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Carpet Beetles VS. Bed Bugs (happy ending)

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  1. Coppertop77

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Jul 28 2009 20:10:05
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    I just wanted to share some of the information I learned in my bug battle, in case it should be helpful to anyone. Below you will find info about carpet beetle "bites" (allergic reaction), BB and CB treatments as explained by Orkin, and how our PCO diagnosed us with CBs.

    Mysterious Bites:
    Several months ago I started getting bites at night that I was sure were caused by a spider. Large, itchy, but with a burning sensation that told me they weren't mosquito bites. It started with the occasional bite, then I started getting GROUPS of bites that were often in a line, or a C shape. They were always on my legs, and usually on just one leg, which I think must be the side I was sleeping on. Here's the strange part, though--while I looked like I had the chicken pox from the waist down, my husband had NO bites at all!! At one point I had about 40 distinct red welts, some mushed together. (Please let me know if you would like pictures of these bites; I will try to post them.)

    I cleaned and vacuumed everything in the room and changed the sheets, but the next morning I still had a few bites. I went to the internet, and found that this was NOT the work of a spider, but possibly bed bugs. (The bites looked very similar to mine.) At this point I started freaking out, and my husband and I moved into the guest room. We quarantined the bedroom after thoroughly cleaning and spraying everything (flea/BB spray from Home Depot), but found no evidence of ANY bugs. Meanwhile, in the guest room I started getting bites.

    After more research:
    I realized it was VITAL to find out what we were dealing with, and that BBs are a serious problem. I contacted Orkin for an inspection. I would recommend this to ANYONE that suspects they have BBs or CBs, as the treatments are very different. It was $130, and worth every penny for our peace of mind.

    According to Orkin it takes MONTHS of extremely thorough full-house treatments to be sure that BBs are gone, because new ones hatch every 10 days or so. The whole company shows up at your house and they go over every square inch with steam and/or spray. This is NOT something you want to treat with home remedies or a few cans of spray. I was prepared for the worst.

    The verdict:
    Here was the key to our diagnosis: Our PCO suspected Carpet Beetles instead of BBs due to the fact that I was getting the "bites" and my husband was not. Some people are allergic to CBs and some are not. She says that EVERYONE is allergic to BBs to some degree, so we would both have the bites. She looked at pictures of the bites, and after much searching she found a few dead carpet beetles in the guest room (where I hadn't cleaned yet). And no BBs.

    Supposedly the CBs like to be near you when you are sleeping because of the CO2 gas you exhale, and they are very shy little guys, so they are hard to find. They Don't bite, but the larvae have prickly little hairs that cause a reaction in some people that looks very much like BB bites. Also, they only come out in the wee hours of the morning (same as BBs). They really aren't associated with carpets, as most of them are made of synthetic fibers these days. They eat natural fibers, like wool. Adults look kind of like tiny yellow and black ladybugs.

    I can't explain the relief in knowing we only had these friendly little guys wandering around. They weren't biting me at all. I found that an organic bug repellent kept them away at night, even just a little on my sheets. Finally, I am able to sleep without anxiety. My husband signed up for a treatment plan, but we have not started it yet, as the prep list is VERY detailed. I have steam-cleaned the carpets and haven't had any bites since I started using the repellent. In hindsight, I probably would have held off on the plan for CBs, or at least explored some "greener" options. (I picked Orkin because they were the only place in our area that seemed to have solid experience with BBs.)

    The CB treatment plan (as it reads on my contract) includes 6 treatments (every other month for a year) at $78 each. Plus the initial service (inspection) of $130, is $598. You can request info about the chemicals, but it is not on the contract. It is also effective on ants, rats, and some other pests. It sounds like it is a powder that they dust around the baseboards and other areas. Supposedly it won't hurt pets or kids. Among other things, the prep list includes taking everything out of ALL your drawers, kitchen cabinets, closets, etc. and putting it in plastic bags.

    To anyone who is dealing with CBs or BBs, please call a PCO that has experience with BB and get an inspection ASAP. Every day counts. Once you know what you are dealing with, you can decide how to proceed. Good luck in the battle, we are behind you!!

