Bed Bugs versus "Body Lice" ?(44 posts)
Many smart people seem to be here, and some experts mixed in as well, I've noticed, perhaps someone could shed some light on this situation?
We've been under the assumption that we had bed bugs for a little while now, after several family members receiving small bites apparently during sleep and being unable to identify any other source. We did have a PCO visit, several times, and he was not able to find anything. Through reading the stories here and on the blog, we're aware that not finding anything doesn't always mean they aren't there (and the bites are, though not on all family members). Last week, we caught a bug at long last, and believed it to be a young bedbug (a nymph?). It was examined though, and we have been told that it is a louse - the examiner was unable to specify whether it was a head louse or a body louse, as they quite closely resemble each other and our specimen was slightly damaged.
The PCO office person reacted quite poorly when delivering this information, as if it was some sort of disgusting thing, when in reality, anyone can pick up lice. We have a child, he spends time at various friends houses and his friends spend time at ours. Anything is possible.
But what is puzzling us is that the bites have been going on since the beginning of the summer, off and on. Not all family members have been bitten. For the past couple of weeks, we have been busy washing and drying all clothing and bed linens in the manner that you do with a potential bed bug problem. Yesterday a formerly unbitten family member received a few bites. Everyone's bites have been contained mainly in the chest/back area, as well as the stomach and tops of the legs. Areas commonly (but not always) covered by clothing, as fits the online descriptions of body lice that we have found. But it seems odd that
1. Unbitten family member gets bit yesterday for the first time.
2. We are still bitten off and on despite the washing that has been done, along with vacuuming of the beds and changing of the sheets and such things.
3. One of the remaining unbitten (as of yet) family members sleeps in the same bed as a bitten one.
4. Body lice, in the googling that we have done, are constantly mentioned to be prominent in places that aren't very clean, where people don't change their clothes often, and such examples as that. This isn't one of those places. We may not be Molly Maids, but we are relatively clean for the most part.
5. If this was body lice that is plaguing us, and had it been that all along, would we not have had more than we do? (our bites have not been excessive, just a few every so often) As this problem was first noticed by two family members at the beginning of the summer.
6. Only some bites seem to itch. "Excessive itching" seems to be listed everywhere about body lice.
Yet, the bug that was caught has been identified as a louse.
We're concerned, because if we go ahead and assume that is the issue, and it is not, that would allow the bedbugs to grow, would it not? The dots don't quite add up right. But we do believe the identification of that bug was correct, as it was done by a Science center. But what if that bug was old? Been there a while? (It was found dead in a bedroom)
Does anyone have any information that may help us? Is it possible to have a light infestation of body lice and only get occasional bites? Not everyone catch it, despite sleeping in the same bed as a bitten person?
Does anyone here know of these bugs? Have experienced them? Or can recommend someone who does? I've googled my rear off and not found much beyond "fact sheets" - there doesn't seem to be a location such as this.
Should we let our guard down and assume it is lice and not bed bugs? Living as if it was bedbugs was no fun at all, as you all know too well yourselves. But I'm afraid.
Edit: a previously bitten family member just said that they have new bites, or new that they've noticed, very itchy, on their lower back.
Your question is humbling as we haven't seen it before; I just checked a few medical and entomology sources, like you must have done many times, and see that treatment is said to be relatively simple. I hope someone with reliable information will offer some help. However, I really think you should consult your doctor as well.
Was that the only sample? Have you found anything else? If there is anything else found, I would obtain an ID from a different lab just to be sure. There is insufficient information in your post to outright doubt the identification but I agree that the whole thing seems irregular.
Certainly speak with an MD if there is any question of it being body lice. The treatment for those is outside the purview of any pest control operator, as it is considered a medical issue.
Who did the ID on the bug, and do you still have the sample? Believe it or not, if it was the PCO who did the ID, they can be wrong *gasp*. Anytime we ID something for a customer, we always follow that with "while we think it is X, with XX% surity, we will happily send it off to the state extension entomologist for a certain ID."
As to the head/body lice looking similar, head lice are 1/8th inch or less, and whitish with dark markings, body lice are larger at around 1/7th inch and gray. The thing that makes me not think it is body lice is that they lay their eggs on the clothing (thus all that washing) and with the length of time you are talking about while doing laundry as you are describing, you should have broken the life cycle. They also tend to die fairly quickly when away from the host.
Even as an experienced PCO, there are some critters out there I can't ID using the keys we have and our microscopes... so sometimes I even skip the part where we try to ID it and we send it straight off to the university lab where they have better equipment and far more keys than we do.
The other thing to keep in mind, is that it is also very possible to have more than one pest invading your house at the same time. It is even possible that both the alleged louse AND bedbugs could come from the same or even different sources. Don't rule one out simply by confirmation of the other.
There are also some other fun things out there that like to eat us that could be the culprit... fowl mites comes to mind. With so many possibilities, I would start with a second opinion ID (if that hasn't been done already) and a trip to the MD. You may even see if there is an extension entomologist in your area who would do a consult with you.
(hopelessnomo) Yes that was the only bug we have found. We're planning to speak with our doc, but can't until Monday as the medical center where he works is closed. We've been unable to find any other biting bugs anywhere in the house, nor have we seen any of the black dots on the mattress seams or blood on sheets. I did think I saw something small and transparent move quickly one time, but if it is indeed these lice, that would fit that description as well. It's the irregularity that is bothering me as well. Especially the time of washing clothes and bed linens and such, and the unbitten and bitten sleeping in the same bed.
(SPDIBBK9Handler) Yes, we plan to call our doc on Monday. If my understanding is correct, it was an actual entomologist who did the identification. It was sent to that individual by the pest control employee who had examined our bedrooms, as he was uncertain as to what it was. We don't have it anymore, I'm unsure if we can get it back. Definitely going to speak with our doc. And a second pest, I think that certainly sounds plausible. For all we know as well, that dead bug may have been dead a very long time. It's possible that we may have had the lice here at one point and that was a remenant. Unfortunately, I doubt that the PCO will take us seriously now with respect to bedbugs; I got a strong sense of that from there.
