad. In particular are the nasty little fire ants. When I owned an actual piece of land up in Orlando every week I would have to go out in the yard and destroy a new nest. You had to be careful too. Fire ants are as bad as bee stings. Get enough of them and you can get seriously hurt.
Mosquitoes are the state bird in Florida. I used to kayak fish in a place known as Mosquito Lagoon. It was not named that because of the birds. Here in Key West it depends on where you are as to how bad the skeeters are. They love the mangroves and are the most active at sunrise and sunset. Along with them are the no see ‘ums. Little baby skeeters who bite just as hard.
Fleas and ticks mainly affect anyone with pets although a walk in the yard or even a small wooded area will bring some in with you. I had more than a few bouts with them when I had cats. The feral cats which hung around my old house were particularly adept at getting ticks on them all the times. One thing you learn quickly down here. Wall to wall carpeting is a big no. Wood, tile, or vinyl floors with small rugs are the best. Carpeting is flea heaven.
If you live in Florida at some point you learn to live with all these pests. No matter how much you try, no matter how clean you keep your place, no matter how much money you throw at the problem, there will always be bugs. You just have to deal with them as best you can and move on. But visitors to our fair and buggy state tend to freak out when they come across some of these critters. Once, a long time ago, when I was working in a dive shop in Daytona Beach, a rather angry and distraught woman came barging into the store demanding I call the cops because she found a cockroach in her hotel room. This was in the days before 911 was in use. Why she chose me I’ll never know. The last place I would go to complain about my accommodations would be a dive shop but for some reason she thought I was going to take care of it. But then again, I had a guy come in one day and wanted us to fix his diving board on his pool. He didn’t understand when I told him it was not that sort of diving. Anyways the woman got mad when I laughed at her. She got madder still when the cop laughed at her too. It’s Florida. We have bugs. We can’t get rid of them. Deal with it.
So now, as I wait for the fog of death to clear, hopefully I won’t wake up to a bunch of itchy welts and bites tomorrow. It’s all I can do for the moment. All I probably did was move the bugs down the hall to the next room. Let the other tenant deal with them. Maybe I’ll be out of this dump before they come back again.