4 live bugs, no bites, and PCO inspection found no signs of infestation(6 posts)
This post is part therapy and part fact-finding mission.
Backstory (with dates):
January 17th - Found a slow-moving, adult bedbug in our master bathroom on the top floor of our townhouse. The previous Saturday, we attended a wedding in DC; between the church, the hole-in-the-wall restaurant where the reception was held, AND an apartment we briefly visit (the bride and groom were packing up to leave the country, so they had a few of us over), we assumed that perhaps we picked up the bug in DC. We had laid our coats down in a booth at the restaurant for a couple of hours, so maybe...? I panicked and flushed the bug, neglecting to keep a sample. I called our PC company, and they sent someone out to spray (I later found out they misunderstood my insistence that it was a BB, and they sent someone to control regular bugs). When I spoke to the PCO about it, he seemed to think it was likely a hitchhiker from DC, since DC apparently has some big issues with BBs. I vacuumed all rooms, cleaned, changed, dried all bedding items in all bedrooms, and I put packing tap inside-out around all bed legs. We laid the idea to rest, and nothing else was sighted.
February 14th - I happened to see a young, small bedbug crawling on a piece of clothing hanging in our laundry room; it had been there for a few days, hung to dry. Laundry room is located on the 2nd floor, in the center of our 3-story townhouse. I captured the bug on a piece of tape this time, and I called our PC company again, sending them a photo of the critter. They confirmed it was a BB. Expert inspection was scheduled with their BB guy.
February 21st - Inspector comes, they look at everything: they take apart all the beds (we have slats, no box springs), they inspect the rooms, and they find NOTHING, and based on what we had found, they fully expected to see SOMETHING. No fecal stains and no castings. Nothing. We had no reports of bites either, on any of our four family members. Here were the two theories we talked about:
1) The kids have brought them home from elementary school. Friday Feb 10th, 4 days prior to the sighting, my son had gone to "movie night" at school, an afternoon where a movie is shown as a fundraiser, and children are encouraged to BRING BEDDING AND STUFF ANIMALS, so they can lay with them on the gym floor. This, to me, seems like the MOST LIKELY scenario, and the PCO thought it was reasonably likely. I will add that we, because of past experiences with lice, automatically dry all bedding items that come home from school. Maybe one or two fell off of the pillowpet (hybrid pillow/stuffed animal) and blanket before it made it into the dryer?
2) The kids brought them home from school just as part of their regular day. Perhaps they are hitching rides on backpacks or coats. Thankfully, we keep the backpacks in the kitchen on the bottom floor, and the coats stay downstairs as well. Recently, I've taken to drying their coats daily.
3) They are coming from our townhouse neighbors. The PCO thought this was the least likely scenario, based on the fire separations between the units, and the distance the bug would have to cover would be quite great. He didn't rule it out, but he believed they would have to have a LARGE infestation in order for them to come over, and even then, they'd be random wanderers.
Since no rooms revealed active infestations, they didn't recommend treatment and told us to monitor. They put out some glue traps near our beds, and two even at the head of our bed, between the mattress and frame.
March 4th - While cleaning, I found a dead adult BB in my son's room. Dark brown, it appeared desiccated (flattened), and it was missing most of it's legs. It was under a blanket that was on the floor; my son had pulled this blanket out of a pile of folded blankets (kids and blankets...) that was under the aforementioned pillowpet. Perhaps it died in the dryer, and just transferred between blankets? Again, I tried not to panic, and I was comforted by this theory.
Later that same night, while walking to bed, around 11:30, I happened to notice something light-brownish/reddish crawling across the floor. Wouldn't you know...it was another young BB! Captured on tape and disposed of. This was on the 2nd floor, 8 feet or so from the laundry room, and again NOT in a bedroom. Still no bites, nothing showing up in the glue traps.
I called my PCO the following Monday to report my findings. He told me not to panic and to continue monitoring. I've been anxious ever since, but I've also slowly been calming down. Quick inspection of the beds (done by me) continues to reveal nothing.
Last night, March 11th - around 11pm, I found a small, young, tan one on the doorframe of my master bathroom. Captured and flushed.