  2. tiredinithaca

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Jul 29 2009 7:39:05
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    Hello Coppertop:

    Thanks for your interesting posting. I am in a similar situation, though I'm still not convinced that CBs are the culprit. My PCO and I used sticky traps around the bed and walls, and the only thing we trapped were definitely CBs. No BBs upon visual inspection of my futon or bed, or other furniture. HOWEVER, not only were my bites in rows and in C-formation, as you described, but also I was definitely getting blood spots on my sheets, including spots that were kinda smeared as if the bug had pooped while on the move away from the center of the bed, towards the side. And finally, I had a K9 inspection (which, honestly, left me with a bad taste for the procedure, as the handler would not do any visual inspections to follow up on the dog's alerts), and the dog alerted to my bed, my book case right behind my computer chair in my office, and the wall right behind the chair where I sit to watch TV -- i.e., within 6"-12" of places I occupy for 2-8 hours at a time...

    So, I have definitely found evidence of carpet beatles, but only have indirect evidence of bed bugs... Which is it, and how could I ever confirm that it's simply not BBs???

    Good luck, Coppertop, and I hope you and Orkin have definitively figured out what was going on in your home... All the best!

  3. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Jul 29 2009 9:14:25
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    Hi,

    Please do not chemically treat for CB's as it is not the live insects that cause the problem therefore no insecticide will be effective.

    The "bite like" reaction is an allergic reaction to presence of the hairs as irritants and therefore nothing of a chemical insecticide nature will work. You are more likely to get results with an enzyme to digest any material that is present in the environment.

    Some of the information in the post on the basis of bite responses and allergic reactions is a real crock though, I am not Orkin bashing I am just making it clear its simply wrong.

    The correct way to look at it is if you search for bed bug signs and find nothing, no faecal traces, no live samples or cast skins then carpet beetles could be the issue, particularly if you have had greater than 20 bites and can not find any faecal traces. Check the area for the shed larval skins remembering that even a single skin could result in multiple "bite like" reactions due to the number of hairs they carry.

    The only solution is to make sure you removal all the allergens (the hairs) from the environment, you will also get some relief by not wearing shoes or socks int he house as part of the issue is connected with static attraction between the hairs and you.

    Would I advocate a complex course of treatment when cleaning and allergen removal is all that is required no.

    I have hosted a document on carpet beetles for many years now, details of which can be found at:

    http://www.Bed-Bugs.co.uk/carpetbeetles

    Hope this helps.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bedbug infestations in domestic and commercial settings. The patent numbers are GB2463953 and GB2470307.
  4. F@ Bed Bugs

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Jul 30 2009 1:58:26
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    I found many of these black carpet beetles in my house, and also, the larvae look totally different from the adult bug, but I keep seeing long brown bugs with many legs, and they look a lot like pictures of the black beetle larvae.

    I am still positive that there were bed bugs here at some point, but about three weeks ago the bed bug dog was here and cleared the whole house except for my mattress, which was thrown out immediately, and the dog then went back into my room and cleared it. For a few days I was still finding some itchy bumps and was so scared that there were some bedbugs hiding too far in the walls to be detected by the dog, and then made their way back out and possibly began infesting the new mattress. Then I had about 10 days of peace, until yesterday, and again today finding a couple of small itchy bumps (definitely not mosquitoes). They are not in a c shape, and except for my neck, there is only one bump per spot. I know bed bugs don't always bite in twos or threes though. I am hoping its not bed bugs, and actually hope it might be an allergic reaction to having many carpet beetles in the house. I have many allergies, and I'm the only one in the house experiencing the bumps.. but then again, my room was the only room suffering from bed bugs. I'm paranoid that the 10 days of peace was because the live adults were fed and then any new eggs laid wouldn't hatch for at least a week. So maybe the bed bugs are still here and continuing to breed, or maybe its a mix of my allergies and other common skin irritations. Unfortunately the bumps on my neck do not itch, so it's hard to tell if its a bite or something else. But when I do get bed bug bites on my legs or stomach they hive and itch like crazy, and remain visible for a week or more. The ones on my arms slightly itch/burn, appear as only a small bump barely visible and disappear fairly quick.

