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DIY bedbug control HOWTO

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  1. eval

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 11:53:54
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    Hi everyone,

    I know it is not recommended, but I am going to have to take care of bedbugs myself. My landlady is broke and I never signed a lease. I'm moving out anyway in early Feb, hopefully if she has some money by then she can deal with it when the apartment is empty. My goal is to not get bit, and not pass them on. I need advice on how to proceed (skip to the end for my questions).

    My roommate's subletter probably brought these this summer, he admitted to staying in a hotel full of them and one morning he had many bites on his arms (5 months ago?). It never happened again, but about 3-4 months ago I caught about 4-5 tiny little ones on my keyboard and bed sheet. And about 2 months ago my roommate now remembers seeing one in his room. Those I saw were hard to identify and I couldn't find anything in the rug, (futon) mattress, sheets or futon frame. I was never bitten.

    A week ago I woke up with what seemed like a very very light rash, tiny mild red spots (but in a row) on my arm, with one or two itchy bites on my neck and back. I still could not find any in my sheets or anywhere on the mattress. However, the futon frame was totally infested. Many of the drill-holes for screws were tiny breeding grounds with 4-5 bugs each. I killed them with what I had on-hand (tetramethrin, "Black Jack" Ant & Fly killer) and vacuumed them up, saved about a dozen for identification.

    I have since ordered 4lbs of diatomaceous earth (WOODSTREAM 5170B "SAFER" ANT & CRAWLING INSECT KILLER) which I'll dust under my bed (I have a respirator mask) after I'm done with the pesticide sprays and powders. Here's what I have:

    1gal Bonide, 0.02% deltamethrin
    1.5lb Terro Ant dust, 0.05% deltamethrin
    32oz Spectrum Triazicide, 0.25% gamma-cyhalothrin
    1.5lb Bayer Ant, 0.1% Cyfluthrin (large granules)
    1lb Scotts Bug-B-Gone dust, 0.25% permethrin
    32oz JT Eaton BedBug Spray, 0.13% pyrethrin

    I doused my futon frame and the wall-edges of my rug in the Bonide (deltamethrin) and sprayed previous problem areas with the JT Eaton (pyrethrin). (Unfortunately I've since read that many bedbugs are resistant to deltamethrin and will avoid it, encouraging "dispersal." Thus my roommate will tackle his room in a similar fashion ASAP) I've also sprayed the JT Eaton on my mattress edges just in case, since the label claims it's safe.

    Later I diluted the Spectrum (0.25% gamma-cyhalothrin) about 1:50 and steam cleaned my rug with that solution (after doing a normal vacuum and regular steam clean first). After two days the odor is gone. I plan to carefully dust under my futon with DE, especially the points of contact with the floor, and place double stick tape around the edges of the frame and parts of the wall, for monitoring. I haven't seen a single bug since I went to town on the futon frame a week ago.

    I'm a bit frustrated the cyfluthrin is in large granules, not sure if I should crush them or just apply to cracks and edges as-is. It's cheap construction with tons of holes and crevices, caulking this up is not an option. And again, I'm leaving in three months. Otherwise I can dust the wall-edges and cracks with permethrin (and some old pyrethrin) dust, if the cyfluthrin granules are unusable.

    Question I have for you all:

    Should I avoid using the deltamethrin, spray or dust?
    Is 0.005% gamma-cyhalothrin sufficient to kill? Should I dilute to 0.05%? (Is that safe?)
    Is 0.13% pyrethrin as "safe" on my mattress/covers as the label says?
    Should I apply DE more widely than just under the beds and contact points?
    Are the cyfluthrin granules worth using at all? Can they be crushed and used?

    Any practical suggestions or links for how to deal with this are welcome. (Be aware that telling me to get a PCO is not helpful. I'm a student and cannot afford it right now and neither can my landlady [her husband did exterminations before he passed away], and I am not going to take on debt for a no-lease apartment I'm leaving in 3 months) Are there any good HOWTOs breaking down which chemicals and in what concentrations can be used in different ways? Thanks so much everyone. best,

    eval

  2. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 12:16:37
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    eval - 18 minutes ago  » 
    I'm moving out anyway in early Feb, hopefully if she has some money by then she can deal with it when the apartment is empty. My goal is to not get bit, and not pass them on. I need advice on how to proceed (skip to the end for my questions).

    Hi,

    Sorry to chime in on only this one point but treating an unoccupied property is extremely difficult through full thermal or Vikane fumigation and most professionals know better than to attempt to treat an empty property with traditional methods.

