Bed bugs in Seattle

by nobugsonme on July 17, 2007 · 10 comments

in bed bugs, washington

A new article on bed bugs Monday, from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s Laura Geggel.

Most interesting was their “tips” section:


If you think you have bedbugs, do not move your sleeping location. You may unintentionally move the bugs and start a new infestation.

* Try to catch the insect so you can show it to pest control. That will confirm you do indeed have bedbugs.

* Do not throw away furniture or linens before consulting with a professional.

* Be prepared for multiple treatments; there should be a 48-hour and a 15-day follow-up.

* When traveling, check the bed for bugs. When you get home, vacuuming your suitcase can help safeguard against transferring a bedbug.

This is the first I’ve heard a 48-hour and a 2-week follow-up recommended.

I’d love to hear from PCOs if this is common practice, and also what the PCO might do at the 2-day follow-up.

Of course, we know it often takes more than one 2-week follow-up (or 10-14 days, to be precise), if there is still any sign of bed bugs, their leavings, or bites.

There was also an interesting discussion in the article of the difficulty of eradicating bedbugs.

Homeowners may find bedbugs hard to treat on their own unless they know exactly where to look. [Steve] Warneke [of Orkin] related the difficulty of eliminating bedbugs.

“We treated this room and treated it very well. We even pulled the headboard off the bed — we were sure we got rid of the infestation,” Warneke said. Orkin Pest Control Services checked back on the home 48 hours later and found no foul signs. But within three weeks, their customers called back, complaining of bites.

Warneke decided to dismantle the expensive headboard into four pieces. First he removed the outer cloth and the inner foam. Then he pried apart the pieces of plywood on the inside. “It was like a sandwich of plywood,” he said. “I pried the glue apart. Inside, there were bedbugs. There was no way materials or steam could have gotten to them.”

Bedbugs can go almost a year without eating. And if people leave the home for a year?

“When they come back, boy, that bedbug is hungry,” Warneke said.

Perhaps Orkin is doing the 48-hour follow-up and then 2 weeks later; I also wonder what “foul signs” they might have found after 48 hours. In any case, I am glad to hear PCOs mention to the press how stealthy bed bugs can be. Because we often hear readers say, “the PCO inspected and saw nothing and would not treat,” and later hear of bed bug sightings in the same homes.

It certainly isn’t the PCO’s fault they can’t always find bed bugs right away or on a follow-up, but it’s worth remembering this does not necessarily mean the customer has another problem besides bed bugs, or that (in the case of follow-ups that turn up no evidence) they’re suffering some kind of lingering skin problems brought on by previous bites.

My hunch is that some of us are allergic enough to bed bugs to react to even a very small infestation, and that in the bed bug’s case, some homes offer such perfect hiding places that they are able to escape detection better than in other surroundings.

But as I always say, “there’s always poo.” If you have bed bugs, there will be something. It’s a matter of knowing what to look for, and looking very carefully. (And, if you’re a customer, not cleaning away all the evidence!)

Geggel also references Sean’s helpful Bed Bug Resource.

1 parakeets July 17, 2007 at 8:41 am

This post had a lot of helpful reminders and instruction. I knew about bedbugs hiding in headboards. My headboard, inherited, was mahogany veneer over hardwood. I was told that bedbugs most likely were living in the thin space between the veneer and the hardboard so I decided to toss the headboard.

At the First International Bedbug Conference in Herndon, VA, last year, some very experienced PCOs said they inspected one bedroom for hours, knowing the room had bedbugs, yet they were absolutely unable to find them. This was a team of bedbug experts going over just one room with a fine-tooth comb, so to speak, for hours. (Mixed metaphors since the “fine-tooth comb” is for another bug). Since bedbugs can slip into a crack small enough that you can slide a business card into it, I don’t know if “inspection” works with the lesser infestations. Sometimes we see the photos and think we’ll see bugs and fecal stains on the edges of the mattress like in the photo, but it isn’t always the case.