Though as hopelessnomo said we have not had this exact question before, the issue of someone finding A BUG of some kind, having it ID-d as not a bed bug, and mysterious bites nevertheless continuing, is one that comes up all the time.
Some PCOS and entos get so many panicked visitors with bugs and reports of bites. But as K9Handler says, the presence of another bug does not mean you don't have bed bugs.
I had a similar experience with a PCO who told me I had spider beetlers. Well, I sure did.
What made me super angry was that he then said they had a prior customer complaining of bites who had spider beetles. HE was happy to treat for them as he did in the other case. The only problem is, I researched it. Spider beetles don't bite.
That woman may also have had bed bugs.
My understanding of lice, too, is that if you have a kid in school, work in a field like social work or nursing, or take public transportation, you could easily pick up a louse in the course of the day. It might not survive and thrive.
Anyway, try another PCO. They are not all alike and do not all know about how well bed bugs can hide. We have a FAQ on how to choose one who does, written by a PCO who does.I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
Update: still uncertain.
Nobugsonme, another PCO isn't an option, as this is the one who works for the landlord. I have actually had 2 in here, that one and another who did a fast inspection, and neither found any bedbugs or signs. Though I fear I may clean away signs, as I have been cleaning the bedrooms everyday, washing sheets, vacuuming, all of that. But I would think that we should see a bug, it's been about a month and a half, near 2, since the first bites appeared on two people. And I realize it's said that people often "go months getting bit and never see a bug", but I assume that would apply more to someone who was getting bit and didn't know to look for bed bugs. Someone who just didn't happen to see a bug. I've been looking. I've decluttered all the bedrooms, no bedbugs found in the clutter. Nothing in the closets. Nothing along the mattress seams. Under it. In the boxsprings (I removed the furry back from all of them and looked in there). In dressers. I took my child's wooden frame (head & foot, metal parts to hold the bed) apart and peered in the few cracks it had. Nothing there. Our rooms are so bare right now, it's not even funny.
This is what's gone on so far: We went ahead and did a scabies treatment (scabies mites are not the body louse questioned above) as our doctor, who didn't even LOOK at us, said to do that. (Public health nurses said it did not look like it to them - not in the right places, no burrow marks, etc). But, we did it to know, to eliminate. (Well, we did the first one, you have to do it twice). I've had a couple of itchy bites since then, others have not. One of mine seemed to happen while loading stuff into the laundry machine. (Or, I just felt it then).
Yesterday, I bought a lice spray (R&C) from the drugstore and sprayed our (mine & my husband) mattress & boxspring with it, though how good of a job I did, I'm not sure. It was very strong smelling and I had to do it quick. Put a fan in the window, let that stuff sit for 4 hours. Covered it with the plastic zipper things from the department store.
I don't want to use that stuff on the children's beds, as it's so strong. I'll just keep cleaning theirs.
And looking for bugs. I've found lots of OTHER bugs along the way, but no bedbugs.
It's frustrating though, because this could go on endlessly. If I find nothing, nothing can be done. But cleaning could erase the evidence. But I can't just let my family sleep in messy/dirty rooms, I have to clean! (even more so right now because of the louse possibility). I have to vacuum and sweep and wash bedding and dust and all of that; I can't very well quit housework.
PCO just says to "keep watching", because he can do nothing unless we find a bug. I have glue traps out, around beds, under dressers. They've caught nothing but other stuff.
Impossible to know if the louse was the answer or a red herring. It could have been there for ages, way before any of this. But then, I do have it back and it looks different now - it looks dried out much more. Maybe it was more recent then. Maybe that is the answer.
Waiting to see if anyone else has any more bites I guess.
This is a very difficult situation, I am so sorry. I agree that cleaning is the only choice here because of the possibility of lice.
Are the mattresses encased? And the laundered clothing kept in sealed bags?
I assume, yes, but thought I would ask.
It's very frustrating to not be able to help, bugsbite. I am so sorry. I would still try to find a PCO firm with a lot of experience for an inspection. Not all PCOs are good at inspections but inspections are free or low cost and they may have ideas that are not occurring to you.
I think another way to try to collect samples is on clear packing tape. Maybe around the windows and on the beds or bed clothes in the morning. I think we need a list of possibilities (biting insects) here anyway, for others as well, so I will try to find some information on that.
Still nothing. Or nothing conclusive anyway. I thought I might have glimpsed a very tiny (like, so tiny you barely could see it, clear thing on the board when I had one of my kids ' boxsprings up up, looking at it again ---- but that could have been anything. Extremely tiny, and the same colour as the wood, or clear so that it looked so. Which could very easily have been one of those booklice things. They turn up in wooden places fairly often. It was so small, and gone.
I don't seem to have any bites, but yesterday during a shower, one spot on my arm got itchy and a small dot appeared, went away later. One child has nothing new, the other has had a few itchy spots but has been outside playing in the evening and the mosquitoes are awful then. (I was outside last night and got four bites myself in a minute or two, I felt them and kept track).
As we have a couple of cats, they've been taken to the vet and checked out - I was suspicious of perhaps them having mites. I'd read an article about a kind of cat mite that can also bite people, often on the trunk area, and often under clothing, commonly in areas where the cat has laid, and as I had some like that, we took them to the vet. Vet says she didn't see anything. I watch them now, are they scratching more then usual? Maybe? I don't know. Maybe I am just noticing it more because I'm looking. They do sleep in the bedrooms. If we had bedbugs, could they be ignoring us for a bit and biting the cats? Could the scabies lotion we used (on the suggestion of our not so bright doctor who didn't even LOOK at us) somehow be repelling them a bit? (One of the children and I had more bites before). Or could I have gotten some in my cleaning without knowing and therefore reduced numbers and THAT is why our bites seem to have leveled off?
