This is Cimex lectularius, otherwise known as the bedbug. Isn't it lovely?
The common name is derived from the insect's preferred habitat of beds or other common areas where people sleep. They were mainly eradicated as pests in the developed world in the early 1940s (largely with the use of DDT), but in the last decade they've been making a comeback.
I was going through a box of material scraps the other day and found a pair of decorative pillow covers I though I'd gotten rid of a couple of years ago. At one point they coordinated with the window coverings in the family room, but when I redid the valance I used scraps of that material to recover the pillows. When I found the "old" covers last week, I decided they would look nice in one of the upstairs bedrooms.
What to do for the pillow forms? In the past I've just gone to a thrift store and found something the right size. (The color or pattern doesn't matter since no one sees the original covering.) However, this time I was a bit hesitant. What if I inadvertently brought Cimex lectularius into the house? When I found a perfect-shape pair of green brocade pillows at Goodwill for one dollar each, though, I decided to research how to get rid of bed bugs.
The Websites I consulted had conflicting advice. Some suggested that freezing would take care of any problem, some said heat was the way to go, while others said enclosing things in plastic would do the trick. I decided to cover all the bases. First I put the pillows in the freezer downstairs. It's pretty empty right now, so the pillows actually added some mass to fill it up. After a couple of days I took the frozen pillows out and put them in the dryer for 20 minutes on high heat. Feeling just a little OCD, I encased the warm-from-the-dryer forms in plastic grocery bags, stuffed them into the waiting covers, and tossed them on the bed:
Whew! I would think that any organism that was lurking in those pillows is now gone.