Editor’s note: this is Part 2 in a series of two. If you have not read yesterday’s Part 1, you’ll want to read it first.
What We Learned, So Far (Day 2)
George did not react immediately, and still has not reacted. It’s now the next day. So we now know that they may have been biting him the whole time too. Not “preferring me.” Sure, they still could have preferred me, but he had zero reaction. We studied the places on his skin, circled in pen. Not a red dot, not a pinprick, not a single clue that a bug had spent five minutes sucking his blood. He felt no itch, either.
The adults take longer to feed than the nymphs. I guess that’s intuitive but it’s still interesting to know. The nymphs were each like 2-3 minutes, and his adult was like 5 min and mine was like 10. Maybe I am actually tastier, or maybe the bugs were just different.
My right arm, which had the cast skin on it, had no reaction. No itch, no redness. The skin sat there for 5 minutes, in two different places. I’ll continue to monitor it. But maybe, at least in me, there is no chitin hypersensitivity. I don’t doubt that it exists in others, but it hasn’t shown up in me. This leaves me confused, but at least I’m able to rule that out – or at least make a guess that chitin is not to blame.
The spot where the adult bit me, showed a little white swell, immediately after the bug was done. This looked very similar to the little white swell that the nymph bite made. Neither of these itched, right away. During the time when the adult was biting me, G said that he could see my skin turning a little pink around the bug. This went away pretty quickly. When we walked out of there, if it weren’t for the circles in pen, you would not have known we were just bit by bedbugs.
I woke up a few times throughout the night last night, just because I was nervous. I kept thinking I could feel an itch on my neck. But no, there was nothing there this morning. Most importantly, my arms did not itch throughout the night.
This morning, my left arm itched. And I will say with complete confidence that right now, the two bites look EXACTLY THE SAME. No joke. The nymph fed for like 3 minutes, and was teeny tiny. The adult fed for like 10 minutes, and got all big and fat and made my skin turn pink right then. Today, they look identical. Check it out in the photos.
S’s arm that night:
S’s arm the next day:
Finally, the itch started when I woke up and has been getting worse and worse all day. It itches hard. Both bites itch the same. They burn. They are sensitive to my clothes on them.
They feel like my original bites did, but I don’t think I’ve felt an itch like this in a long time. And you know what, I WANT these to itch like mad – it helps me to confirm that I have NOT been getting bit by bedbugs these last couple months. Plus, I’m obviously not immune to the bugs’ effects. I didn’t think immunity was possible, but hey, now I have a little proof of that, at least in me.
Now granted, these two bites are close to each other, and are maybe somehow affecting each other. They are also on the underside of my forearm, a pretty sensitive spot. I had bites here when our first infestation began, but none here this time around. I know that location has an impact.
But let me just say, that I am feeling a little (okay, a lot) better about my recent “bites” being only some type of lingering sensation. I don’t know what it is, or what is causing it, and so far I don’t have reason to believe it’s chitin. But maybe bedbugs have forever changed my skin, and I’ll just get little itchy swellings from this point on.
I will continue to monitor these bites. They are already bigger and itchier than they were just a few hours ago. Damn, an itch never felt so good. (I am not scratching – I’m trying not to even touch them).
Plus, I faced my fear. Well, I didn’t totally face it because I didn’t look, at least not at the adult. But now I’m looking at the pictures G took. And here I am. With two growing welts, but otherwise, healthy and alive. This doesn’t make bedbugs less hated, but it’s giving me a little bit of perspective.
I want to add that I don’t think everyone should do this, because if you had bedbugs and you’re still seeing “bites,” you should do every possible thing you can to get rid of them, and try every doctor or PCO before resorting to this test. In many cases, you probably still have bedbugs. I still think, with a shrinking but persistent part of my mind, that we could still have them too. We could always have dormant ones, and hey, we could always get them again. But for me, in my particular situation, I needed to know a very specific answer to some very specific questions. So now I have a little more information. I hope this helps others as much as it’s helped me.
Editor’s note from Nobugsonme:
Two things stand out at me:
First, when we’re told a lot of people don’t get bitten by bed bugs, I wonder if this is an error. Parakeets was quoted a statistic by entomologists at the Bed Bugs conference she attended last fall, that as many as 70% of people are not bitten. I have no idea where they got the statistic from, and would love to know.
Has anyone ever verified that in any way, or was it assumed that since some people did not react, they were not being bitten? G assumed he wasn’t, and many of us have roommates, family members or partners who thought the same of themselves. G’s research is valuable in that it is proof at least some people are bitten and show no signs.
I hear a deep-pitched collective gasp; while some men suffer from bites (hello BuggedinBrooklyn, Willow-the-wisp, et al.), and some women don’t, we at Bedbugger.com usually hear from women who are bitten that live with unaffected men. That might simply mean men don’t talk about their problems as much online, or that this site just appeals more to women. But it looks, from where we stand, that women are more likely to suffer from bed bug bites in a home with both women and men present.
Secondly, S’s research backs up Sean the PCO’s experience — he has said that his nymph and adult bites look the same. S has proved that in her case, at least in this instance, that is true. Many people have assumed that their smaller bites were from nymphs. But this was just speculation.
I’ve often cautioned against making assumptions about why this bite or that bite looks as it does, and in light of this experiment, I’m even more inclined to be cautious: when it comes to how bites look and how they feel and when and for how long they appear, you really don’t know for sure, unless you see it happen, like S and G did. But remember, S’s other bite photo (on the bite photos page) looks quite different: this is evidence that even on the same person, every bite does not cause the same reaction.
Folks may want to look back at the comments following the lingering sensations post I wrote a month ago. You should remember that one of the three regular Bedbugger commenters who speculated they might be having “lingering sensations” or phantom bites now has evidence s/he is still being bitten. I think S has good reason to think she’s not getting bitten at home now, as she says. Her experiement gives her some good information on that. But the other Bedbugger’s experience is a caution against assuming your itchy “bites” or sensations are not from bed bugs, and against waiting too long to find out, rather than taking action.
S has some follow up on the bites three days after the deed was done, so this is now a three-part series.
More to come Friday at 9 am EST! Thanks again to S and G, the first official Bedbuggers of the Week!