I wish there were "bedbug traps" - some sort of thing I could set up. I have glue traps down, but I've seen it said on here that they can often walk right over those. Plus, what are the chances that a bedbug will just happen to walk in the right spot to get caught on one anyway? I can't cover every square inch of the floor with them! I tried some double sided tape, but again, you can't cover every inch of the floor. The PCO seems convinced that a glue trap should help us find out. They've caught everything else, no bedbugs.
Sometimes I see "black specks" - but they could be anything. This is not a new, pristine place, it's older and there is dirt. Children go outside (especially summer, barefoot!), dirt gets in. Cats track it around. Basement is cement but pretty grungy, it gets up from there. What is the black speck supposed to be, hard or soft? I've seen no bloodstains.
Oh to answer your questions - laundry is being done like mad every day. And yes, the clean stuff goes into bags (not ziplocks, I didn't see those here. We have large clear garbage bags) in the laundry area. Nothing has been returned to the bedrooms, not even curtains. Bedsheets are removed and washed everyday. The beds are not isolated, because two don't have frames (one did not and one no longer does after I took it apart to look for bugs) to have them off the floor.
I will try the packing tape idea and see if I can get anything that way.
I'd hate to still be living out of the bags at Christmas. The rate this is going, we could be. I can't relax and return clothes to dressers and allow life to go back to normal until I know for sure. Or, until nobody has been bitten for a few weeks or something.
Also, on the "what is it" table, we have information like this -
"Early in an infestation bed bugs are likely to be found only about the seams, tufts or folds of mattresses or daybed covers, but later they spread to crevices in the bedsteads. In severe infestation they may be found behind baseboards, window and door casings, pictures and picture frames, in furniture, loosened wallpaper, cracks in plaster and the like."
That is directly from a university
And I have seen that quite often on various other credible sites (I realize that people say "they could be anywhere", but it seems that "anywhere" tends to happen once the infestation is larger - and if we had a large one, we'd have more bites going on on a more regular basis, it would seem.)
Another similar quote:
"The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius L.) is often found in seams, tufts, folds, and coverings of furniture, particularly beds and sofas. In locations with large bed bug infestations, the insects may also be found in windows and doorframes, behind pictures and posters on walls, and in cracks of wall plaster."
That one is from another university, Virginia State. (I don't want to use too many links as per the sticky topic that says the spam prevention software may block the post).
"Bed bugs initially can be found about tufts, seams, and folds of mattresses, later spreading to crevices in the bedstead. In heavier infestations, they also may occupy hiding places farther from the bed."
From Ohio State University.
Most of what I see seems to say that you'd only be likely to see them in 'odd places' (away from the beds) in "heavy" or "large" infestations, that in smaller ones (and that would be what we would have to have, I assume, given that I can't find any and have looked VERY well, right down to removing drawers, flipping dressers over, ripping the fuzzy off the boxsprings, taking bedframes apart [the one we had], removing curtains, all wall hanging things in the bedrooms, tearing down stick-up border, etc. The rooms look like we just moved in and haven't hardly put anything in aside from a bed and an empty dresser. They echo now, they're so bare!)
Another little problem on top of this is itching - because of the extra bathing, the (useless likely) scabies treatment just in case, and such, we've all got dry skin and that itches in and of itself! Aggravating, because everytime I itch, I look for a bite.
Hi bugsbite, when I asked about the mattresses being encased, I was not asking about isolating the beds. The two are not synonymous. The purpose of encasements is to prevent any bugs harboring there from escaping, and so to make them dead, eventually, and to prevent any new bugs from setting up shop. Encasing is very helpful. Isolating is a different technique that involves raising the bed off the floor, using barriers, like cups in all the legs filled with mineral oil, and otherwise ensuring that nothing can get on and up the bed to bite. The pros and cons of isolating the bed are debatable, but most recognize the value of encasing the mattresses and box springs. I just wondered if you might see an improvement if you encased the mattresses?
In this case we need a list of biting insects and mites, other things that can bite and infest a home. I don't think the list is very long but it might be good to consider all the possibilities and since others may also be in this situation I'm trying to find reference materials.
If you have mice or rats, then you can have certain kinds of mites, or if you have birds nesting on your property, yet other kinds of mites may be biting you. As for insects, there may be a number of options. In other words, bedbugs are not the only possibility, sadly.
The scabies treatment sounds unfortunate. Hang in there.
I'm sorry I don't recall, is your home a single-family detached? No possibility of anything coming in from neighbors?
Also, just a minor point, but on the issue of bedbugs aggregating near the beds or other resting places like couches. Yes, they like to be close to the host, but researchers are observing that there is always what I have come to call an advance recon team that sets up away from those locations. (See this.) So it's important not to dismiss the possibility of an unusual harborage spot.
In your case, however, it may not be bedbugs. What other insects are your traps picking up? Could any of those insects be identified by a university entomology department near you? Some people have allergic reactions (similar to bedbug bites) from carpet beetles. A well-regarded PCO told us about this here recently. I'm just saying, there may be some strange possibilities that you should examine.
Hopelessnomo, Sorry I misunderstood the bed question
Two of three beds do have a plastic mattress cover on them, zipped. One does not because they were out of that size at the only place here to sell them, I'm waiting for them to get more. The two that do are also covered with duct tape here and there, as they seem to get torn easily. Everytime I see a tear, I tape it.
The beds (and boxsprings) have also all been vacuumed very thoroughly, with a crevice attachment, gone round the seams (bending them and looking) and across and even under the boxspring. The dressers have received the same treatment, as well as being washed down inside and out with Mr Clean stuff ( I realize that doesn't kill anything, but they were dusty/dirty anyway). The walls of one bedroom and the windowsills (old style windows) have also had this done to them, along with the baseboards. The other 2 bedrooms will receive the same.
