5 weeks without bites(6 posts)
I’ve gone five weeks without a bite or a sighting, and I have bedbugger.com to thank. I’d like to offer a summary of what I did in the hope that it will help someone else.
Mine was a light infestation. The bedbugs made themselves known through their bites, checked by a doctor. Seams, crevices, etc. didn’t show any bb’s or signs.
I hired an inspector/dog team (from M&M Pest Control). Although it was expensive by my budget, it was completely worth nailing down the source and spread. If you suspect bedbugs but can’t spot them, there’s no way to know without honest, professional confirmation if you have an infestation.
I had spotted the bedbug spoor M&M pointed out, but it looked so faint that I thought it was flaws in the wood of my captain’s bed. The pix here at bedbugger are accurate, but keep in mind that they are contrasty in order to show up on the Web. The actual spoor was faint, like light pencil dots and strokes. Later I did find some actual living bedbugs -- keep in mind that the real ones are very matte and drab, not so shiny as they look in photos.
There were no signs of bb’s in the living room at that time.
M&M’s treatment program (which was very detailed, by the way) was too costly for me, but they do sell treatment kits to the public. The kit included a gallon of the heavy-duty insecticide Permacide, a couple of cans of Bedlam (a less harsh pesticide), and a spray container of Steri-Fab. They offer a fogger in the kit -- remind them that foggers are no good against bb’s. M&M also sells Allerzip encasements at a good price.
Bedlam and Steri-Fab are available at many hardware stores, and Permacide can be purchased over the ‘net. You’ll need a spray bottle for the Permacide, a funnel, and rubber gloves. Murphy Oil Soap is uniformly recommended as a repellent and contact killer.
If you want to cut an infestation short, be as strict and severe and quick as you can in your response. If, as the treatment proceeds, you find yourself exhausted and mentally drained, cut yourself as much of a break as you can while still doing as much as you can.
Strip your linens and gather up any clothes in the bedroom, being careful not to shake off any bedbugs onto the floor. They need to be washed and then dried for an extra-long time. (It’s the drying that kills the bugs. I don’t understand why the washing doesn’t, but whatever.) Twenty minutes past their usual dryness seems to be recommended. If there’s a laundry facility in your building, this will all be much easier. If you drop your laundry off, tell them you need them extra-dry, and tell them why if they’re not the sort to freak out.
If you have a ton of clothes or something else is slowing the process, just get everything into contractor bags and twist them off tight (so tight that air won’t escape if you press on them). Spray the bags with Steri-Fab. Spray the floor the bags rest on with Permacide. I did the same with artworks, papers, etc. from the bedroom until I could get them all in appropriately sized sealable bags.
Eventually, everything that can be laundered and super-dried should be, and the clean and super-dried stuff isolated in Ziploc Tote Bags with double zippers (you are probably going to need a ton of these in the largest and second-largest sizes).
(Search bedbugger for detailed information on protecting leather, shoes, books, and dry-cleanable clothing -- not my department.)
If you haven’t washed the floors and wooden surfaces nearby with Murphy Oil Soap yet, do it now.
Treat your entire bedroom as an infested zone. The more severely you act now, the more time and aggravation you may save down the road.
I simply got rid of every piece of wooden furniture in my bedroom. I encased my mattress and kept it leaning against a wall during treatment, with a contractor’s bag underneath it. The floor under the bag got Permacide’d, the mattress and the wall it leaned on got Steri-Fab’ed frequently. Everything sitting on the floor of the bedroom got moved and sprayed frequently.
Following is adapted from an email to a friend who found his infestation a month later than me:
“Here’s the next hard part -- you are going to have to get rid of a lot of stuff. You’ve seen how small the bb’s are. They can fit practically anywhere and hang out until 2-4 in the morning, when they come out to feed. The wooden desk in your bedroom -- get rid of it. Your storage loft with the paintings -- the best thing to do would be to get rid of it. If you can’t bear that, you’re going to have to spray every seam and crevice of it with the Bedlam -- it comes with a little pipette for spraying, it foams up in crevices for good coverage. Eventually (soon) you’ll have to seal it with paint or poly. Treat every piece of furniture in your bedroom with the same suspicion. You can pull out drawers etc. and inspect them, but even if they show no signs, you would be best advised to get rid of them. You don’t want to start again from go, believe me.
