Success stories, from those who beat bed bugs

by nobugsonme on December 23, 2006 · 11 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, how to get rid of bed bugs, moving, tools and weapons

Let me start by wishing you Happy Holidays, whether that greeting is belated, early, or just about right on time (depending on your holiday and when you tune in!)

Holidays are a bad time to be suffering from bed bugs. We could all use a little cheering up now and then, and many of us now more than ever. Here are the greatest hits of bed bug blogs: those who fought them and won. Remember, to get the full inspirational feeling, go to the oldest post in the blog on bed bugs, and work your way forward.

First, single-family home, light infestation: Bed Bug War: this fellow fought bed bugs in a single-family dwelling. I hesitate in sharing this as my one example of a single-family home dweller fighting bed bugs: I am not sure it’s representative. He did not hire an exterminator, just isolated the bed (see FAQs) and used Raid. But he did get rid of his problem. (Editor’s note: this was probably a light infestation and it was in a one-family home. I would not recommend that anyone try to fight bed bugs without an experienced PCO. If you’re in a multi-unit dwelling, you’re definitely going to need more than this. Even in a single home, remember, if your first attempts do not work, you can make the problem much harder to treat, and allowing the bed bugs to breed. You’ve been warned!)

Second, multi-unit dwelling, serious infestation: BBRUG. Start at the bottom to get the whole story. In a nutshell: she was fighting them by herself (no PCO) for 14 months, at which point the whole building was found to be infested and was treated. A year later they came back, but a month after that, she was bit for the last time. I think this tells us a few things: first, try to get your landlord to treat your whole building, or at least to check the whole building (an experienced-with-bedbugs PCO should do this). Second, do not simply treat yourself–get the landlord to have someone experienced come in. Even though BBRUG does not think they started with her, the fact that she was working on treating them in isolation probably did not help. Third, even when you see them come back, or are still being bitten after multiple treatments, and feel desperate, don’t give up. One thing a lot of these stories have in common is that even when they’re almost-almost-gone, you will be bitten. And then you won’t. Keep treating until you’re not, but don’t assume it will go on forever. Yay, BBRUG!

Like BBRUG, Caitlin of the BedBugBlog (founder of the Yahoo Bedbugger Group, from which we sprang) also had a serious situation in a multi-unit dwelling, and also did not move to solve her infestation. Again, the whole building had to be treated for there to be any success. And again, there were additional bites without the whole darn thing starting all over again. Start at the oldest posts, and note that she stops being bitten sometime around October 2005, over 14 months ago. Yay, Caitlin!

A Picture of Me’s Caryn also did not move. Read her Bed Bug Diary.

Finally, there are those in multi-unit dwellings who made the hard choice to leave for a new home. Please note that we know this does not always work. You can actually get rid of everything you own, move with what’s on your back, and nevertheless, somehow, end up with bed bugs in the new place. With that in mind, it’s worth studying what people did who managed to move without the suckas following them. I give you Windy City Mike’s battle with bed bugs, which started in May 2005 and ended with a successful move near the end of the year. (Note: Windy City Mike’s bed bug story is offline for the foreseeable future; we hope it will return soon and I am leaving this as a placeholder.)

A Big Fat Waste of Time offers a harrowing story, in which the hero felt she had to get rid of everything she owned and move in order to escape bed bugs. Though this would seem to represent what is many bed bug sufferers’ worst nightmare, the conclusion is spiritually uplifting, and this account made me feel like the worst case scenario would be okay, if that’s what it comes to. After moving to escape the bed bugs, ABFWoT tells us:

I start my new job on the 23rd and spend the first week going back and forth between work, the new apartment, and Bed, Bath and Beyond. I have only three shirts to wear to work. Out of fear of carrying luggage on the plane from Texas, I bought only enough clothes as I could fit in a small duffle bag, which I kept on my lap. On the 29th, while liberals march through Chelsea with anti-Bush signs, I run from Rockaway Bedding to Jensen Lewis to find a platform bed made of steel. I tell the saleslady at Rockaway that I am glad I found a steel bed.

“Bed bugs?” she asks. She knows.

It arrives tomorrow between 8 and 12. In the meantime, I am sleeping on an air mattress on the floor.

At the end of my first week back, I make one final trip to the old building to pick up the cable boxes I’d left in such a hurry. It turns out the cable company will charge me $200 a box if I don’t turn them in. I wear one of my parent’s old t-shirts which I brought with me from Texas especially for this day. I wear some new Adidas shorts, which I am sad to part with. I meet the landlord there. He gives me the boxes. I turn in my keys. I go to the cable office in my t-shirt and shorts and turn in the boxes. I go to my gym, throw away my t-shirt and shorts, shower, and put on one of my work outfits and go to work. I can’t believe I never have to set foot in that place again.

The next day is my birthday. It feels more like a rebirth day.

“I’m starting over in a new apartment, with a new job, with nothing,” I tell my friend Margaret, an immigrant from cold-war Poland, herself.

