Bitten by the Bug Near Baltimore(8 posts)
I had been getting bites on my arms for a couple of weeks and assumed it was mosquitoes (a little uncommon in February). I bought some bug spray and sprayed twice but it had no effect. I contacted my rental office and had them send an exterminator out but continued to get bitten every night. Someone told me it could be bed bugs, so I went online to read up on them.
I went home and check my mattress for any signs, but I found no evidence (I didn't check the box spring). This morning I woke up to find a dead bed bug on my bed which has now confirmed my fears. I have a bed bug problem!
I have been living in my apartment for almost a year, so I have no idea where they came from all of a sudden. I will be going home today to check my bed thoroughly and remove any clutter under my bed. I have limited storage so I have a few boxes and bags under my bed that might be good hiding places for them. I understand rubbing alcohol is a good way to kill any adults I find lurking around so I will be getting that along with a spray bottle as a first wave of prevention.
We'll see how it goes...
Check your box spring, that's where they hide.
Went home and stripped the bed and inspected the sheets, pillow cases, mattress AND boxspring. I found one dead bed bug on top of the mattress but found nothing in the boxspring. No signs of eggs, molting, blood spots or fecal matter. I sprayed down my metal bed frame and the surrounding area with 99% alcohol and then vacumed the bedroom. After reluctantly getting back in the bed for the evening, I woke up this morning without any new bites.
Could I have picked up two stray bb and dodged a bullet?
Have you read the FAQs at the main site? I found a lot of that information very helpful when I first got here.
Bed bugs are a bit of a misnomer, in the sense that humans usually get bitten by bed bugs when we're in bed because we're asleep and relatively defenseless to them. However, the bugs themselves can harbor in lots of other places.
If you've seen a dead adult bug, it is possible that you happened to pick up one lone male hitch hiker somewhere and that's the end of it. Unfortunately, however, that's pretty unlikely. Younger stages of bed bugs can be very small. And if you one hitch hiker was a female who'd already been inseminated, she could have already laid eggs. I don't say that to alarm you. I say that because the statistical chances of having only picked up one hitch hiker of the proper sex/not inseminated are pretty low. Not impossible, but pretty unlikely.
It's also possible that you do have an infestation that is harboring somewhere else in your bedroom. Bed bugs have been known to harbor in wood furniture (there are plenty of photos of them hiding out in a screw hole, for example) or behind the baseboards on a wall near the bed.
And you haven't mentioned whether you live in a unit in a multi-unit dwelling. If you do, it's possible that the one or two stragglers you've found are fleeing a neighboring infested unit. Since as much as 60% of the population doesn't react to bed bug bites, and since there's still a stigma associated with bed bugs, it's possible that someone near you has them and these have wandered over from there.
The first thing I would do if I were you would be to contact your landlord and arrange for professional inspection and, if bugs are found, treatment. Read up on the FAQs before you call so that you have some ideas about what you're getting into.
If treated properly, bed bugs can be eradicated. Sometimes in only two or three treatments. With some other treatments, maybe even once (Although those methods are less commonly used and have some geographic and climate-related limitations, and many landlords won't pay for them.)
91% rubbing alcohol (not 70%) is a contact killer, so keeping a bottle of that handy to kill any you come across is a good idea. Do use caution since it is highly flammable (i.e., don't spray it near, say, a pilot light. Don't light up a cigarette immediately after you sprayed it.) But it's not a substitute for getting a pro in to inspect and treat if an infestation is confirmed.
Generally speaking, since they are such a difficult to eradicate pest, bed bugs are best handled by an experienced professional pest controller, not through self-treatment. And pros are often best at inspecting, since experienced ones know where to look. Beg bugs are very good at hiding, and if you don't know exactly what you're looking for, you may not be able to find them. That you've seen two adults (even dead) is cause for concern. Not panic, mind you, but concern. If I were you, I'd get a pro out before I went disturbing things in the bedroom even more. Trying to clean up before the PCO comes out can send the bugs skittering deeper into hiding, and you don't want that because it makes an infestation, if you have one, harder to treat.
Last but not least, are you 100% sure the dead bugs you found were bed bugs and not look alike pests? Do you still have the carcasses of them? Many PCOs need proof before they can treat, so if you haven't gotten rid of the dead bugs, hold onto them so that your identification of the bugs can be confirmed.