It's a townhouse, attached on one side. The neighbors attached have been asked and they have said they aren't being bitten or having any bug issues. (Of course, I realize that some people do not react). Nor has anyone we know - granted, people generally do not want this type of thing 'known', but we live in a smallish place and word tends to get out. PCO has also said that he knows of no bedbug cases in our community.
We have one person in our house who has not shown any bites - but the problem there is that I read that lice can do the same thing. He may have been bitten and just never knew it. My bites have not all itched either.
The other bugs that I have found have included several small grain-type bugs (they were not bedbugs by any stretch of the imagination), fruit fly type things, silverfish, a few beetles (not bedbugs again, very different - larder beetles I believe they were), and some dead pseudoscorpions (extremely tiny little things, most have been found dead behind wallpaper border when torn down, a few behind tape on the walls holding up posters) and a couple of those alive. And of course, that identified louse. The pseudoscorpions got me thinking more of mites, as they do feed on those, I've read. As well as other small things (grain bugs and whatnot). We did have a lot of small animals here before, including gerbils, rats, and a spiny mouse. The grain bugs presence in the bedrooms is likely due to the small animal food and shavings that were stored and used there. As well as one child who, despite being told countless times to not leave food in her room, did indeed have a lot of old food items kicking around her bedroom. (Half empty bags of chips, leftover candy, etc). I think this experience has cured her of that, if nothing else. :-p
The silverfish are very common here, everyone has those, especially in their bathrooms.
There were also carpet beetle larva found, dead (or do they 'molt'? I'm speaking of the small wormish things, sort of striped, very dead or 'empty').. I can't think now if I found any live carpet beetles. We only have carpet in one area of the house, it's that flat high-traffic type carpet, not fluffy stuff.
I would find it odd though, if several of us had the same kind of reaction to carpet beetle allergy.. ? (And one of us showed nothing until recently two others have for most of the summer)
The other thing in the house is mold - the basement has mold on the walls, and the bathroom has what appears to also be mold, behind the toilet where the shelf thing is (the kind that is tall and sits behind your toilet for space).
But I don't think it's an allergy, with the way that the marks/bites were. They definitely look(ed) like bites of some sort.
I read about louse bites and it says that they are often on the body under clothing, often along the seams of clothing. Many of ours have been. I suppose we could very well have picked up a louse somehow (child at a sleepover, other child here, etc) and perhaps it was trying to happen - but as we do change clothes and shower and such, it didn't become what could in a less hygienic environment.
Or maybe we did end up with some freakishly weird version of scabies mite. The public health people, while saying ours did not look like that (despite doctor) did say that there was a few "strange cases" in a couple of places here before, one being a nursing home. But I don't really believe it.
Has anyone been treated with scabies medicine (it was the kwellada-p lotion) and seen that cause a slow down in their bedbugs? (Just wondering, because some have said they were misdiagnosed at first). It does contain permethin, after all. Though you wash it off 12 hours later.
Or has anyone done insane amounts of cleaning and seen it 'slow down'?
I guess that's what I'm most concerned about right now - has it simply 'slowed down' because of my cleaning? Have I made things worse? I had to do what I've done because of the other possibilities.
I don't want to stay in limbo though. Not fun. This could easily go on for months.
Did I say we DID have small animals here? Looks like maybe I need to say "do". I'd been meaning to take down the lightshades for a while and clean them, as they appeared to have some dead flies in them (I'm talking about the square, almost flat, light shades that go on bedroom ceilings with a center nut). Took down one, yes, some dead fruit fly things and dust. Took down another, same. Took down the third from the third bedroom and no flies. It was mouse droppings in that one! There's holes in the --- whatever it's called, the part that is attached to the ceiling, mount? it's painted in place -- and I suspect that there are perhaps mice living in the attic. They are most certainly mouse droppings, as I have lived in houses with mice before and found the very same thing in cupboards and drawers at the time.
I know someone else in this building (row house) has complained to the owner about mice before and had them come and set traps.
Some searching has shown that the house mouse does indeed sometimes cause there to be "house mouse mites" and that they can indeed bite people if you have a mouse infestation. I can't find any specific pictures as to what the bite may look like though, although I suppose that may very. Curious about that now though.
Small animals! House mice! The plot thickens.
Have you run your story by Sean at The Bed Bug Resource? He might have ideas that are not occurring to us.
Of the things you mentioned, carpet beetles and larder beetles may cause allergic reactions, dermatitis, so you can explore that, but vacuuming frequently and thoroughly should alleviate that, probably. Do you have a good vacuum cleaner?
You should also seal those gaps as soon as you can. It could be something that was left behind by any of the animals you mentioned. Gerbils can suffer from chicken mites. Or it could be forgotten mice nests somewhere in the structure, in which case excluding them from your home should be a big help.
I'm not sure that the look of the bites will be much help.
I have a pretty good strong sucking vacuum, yes. I've spoken with Sean a couple of times, yes, he's been quite helpful with some questions. I think I may very well ask him what he knows of mites, whether from mice or other small creatures. And I thought about those gaps - I don't have any caulking type stuff, but duct tape fixes darn near everything and I have plenty of that! (The holes are flat, duct tape will seal them - though I'm just not sure of the distance to the bulbs, have to check how hot that area gets first)
The main reason I was wondering about bite photos for mouse mites was because there are some (some) bites that nearly always look a certain way, I wondered if mites were like that. But I know what is said about bites being different on different people, for sure.
If it wasn't for winter soon coming, I think I'd have pitched a tent in the yard and moved us all out there. Only half kidding.
I'll go investigate chicken mites and their connection to gerbils/hamsters as well, thanks.
One lonely little bite mark on my stomach this morning. *frown*. Sleeping in freshly washed sleep stuff, on sheets that were washed the day before, in a practically barren room. Though our bedroom is the one that has yet to have it's walls washed down and such. One child does not have anything new, the other is still asleep so I haven't checked him yet.
