August 6, 2010


So my first post back from Punta Cana was going to be all about my brother’s beautiful beach wedding and the not-so-beautiful round shape of my stomach after the all-you-can-eat fried buffets we frequented. I was going to write about the magazines I read while basking in the sun and the interesting health and fitness related tidbits I clipped to scan, and then I was going to write about how on the plane I starting reading Runners’ Lounge’s book, The Ultimate Runner, and how it’s inspired me to start running again. However, all of that was trumped when I walked into the bedroom of my apartment and found… bugs.

My dad had left his suitcase here before the trip (traded it for my lighter/bigger one), and he left it open on the floor. When we opened it back up to repack, we found these little itty bitty dark brown bugs about 1/8″ long. They are definitely NOT bed bugs: they’re not round, they’re oblong, and for some reason while they love my walls/floors/bookcases/etc, they have no interest in my bed (which is fortunately a white spread so I can see very clearly that there are no bugs on it).

My first assumption was that they came from my dad’s (old) suitcase, so we put that in a plastic bag out in the hallway and then went to bed (it was 1am and we were exhausted). I woke up the next morning with a horrifically bad sore throat and was headed for the kitchen to grab some juice. Accidentally kicking my slipper across the floor when I went to put it on, guess what crawled out? EW!

I embarked on a hunt-and-clean-up mission in my room, feeling like the piggiest of the pigs when I discovered they were clustered around my stash of marathon food (SEALED energy bars, gus, etc). I don’t ever leave dirty dishes in my room, and the only food in my room are those sealed tight marathon things… does anyone else do that? Or am I gross? Our kitchen was bug-free, so I guess it just goes to show that I should only put that kind of stuff in there, because there must have been tiny holes in the packaging that allowed the bugs to smell the food and congregate there. Bye bye, all marathon food – you are in the trash chute now.

I checked out my dresser drawers, and they were totally fine, so without thinking, I pulled the clean/unworn clothes from my suitcase and put them back away, then put the dirty clothes in my hamper. It didn’t occur to me that I had left my open suitcase on the floor of my room overnight (had opened it to get my glasses out before bed) and that the bugs had infested that… so when I later opened my lingerie drawer to get a clean bra, there were bugs crawling everywhere. UGH.

That was the low point of my day. I was wandering around my apartment topless (there, I just boosted my Google porn search ratings by 1000%), crying hysterically, and afraid to touch anything for fear that bugs would come out of hiding if I did. I IMed Chia in hysterics, and she helped me try to identify the bugs with Google’s help, but we were still unsuccessful. They are not bed bugs, fleas, ticks, mites, beetles, or a whole host of other common household pests, and I was at a loss as far as how to deal with them. To be able to kill them, you have to know exactly what they are, because treatments that kill one species may attract another and vice versa. I had been IMing friends and family all day but no one could figure out what they might be.

Actually, might as well try posing the question to the Internets at large: name that bug! They are 1/8″ long, very thin and oblong, they only walk (they don’t fly or jump), and are either dark brown or sometimes reddish brown in color. They like the sealed food in my room (all since removed), the rugs and laundry (all since removed), and the baseboards/walls (yeah, can’t remove those). When put in the bathtub, they seem to play dead when in water, but then come back to life if they don’t make it all the way down the drain (meaning the toilet is a much better disposal method).

Since my laptop bag was one of the most infested spots of all, my guess is that’s where they came from. I carry that bag with me all over creation, and on planes, it goes on the floor under my seat (hello, dirty!). I didn’t bring it down to Punta Cana with me, and left it on the floor of my room with the zipper open, so it certainly makes sense that over the course of a week they could have all crawled out to be all over my room. Ew! I am so freaked out and grossed out and just in general feel like I am a disgustingly dirty human being. I spent the night crying myself to sleep and imagining that I felt bugs crawling all over me while I slept. While I woke up feeling even sicker than yesterday, I was greatly relieved to see that there were still no bugs in the bed, and my drawers (which I had emptied, scrubbed down, and thoroughly washed all my clothes in hot water) were still bug-free as well. Maybe I could conquer this?

I headed down to the grocery – having eaten only a can of soup yesterday, I knew sustenance would help me get over my illness so that I could then turn my attention to the bug problem. I felt immensely better just being out and about, and I eagerly picked up nonfat plain yogurt and frozen strawberries – smoothie time!

On my way back in, I stopped at my doorman’s desk to alert him to the problem and hopefully get the building maintenance to send exterminators. When I first said the word “bugs,” his eyes, well, they bugged out – “Are they…” “No, they’re not bedbugs,” I interjected. “Thank god for that,” he breathed out. “Okay, so they’re probably air conditioner bugs.” Huh? He went on to explain that when your air conditioner filter isn’t changed, it often attracts bugs much like the ones I describe, and that all I have to do is put in a request for my A/C filter to be changed and the bugs will go away. “Should I spray around the baseboards or anything?” Nope – just change the filter and the bugs go away like magic.

I feel a thousand times better that it’s my A/C and not that I’m dirty or something, but I’m also skeptical of such a quick fix. Thoughts?


16 thoughts on “Bugged!”

  1. Hi Laura! I’m not sure I’ve ever left a comment on your blog, but I’ve read it off and on for the last 2+ years (my life’s been crazy busy and changing in that span too- I’m in my mid 20s, can relate). Just wanted to say congrats! Saw you in Runner’s World, and I told my bf “I KNOW her! Ok, I don’t really know her, but…” Thanks for being so inspiring…when I first read your blog I had only done a half and was training for a 50K (yep, jumped right on over the marathon- ridiculous, right?)…since then have done 3 marathons and 2 50Ks…not quite as impressive as your record, but I’m working on it 🙂

    Congrats & thanks again 🙂

  2. Thanks so much for the kind comments, Greta! I’ll let you know if I’m ever in the DC area and maybe we can go for a run so you can actually know me 🙂

  3. That is really weird; bugs from your AC. ICK. I saw you in Runners World and all but shoved the magazine in my husband’s face, going “OMG, I totally know this girl!!” He thought I was nuts!

  4. Ick! That sounds horrible, I’m sorry you had to go through that!!

    I had a bunch of teeny tiny ants in my basement suite about a month ago and I sprayed the place down with bug killer and that seemed to get rid of them.

    I DID NOT see you in Runners World! What issue are you in?!?!

  5. September issue, and I think it’s page 32? It’s a sidebar called “What Does It Take.” 🙂 Will post a pic in another post…

  6. I saw you in RW too – congrats!! I wish I had something constructive to say about the bug issue. I’ve never heard of that before. You sound like you handled it very maturely and appropriately!

  7. Hey, like Greta I have been a long time reader but no comments. I live in the City and I saw your ad today on the 2/3 and 4/5 trains.

  8. I wonder if Runners world knew you were a fraud- no BQ and no fundraising yet you blew the horn about your Boston marathon – shameless self-promoter..

  9. i saw you in RW too, very cool!

    home depot and the like sell RAID bombs. When I thought I had bugs I bombed my apt and everything disapeared (I only have like 1 bug though). I would try it. Gives you peace of mind. You close up the apt and then release this thing (you have to leave for like 3 hours) and it sprays up something nasty (which doesnt leave a smell).

  10. you take out plants (i pout them in the bathroom and closed the door w the window open in there) but everything else is OK. i did roll up our nice oriental carpet, but everything else was a-ok. pets cant be in there, but idk if you have them 🙂

    i did that instead of an exterminator- or as a first step really. so idk if you’ll need it after! but its peace of mind too. i couldnt wait for the exterminator so i did that one day after work!

  11. Thanks, Jen! The building has an exterminator who is going to come on Thursday, so that’s free for me, but if I still find bugs when I get home on Monday, I’ll def try the RAID bomb the next weekend – I’ll be out of the apartment for a few days anyway.

  12. Ignore the jerk who called you a fraud. Just because you didn’t BQ take away from your accomplishment.


    And I was super excited to see you in RW!

  13. Jess – thanks for the support.

    Harri2 – I was sponsored to run Boston, and Runner’s World was well aware of this. Actually, I met up with the CRO of RW, Bart Yasso, at the expo, and he told me he was glad I was getting to run Boston as part of my 50 states. Not sure how I blew the horn about it, but I do hope to qualify for Boston someday…

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