bites but no bugs in DC- please help(20 posts)
Hello, please help me- I feel like I'm going insane. I live in an apartment building in DC and have noticed bites for the past few weeks. First sign of trouble was when I was at work and my lower back started itching like crazy. I scratched, and when I got home I noticed a bunch of horrible looking bites- about 10 or so, all on my lower back, some in a line, the classic brkfst, lunch and dinner, some in a circle, and some on their own. They itched like crazy and were red and swollen like big pimples. I immediately searched the whole bed, but no signs. I called my boyfriend and he said he had no bites on him. This happened close to a month ago and the marks are still on my back, although slowly now going away. After a while they formed a hard dark dot in the middle that eventually fell off. I have washed and dried everything on hot. I have put tape around the bed legs and vaseline above the tape, but nothing. I search every day the bed and sheets for any sign of blood or bug, even wake up in the middle of the night- nothing. I am still getting bitten, but the bites now seem different, almost as if the first bites were done by adults and these are nymhs. My leg will just itch and after I scratch it I will notice bites. One time I scrathed my calf and after it turned red I was able to see a clear outlines of what seemed like 7 bites all next to each other. They mostly go away when I stop, but I have also made a bit effort not to scrach so I dont end up scarred and apply a cream at the first sign of itching. I constantly feel like my whole body is itching, a good part of which is just in my head i'm sure. Since I couldn't find bed bugs, I cleaned the whole apartment in case there were spiders or other bugs, but no changes. I am getting bit all over and I can't find any sign of anything! What's worst, I am the only one getting bitten. My boyfriend has no bites whatsoever and neither has my roomate. We have no pets. My bed was bought new a year ago, as well as all the bedding. All the furniture has been in the apart for over a year before all this started, so nothing new has been bought in. I dont know what could have caused this all of a sudden- and what's worst I dont know what it is! Bed bugs is the only thing that fits, but I can't find any sign whatsoever. I feel that since this has been going on for weeks now I should at least see a blood spot! Any ideas on what else it could be?
Please help- I am normally a very practical and rational person, but this is making me feel like I'm going to have a nervous breakdown.
I feel your pain, dcbug. I am in a similar situation in Baltimore. I am in no way an expert on bed bugs, but I am an expert on me and I am being bitten! So is my boyfriend, who shares a bed with me and who is feasted upon more often than I am. We have taken apart our bed on an almost nightly basis for the past few weeks - the mattress, the boxspring, the bed frame, and we have cleared out our dressers - nothing there. We've cleaned the place silly. We had a PCO recently check out the place, and he found nothing, though he did advise that bb's could be hiding anywhere or be coming in from another apartment. His advice was to "wait and see." Yikes!
I have sprayed Steri-Fab everywhere in my apartment and we still get bites. I'm convinced that they are coming in from another unit. Unfortunately, up until this point the rental company has been totally unwilling to cooperate and investigate that possibility.
My lone bit of advice for you is to visit your doctor to determine whether the bites are from something else. My doctor confirmed that our bites were indeed, insect bites likely due to bed bugs. She ruled out fleas and spiders and other skin rashes. I have on hand, written documentation from my doctor in the event I need this information for my less-than-cooperative landlord. I project into my future a building full of infested tenants and an ugly battle with the rental company. To date I have tracked every conversation I have had with the landlord and PCO, every receipt for Steri-Fab and giant ziploc bags, every email I have forwarded to the rental company with information about bed bugs, and every effort I have taken to protect myself and my unit from bed bugs.
I feel like I'm on the verge of a nervous breakdown, as well. Normally I am also calm and collected and able to handle life's truly insane situations with great success, and even humor. Not this one.
Sorry for you and welcome to bedbugger. I did not react to my bites for approx. 3 months after my wife and dog reacted.
I believe that most of my reactions were old bites. A year ago speculation was that in the cases, which were many, the man was not being bitten because that the female gave off more heat or carbon dioxide or gave off certain pheromones. That is what the experts were think then. Now we know that it appears as if it is an immune system thing and both male and female are getting bites.
Also I ask myself how long was the bugs around and biting us before my wife had reactions, it may have been months or not.
What you are going through right now is normal and most if not all people experience this. I just wanted to wish you the best and you should continue with this site because it is the most informative.
Thank you- couple questions:
Buggedoutinbaltimore: do you have a lot of bites, what do yours look like? It is strange that the first time I become aware of the problem I had such a serious reaction (made worst by severe scratching), but now the bites, (for the most part) not noticeable until I scratch, and unless I scratch severely don't leave a long term mark?
Liutenantdan: I was thinking the same thing- that for some reason he is not reacting to them; but- I still have no signs outside of my body itching. Did you find bugs? How long did it take?
Hi dcbug. You're not nuts, I have a somewhat similar situation in Baltimore. I have only been bitten twice (that I reacted to), once five weeks ago and once ten days ago. Both times the classic three bites on my torso and they itched like hell for about a day. I immediately thought bedbugs as they had them on the upper floors of my building last year and because I have traveled twice since August.
Anyway, I have not seen a blood spot, fecal spot, egg or live bug in or anywhere near my bed. But that doesn't mean anything, I have read a lot on this site and it seems that many people get bitten for months without ever seeing a bug. They are very elusive.