If this was bedbugs, surely my cleaning couldn't have slowed things down enough that we would go from multiple bites being seen quite often to just one or two here and there?
I guess it's a wait and see game. But I'd rather not have to be waiting for months.
I keep thinking I see the cats scratching more often, but I don't know if that's just because I'm paying attention to things I normally wouldn't be.. And one of the more frequent scratchers doesn't even go up to the bedrooms, ever.
I wonder if these house mouse mites (as a possibility, or gerbil related mites) could bite cats as well as people and not stay on them? (which would explain our vet seeing nothing - and it was the more frequent scratcher that she examined closest) After all, they don't stay on people, they stay on mice.
Hey bugsbite, you need another PCO inspection, a good one. Really. They are free or nearly so. You can't do this by yourself.
Try checking behind all the electric switch plates (use a bright light) and examine all the ceiling fixtures. Think up and check behind and around anything that is on the walls or on the ceilings. Then you should try caulking to see if it's something coming in from an abandoned nest in the walls or something like that.
But you need help!
If you have been cleaning and vacuuming, yes you could be reducing, but not eliminating, the population of whatever pest is there. Try the tape in the mornings on surfaces and on your bed linen, and encase the remaining unencased mattress as soon as you can.
Two PCO's (two individual guys) have actually looked, and neither found anything.(We found the identified louse ourselves) They're from the two main pest control companies where I live, I think there might be one more I can call, but I don't know if they service my community.
I can remove the switchplates and look there, there is nothing on any bedroom walls, and the only thing on the ceiling is the light fixtures, of which the mount things are permanently in place (I don't see any way that they remove).
I was wrong earlier, I actually have three spots - the one on my stomach and two up on my um, chest area *blush*. I didn't notice those until later in the morning when I had my shower.
Definitely trying the tape thing. How small exactly are mites, I wonder.
Would it not be very peculiar for there to be bedbugs biting people in three rooms and for no obvious signs to be in any of the rooms? The rooms are so bare right now, it looks like someone has just moved in.
(But then, they were all very very cluttered when this began. Many items were thrown out after I realized it may be bedbugs. Thrown out carefully though, pretty much nothing left the room that wasn't in a bag. With a couple of exceptions, including an old television set and a hat rack thing. Those were carried out.)
I'll investigate the other PCO - the 'inspections' done thus far have been pretty brief and very basic, looking in the usual suspect locations.
We rent, so I don't know if I can really go applying caulk all over the place. But I'm sealing up the light fixture holes that obviously allowed mouse droppings in somehow.
Did you try the double-sided carpet tape on the perimeter of the beds already? (I'm guessing by your description that the beds are on the floor, directly on the floor?)
I did try some double sided tape on the floor in various spots in our bedroom - that bed is on a metal frame, but it hasn't always been. Two other beds are on the floor with no frames. One of those has had glue traps placed at each end and sides, four of them. (I move those around each night to a new spot).
Nothing got stuck to the tape except for fuzzy lint bits, animal hair, and people hair.
The glue traps have only caught the other bugs I previously mentioned.(and more hair and such of course)
I'm not sure if the tape was sticky enough; it seemed to be quite sticky, but very quickly lost it's stick with the lint/hair/etc that wound up on it.
They really need to come up with some good bed bug traps, better than the glue (after all, what are the chances that your small glue board(s) will happen to be exactly in the right spot at the right time?) or the tape (may not be sticky enough).
I saw a blog somewhere where the guy used fly sticky trap things around his bed, I wonder how hard those are to find.
Aha. That teeny tiny clear thing I said I thought I saw on a boxspring and may have been a booklouse? I just caught one. This time, on the outside of the boxspring, on the material. Just looking in the right place at the right second (I spend a fair amount of time lately examining the beds). All I had to catch him was a piece of duct tape that was on the edge of the dresser, previously holding a bag there for garbage, but it worked. I put the sticky part down over him and it picked him up. Now, I wish I had my own microscope to see what he is. May very well be a booklouse, he looks pretty narrow, as opposed to bed bug shape. I'll get the PCO guy to pick him up and check with his (or the entomologist he uses).
I know booklice don't bite, so I'm curious as to whether this is that or what. It's EXTREMELY small. But I can still see that it looks pretty narrow, like this: http://strano16.interfree.it/psocot.jpg (a booklouse) as opposed to the more rounded shape of a bed bug nymph. But he's getting checked out tomorrow hopefully, if I can get ahold of the PCO guy.
I hate to say this, bugsbite, but is this the PCO that gave you attitude for having body lice? On the phone, if I remember? Or a new PCO? I must say the first PCO you talked about before when the body louse was identified and delivered the news over the phone does not sound very professional or helpful. Could you not try to get an independent ID? Directly from a university entomology department or something similar?
Oh it wasn't the PCO guy himself that was unkind sounding, it was one of the office people they have. The guy himself hasn't said anything bad about it, other than that if it was a lice issue, it's "medical, not pest". He (the guy from that one) is actually really nice, it was an office person who ended up delivering the results when I called and it was from that individual that I didn't get a very pleasant response. They have an entomologist that they contact for various ID's that they can't make themselves.
I found more of these things! I was in one of the kids' bedrooms and examining the bed (daily thing now) and I spotted a few more - one of them was even walking around the edge of a glue trap right by the bed on the floor (no frame, mattress is on boxspring, boxspring is on floor). EXTREMELY tiny. Had I not been looking specifically for teeny tiny things, I wouldn't have noticed them at all. One glue trap that was under the boxspring (fuzzy stuff removed, glue traps were placed under) has one on it - on the very edge. They're so small. No way to now for sure what they are without them being looked at with a microscope or something. They do look narrow though.
