Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
Most people are familiar with the old bedtime rhyme: “Goodnight. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”
Like many nursery rhymes, it’s a bit of a freaky proposition when you really think about it.
And for one Mineral Wells apartment complex, the concept of bedbugs biting is one that has become all too real.
During the latter half of 2013, apartments in the 2500 block of SE 6th Street have been fighting a seemingly never-ending battle with the little brown insects.
According to one resident who wished to remain anonymous, it all began a few months before Thanksgiving.
He said the apartment management sent an exterminator out to the complex right away. Property Manager Renee Berry of Texas Longhorn Equity said the exterminator, who was recommended by the housing authority, sprayed for the bugs in the infected apartment – as well as the spaces directly above and next door – twice in a two-week period and got rid of them.
“I’m just lucky not to have them,” the resident said. “After he sprayed the second time, I took plastic and wrapped my baseboards up.
“That way if eggs did live, they wouldn’t have anywhere to go and they’d just die.”
But unfortunately, the infestation did not end there. Connie Graham, a resident of the complex who lives diagonally above the originally affected home, is the bugs’ most recent victim and is searching for answers. Graham began finding bites on her arms and back as well as on her pet cats in early November.
At first, Graham said she was not sure what the bites were, thinking they might be welts because she was anxious about her finances.
But a co-worker told her they were bedbug bites, citing pictures on the internet, and it was not long before Graham started finding the little creatures all over her home.
“It’s been so infested,” she said. “I’ve had probably three hatches in here since they came in. The whole complex needs to be sprayed.”
The consensus between Graham and her neighbor on the first floor is that the bugs originated from the now vacant apartment to the right on Graham’s and directly above the anonymous neighbor. Graham said it was within a couple of weeks after that resident moved out that she began getting bitten.
“That guy that used to live up there was just really nasty,” the anonymous neighbor said. “But (the exterminator) should have done the whole (complex) instead of just a few apartments. (The bugs) just move away and go to another apartment.”
Berry said, although the apartment complex is not responsible for bugs in the lease, they are doing everything they possibly can to eliminate the problem. Graham’s apartment was first sprayed two weeks ago as of Monday, because that was the soonest the exterminator could possibly be sent after the previous two-week spray period. Berry added this is the first time that any of Texas Longhorn Equity’s 600 properties have ever complained of bedbugs.
“We’re doing everything we can do,” she said. “Bedbugs are difficult to get rid of, so there’s a regimen. We’re sorry she has this, but as soon as we know, we’re taking care of it. We’ll continually treat until they’re gone.
“We are treating the bed bugs in her unit but we are not required to do so. We’re treating because it’s the right thing to do.”
Although the Longhorn Equity is doing its very best to combat the problem, Graham – as anyone might be in her situation – is still upset.
She said after throwing away her old bed, she had to pay $22 for a new one as well as $30 to wash all of her cloth belongings, which she said was compounded by all of the time she had to spend away from work and the “pain and suffering” she had to endure. She added that currently half of her belongings are all bagged up in a boiler room to try to ensure that any bedbugs within die.
But perhaps Graham’s biggest casualty from the whole bedbug debacle has been her beloved lounge chair – which is the last possession she has from her late mother. Graham shed tears at the thought of losing it, but said if she cannot get them all out of the chair, she may have no choice.
A Spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, Carrie Williams, told the Index that bedbugs, while a nuisance, are “not considered a threat to public health because they have not been shown to transmit disease.”
However, she added that anyone in Mineral Wells who is concerned about them should be on the lookout.
“Bedbugs obviously are a nuisance and you want to make sure you look for them if there is a concern,” she sad. “They like to hide in places like
crevices in furniture and along seams of bedding.
“They are visible to the human eye: small, brown and about the size and shape of an apple seed.”
Williams said that anyone concerned about a bite, whether from a bedbug or any other insect, should check with their local healthcare provider.