You should call a qualified PCO and get inspected ASAP. Read up on the FAQs. I took comfort in educating myself, formulating a plan of attack, and beginning the neverending laundry and decluttering. It offered me a small sense of control which tamed my anxiety a little bit.
Hi again, dcbug.
To answer your question: I do not have a lot of bites. I have only two at the moment. Mine look like mosquito bites, except smaller and mostly red in appearance. My boyfriend gets the majority of the bites and his bites range from clusters of bites, individual bites, and bites in the 1-2-3 pattern. Most of his appear to be small, raised, flesh-colored at the top and red all around. Some of his bites are large pink welts. Every person will react differently to the bites. It is possible that I am being bitten just as much as he is and am not reacting to some. For instance, I'm not allergic to poison ivy. I can take a nap in it and not be affected at all, whereas my boyfriend has very sensitive skin and would be covered in pink itchies.
I will say that the bites themselves are very itchy. My boyfriend scratches his to the point that they are bleeding. I'm not as itchy. I am much, much more grossed-out, though. This is the most un-fun experience I've had all year.
Ok- I understand that I may never see an actual bug and still have them. I also get that my boyfriend could be bite (or reaction) free while I am itchy all over. But- shouldn't I at least find a spot of blood?
Is there anything else it could possibly be?
I am currently in a thight financial spot and can't really afford an exterminator. My boyfriend thinks I'm overreacting since he has no symtoms, and I really don't want to completely freak out my currently-bug-free roomate before I can be sure of this.
Also- can anyone recommend a PCO in the DC area?
Thank you all for your help and advice!
Hi dcbug. We also have found no evidence. No blood, no bugs, no spots. We do live in a very old Baltimore row house (cut up into apartment units) and the floors are wooden and cracked and I can't begin to tell you how many secret openings we have all over this place. My theory is that they are coming in from there. All the bedroom units are on top of one another, so they have an easy route from one bed to another through cracks and pipes.
I'm sure this could be something else, particularly since we have seen no signs. That is the most frustrating part to me. The only evidence I'm going on is that the bites are consistent with bed bug bites and the doctor has confirmed the presence of insect bites (likely bed bugs) and ruled out every other possible skin disease/reaction/infection.
Also, we have had several tenant moves lately. Many people have moved out and many have moved in. I'm thinking that bugs are either migrating or have jumped ship in vacant apartments to set up shop in mine. I'm hoping this is just an acute paranoid episode in my life and something I will laugh about later. My gut tells me this is not so.
I'm also in a tight financial bind. I'm in grad school working full-time at an unpaid internship and extermination is not in our budget. At all. No way possible. My rental company won't pay for it so I just sit and wait and take every precaution I can take, assuming that no news is good news. I'm just arming myself with as much documentation and information that I can in the event I need to take this up with the housing authority. It's so frustrating.
Ignorance really is bliss, but I am so grateful for this forum. At least I know what I'm up against if I'm up against anything at all.
Hi DCBug - I'm in nearby VA, and I've had 3 different PCOs do inspections. I highly recommend Connor Pest Control, which was recommended to me by a fellow bedbugger on this site. Their inspection was the most comprehensive of the three, the PCO knew much more about bedbugs than the other two. Connor does work in DC, and they don't charge for the inspection. They didn't find any signs of bugs, however. And Connor will not treat without bedbug evidence, which I like. A week ago I sealed up 2 chairs which I suspected of being bb harborages, and the bites seem to have stopped, but today I'm not sure... Anyway, I'm going to continue to get rid of clutter & clean, and if I find any evidence, I'll be calling Connor back. I did find blood spots once. Do you use white sheets & wear light colored bed clothing? Good luck & keep us posted.
Another reason some people don't seem to be bitten: Dini Miller, who does research at VA Tech, says that once bedbugs have chosen their host, they don't tend to munch on other people... how creepy.
I suppose it could be fleas or some other creepy insect but only a PCO can tell you for sure. Sure seems to fit the bedbug profile. A lot of people are financ ially stressed, we do understand. Have you talked to your landlord? I don't know the housing laws in DC but in many places the landlord has to pay for treatment.
There is another thread where some folks were discussing PCOs in DC-NoVA. You might want to check that thread and PM those guys. Check here: http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/1269?replies=4
I swear, buggedout, you and I are living in parallel universes. Same deal, exactly!Except I may have you beat on nooks and crannies. Most of the 100 or so units in my building have circa-1960 parquet floors under wall-to-wall carpeting. Bedbug heaven! I fear that taking it up will leave me even more vulnerable. At least now they're probably only in the edge of the floor.
*edited to show correct thread*
buggedoutinbaltimore, you and I seem to be in the same boat. I am praying I'm wrong, but unfortunately bb is the only damn thing that fits...
We have parquet floors, so lots of places to hide, but there is a 3 foot slab of solid concrete separating the apartments- not much connects each unit, so it's very unlikely they came from a neighbor. I also have a hard time thinking they lay dormant for over a year before deciding to attack me in force. I am getting bit a good amount- so the infestation has to be a decent size, right? How big does the infestation have to be before I can find one of those suckers!? My pj is light blue and my comforter is white- both show anything and everything. I am going nuts thinking every spec of dirt or dust is a bug, but alas, it is not.
