A case of bat or bird bugs?(3 posts)
Hello everyone. I believe I have a bed bug type problem, but am not so sure on the bed part anymore. I've been doing a lot of research on bed bugs recently and figured it was time to get some opinions from others on the information and clues I have found. Here goes from the beginning.
In the past few months, my girlfriend has been experiencing bites on her torso and legs that seemed to be showing up after sleeping. I didn’t think much about it until she told me that she had caught a bug and saved it for me to look at. There is no doubt in my mind that what I was looking at was a member of the bed bug family, and at the time I just figured it was a bed bug. I went on a rampage looking for any sign of their droppings, moltings, live bugs – but found none. I think I was fairly thorough, as I looked behind pictures, pulled up moldings, flipped mattress and box spring and examined the bed frame. We just kind of let it go at that point, that is until about 2 weeks ago when the bites suddenly got much worse – to the point that I was bitten during the night. My leg had about 9 bites, with 4 of them in a line spaced apart almost perfectly. Again, I investigated finding nothing. We are now at the point of considering moving out of the building and cleaning/throwing things away in the process.
Then I read about bat bugs and swallow bugs which apparently look nearly identical. They will infest a living area during and after a bat or bird infestation and tend to prefer ceiling areas and wall voids. I started piecing together some clues and just want to know if I’m off my rocker with this idea.
Facts and Possibilities:
Building was re-shingled late last fall and took an excessive amount of time. Not sure if I mentioned it before, but this is an apartment building and she lives on the second floor, with the attic being the third. Before the re-shingling, there were some very large water spots growing in my girlfriend’s bathroom (a possible route for bat or bird bugs in search of new prey?).
After being re-shingled, there was a lot of mysterious traffic by the landlord in the attic above her apartment. This attic was uninhabited, and we couldn’t think of any reason they would need to be up there. Nothing was being stored in the attic, they never brought anything with them but cleaning supplies. Perhaps they might they have been cleaning up after a nasty bird or bat infestation?
Once the attic traffic ceased, the building was very promptly sold. I had an opportunity to meet the new owner while he was attempting to gain access to the attic to inspect it, which he had never done before purchasing. He determined at the end of the day that the previous owners had locked the attic door and not provided a key. If I had an infested building and had to sell it, I sure might try that route (but I would never wish that on anyone, ever.)
As of right now, my girlfriend is reluctant to approach the new owners with a bed bug problem since she fears they may blame her for (and hold her accountable.)
My question for anyone who had the patience to read my rambling post is this:
Do we have enough of a case to potentially ask the new owners to help with this problem?
I realize now that I should have had that bug properly identified by an entomologist, and in the absence of another specimen I’m not sure if we have a case.
Personally, I would approach the landlord and complain about the unexplained bite wounds.
Give the landlord an opportunity to hire a qualified PCO to properly diagnose the problem and relay your observations about the activity in the attic.
You may be helping the new landlord discover a problem that needs to be addressed immediately before it gets worse and more expensive to fix.
I have an alternate explanation for the work in the attic... It may have been a mold remediation due to the leaking roof. The stealth approach without alerting tenants is not uncommon. It would also explain the locked attic.
The landlord may have recourse, if the problem was not disclosed before the sale depending on the real estate laws in your state.
Consider trying an inexpensive bed bug monitor to see if you can collect any specimens or suggest a K9 team inspection to your landlord... The BB Alert, Climb Ups, Bed Bug Beacon and the Rutger's dry ice trap design are available for under $100. Some PCOs will rent a commercial monitor.
Buy some glue board traps and yellow fly ribbon to check for other biting pests.
Here is a link for an article from Texas A&M about identifying unexplained bites... there is info on mites, bat bugs and other biting insects on the university website.
I will be glad to provide a referral for a qualified K9 team, if you decide to hire a bed bug specialist.
Wow, thanks for your input Doug! The thought of mold had never crossed my mind, surely there would have been mold up there with the amount the roof was leaking before being re-shingled. Who knows, that attic could be harboring mold, bats or bird, and bugs! Kinda makes a guy want to live inside a Rubbermaid container.
I like the idea of dogs, as they can smell anything and everything. While discussing the possibility of moving to another apartment, I thought the use of a dog would be an excellent way to be sure she's not moving into the same type of situation. Not sure what a landlord would say to us requesting to have a dog sniff the place out before we sign a lease!
I'm all set to test out a Rutgers dry ice trap. I wasn't able to find the 1/3 gallon insulated jugs anywhere. It seems the new stainless steel containers everyone uses now has taken their place in the market. I found a 1/2 gallon jug that fits inside the dog dish I found, with about an inch of room before the sides - hopefully that's enough room. I've only invested $6 at this point, so if this works we'll be feeling much better about the work and cleaning to come.
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