2 Fedupandparanoid July 17, 2007 at 10:34 am

I agree inspection can be so difficult in a ‘light’ or early infestation. I believe our headboard harboured bedbugs. There were very few fecal smears anywhere else in the room or on the bedframe and no obvious harbourage but there were more black smears concentrated on the headboard. This was wood and panelled and in the end we sawed it off, double bagged it in very heavy duty plastic and took it to the municipal dump. We caulked what was left. I do wonder if this may be why sometimes isolating the bed doesn’t seem to work. If bed bugs are in the headboard or deep in the frame then they don’t have to cross anything to get to you, you are isolated with them. People can really find it difficult to believe how tight a space these bugs can squeeze into (even I wouldn’t have thought of between sheets of plywood) My husband tended to say things like ‘they couldn’t get in there’ when it was actually quite a visible crack

3 Winston O. Buggy July 17, 2007 at 10:49 am

The 48 hour treatment is a follow up of the initial service to hit any BB
which may have been flushed out. This can also be accomplished by vacuuming.
I don’t know of anyone with a regular 48 hour follow up and in some cases I
think you would be hard pressed to do much if you used dusts and a residual.
If on the other hand you only used contacts like steri-fab you may want to
follow up. However if a pest control company is doing this 48 hour follow up
I’m sure they charge for it a rightfully so as they are returning and treating
also keep in mind that some materials have a re treatment interval so again
they may be flushing with non residuals.
On another note inspections can be most difficult for reasons stated especially at
the early stages, it can also incur a liability issue on the part of the inspector.

4 James Buggles July 17, 2007 at 10:45 pm

My theory is that sooner or later a bedbug is likely to make a mistake. Am I wrong? We humans make mistakes every day. But I guess bedbugs have less complex lives so they can really focus on the task at hand. Also, their mistakes get them killed.

It’s kind of ironic that you can find tons of bedbug photos, but very few photos of their shed skins and poop in real-life environments (i.e., light infestations). People probably miss these small signs every day. In that BBC video, he points to one shed skin on a bed. It looks like something that we ourselves might shed, especially those of us with dry skin.

5 nobugsonme July 17, 2007 at 11:20 pm

Just to add to what you said– when I said, “there’s always poo” I do think there are always some fecal specks. But fecal smears, as you mention, are another story. I guess that depends, too, on the heat and humidity of the environment. Here in NYC it sounds like a lot of people more often find hard specks as opposed to the smears that look like ink.

I also think you are correct–when people say isolation of the bed does not work it is probably true in most cases that they have a frame containing bugs they can’t see, or a pillow or mattress that either is not fully encased, or which has gaps (eg small rips) allowing bed bugs out.

In a very few extreme and serious cases, the bugs are said to fall from the ceiling. But I think in most cases this does not happen and there are other explanations for the failure.

6 Bugalina July 18, 2007 at 8:12 am

Buggles..I found two shed skins…one was “sitting” in a hole in my white cotton eyelet bedskirt and directly next to it was as nobugs says a “hard” poop. The other shed skin I found was on the bedroom wooden floor. They are easy to miss as they are feather lite in weight and a very pale color.

7 James Buggles July 18, 2007 at 6:59 pm

Most insect shed skin have a very insect-like look to them at least under a loupe — a pattern of some sort. Is the same true of bedbug skins or do they not have a pattern? If not, that’s why I feel they might resemble our own shed skin. I can spot small items no problem. It’s being able to figure out what it is.

8 nobugsonme July 18, 2007 at 7:31 pm

Actually, a cast skin looks a lot like a deflated bed bug. See photo of bug and cast skin (skin on right):

9 James Buggles July 18, 2007 at 9:40 pm

Yes, I’ve seen that photo, but does every shed skin have the legs attached? That would be a dead giveaway, but in my experience with beetle larvae, roaches, etc., the legs aren’t usually attached to the skin (though it’s still easy to figure out that it’s an insect)

10 nobugsonme July 18, 2007 at 11:41 pm

Yes–what I hear from people is that you should be able to tell it is a bed bug, though it may not have legs attached.

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