Anyone live in Europe? I've got bed bugs and need advice!(18 posts)
Anyone else in Europe and having problems?
So like may of you, I just recently discovered that the creatures that had been plaguing me for a long time are actually bed bugs.
I have a lot of skin allergies and so I don't usually react much when I see red bumps on me. Therefore, I didn't notice the problem until it got pretty bad. I woke up last night in the middle of the night and turned on the light and saw about 20 bed bugs crawling on the wall.
I am starting to do a lot of the things suggested and I'm waiting on the pest control man to come as we speak. A big problem is that here in Prague (where I live) most people don't have dryers (including me). Clothes are just hung dry. I can wash all my clothes and blankets, etc on with really hot water (60 degrees + Celsius) but all I can do to dry them is just hang them in my apartment. I'm worried they're just going to get re-infected as they're drying. The laundromat is not close and I don't have a car, so getting all my clothes and everything else there that needs to be washed isn't easy.
My lease expires at the end of August. Should i just move out then? I love my apartment, but I'm really really worried that even with the professional exterminator coming it won't be enough.
What are the chances of me moving and taking them to another location by accident?
And also, has anyone dealt with these in Europe? Do they have any different pesticides or anything here that isn't available in the States?
Thanks so much for any advice you can give.....
If you dried the clothes on a clothes rack where you could "isolate" the casters or poles touching the floor (all similar techniques to bed isolation), it might work for clothes. A clothesline from wall to wall, would not be as secure, but if you have nothing else, you have to do your best, perhaps vaseline the edges where they touch the walls. What exactly is your usual setup for drying clothes? For sheets, they're probably too big and I'm not sure how you could avoid them touching other surfaces. Perhaps you can make an effort and bring only the sheets to the laundromat? Taxi? Bus? Just make sure everything is in a sealed bag.
Fedup is in the UK and did not have a dryer, but I don't think she lives in an apartment. Hopefully she'll come along and give you some encouragement. It can be done.
I'm glad you're getting a PCO. Take heart, perhaps there are good pesticides available there, maybe even better ones than the ones we have here. If it were me, I would try to do a very thorough cleaning (saving some bugs first) before the PCO's first visit, to try to reduce the numbers of bugs, as you will likely find them if you saw 20 last night. Do you have a vacuum cleaner?
Yes, the chances of moving them with your are high. Why don't you wait to see what the result of treatment is? If you get rid of them and your neighbors don't have them, or they also get rid of theirs, why move? And make sure your building manager and neighbors are advised and proceed with inspections at the very least.
Hi Moosickboy I live in the UK and as Nomo says I did not have a dryer but I live in a house and was able to line dry things in the garden. However I also have a drying rack in the kitchen which you pull up to the ceiling on a pulley and I think I could have vaselined the cords etc quite sucessfully to isolate it if I'd needed to. I agree with nomo's suggestions - keep washing the clothes on hot, (60deg C you know everything is dead) and dry them as carefully as you can and as far away from your bedroom as possible and I would put my trust in the PCO at least initially and before trying to move. We do have different pesticides available in the UK that are not licensed in the US. I suggest you get in touch with David Cain of bedbugs.co.uk. He is a UK PCO who uses a pesticide not available in the US. You can PM him from here if you want to know specifics.
You guys have already inspired more hope in me. Thank you thank you thank you!
If anyone else has any advice, please fire away!
Usually the directives about drying clothes in a hot dryer is because the heat is what kills the bedbugs and the eggs. (But heat in the washer works if it is hot enough. Heat kills.) Your clothes can still get reinfested even if you dry them in a hot dryer, so it isn't the dryer per se that prevents them from getting reinfested. The suggestions of isolating where they clothes hang is a good one, and you can also put clothes in sealed bags. Are ziplock bags available in your country? They are worth their weight in gold.
On another board a poster said that someone she knew from an old world European country had many non-high-tech techniques for dealing with bedbugs that involved things like caulking and sealing.