    So, I have no idea what the f--- is going on with me, but if anyone else has info on these carpet beetles, and the reactions they cause, it would be great to share as much as we can. I clearly have carpet beetles... while after 9 months after bringing a bed bug or two home from a motel, I am yet to see one in my house. I don't look THAT hard, but you would still expect to see something. The most I ever found was a few black "pepper flakes" in my sheets that are supposed to be fecal droppings. Yet those flakes might have just been regular old dirt that made its way to my sheets on my feet.

    This sucks. For ten days I thought I was free and clear. Now I'm all paranoid again. I was finally in love with my bed again and felt safe and comfortable. Carpet beetles are welcome in my house if it means its not bed bugs!

  5. Coppertop77

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Jul 30 2009 4:12:11
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    Hi David,

    Thanks for your reply. Good info on your site, and nice pictures. I agree with you about chemically treating for CBs--I have never pursued pest control except in this instance where I suspected bed bugs! It was a huge relief to me to know we did not have BBs, so the inspection was worth the peace of mind. My husband was the only one present for the inspection, and he figured we wanted to get rid of the problem regardless of which pest it was--so he signed a contract.

    We have since decided that we do NOT want the treatments... I would prefer to deal with the (now minor) CB issue without any chemicals, or packing every possession I own in plastic bags. It turns out I may have misinterpreted the contract--my husband says the inspection was free, and thinks the "contract" was more of a quote. I am hoping there is no obligation to pay for a whole year of service if no service has been performed yet, and no bill issued. (This is of course our miscommunication, not Orkin's.

    I am curious which information you thought was wrong. I would expect PCOs (or any other pros) to say their treatment is the only reliable way to fix the problem, even if there may be reasonable alternatives. Concerning the bite responses and allergic reactions, I only know what mine looked like, and that my husband had no reaction. I was getting groups of about 5-20 "bites" every night, and still he had none (wearing shorts). Also, after the first few nights I was wearing heavy sweat pants to bed, tucked into my socks, and still found marks! They looked different than your picture--uniformly red and raised, and tended to have a white ring around them. They would often get larger within the first few hours that I noticed them.

    Another observation (in a span of about 2 weeks) is that I only found marks when I got up, and only if I had spent the hours of abt 2-5 am in my bed. If I moved to the other room during those hours, I did not get them. This could be coincidence, but it suggests (to me) that it may have been the live bugs that were causing the reactions, and not just allergens that remained in the bed. (Simply being in the bed did not seem to do it.) Also, the first marks appeared just after I had changed the sheets and cleaned the bedroom, and I replaced the sheets multiple times that week hoping to get rid of the culprit.

    The Orkin lady said that BBs are indiscriminate, and my husband would have at least some indication of bites; in our case it appears that I had a reaction to the CBs and he did not. Whether this is correct or not, the diagnosis seems to be right. I may have gotten the info wrong. Essentially she was saying that a battle with bedbugs is usually ongoing: you may think they are gone, and then get an outbreak a couple weeks later because there were eggs (or an adult laying eggs) that survived in some tiny crevice. Also, from what I understand (from sites like this one), unless a BB problem is dealt with immediately, you can quickly have a problem that is out of hand before you even realize what hit you. I feel so lucky to have CBs!
    Thanks again for the response.

    Cheers, Rachael

  6. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Jul 30 2009 6:41:52
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    Hi Rachael,

    I don't want to dissect what Orkin said about bites other than to say you really cant tell anything about CB's or BB's from the bites alone. Some people respond and other don't its as simple as that.

    I personally would not treat chemically with an insecticide for CB's because as I said it is not the live insect that causes the issue it is the hairs and the allergic reaction that causes the "bite like" response. These can vary from person to person and from location to location on the body.

    The "bite reaction" under clothes is symptomatic of CB's as the hairs will pass though all but the finest of weaves om clothes.

    As I have said you will get a lot of relief by simply not wearing shoes or socks in the house which will reduce you potential for static interactions which is actually the catalyst for the problem.

    Unfortunately this is an area that is only starting to be accepted by many pest professionals so scientific information and analysis is as rare as hens teeth. I do have some medical entomologists who have agreed with our analysis but stepping that forward with papers and publications is not something we have plans on doing.

    But yes you are right to be glad its CB's and not BB's.

