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bed bug smell or paranoia?

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  1. icantsleepforfearofbugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Sep 25 2015 8:11:33
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    About a month ago we stayed at a campground (in a cabin) for a 5 day group retreat. Shortly after turning the lights off and getting in bed my husband began complaining that something was biting him. We waited until the kids were asleep then turned the lights back on to catch what we assumed was probably a stray mosquito. Except it wasn't a mosquito it was bedbugs, dozens of them, crawling all over everything. Since it was the middle of the night we took ourselves and the kids (and nothing else) and slept in a different room in the same cabin. The next day we informed the campground manager who provided access to a dryer to treat our clothes and moved everyone out of that cabin and into a different one. Everything that couldn't be placed in a dryer I double bagged and left outside on the porch of the new cabin. We repeated the same process when we left the campground to come home. Everything was double bagged or placed in thick ziploc bags. Everything that could be washed went straight from the bag into the washing machine then two cycles in the dryer. Things that couldn't be washed are still in double bags/ziplocs. Also of note- only my husband and oldest son had a reaction to the bedbugs during the short time we were in the infested room.

    Fast-forward to today. I've spent the last month extremely paranoid that we brought them back with us. I've obsessively googled about bed bugs, I'm constantly checking for signs of them, and I can't sleep: I keep waking up paranoid in the middle of the night. I've also been sleeping downstairs with the baby (who is still nursing); partly because our upstairs gets very hot but mostly because if I sleep downstairs my husband doesn't complain as much about me leaving the light on all night. The baby sleeps on a pad on the floor and I rotate between the couch and a comforter on the floor.

    The past couple weeks I've increasingly noticed a smell centered around where the baby and I sleep downstairs. The closest description I can give is it is similar to a permanent marker mixed with rotting fruit. It smells very similar to the descriptions of bedbug scent I've read on the internet, but then again I have been paranoid about bed bugs. The smell is strongest at night, thought I sometimes smell it during the day. I've tried to track it to a specific point but it's difficult. It is mostly in the areas where the baby and I sleep. So far, there have been no bites/rashes on any of us and no other signs of bed bugs.

    The paranoid part of me is convinced that the smell is coming from a bed bug infestation, which so far hasn't made it upstairs to the two people (husband/toddler) who had a reaction to the bites in the past. I do have a ridiculously strong sense of smell: my nose once prevented a house fire. The un-paranoid part of me wonders if I'm hallucinating a smell or if it's something other type of pest/problem. My husband thinks or at least wants to think I'm wrong.

    Am I being paranoid? Could this be bed bugs? It's driving me crazy

  2. bedbugsareevil

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Sep 25 2015 13:07:52
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    You poor thing. I'm not an expert, but there are plenty here who I think can calm your fears. It sounds like you did everything right and that the smell is probably something you read and now notice. If you are really worried, you could put interceptors on suspected furniture and see if you catch anything.

    I do not recommend getting a treatment or throwing anything away. If you recognize that you're paranoid about the bugs, you'll find any reason to confirm it in your head. Just try to relax.

    As for the smell: The only folks I've seen that have reported a smell are ones that have been around large infestations or when they were really close to the bugs /post-squashing.

  3. loubugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Sep 25 2015 14:02:46
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    Everything that couldn't be placed in a dryer I double bagged and left outside on the porch of the new cabin. We repeated the same process when we left the campground to come home. Everything was double bagged or placed in thick ziploc bags. Everything that could be washed went straight from the bag into the washing machine then two cycles in the dryer. Things that couldn't be washed are still in double bags/ziplocs.
    The closest description I can give is it is similar to a permanent marker mixed with rotting fruit.
    Good procedure, but just leaving outside and in sunlight doesn't work. Regarding odor, some people liken it to raspberry. I understand that. Also I think it's like coriander, cilantro, citronella. The infestation odor combines the bug odor with that of dried blood, something like permanent marker or rusty iron due to defecated blood that oxidizes. Have your husband or oldest son stay downstairs to see if he reacts to bites if he should get any. Place monitors around and search where you sleep. Climb up monitors, passive monitors, folded used socks, folded washcloths, small pieces of corrugated cardboard.

    Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult on all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology investigations.
  4. icantsleepforfearofbugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Sep 25 2015 16:42:58
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    Thanks so much for the responses!

    I should have mentioned earlier that before we bagged stuff that couldn't go in the dryer we did visual inspections. In addition to clothes we had a stroller, 2 carry on size suitcases, toiletries, and some toys with us in the infested room. All that stuff is still in bags because I wasn't sure what to do with it other than the visual inspection. I'm considering just leaving it bagged for 18 months. I've also thought about just tossing the suitcases in the trash.

    Thanks for the advice; I ordered some of the passive monitors to go on the couch legs so I'll try those out when they arrive. Hopefully I can convince my husband to sleep downstairs at least once or twice, so I can see what happens.

    I just can't decide if I'm smelling things because I'm expecting it or because something is actually there.

  5. loubugs

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Fri Sep 25 2015 18:22:45
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    icantsleepforfearofbugs - 1 hour ago  » 
    Thanks for the advice; I ordered some of the passive monitors to go on the couch legs so I'll try those out when they arrive. Hopefully I can convince my husband to sleep downstairs at least once or twice, so I can see what happens.
    I just can't decide if I'm smelling things because I'm expecting it or because something is actually there.

    Those should help, but they can be left along the walls/floors - not only under legs. That will teach him. Heightened sense can be resulting from both.

  6. Winston O. Buggy

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Sun Sep 27 2015 3:42:58
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    While Lou offers great advice, you need to stop obsessing and bed bug web surfing and assume that till you have proof that you are bed bug free. Smells are subjective and can be effected by being a new mother. Then again you did change your sleeping area to a basement environment which may have its own smells/odors. Relax and turn the light out till further notice, Good night sleep tight and don't let the bed bugs bite!


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