The suggestions above are good. Pest Control people in Prague will be starting to see bed bug cases--Europe as a whole has the same problem, it's everywhere. We've had many readers from Prague (click the map on the blog sidebar for an idea). There will be PCOs who know what to do, and lots who don't. Our FAQs should tip you off to any warning signs (like using foggers.)
The FAQs should also give you ideas of what is and isn't a good idea and help you figure out workarounds like the isolating of a drying rack someone mentioned (which is a variation on the isolated bed idea in the FAQs). You just might have to be a little creative.
Also, later on, please comment on the FAQs (not here) with anything you discover, so others who come to the FAQs can benefit too. We can't improve the FAQs for an international audience without international input.
I'm also in Europe. I'm in Sicily. We've had trouble getting the same chemicals they recommend in the US, but the first step was to stop searching for brand names, and starting to look for active ingredients. If you can't translate them into Czech, hopefully people there speak better English than they do here so you can figure it out. If your PCO has experience with bed bugs, that will be a world of help! If they have DE here in Sicily, we haven't been able to get a hold of it, so we ordered some online. I don't think it's a problem to mail because it isn't toxic or a chemical. The problem is having to wait for it. But, if that's your only option, go for it.
As far as your clothes go - do what everyone else suggested. Wash them in hot and dry them as far away from bed bugs as possible. Then why not bag up your winter stuff that you won't be needing for a few months? Maybe after your clothes are dry, you can bag them and stick them in your freezer for a few weeks - if you can go that long without them. Also, with the massive amount of laundry we had to do, we found it a good time to get rid of anything we didn't use anymore. I threw out 2 large bags of clothes.
Make sure your PCO knows what he's dealing with. When I tried explaining to our housing people here (who are doing the translating for us), I said we need to treat the furniture as well as the house. They said, "No. You're thinking of termites." So they obviously have no experience with bed bugs!
Best of luck to you. It's a difficult road, but at least you know now what has been biting you and you can get started on eliminating them.
I would just add for what it's worth that as the pesticides available in Prague (or anywhere in Europe) may very likely not be the ones available in the US then the protocol for treatment may also be different. I think it is important to remember this and not feel unduly stressed if the PCO doesn't recommend exactly what you think would have been done in the US. I say this because I know for a fact that effective pesticides are available in the UK that are not licensed in the US and I don't believe they aren't licensed in the US because they are dangerous or anything just because they haven't been through the time consuming process required by Govts etc. The protocol for using them may be different with regard to vacuuming or not, use or not of DE etc. If you get in a PCO then check what they require regards pretreatment before you do any self treatment (prevents even more expense of buying and applying DE only to be told you have to remove it before treatment can take place) Also here you would find it very difficult to legally get a PCO to treat a room that didn't have signs or evidence of bedbugs so you are very unlikely to get someone to treat the whole house if they didn't consider the whole house infested. I am not sure Mossickboy whether you are a US citizen living in Prague or not. CaliCal I realise your situation is slightly different because obviously effective treatment depends on a good PCO whatever the protocol and anyone who claims they 'don't have bedbugs in Italy' is living in cloud cuckooland. By the way as regards the UK (and therefore likely the whole of the EEC) Kleenfree is only available from the US via the internet and XL Ziplocks are not marketed here. Not sure about DE as my PCO wouldn't treat if it was down.
Very good points, Fedup.
Refuse/garbage bags are fine. I use them instead of XL ziplocs all the time.
Yes, work with your PCO. Who knows, they may well have better stuff there, just like they do in Canada. Here in the US the pesticides that are available are weak and often largely ineffective, hence the multiple treatments most people need. They key is to find and treat all harborages. Another thing in the US is the cursory inspections. Most PCOs here are not into playing detective. Maybe you will get better ones there. Keep an open mind. (Although, agree that Cali does not seem to be in good hands, but I'm hoping we hear good things about Moosickboy's treatments.)