Getting more and more suspicious. Lice, as far as I know, do not commonly live in beds. That said, beds have been implicated in the spread of lice before, according to some sources.
Also, unless you have a large infestation of bedbugs, they aren't usually wandering around on the bed or floor in the middle of the morning. That would be unusual, I would think.
However, the cats seem to be scratching. Cats are not bothered by human lice - lice are species specific, to the best of my knowledge. Or, I'm noticing it more because I'm looking for it. It may not be more often. I had no reason to "watch" for scratching before, as they are indoor cats. So it may be normal.
PCO man can't come by until around supper time, as he's busy today. I'll give them all to him when he comes and hopefully with an assortment of them rather than one, and ID can be made. (I was concerned with there only being one sample, as it could always be damaged. But surely with multiple samples, they'll be able to tell. Or have their entomologist tell.)
Of course, they could be those booklouse things as well. Those can 'infest' - and are more common in the spring and summer, I've read. This particular room could just happen to have booklice going on and the bite problem could be something else entirely.
I found a dead mouse on my kitchen floor last night. Or rather, I found what was left of a dead mouse - one of my felines evidently had a late night snack. Strange that shortly after I find those mouse droppings in the lightshade, I find a dead mouse. After not seeing a mouse myself in this place since last year sometime. (Though neighbors have complained of them). But then, perhaps the mouse-complaining neighbor is seeing mice BECAUSE she does not have a cat(s).
I suppose it would sound bizarre to anyone else if I said that I hope they ID those as lice of some sort - but I suspect that you people here would understand that
This is exciting! I can't wait for the ID. I'll think good thoughts that it's not book lice!
You understand me, right? If it's book lice, you're back at square one; if it isn't then your mystery may finally be solved.
Yes true lol - but I would prefer if they told me they were people lice I'd much rather just throw myself into even more cleaning and deal with lice than bedbugs. I really have no idea how we'd deal with those in the long run. The amount of stuff involved is very overwhelming when one reads the FAQs.
Give me people lice. So I can eliminate it! hahaha.
I think if it were body lice, you would have done away with them already, no? But, in any case, don't give this guy all your samples. Save some just in case.
Yeah I've been thinking that, but I've also read in a few places that body lice are quite a bit hardier than the head louse - they're very nearly the same species, but the body version, some sources said, have adapted. They can last longer in the environment, some say up to 10 days. I've been washing stuff like mad, but there's always the question of eggs, and whether my washing temperature is hot enough and such.
I found another of these in another bedroom though, stuck to the edge of a glue trap that was on the floor. That would be an odd place for a louse to be. Not unheard of, but odd.
(But then, isn't it odd that I would see the earlier today ones wandering around in the daylight?)
Lots of odd things. But at least some of these, I saw ALIVE and WALKING, so I will know, unlike the other sample found (as it was dead and I had no idea how long it had been dead for - could have been ages) that whatever these are, they were recently alive.
Whatever they are, if they bite, then I'd say they're the culprit. Since I have found them in two bedrooms now. I'll check the third later, I have some glue traps under that box spring as well.
Strange though, where are the adults? If these are baby anything, they must have parents. Yet all of my searching did not turn up any parents, or signs of harbourage areas.
Another four or five hours before the PCO guy comes by for those things, and likely it'll be tomorrow before he has an answer for me. (As I realize that PCO people have lives away from their jobs - I don't expect him to work outside of his work hours!)
(Although I want to know. But still, they're people, not bug killing robots)
And the waiting game is on. PCO gentleman just picked up my teeny little bugs things, said it would likely be tomorrow evening before we know anything for certain (in order to view them with a microscope, he has to take them in to the main office and that's a bit of a drive from our community; he doesn't head there until tomorrow)
What sucks right now is that before this, I hadn't really seen anything crawling around like this - the odd bug of a different sort, plus we had bites, but to have actually found multiple baby/small somethings in the bedrooms puts a more realistic face on it and I'd much rather take everyone out to sleep in the yard. But A) we don't have a tent and B) even if we did have a huge tent, it's September. Brr.
If these are bed bugs, it's going to be ridiculous to try and have everyone do all the things you guys do in the FAQ lists. Lack of money + children = monkey wrenches. One starts off to school tomorrow, hopefully not taking any of these with him. He'll go off bathed, with clean clothes on, but nothing is perfect.
Checking in, bugsbite. Are you ok?
Hi, and thanks. Haven't heard from the guy yet, if I don't by tomorrow lunch, I'll call him - I have his cell number, but I didn't want to call it yet since he said likely tonight.. Now that "tonight" is pretty much past, I will use it tomorrow if he doesn't call me. Trying to be patient because I realize that although he's a PCO guy by day, he no doubt has a family and a life and such that takes over beyond his working hours. Key word being trying.
Spotted another teeny "whatever it is" walking (very quickly) on the edge of one of the sticky glue things, smushed it with the end of a heely wheel remover thing. It just sorta vanished (being so small, smushing it just obliterated it into non-existence, if that makes sense).
I have what looks like a couple more bites, but small and hard to be sure on two of them if they're bites or not. Doesn't seem to be any on anyone else.
These have got to be babies - baby whats is the question.
They move REALLY fast though. I'd ask if baby bedbugs move REALLY fast, but I'm not so sure I really want to know. :/
Hang in there, bugsbite. I guess this means no news today either.
We're still here.
Nope, not yet. I did call him yesterday near noon on his cell and he said that he hadn't gotten them ID'ed yet but that it should be soon (as in hopefully today now). I'm being patient but also being ARGHTELLMENOW because I hate the not knowing. With not knowing, it's impossible to know what I should or shouldn't be doing. But then I realized that no matter what, life still has to go on - so, it is. Even if these turn out to be bed bugs, we still have to do the normal daily life sort of things, so we might as well keep doing them. School, dentist appointments, grocery shopping, family bike rides, church, running errands for my grandmother, etc. Life stuff.
