Friday, October 1, 2010

“night night don’t let the bed bugs bit”

How to get rid of bed bugs 18th century style -

I am posting this not only because this bedbug thing is so strange and apocalyptic but because of this fabulous Dr. Suess drawing. “Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss, produced this ad for Flit, a popular exterminant for bedbugs in the 1930s and 1940s.” So here I am actually thinking about the “night night don’t let the bed bugs bit” my mother and father used to tell me every night and that perhaps it is no longer a sweet little rhyme but has become a little like the beginning of some crazy scary movie plot line.

As for bedbug commentary in this article a book is sited as a source for riding your house of the little guys, The Complete Vermin-Killer, circa 1777.

A 1777 English tract titled The Complete Vermin-Killer, for example, contains several prescriptions for killing bedbugs.

First on the list: Beat some gunpowder into the crevices of the affected bedstead. Now “fire it with a match, and keep the smoak in.” Make sure to keep doing that for an hour. Or until you die, whichever comes first.

Are you alive? Good. Are the bedbugs? Rats. Here’s another handy suggestion from the book: “boil a handful of Wormwood and white Hellebore in a proper quantity of urine, till half of it is evaporated; and waft the joints of your bedstead with the remainder.”

In the off-chance that Loblaws is all out of urine and hellebore, replace that concoction with the juice of wild cucumbers plus a quantity of “good tar.” Or vinegar mixed with the gall of an ox. Or the guts of rabbits, boiled in water.

As a final resort, Vermin-Killer recommends, burn some brimstone under each corner of the bed, or instead of brimstone, three ounces of Guinea-pepper. Be forewarned, however: “let no one remain in the room, or the consequences would be very prejudicial.”

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