I am based in the UK, as a comment the EU pest control measures are very different from the US. We have different approved chemicals over here and it would appear that some of the ones we use are a lot more effective than the US ones.
If you have engaged a PCO let me know the details and I will make sure they are not using chemicals that are likely to spread the infestation rather than kill the bugs. The main candidate for this is a compound called Bendiocarb which is most commonly used by most PCO's as its very cost effective.
Well, here's an update.
First of all, I think I've had this problem for quite a while, unfortunately, before I really realized what they were. Like maybe 2 months or more.
I'm almost done thoroughly cleaning my room. My bed has been moved into the middle of the room, and all clothes have been washed and dried (as best as possible) and bagged up.
I'm having less trouble with them in and around the bed now, I guess just because it's not next to the wall anymore.
Usually every night I will wake up around 3 am (not sure why it's always then) and I will turn on the lights and kill whatever bugs I find on the walls. I'm using Raid to do this, just on contact with whatever bugs I see. I realize this is not a long-term solution, but I think that any bugs I kill the better.
One of the biggest problems is that about 2 months ago I changed beds (I live in a furnished flat and my roommate had a better bed, so I switched them when he left). Unfortunately, this means I spread the bugs to other room as well, as I've found evidence of them around that bed. So I'm doing the same procedure in the other room as well. (No one has been living in it-- I'm the only one in the flat)
The good news is (well, I hope it's good news) is that I live in one of the old, classic looking buildings in Prague. This means really high ceilings and solid walls (not sheetrock like I was used to in the States-- yes I'm an American). Also, every room except for mine has tile floors, so that means there is no real place for them to hide (not like carpet). My room, unfortunately, has an older wooden floor, and I'm afraid they may be in some of the cracks.
The really bad news is that I finally heard from my landlord company. Only one of them speaks English and I don't speak Czech, so this is a problem. I told them I had bedbugs... and a few days later here is the response I get:
hahaha. Oh boy. I have now just let them know that I've been using Raid on the ones I see but that it isn't killing them all and that I DON'T WANT THIS TO SPREAD TO OTHER FLATS IN THE BUILDING, so they might want to send a pest guy. I've also saved quite a few dead ones to show the pest man, if he ever comes.
Is there any other advice you have for the mean time? I'm trying just to stay calm and realize that I lived with these things for at least 2 months and ignorance was bliss, and so I don't need to freak out now-- just be calm and follow the neccessary procedures.
And David, I looked at bed-bugs.co.uk. I wish I was in the UK so you could come fix my flat! It seems like you guys have a very good approach.
Hello Moosickboy sorry to hear about your problems. I hope you manage to get the PCO in. That is definitely going to be your best bet. Could you try and find your own PCO, or get a Czech speaker at work or something to speak to the management company or fill you in on the general protocol for treating pests.
In the meantime, if the bedbugs you see are on the walls, can you identify anywhere they may be harbouring on the wall? This could be behind pictures, furniture against the wall, loose wallpaper, wooden beams or any moulding. If you could identify at least some places they are then you could steam maybe or try a good contact killer like Kleenfree (they will ship to Europe) This wouldn't help residually but may cut down the population. If there is any suspicion that they could be in your mattress you could cover it and seal them in. Just ideas, good luck.
What Fedup said.
Moreover, if you're not going to have access to a good PCO (I hope this is only a temporary setback), your best friend is NOT a can of Raid. While it may, or may not, kill them, it could possibly repel them, cause them to move, leave their harborages and move into other places, perhaps more difficult to reach. If you have visible bugs, clean them away with a brush into a pan of boiling water, or use a soapy rag or, more easily, just vacuum them up!
In fact, if you're not going to have help from a PCO for a while, you need to do some very thorough, deep and frequent cleaning, soap, hot water, and vacuuming. A lot. Every day.