    Please appreciate that leaving an infected location is not only unfair to the owner and the next occupier it is also likely to spread the problem into any adjoining units and make it much harder to eradicate.

    I sincerely hope you eradicate the problem and do not leave a mess for others to have to deal with.

    David

    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.
  3. eval

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 12:31:06
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    bed-bugscouk - 9 minutes ago  » 
    Hi,
    Sorry to chime in on only this one point but treating an unoccupied property is extremely difficult through full thermal or Vikane fumigation and most professionals know better than to attempt to treat an empty property with traditional methods.
    Please appreciate that leaving an infected location is not only unfair to the owner and the next occupier it is also likely to spread the problem into any adjoining units and make it much harder to eradicate.
    I sincerely hope you eradicate the problem and do not leave a mess for others to have to deal with.
    David

    That is good information (that an empty apartment is hard to treat). Because I need to stick around as bait? Hopefully if I do not manage to do it myself she will come to her senses and hire a PCO by Jan. I have no intention of leaving the problem, I want them gone as fast as possible. She suggested she would come in and spray and dust by herself (with pyrethrin, the only thing she has) but she did not seem to know much about bedbugs (insisting they liked filth and sweaty clothes, etc, and that they could die in a few weeks). Also, I have access to equipment (respirator masks, etc) from the labs at school which is helpful. I am not leaving in February to escape this problem, but because I have a job offer overseas. It is my intention to deal with this as fast and thoroughly as possible, albeit unfortunately by myself.

  4. cilecto

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 13:00:28
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    Are you a chem major?
    You seem to have infested in a massive amount of related products, all pyrethrin variants.
    If the law in your locale is that the landlord is responsible for providing a pest free environment, that's your first call. If she's unable or unwilling, it's not your reponsibility to step in and protect HER investment.
    Do not attempt to refactor the granules.

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday. A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
    - Psalms 91:5-7

    (Not an pro)
  5. eval

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 13:26:49
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    cilecto - 16 minutes ago  » 
    Are you a chem major?
    You seem to have infested in a massive amount of related products, all pyrethrin variants.
    If the law in your locale is that the landlord is responsible for providing a pest free environment, that's your first call. If she's unable or unwilling, it's not your reponsibility to step in and protect HER investment.
    Do not attempt to refactor the granules.

    No, neuroscience. I spent less than $100, picked up what was listed on various pest-control sites, having read that cyhalothrin and cyfluthrin seemed to be more effective (or there is less resistance?) than permethrin and deltamethrin. Also, the pyrethrins are somewhat safe, yes? I am mostly worried about dermal contact (bedroom rugs) as we vacate 72hrs after spraying & steaming.

    Is she legally bound do to so even if we do not have a lease? Also, I think taking my bankrupt landlady to court would take longer than I will still be living in the country (and meanwhile, I have a thesis to write). Finally, I wouldn't consider that, since I know she has been struggling since her husband's death. I can only hope to talk her into borrowing more money from her kids to do this properly, should I fail.

    What products do you suggest besides DE & pyrethrins? Are there any helpful DIY resources you can point me to? thanks,

    eval

  6. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 13:37:10
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    I appreciate David's comments about how hard it is to treat an empty unit and how awful it would be if someone moved in after you and had bed bugs, because the landlady is not going to deal with this. On the other hand, you could potentially do something harmful which would affect future tenants. And you may nevertheless not end up killing the bed bugs. The local laws may require (as many do) that the landlady not treat it herself but hire a qualified and licensed PCO. Knowing she won't do that puts you in a tight spot, but you have to look at the potential consequences of messing this up even further.

    cilecto makes a good point -- you have a lot of variations of pyrethrin. You also seem to be using a lot of products designed for other pests (I am not a PCO but perhaps the fact that the cyfluthrin was packaged as an ant treatment may be why it is not in a form that works for this purpose?)

    I believe it is possible to do your own bed bug pest control safely and effectively, but not without a lot of research. Unfortunately, we can't be the place for that research. We don't have the resources. And we've seen too many people take fairly innocuous recommendations and create situations which harmed people and allowed bed bugs to get off scot-free.

    If anyone here tells you X will work, you have no way of knowing their background or qualifications. And no idea how many people who aren't careful and don't know what they're doing will attempt to follow your plan.

    I suggest you seek advice from people who run a site like domyownpestcontrol.com, or perhaps some of the PCOs who post here will have suggestions to make to you using private messages.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  7. cilecto

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 13:51:34
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    Oh, and think long and hard before combining poison and heat or steam.