I'm starting to lose it a little; I'm mentally itching all over, but that's a combination of dry, winter skin and paranoia, similar to how I've responded when my children have had lice, but on my skin there are STILL NO BITES. Our family has pretty sensitive skin; we all react to mosquito bites, so I'm guessing at least one of us would have a reaction to BB bites if we were being bitten.
Today the plan is to change all bedding, re-inspect beds, and dry anything I can't wash. I've been vacuuming weekly.
What IS HAPPENING HERE?? Is it possible that just a few have come home, and they've all slowly been getting caught? Or is there a greater likelihood that they're coming from a neighbor? I'm at my wits end; I have no other sources to point to. What are the possibilities here? What could be happening? I don't want to pester my PCO incessantly over 1 bug here and 1 bug there. Any input would be much appreciated.
I apologize for the massive narrative above, and I'd like some answers, so here's the Cliff's Notes version of what I wrote above AND the main questions that I'd like answered:
Total of 5 bugs found since January 17th: four of them were flat (not recently fed), mostly tannish/light-brownish, ranging in size from tiny (2nd or 3rd instar, I think PCO said) to full-grown. The only adult bug I've found was dead (dried out and missing 5 legs). Here's the dates, sizes, characteristics of the bugs we've found:
1/17 - About full-sized, light brown, slow-moving, flat. Immediately flushed due to panic.
2/14 - Small (2nd/3rd instar) found in laundry room, alive and crawling. Saved on tape and confirmed as BB by PCO. No bites.
2/21 - PCO came and inspected all bedrooms and beds; they found no active infestation: no live bugs, no castings, no fecal spots. Still no bites. Glue board monitors placed strategically.
3/4 - I found 1 dead adult BB while cleaning my son's room, and later that night, 1 young/small BB was crawling across the carpet in the den. Captured and removed. Still no bites, castings, or feces found. Called PCO; he said "don't panic, 1 might no mean much, and keep monitoring."
3/11 - 1 living, young/smallish BB found in master bathroom, on side of door frame. Flushed. Still no bites. Cursory check of beds has revealed no change; I still see no evidence of bites or fecal stains. No one complaining or bites or itching, still.
1) Do I need to be worried? I have a hard time differentiating between vigilance and crippling anxiety. Since we're not being bitten, I don't mind continuing to monitor, but it's tearing me up inside thinking that they MIGHT still be here and multiplying somewhere hidden.
2) Is there anything I can do while I continue to monitor. Are there any prevention methods? Or any way to take care of the few that are in my house?
3) I feel like I'm overreacting. I feel like I need to calm down and stop being so paranoid, because I'm losing sleep and sanity worrying about this.When SHOULD I worry, realistically?
Apologies if I missed this-- are you in a single family unattached home or do you have attached neighbors?
Have there been any bats or birds nesting on or in the building?I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
We are in a townhouse, so we're attached to other homes.
No bats or birds that I'm aware of. If anything were nesting, it would be in our attic.
I spoke with a friend of mine who dealt with BBs some years back, and his issue WAS related to his neighbors; he was also in a connected townhome.
So now I'm thinking that my PCO's thought process is flawed. If the bugs came home from school 1 month ago, I don't think I should still be seeing 1 here and there a month later. The school theory also doesn't account for the January sighting.
My answer is to seek a second opinion. My friend who had BBs recommended a company different from my own, and their approach sounds more thorough and long-term than my current PCO's: Periodic treatments of the entire house over the course of a year vs. 3 treatments of only one room that's only guaranteed 1 month. I want long-term and I want thorough. I also want to see what they think. In my friend's situation, this company was very open to the idea that the bugs were coming from a neighbor.
I still feel pretty confident that we have a light or very early infestation, but it doesn't sit well with me to wait and see what happens. Since these bugs can be so prolific, reproducing exponentially, I would prefer it be addressed NOW. I want an option that protects me and my family now, before it gets so big that it's out of control.
Got second PCO coming on Thursday to give me a second opinion and hopefully an plan to treat NOW. Sounds likely.
You must log in to post.