But always in the back of my mind, I'm waiting for that ID. Patience Patience Patience. *chants* LOL
Well, he called this morning and the results are in -- those are "psocids" (if I spelled that right), otherwise known as "book lice". I mentioned it earlier, wondering. He had all of them examined and that's what those were.
So, back to the drawing board - especially since I have six new red "bite" marks on my torso as of today. Though, the 2 children have no new ones.
And I still see the cats scratching more than I think is normal. I think mites still need to be investigated more, because although the vet cleared two, there are mites that can be on cats that do not LIVE on them, or that they are very good at biting/removing from themselves, or so I've read. And an interesting bit here is that my cats sleep mostly with me, occasionally with one child, and rarely if ever with the other. Though for the past bit, with neither child as the doors were shut due to the glue traps on the floor.
Though that may be entirely unrelated. This is so odd.
This has been going on now for what, 2.5 months I guess in total? The PCO's that I have spoken with (the visiting one and another via phone and another via email) tend to agree that we should have found some bedbug evidence were it them. And the bites haven't really gotten "worse", they've just stayed somewhat consistent, but off and on. I think I need to find the common factor. Or something.
I also decided to re-do the permethrin cream lotion treatment thing on us, on the chance that this really is, as doc-who-never-looked seemed to think, the scabies mites. Though we don't fit the usual criteria. But who knows, one PHN did say they have seen some "odd cases" of it in the past year. But that wouldn't explain the cats scratching more than usual. Hmm.
But still keeping an eye out for bedbugs. Because, as was mentioned before, the presence of [this] doesn't necessarily negate the presence of [that]. But surely there should have been some evidence - even bloodstains. Something. I've cleaned a lot, but we should find something somewhere.
Sorry I missed your post, bugsbite. I'm really very sorry about this.
I repeat my recommendations to a) encase the remaining mattress asap, and b) reconsider getting (yet) another PCO inspection.
Yes, some people have bedbugs with very little visible evidence. Fecal dirt, which might be pepper-like and not really adherent to the surfaces where it's found, is sometimes the most readily visible indicator.
In your case, continued investigation is the only option. I will think good thoughts for you as this must be very difficult. Best...
Sticky traps are not all that effective, but can't hurt. I would get some and place them strategically around the edge of the bed and behind the sofa (assuming no animals or children will get stuck!) They are bound to find other bugs too, but don't let that distract you. Everyone with bed bugs also has other bugs in their home.
Did the PCOs inspect also for bird mites/rodent mites, which are much smaller than bed bugs?
Unfortunately, there are no more PCO's to consult - there are only 2 available here and both have been here.
As it stands right now, neither child has shown any more 'bites' - or at least, not that I'm aware of. One of them I can inspect every morning at bath time, the other, older, it's not exactly appropriate, but she hasn't complained of any, I've asked, and I've "inspected" her a bit. She does play outdoors and has gotten some mosquito bites, but those look very different than the problem bites (the problem bites have looked almost identical on all three of us who have been bitten) and she saw and swatted at mosquitoes at those spots and remembers that. They're mosquitos, those few. The way that this was going, she was having lots of them on her torso area, and that has stopped. The other child, he only had a few over a couple days, and has had no more since then. Husband has none (has never) - or has not been aware anyway. Likely has none.
Myself, I've had a few more. But not in the numbers that I did. I don't think, anyway. Just noticed two very tiny bumps on my hand (a location I have never had them at) a few moments ago, small as pimples but a bit itchy.
The cats are still scratching, though it may be lessened. I called another vet because I wondered, could it be house mouse mites and they are biting the cats and us? (As opposed to something ON the cats - like a cat specific mite - that is also bothering us). The vet wasn't able to say, and suggested bringing the cats in, but I don't have any money for that right now.
I did find something VERY tiny (tinier than my harmless psocids) the other day, on the window ledge in our bedroom, where a few of the cats often take turns sitting. It was almost invisible, I was just staring at an area with dust and I saw something move. Something no bigger than a grain of sand almost. I got my daughter's little magnifying glass (more a toy than anything, but it does work) and used that to look, definitely wasn't dust and was definitely moving. I was able to get it onto the tip of a pair of scissors and look again, it 'walked' along the end of them. I grabbed a piece of nearby duct tape and got it on there. It's so small, you wouldn't know it was there if it wasn't pointed out, and even then it looks like a bit of dust/dirt. But it's not, it was walking along.
It may be a mite of some sort? I don't know. I considered calling the PCO man again, but when I asked him before if he knew anything of mites, he said "not really". On their website, they do list house mice as pests and there IS a mention of house mouse mites causing "dermatitis" in people, but I don't know exactly whether that would mean things that appear like bites or more just like a scratchy rash. Ours certainly appear like bites. And they sometimes follow the 'row like' thing referred to about bedbugs, but not all the time. On my torso area, they seem to appear like red dots, a ways apart but not always. The two tiny ones on my left hand aren't red. They just look like pimples on the skin, but a bit itchy. The ones I had on my lower stomach area, as well as when daughter had them there, those itched like crazy. Perhaps that's just a sensitive area.
But goodness, after this going on for all of July, all of August, into September, we should see something of bedbugs, especially as bare as the bedrooms are now. There's not even any curtains up. No clothes in dressers. And, the PCO man finds it odd that one child only got bites that one time (possibly a couple times over a weekend) and has no more since then (a few weeks now) and also that the other child doesn't seem to have them, or at the very least, not like she did. He says that doesn't fit with bedbugs.
Given that this has gone on for a few months now, should they not have multiplied and be present in ever growing numbers? I've done a LOT of cleaning (vacuuming, washing bedding every day, washed walls and floors and baseboards and windows, ledges, etc) but as it's been said time and time again, the eggs hide and are extremely small and I doubt I'd have vacuumed those away, or washed them away, or whatever, in enough that we'd still have a very small population, if it were bedbugs. ?