Another dilema- I am leaving the country for 2 and a half weeks in a few days, to get bit by new and exotic bugs that with my luck will be full of malaria. My roomate is currently bug-free, they won't spread that quick will they?
Also- I have read all the dangers of "do it yourself", and believe me, I would much rather not, but since they won't spray without proof and the bites are all I have, can someone recommend some sort of poison or powder I can use around the bed to catch one of the suckers? I will wait until I get back, but if I purchase a mattress encasement and spread some bug poison around the bed and possible places of infestation, that won't make the problem worst will it?
Liutenantdan: I was thinking the same thing- that for some reason he is not reacting to them; but- I still have no signs outside of my body itching. Did you find bugs? How long did it take?
My wife was waking up itching at around five AM, at first it was not so bad and then in a week or so it got worse and in a month it was so bad that she would wake up every morning and cry. While this was going on it appears that I slept like a baby. If I had any idea that bed bugs were the answer it would of been a no brainer but because of the lack of local government support we had NO education on this subject other than a couple of quick stories in the media about bed bugs in hotels. Finally one morning she spotted a bug traveling up to meet her. The day before she had been told by the local health food store owner about the increasing bed bud epidemic. That is how we found bbs. They were in the box spring mostly and the bumpers but we did spot some in other places as time went on. After three PCO visits and approx. three montths is when I started to show skin reactions.
I will pass this info to you. I have found hatched eggs at the feet of my dresser next to my bed months later. The eggs were very small like white dust specs and I could not tell that they were eggs until I viewed them under 10x magnification with a photographers loupe. I have seen nymphs squeeze into wood slots that I could not fit a credit card into. Freeky shit.
I declared war one day and I promised myself that I was going to win no matter how long it takes and how hard I had to battle.
I could not throw my whole like into garbage cans. So get mean and declare war you are fighting for your life. Take no prisoners!
One other thing.
If bbs are hungry they can travel to find you. If you begin to sleep in another room or downstairs they can and will hunt you down, I have witnessed this. Read this site for info on DE. Food Grade Fresh Water Diatamacious Earth. It is cheap and will kill a bed bug once the bug crawls through it in approx. ten days. Please educate yourself on DE before you use it, it should not be used incorrectly. Good luck warrior!
When you go away for 2 weeks, chances are that some of the bedbugs will find your roommate in that time. But in general, I found that when I came back from vacation was the easiest time to spot bedbugs. They practically came out to meet me, they were so hungry, and I could see one or two then.
Bites are different on each person, and on each part of the body of the same person, and--I think--depending on the makeup of the saliva of the bedbug who bit the person. I had a huge reaction (about 4 inches across) when I was bitten by a bedbug in a hotel in California. My own bedbugs never gave me that reaction. Some of the bites I get at home are infinitestimal. One was the size of a 50 cent piece. You're right about scratching. It makes quite a difference. I wish I could stop scratching, but I even scratch in my sleep. It's bad enough to be bitten in your own bed at night by a bug that sucks your blood, but to itch all day, so bad that I slide a pair of scissors down my back to scratch it? No way. If the bites didn't itch so much, I would be better able to deal with this.
I'm sorry to hear this. On the plus side, it makes it easier for you to detect them. UnDetection is a large part of the battle.
Yeah...I figure when I come back there'll be a welcoming party.
(trying to laugh about it so I don't cry)
I would like to go buy some DE this wknd and one of those powder guns and spray around my bed and doorway right before I leave. I'm thinking if I do this chances are I will find one or two dead ones and have the evidence I need when I get back. Also, if I create a "no-bugs-land" of DE in front of the door maybe it will keep them from going out of my room and spreading the infestation (if it's not already).
What do you think? Even if it's ineffective, it won't make the problem worst, right?
I think DE takes up to 10 days to kill them. So if that is true then theorertically a bug could walk through the barrier, get into your roommate's room, bite him and lay eggs before it dies. But if it will make you feel better, then it's a help.
IMHO if you are going to increase your roommate's risk, even marginally, by going out of town then perhaps you two need to have an honest discussion about just how bad (or not bad) you feel the situation is. I understand that you don't want to freak him out but the second-worst thing to return home to (after bedbugs) is an angry and infested roommate.
But that is the opinion of a newbie so please take it as nothing more.
I also have been fighting bed bugs for 5 months and unfortunately, I feel like more of an expert than my exterminator. Our bugs were first dicovered on our ceiling inside the texture. Now they are in the carpet even though I vaccum 3-4 times a day. Even this morning I picked one off my 9 year old. And I believe that the only way to find out if you do indeed have them is to set up a video camera and record yourself while you sleep. I can't bring myself to do that because I would be disgusted to see those little bugs feeding on me. They even crawl into your ears and feed there. I have had to help my sister get one out at 3am on day. Another thing, they usually come out in the wee hours of the morning. Good Luck!!!
Right before we made our infestation discovery my wife had suffered nose bleeds.
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