    David

  7. F@ Bed Bugs

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Jul 31 2009 2:12:40
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    I have found a large smeared blood spot of my sheets, but my bites have never been in a c-formation, but sometimes in a row.. usually just one single itchy bump though, and definitely a burning.. much different than mosquitoes

    so I have discovered black carpet beetles, ground beetles and flour beetles in my bedroom, which is in the basement... any chance that the other beetles, not just the carpet beetles can cause an allergic reaction

    I'm allergic to everything, and although I'm not ruling out bed bugs, if most larvae of the beetle family cause allergic reactions (like bites) there is a great chance I would be one of those people allergic to their hairs.. and we have a whole lot of beetles running around, especially in my tiny room

    tiredinithaca - 1 day ago  » 
    HOWEVER, not only were my bites in rows and in C-formation, as you described, but also I was definitely getting blood spots on my sheets, including spots that were kinda smeared as if the bug had pooped while on the move away from the center of the bed, towards the side. And finally, I had a K9 inspection (which, honestly, left me with a bad taste for the procedure, as the handler would not do any visual inspections to follow up on the dog's alerts), and the dog alerted to my bed, my book case right behind my computer chair in my office, and the wall right behind the chair where I sit to watch TV -- i.e., within 6"-12" of places I occupy for 2-8 hours at a time...
    So, I have definitely found evidence of carpet beatles, but only have indirect evidence of bed bugs... Which is it, and how could I ever confirm that it's simply not BBs???
    Good luck, Coppertop, and I hope you and Orkin have definitively figured out what was going on in your home... All the best!

  8. F@ Bed Bugs

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Jul 31 2009 2:15:59
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    just realzing that if the beetles don't bite, why would there be blood spots on the sheets? any thoughts, or is that purely an indication of bed bugs? it could be that I have both bed bugs on top of a variety of beetles living in my room.. this SUCKS

  9. BBcoukHome

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Jul 31 2009 2:50:20
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    Hi,

    Blood spots ont he sheets is a non definitive sign of a problem it does not automatically equal bed bugs. It can be due to many many things other than bed bugs.

    The ONLY three definitive signs of bed bugs are:

    • Live samples
    • Cast skins
    • Faecal traces

    No treatment for bed bugs should ever occur unless these are found.

    David

  10. Coppertop77

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Jul 31 2009 16:19:03
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    Hi tiredinithaca and FBB,

    I'm so sorry you are having to deal with this--I know how exhausting the uncertainty can be (both emotionally, and physically from lack of sleep)!

    I'm afraid I can't be much help concerning the other signs... I didn't find any indication of bugs (like the blood smears or fecal matter on the sheets) except for the bumps. Of course, that really doesn't mean much, as I started getting the "bites" right after changing my sheets, and then changed them almost daily in the next few weeks. David was talking about static... Maybe newly laundered sheets have more static, causing any CB hairs to stand up, or attract to the sheets from blankets or on the way into the bedroom. (If that is the case, I wonder if an anti-static product in the laundry would lessen the problem?)

    I did want to mention that, although you can't really make a diagnosis from bites, the marks I had looked almost exactly like Amy's (first picture) in the BB photo section. This photo was actually the reason I thought I might have BBs. So (whether this is a comfort or not), if you have confirmed CBs, at least you know that they COULD be the cause of a similar reaction.

    Tiredinithaca, you mentioned that the K9 handler didn't check the places that the dog alerted to--how frustrating! Have you had your PCO back since the dog was there? Perhaps with that info the PCO could do a more detailed search of those areas. The wall behind your tv might be the easiest place to check on your own--I would suspect behind the baseboard (you may have to pry it off) and check anywhere there is a hole or crack. Also, I've heard headboards are a common place to find them (use a flashlight to check crevices and screw holes).

    FBB, I feel for ya. Sounds like you have quite a few unwanted roommates! I would suspect the CBs over the other beetles just because I have not heard anything about them, but I am no expert. I'm pretty sure though, that if you DID have BBs, that you can't just get rid of them by tossing your mattress. There are a lot of hiding places in a basement, and these guys can be pretty tiny. I would probably opt for a PCO inspection, as that is a pretty daunting task.

    I wish I could be more helpful, but glad that David has a few more answers for you. Good luck, and wishing you peace as soon as possible!

    Rachael

  11. anneynonomous

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Mon Feb 27 2012 20:10:30
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    I know this is a few years late, but what insect repellent did you use?


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