It's kind of funny, this has gone from being a horrid miserable confusing experience to....... well, almost 'normal'. I don't quite know how to explain that. Like, it's becoming a part of life. Finding miscellaneous bites. For most of the summer, our life went on hold while I dug and cleaned and tried to sort this out. By now, we've pretty much gone back to living normally - although the clothes are all still out of the bedrooms and they look bare and nobody is allowed in them except for sleeping. But the kids are doing school, playing with friends, husband is working, we attend church, daughter is in drum lessons, life is going on. Really, what else could we do. Life has to continue, we can't sit in the house, afraid to do anything. We already did that for a few months and it didn't change anything.
I don't know whether to call the PCO guy and ask him about this mite, or perhaps try the vet instead - If it's related TO the cats somehow and also biting us, then it would be vet. If it's BOTHERING them and us, but not living on the cats, then it would likely be pest control. I don't know.
I guess I could try the PCO man first - but I almost get the impression that he's getting tired of me giving him calls and bugs and nothing is showing anything that could be bothering us.
Maybe it could even have been something that came in from outside? And will taper off now that summer is over. My mother said something to me recently, she said that I complained of 'odd bites' on my stomach area last summer - I don't remember this, but she does. Maybe it's something outdoors coming in, as we did pretty much sleep all summer with all the bedroom windows open. I don't live in the the states with that itch mite thing in the news, but who knows.
Or maybe it's related to the mice problem and was present in tiny amounts last summer. More this summer.
Or maybe it's related to the small rodent pets we had, the last of which left a few weeks ago. Maybe they had some sort of mite and it spread through the bedrooms. There haven't been any of those pets in our (husband and I) bedroom since the late winter, but there were gerbils in daughter's room until a few weeks ago. She and I spent a lot of time together in her room at the start of the summer, maybe they started in there and got spread via us and cats to the other bedrooms. A possibility perhaps. Maybe that's what the tiny dead pseudoscorpions I found behind peeled down border on the walls and other random places was all about --- they eat mites.
There just seems to be no bedbug evidence - if tiny black 'specks' (not the typical ink like) is all that was here, I would never find it. There's just too much other 'dust and dirt' around a house with children and pets.
PCO's need evidence to treat anyway - so unless at some point I actually find a bedbug, they can't do anything. That's what he told me.
Maybe I'll try asking him about that mite. Or try the vet first. Not sure which one would be better.
Called the vet moments ago, and she said bring it in and they'll see if it's anything they recognize. Taking it there after lunch. She said there's no guarantees, but they do have a microscope and can at least look at it, see if it's an animal-related mite or not.
Well, I had to drop it off there and leave it, as I had stuff to do this afternoon. Wasn't home when the vet called, husband took the message off voicemail. He says (it's deleted) that she said something about not being able to see? (not sure what that meant) and that she had some "slides" or something for me to come get on Monday. Since he took the message, I didn't hear it myself so I'm going off what he said it said. Vet is closed until Monday, so I guess I'll call then and see what she meant. I'm not sure about the see part, because although tiny, it was certainly there. I even circled it with pen on the tape. It was very much alive and moving (purposely) when I caught it.
Guess I wait and talk with her.
Still working on this. The "slides" turned out to be actual microscope slides, and the vet wants me to find more and use scotch tape to put them on the slides. I guess the one on duct tape wasn't viewable perhaps, squished, whatever. (I haven't spoken right with her, just with the assistant when I fetched the slides). I did spot another one yesterday, and I THINK I got it on a slide, but it's so tiny that I can't tell well with that tape. So I'm watching for another. This one, I found crawling in some dust on the very lower part of the wall. EXTREMELY tiny, size of this . dot, if that even.
Still no more bites on the children, that I can see. I've had a couple. But it's calmed down, it seems. This really must be something else. Were it bedbugs, by now we should have MORE and be getting MORE bites - not be seeing less. (Given that no treatment was done or anything, and especially given that two beds are directly on the floor).
The cats are still scratching. I'm wondering if these 'mites' that I've seen are perhaps a rodent/bird/something mite and are willing biting us (well, me) AND the cats. I've even seen stories (the odd few) online where people had small animals (like we did) and ended up with out of control mites biting them (and other pets?).
99% sure there are no bedbugs. July, August, most of September, and less bites? No more on the kids? (one child was being bitten as much as I was pretty near). And no evidence , no bugs found, despite a hard hard search. Furniture taken apart and all. It doesn't make sense for bedbugs. The clincher is the lack of bites on two formerly bitten people. Especially when one had a lot. I've cleaned, but there's no way I'd have interrupted their lifecycle THAT much.
Now, if I can just find some more of whatever these teeny TEENY dot-like things. I can't be certain I got one on that slide, I need more.
Also, I think this thread needs a new title, but I seem unable to give it one LOL
Nor would I have a clue what to call it. We've covered many bugs here!
Oh, and on a buggy note - a friend of one of my children has caught the welcome-back-to-school gift of headlice. GOOD TIMING. I get to continue hunting for bugs in my home while also watching for bugs in my childrens' hair.
Hey bugsbite - glad to hear the bites are subsiding, and that your children aren't getting bitten at all. I admire your tenacity in tackling this mystery. Keep us posted on the outcome.
So glad to hear things are better.
I think you should consider freshwater (food grade) diatomaceous earth from now on. Strategically and very lightly applied, it could help fend off anything nasty from taking hold in the future. I know you have kids, but if you make sure it's applied only in cracks and crevices, it should be OK.
Anyway, something to think about.
Hi bugsbite, simply start a new thread. call it "bugsbite's saga" or "What is biting bugsbite?" It is not possible to rename threads, and anyway, a new one will be more manageable. COpy and paste the URL for this discussion and include it in your first message in the new one if you want some continuity.
I am going to close this thread, ok?
This topic has been closed to new replies.