Known contact killers are Murphy's Oil Soap (you might be able to find some orange cleaner or something with the ingredient d-limonene), 91% alcohol, boiling water, perhaps some soaps. I would wash your bedroom's wooden floors (and frankly, the rest of the apartment) very frequently. Daily efforts in your bedroom and any other areas evidently infested and frequent cleaning of the rest will go a long way.
Steaming with dry steam would be very helpful and you might figure out how to rent or obtain such a steamer.
You can caulk, you can isolate your bed, you can do many things. Go out for isolation supplies, double-sided carpet tape, vaseline, etc.
Put the Raid away.
And we're here of course.
Also you might consider fresh-water DE. It may take some research to find a source in Prague (plus some translation tools) but I believe this is probably available everywhere in the world.
Bed bugs are getting around Prague. Maybe a Czech friend can help you find some articles from the local press--because there are bound to be at least SOME in the last year. Articles usually mention at least one local PCO who knows bed bugs (you can tell a lot by what they say in the article--if they talk about the extreme measures needed and how tricky bed bugs are to eradicate, you may have the right ones).
A good PCO would help you explain this to the landlord, as would some articles.
I'd try and talk to neighbors too--I'd be surprised with an infestation that advanced, if others did not have them too. They may have either moved out or used bug bombs--both of which can spread them to you, quickly.
Try to find out if any of the univiersities in Prague have an entomology dept. and try to talk to a scientist who knows something of bedbugs and may have a recommendation.
Finally, if you read Czech, or a friend will help--google (in Czech) to find people talking about bed bugs. This should call up both news stories in CZech and people's personal blogs talking about bed bugs. Often writing to those folks can help you find someone who eradicated their bed bugs using a PCO, and there's your recommendation.
Be wary, though, of those who suggest DIY methods. I am sure there are some PCOs who know bed bugs there. Even if you will move in August, it's best to do so during treatment, rather than before.
There is ONE PCO listed in the expats-cz directory:
Talk to them after reading our faq on choosing a PCO. See what they say both about their methods and about having treatment before and after you move. I bet they could also provide some local press on the issue, to maybe help you convince your landlord.
Obviously we don't know if they're any good, but they do at least have some English-speaking staff and they're members of the National Pest Management Association (international affiliates at least).
Well, the pest control man is finally coming on Friday.
It turns out that "bed bug" doesn't translate very well into Czech. The word they use is also a pretty generic word for bugs-- for instance the electronic "bugs" that spies use will also come up in search engines when you type in the Czech word.
So I finally found a site dealing with bed bugs in Czech-- I printed it out and took it to my landlord. That finally got their attention!
Now a few more questions for those of you that have been through the treatment:
1. They told me that after my apartment is treated I'll need to be out of it for 24 hours. Is that standard?
2. I've bagged up most bedding and clothes, and even some luggage (from under my bed) that showed signs of bed bugs. Should I open this stuff up and put it in the infested room right before the pest control guys come? Or should I just leave it in the bags?
3. Assuming their not going to speak English, anything else I should know?
Yay, you found a PCO.
1. I would follow their instructions, since they know what pesticides they are using and what the recommendations are. Here in the US, my PCO asked to stay out for 5 hours. I don't think 24 hours is that unusual, thought it may be an inconvenience I imagine.
2. About the luggage, ask them. Some PCOs can spray items inside a bag. I am a fan of leaving stuff out for treatment. If there are bugs, you want them to come out and die, not trap them inside a bag. About the clothes and bedding, however, once you have laundered something, you keep it bagged. If you open it, it may become reinfested and you will probably need more than one treatment, so you don't want to do laundry all over again if you can avoid it.
3. Point out all the places where you have seen bugs, write down all the pesticides used (ask for a receipt, but write everything down if the receipt is not itemized), and ask them about post-treatment protocol. Should you vacuum, how often, when is the follow-up treatment, etc.
Make room for the PCO to work. Make sure they can treat inside closets, under furniture, in bookcases, etc.
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