“All your documents and memorabilia in the bedroom should also be sealed up. Tupperware-style or Ziploc boxes are NOT tight enough for this purpose, unfortunately. Use the Ziploc double-seal bags.
“While you’re doing all this, you should also be methodically spraying all the crevices and baseboards in the bedroom with the Permacide, and repeating after a couple of days with the Bedlam. Use the Permacide a couple of feet into the hallway outside the bedroom, as well.
“Here’s the really hard part for you -- paintings and framed drawings and the like make excellent bedbug hiding places. Examine the stuff over the bed carefully. If you find an infestation, then you have to treat all adjacent paintings as infested as well. At the very least, you should isolate all your artwork as well as possible, even if there’s no signs. Absolutely in the bedroom, and you should be isolating or keeping a close eye on the canvases in the living room as well. I know this is not a trivial matter. Ditto with all your books.
“Any furniture kept in the bedroom is going to have to be isolated from the floor. You do this by a moat system -- putting its legs in little cups filled with Murphy Oil Soap (diluted per directions, which I mention because I didn’t think to dilute it at first). You can use disposable containers for this, or jars, or little glass custard cups, which is what I used for my new metal bedstead. Whatever kind of bedframe you use, keep treating it from week to week with the Bedlam. It’s safe for use on furniture, harmless to people and pets, and doesn’t have that strong a smell. I’m relying on it a lot.
“Diatomaceous earths are a heavy-duty killer and repellent. DON’T USE THEM WITHOUT FOLLOWING ALL PRECAUTIONS LISTED ON BEDBUGGER.COM.
“When you throw stuff away, seal it for the passage down the stairs, so you don’t drop little travelers on the way down. Mark any furniture someone might be tempted to rescue, and slash any clothes or linens you don’t want anybody to adopt.
“Vacuum as thoroughly and as often as you can. Buy as good a vacuum as you can afford. Bedbugger.com recommends that you throw away the bag after EVERY use. I think this is a little much. Certainly the first bag or two should be sealed and disposed of, but since then I just check the container very carefully, and I store the vacuum cleaner in a Tupperware tub with double-sticky tape all around the inside top, to catch anything crawling in or out. (I realize this goes against bedbugger recommendations, but so far, so good.)
“You’re going to have to go over all your luggage and travel bags. Check all the seams, of course. Use a stiff brush over all surfaces to dislodge any strays. Spray thoroughly with the Steri-Fab, which is mostly alcohol. When I finish the bottle I have, I’m going to refill it with rubbing alcohol (beware open flames), a common practice. My few pieces of luggage happened to be well isolated from infestation -- you may have to find advice from bedbugger if you see signs in yours.
“For itchy welts, use hydrocortisone cream. You can take loratadine (generic Claritin, OTC) during the day and benadryl OTC at night (I assume you know what a knockout punch benadryl packs). If the itching is really bad, a doctor can prescribe a steroid cream. I also find when the itching is driving me crazy that running hot water over the affected area, as hot as I can stand, really feels good and alleviates it for a while.
“As soon as you have the chance, either treat the bookshelves in the hallway with Murphy’s, or (re)seal or (re)paint them.
“Best to establish a rotation -- hit everything you can with Bedlam, wait a couple of days, Permacide floors and cracks, wait a couple of days, until things calm down, and then maybe alternate them week by week.
“This way you'll break up their reproductive cycle, and you won't make yourself and your cat sick from pesticide overexposure.”
So, back to my situation. Against most bedbugger advice, I slept on the couch in my living room during this time. The lights in the bedroom and the living room were kept on all night, and I put a lamp on the floor in the doorway between. I also kept a fan blowing from the living room into the bedroom, on the unproven assumption that it would discourage bb’s from tracking me into the living room.