“Like a baby,” she smiles at me.

Yes. Like a newborn baby.

Now some of my readers are going to say, but Nobugs, that’s not the worst-case scenario. (Again, you can move and not escape them.) But I think we can learn a thing or two about the degree to which ABFWoT went to move away from the bugs.

The point of this post is inspiration, and I hope these accounts provide you with some, as they do me. There are many other wonderful bed bug blogs out there; I’ve chosen these partly for their inspirational and educational value, as well as the fact that their bed bug posts were easy to find, which is not always the case, when bed bugs take over a personal blog. There are also blogs that mention ongoing bed bug struggles and I’ve left those out here. But in reviewing the blogosphere, I want to mention one more source of inspiration: a priceless story of bedbug romance, from Bugged Out.

If you successfully showed your bed bugs the door, please add your own success story below.

Still fighting bed bugs? Click here to read the latest “Tales of Bed Bug Woe,” and leave your story there instead.

1 mgdecombe December 23, 2006 at 5:53 pm

Great stories, though I agree that the single-family-home example should not be considered the standard. Our experience, though we did not use a PCO and treated ourselves (I am a PCO for outdoor pesticide applications), might be a bit closer to the route most will have to follow to be successful.

We found our problem on October 8, after I stayed in a hotel for 4 days in late August. We had started to notice bites almost right away, but couldn’t figure it out. Also found a cast skin about 3 weeks in, but had nothing to identify it against, so assumed it was a dead moth. Now that I know what I should look for, I realize my deep denial.

Anyhow, we got on the problem as soon as we figured out what it was, and immediately did a huge purge, bag, and vacuum marathon which lasted for a few days. Isolated the bed. We interviewed several local PCOs and they didn’t have the slightest clue as to how to id or treat, and, indeed, mangled the two specimens we had saved. We decided to take matters into our own hands (something we NEVER would have done had I not been trained in pesticide safety over the last 25 years) We then sprayed the WHOLE HOUSE, including basement, including dusting electrical outlets. I think the full treatment was key to our success, as we didn’t treat just one area, causing them to scatter.

Carefully timed treatments were also key, as well as constant vacuuming. Many of our things are still in storage, bagged and sealed. They will stay there for 18 months, at least, and will be cleaned and steamed before being brought back into the house.

We’ve had no bites for over two months. A false-alarm about 3 weeks ago put me into an emotional tailspin, but it turned out to be either a single isolated bite, or a spider bite. We will treat the whole house one more time after the New Year, and observe carefully, continuing our vacuuming and laundry management (bagged clothing) for at least another two-three months.

When the weather warms, I intend to unbag everything in our house in order to encourage any lingering or dormant BBs to emerge and show themselves, using ourselves for bait. I’m prepared to go right back into spray mode if they rear their ugly heads again.

As anyone who has gone through this, or is going through this knows, it can have a devastating effect on your life. But persistence is the secret to success, and keeping your eye on the prize is the secret to sanity. It helped me a lot to hear of others’ success stories when we were in the throes of discovering our problem (I cried for two days straight). I needed hope and I found it in some of the stories of others on blogs and bulletin boards. Hope my story is helpful to one of you.

Keep fighting! Don’t give up! Demand that your landlord take responsibility if you are in a multi-unit dwelling, and insist on competent pest control by professionals! If you are backed into a corner as we were and have to do your own pest control, research, research, research, and follow the label to the absolute letter. Use as much protective equipment as you can (I always use a respirator, goggles, gloves, hat, boots, and more if called for).

You can win this battle. We think we have won, but are prepared to fight again if we need to!

2 nobugsonme December 23, 2006 at 10:10 pm

Thanks for sharing your story, Mgdecombe. Your false-alarm is so like the stories I read on Caitlin’s and BBRUG’s blogs– people should not be complacent if they’re bitten, and should definitely consider whether they are experiencing a surge in bed bugs. However, it does sound like an isolated bite can happen (and, of course, it could be a spider). If they were “coming back” I’d expect more than one new bite, and it would be right to get into full gear once more.

I wonder if you might put down some dust (NIC325 or DE or Drione or whatever you do) around your bed (and perhaps around the place generally) before you unpack that stuff–that way, hungry bugs will die on the way to their last meal?

Anyway, apartments are another story, but it is good to hear more house stories too. (Remember folks, everything mgdecombe did as an experienced PCO can be done by a PCO who knows bed bugs…)

Anyone else got a success story to share?

3 buggedinbrooklyn December 24, 2006 at 1:37 pm

quote from nobugsonme:
“Not a success story yet? Stay tuned: I will have a thread for you tomorrow. (This means you, buggedinbrooklyn!)”

I am so waiting to talk about what happened to day as I just had my seconed visit from my PCO (it’s looking good)…and thanks for thinking of starting a new thread for thoes of us who are still fighting (I have tons to say).


4 mgdecombe December 27, 2006 at 10:29 pm

What’s up? I thought we’d have more success story posts than just mine!