You were correct. After going a day or two without being bitten, I woke up with brand new bites. To answer your question, my apartment building is a multi-unit building with 12 units per building. I placed another request for a PCO with the rental office a week ago and haven't heard back yet.
When I inspected the box spring I didn't remove the gauze lining on the bottom. I guess I will have to cut that away to get a better look. I wish I had kept the dead carcasses I had found as proof for the PCO (now I know better). I will do a follow up with the office concerning my request today and hopefully will get some action.
It has now become harder to sleep as I anticipate getting bitten at night. Any slight feeling I have on my body is followed by me slapping or swatting at the area in question. I have even jumped out of bed a couple of times, pulled back the sheets and turned the light on hoping to see something in the bed to no avail. I guess paranoia has now set in
I posted a memo on the door of my neighbors letting them know about my bed bug problem and for them to notify the rental office if they had any signs of trouble. I stripped the bed (again) and cut into the gauze under the box spring. I checked around with a flashlight and found nothing. I also pulled out my dresser drawers and checked the drawers and the dresser itself to no avail. Now I'm pissed because I know they are in my room somewhere and I can't find them!
Later this afternoon the PCO came by and checked my room to include the closet door tracks and underneath the carpet by the floor boards near the bed. Unfortunately he didn't find a thing so now I'm getting really mad at these little brown bastards for not showing up when I need them too! Next he had me strip the bed again, but this time he found an adult bed bug (full of my blood) on the box spring between the the loose bed gauze and bed staples. He told me that's all he needed to see and will be setting me up with at least two treatments. Finally some progress!
The PCO told me he would send over instructions in preparation for my first treatment. In the meantime he told me to keep the bed away from the wall for now. The good thing is he also inspected the other units in my building while he was here. I'm not sure if he found any in the other units, but I'm glad I alerted them to the issue.
I'm sorry I was right. I'm always hopeful when people post here that they'll find that they actually had something else.
The fact that you went a few days without bites is typical. Bed bugs only need to feed every few days. And a big giant yay that the PCO found one while he was there. (Because, really. Who on earth would think to hold onto a dead bug for a PCO unless they'd already been told to do so?) Lots of people go a long time without ever seeing any bugs at all, so you were lucky on that front.
I can tell you right now that almost certainly one aspect of the preparation for treatment will be laundering all the clothes that are launderable (definitely do as many of them in a hot wash followed by a hot dryer as can handle that heat) and storing them in sealed plastic bags. (Ziplock makes some large, extra large, and extra extra large bags that work very well for this.) If you want something to do until you hear back from your PCO, that's a great place to start, as even at a laundromat, that much laundry is pretty time consuming. In the FAQs there's a bit on what to do with clothes that can't be washed and dried on hot. I dealt with things much better when I had specific tasks to accomplish.
As for not being able to find where they are harboring--esp. since you're in a multi-unit building, and since as much as 60% of the population doesn't react to the bites, keep in mind that they may not be harboring in your apartment. They could be in an adjacent unit, and you're just getting stragglers. If you or the PCO haven't checked around and behind your baseboards, you could also check there.
Last but not least: resist the impulse to sleep elsewhere in your apartment. You want to keep them contained in your bedroom as much as possible. Don't move fabric items from the bedroom to the living room or the other way around.
I'm sorry to welcome you to the club, but I'm glad you found one while the PCO was there. That makes things a bit easier. And, also, if you haven't read the FAQ on choosing a PCO, read it even though you've already got one. The advice about asking the PCO about what you can do to support treatment is really, really good to know so that you ask all the right questions and get the most info from your PCO possible. (And, my experience with PCOs is that they're kind of relieved when they get someone who asks those questions, because people who ask those questions are more likely to follow protocols and not mess up what the PCOs are doing with additional chemicals or non-chemical self-treatment that will undo the effectiveness of what the PCOs put down. Plus, you know, for a lot of PCOs this is what they do, and like any other professional, they take interest in their job and enjoy the chance to talk about what they know well. My PCO inspected my suitcase for me and showed me what to look for with specifics--like "Is this an egg?" I would ask, and the PCO would say "No, it's about half that size." Not all PCOs may have as much time as mine did, but I trust that you can figure that out about your PCO, you know? And if the PCO doesn't have time, you can ask if on the next visit he or she can allow about five or ten minutes to show you what to look for so you don't call them out for a false alarm and/or so in the event of a refinfestation you can catch it early.)
Thanks buggyinsocal. Now I have to figure out where I can get those big ass Ziplock bags
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