The only bedbugs I found during the infestation were on the living room couch. I got rid of some extra cushions, and vacuumed the couch thoroughly every day for a couple of weeks, always getting into crevices, both sides of seams, stripping cushions, flipping the couch over, etc. Also sprayed seams and such every couple of days with Bedlam. I was prepared to get rid of the couch for one with longer legs that could stand in custard cups of Murphy’s, but that hasn’t been necessary.
I got rid of the sisal carpet in the living room right away. I still have a couple of runners and rugs with a very short nap, which remain on probation. The wooden floor was Murphy’d, every inch. Every crevice in the living room, floor and walls, has been Bedlam’d at least once, and then the floor repainted (it was due anyway). Wooden furniture was Bedlam’d and Murphy’d. If I had any suspicion of further presence in the living room, I was ready to go radical on it, the same way I did on the bedroom. Luckily, it hasn’t been necessary.
Also luckily, it seems my neighbors have not been affected, and as much as it’s possible to know, I don’t think the building has an infestation. Fingers crossed.
My bedroom is now furnished in freestanding metal shelving like that most often used in kitchens. Their feet sit in containers of properly diluted Murphy Oil. Everything that used to be in drawers is in Ziploc bags. The sides of the shelves are open, so I tied electric wire in an X to give the bags something to lean on. A wheeled metal kitchen island is my new nightstand -- the wheels get sprayed with Bedlam. The effect is not entirely homey, but it goes along with the simple metal bedframe with its feet in custard cups of Murphy’s. My papers and memorabilia have been sorted into Ziploc bags (gallon bags are OK for this) and sit in underbed containers. I’ve been inspecting and rehanging art, and it’s been feeling like my bedroom again.
If you suspect you have bedbugs, find out. Hire a dog/inspector team to confirm and locate, if there’s any doubt. If you can afford it and trust the PCO, hire them. If not, these are the basic first steps you can take right away on your own to halt and fight the bb’s back. If you have a particular concern I haven’t addressed, search bedbugger and ask questions. The best advice I came up with for myself and anybody else who might ask: do the most you can as quickly and severely as you can, without exhausting yourself physically or mentally.
Not sure about all the advice in your email to your friend, but thanks for posting. Is three weeks enough to know you're through, esp. if you've been sleeping on the couch, and that's where you found your bed bugs?
de-selftreat makes a good point that maybe 5 weeks is too soon to declare a success, even though I've continued unbitten, on couch or bed. I think the worth of my experience depends on discovering the size of your infestation.
If your own inspection reveals a whole bunch of bedbugs and spoor in one spot or signs in several spots, you need to go whole hog. If your budget is limited, the steps I took can at least get you started in fighting back the infestation, and might even keep them away, if you're diligent and lucky. As you go on, be ready to go deeper into bedbugger's arsenal as needed.
If, like me, self inspection couldn't show up any bugs or sign, but you have bites and confirmation from a professional, then you might be able to avoid a wholesale invasion with the steps I took. At least a good start has been made.
The best advice I think I distilled from bedbugger is to do as much as you can as fast as you can, up to the limits of your ability. I wanted to provide a fast guide to getting into the fight, keeping in mind that it can be an exhausting experience.
I’ve been inspecting and rehanging art, and it’s been feeling like my bedroom again.
I don't know if you can get that bedroom feeling, after throwing away half or more then half of your stuff after having these bugs. Unless you just throw your hands in the air and move with basically nothing on your back.
Congratulations mr5roses. That's a hell of a plan! I'm going to take a lot of your advise, and also hope that my infestation is not horrendous. I've just started my attack today, and will be see a PCO on Wends. Wish me luck. I'm already getting sleep deprived and feeling very pressured to do everything at once....and not get paranoid about these miserable little bugs. Action helps. You've given me a lot of action! And...I'll take it one step at a time.
It's now been 3 months since the last bite or sign of bedbugs. I'm almost ready to believe that I'm one of the lucky ones who's gotten over on the beasties. I bought some nice add'l furnishings for my bedroom and gotten rid of the cups of Murphy Oil Soap, and this weekend the pictures go back up on the walls (after careful examination). I hope my luck holds, and that my experience is useful for other people.
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