We’re still looking good, go trough the holidays hanging out at home all the time with no bites, no sign of nuthin when we vacuumed like mad on the weekend!

Good idea, nobugs, regarding DE around the bed when we start to re-introduce things from storage. Also planning to steam the H*** out of everything.

I should have noted that the “false alarm” could have been a BB bite, and we treated it as such, following up immediately with a planned treatment.

I generally followed the 2-week interval that seems to be the normal practice of knowledgeable PCOs.

5 bugsinhellskitchen December 29, 2006 at 9:29 am

We live in an apartment building in Hell’s Kitchen in Manhattan

We had bedbugs a couple of years ago and through vacuuming, purging, bagging, calking, and use of ‘questionable’ pestisides we got rid of them. My husband fought tooth and nail for three solid months and we finally got rid of them. Haven’t seen one since but we still stay viligent – vacuum and keep everything bagged. And we’re extra careful when we stay in hotels.

6 Caryn January 2, 2007 at 6:57 am

Thanks for including a link to my site. 🙂 Good luck to everyone fighting!

7 Belle January 4, 2007 at 2:21 am

Yes, I’m still in hell, but fighting. I’m living in a small town near Yosemite National Park, and NO ONE here has ever heard of anyone getting bedbugs. Local PCO’s have been less than worthless.

Did I mention that I just bought my dream house and lived here just three weeks before I slept in a hotel in the Bay Area (where I just moved from) and that’s where I got got bbs? I am NOT going to let them ruin my life. I sunk every dime I own into this house and I am NOT leaving! I’m going to kill every f**ing one of them!

After the last PCO took my money, hardly did anything I asked him to and later told me that it was his opionion that I don’t have bbs at all, but suffer from “delusory parasitosis,” I realized that I was on my own. I swear, there was a day there when I really wondered whether I WAS nuts. That was a low point. I did make my feelings clear and he sent back my money, so that helped.

I sent away online for a professional bb killing kit, an expensive respirator and goggles. They’ve finally arrived and I’m ready to do battle.

When I sealed up the area between my baseboards and (new!) hardwood floors with silicone, the bites went from 15 a day to one a day to none. But I wasn’t fooled — I knew they’d be back.

I’ve had my $3500 Sleep Number bed and my gorgeous antique queen mahogany bed isolated to a storage building about a hundred yards from the house, and now I’m sleeping on a raised aerobed. (Here’s the joke — it’s incredibly comfortable and my bachaches have all but disappeared!). I’ve been running all my bedding through the hot cycle on the dryer for 90 minutes and then sealing them up in “space bags” — the vacuum-them flat ones you see advertised on TV. Not nearly as easy as they make it seem, but it does keep the good sheets safe until I can put them on the bed.

I’ve sent away to the National Allergy Foundation for their impermeable pillowcases and mattress protectors, and they’re cool as far as they go and I HIGHLY recommend getting them (relatively cheap), but the bbs just climb over what they can’t crawl into so they’re not the answer to your prayers (sorry). They do however keep you from having to wash the pillows and comforters — you probably know by now what a misery that is.

Does anyone out there have any cautions about using different chemicals in the same room? I have cats and I love them dearly and don’t want them developing cancer, etc. Not to mention that I don’t want to either.

Thanks, and best wishes for a bb-free 2007.


8 nobugsonme January 4, 2007 at 10:09 am

I moved your message and my response to the “Son of Share your tales” thread because the success thread might not attract the feedback of sufferers in the same way. (Hopefully you’ll be posting a success story in a few weeks or months!)
For now, go here to get the Son of Share Your Tales of Bed Bug Woe thread:

9 nightshirt January 10, 2007 at 1:56 pm

seems as though some of my comments have been deleted or i cant locate them. if they are there and it s my computer illiteracy preventing me from find ing them i am sorry this is redundant. i would like to tell you that my pco’s tele number is 718-338-1447. john will answer thephone. they are great and knowledgable. $400 for 3 times with the tempo or suspend (clear drying kind), drione dust and an igr. since the first time i have been bite free. but i was wondering if i could become immune to the bites after 5 months and still have the bugs? dog is itchy but this could be dry skin. dont want to get too excited about anything. this has really tempered my mood.

also, i felt that they liked me because of the night sweats and hot flashes i continually get. seems a double whammy. menopause and bb’s.

10 nobugsonme January 10, 2007 at 2:02 pm

None of your comments are being lost. They (including one with the information above) are in the thread you posted them under (which was not this “success stories” thread!) It was in one of the others. I am sorry I don’t have time to track them down for you, but trust me, they are in the relevant places.
Keep posting!

Update (1/10/2007): comments on this thread are now closed. After you read the message below and the comments, check out the permanent “Success Stories” page to read more inspirational tales, and to add your own contribution!

Not a success story yet, or want to interact with current sufferers? Go here to read or share stories of ongoing bed bug battles.

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: