My Story


The Mysterious Bug Bites

By James Donahue

It was our first spring at a home we bought on Hale Road near Sandusky, Michigan. After it got warm enough, Doris and I began raising the windows to our downstairs bedroom and letting the cool night air in. We had a habit of reading before we went to sleep, so we had reading lights on night stands on both sides of our bed.

It was during this time that we started getting strange bites that not only itched but they swelled up and stayed around a few days. We knew they were not mosquito bites. We suspected fleas. Doris searched the room with great care, but found no trace of any insect that might be biting us. She was reacting worse to the bites than I was, and appeared to be getting more of them. It was getting so bad we decided we had to fumigate the house.

We first tried a standard bug spray in our bedroom. After the room cleared, we went to bed that night and woke up with more of mystery bites. What could this be? Doris’s brother suggested that we bug bomb the entire house. We went to the local hardware and bought big high-pressure bug spraying cannisters that were designed to kill every crawling, hopping and flying creature in the house. We put all of the food away, covered all of the dishes, closed all of the doors and windows and fired up all of the bombs on all three floors of the house. Then we left for the day.

That night we returned, scrubbed down the tables, counter tops, washed any dishes that might have been exposed, changed all of the bedding, and finally went to bed. Within minutes we were getting more bites. It was a most frustrating problem.

The next morning Doris went over the house with a magnifying glass. She discovered something very interesting on the bedroom window sill, which had been painted pure white. There was a few tiny black specs lying on the sill. When she looked at them carefully under the glass, she found that they were the bodies of tiny little insects. We collected a few of them, placed them in an envelope, and I took them to the local Cooperative Extension Service operated by Michigan State University. They informed me that we were infested by a small biting insect known among the Native Americans as “no-see-‘ems.”

We found that these insects weren’t in the house, but living in a large bush just outside of our bedroom window. Actually the bush was closer to Doris’s window than mine, so she was getting more of an attack than I was. These bugs could fly, and were so tiny they could go right through the window screens of a house. When we opened our windows at night and turned on the lights, we just invited them in for a nightly feast.

We treated the bush. And that was the end of our problem.