  8. eval

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 14:15:03
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    cilecto - 22 minutes ago  » 
    Oh, and think long and hard before combining poison and heat or steam.

    Hahah good call cilecto =) Fortunately this 'steamer' doesn't even get warm (only foams with carpet cleaner product in it, but does spray and vacuum the fluid regardless).

  9. cilecto

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 14:26:40
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    eval - 8 minutes ago  » 

    cilecto - 22 minutes ago  » 
    Oh, and think long and hard before combining poison and heat or steam.

    Hahah good call cilecto =) Fortunately this 'steamer' doesn't even get warm (only foams with carpet cleaner product in it, but does spray and vacuum the fluid regardless).

    Still, don't do it. Pesticides are meant to be applied in specific, limited ways. Your proposed experimentation jeopardizes their effectiveness, your safety and that of your place.

  10. WindyCityBitten

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 16:17:51
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    I too, unfortunately, have resorted to DIY control. Here's my story.

    I live in the attic apartment of a 4 unit building. The landlord lives under me and all the tenants accept myself and my husband are related to each other. It's a family building, and we have all been friends for decades before we became neighbors.

    End of May 09, I started noticing huge itchy welts on my body, usually no more than one a week, and I seemed to be bitten at night. This was my 3rd summer in this apartment. Every previous summer, had problems with mosquitoes biting me during the night since my bedroom window faces a big park. So I just figured it was mosquitoes. Around this same time, the first floor tenant bought a new bed and mattress set and threw out the old one. I endured the bites for a few more months and then one day happened to comment in passing about it to my landlord. Her eyes got really big and she told me the whole story. Her grandson (the 1st floor) found bedbugs back in May and had gotten rid of the mattress. A friend of the family who worked for an exterminator had come out and "sprayed" the 1st floor as a favor. Then, the landlord had found some bedbugs in her guestroom mattress. Her husband had sprayed something. She showed me some of the bugs they had killed, clearly bed bugs.

    My husband and I checked our mattress and bedroom furniture but found nothing. Our landlord also checked around and found nothing. We have 3 pet rabbits, so our landlords concluded we probably had fleas or something. I was pretty sure we didn't have fleas. In Aug, my husband and I went out of town for our anniversary and the landlord sprayed something while we were away just to be sure. I have no idea what he used. The bites subsided (i was up to daily bites by then) down to one a week or every two weeks. I knew we would have to produce some bugs in order for landlord to understand. We were finally able to catch one in a sticky trap to show them. It was a very tiny nymph stage one. My landlords are elderly and couldn't see well enough to judge for themselves. I told them to take it to the exterminator because I was pretty sure it was a bedbug. That was the only bug we ever found.

    They called an exterminator who told them they would not come out unless we bagged up and washed and dried all of our clothes and got mattress encasements. Our landlord told us, he didn't want us to go through all that hassle and gave us hot shot bedbug and flea fogger. I think he gave it to us because they couldn't afford the exterminator and they still thought we probably had fleas.

    My husband and I followed the exterminator's advice anyway and bagged up all our clothes. We had to walk 12 trash bags full to a laundromat 5 blocks away because we do not have a car. We couldn't afford mattress encasements so we wrapped and sealed our mattresses in heavy duty plastic. I didn't think the hot shot fogger would do anything but we used it anyway because we didn't know what to do. We laundered our bedding, pillows, curtains, and put other items in bags indefinitely or in the freezer. This was the first weekend in October and I didn't have any more bites after that until yesterday. 3 of them.

    I don't know what to do. I'm 26 and my landlords are an elderly couple who've know my husband since he was a little boy. We can't pursue legal action. But I feel like they just don't understand. Apparently, I'm the only person in the building actually getting bitten. I can't get away from this nightmare and it is a nightmare. My plan is to do the laundromat thing again and spray Ortho Home Defense Max around our bedroom and nightstands. I still don't know where the bugs are. We don't have a bed, just a mattress on the floor. My guess is they are somewhere in the nightstand? But I haven't been able to find anything.

  11. spideyjg

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 16:33:54
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    spray Ortho Home Defense Max around our bedroom and nightstands.

    The label of the US version does not allow for that application. I know that won't stop you but you are informed.

    People DIY by buying a buttload of toxins and going off like a madman without learning the target pest habits.

    Time and time again we say it isn't the product but the skill and knowledge of the applicator that dictates success or failure.

    Jim

  12. eval

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 17:29:12
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    WindyCityBitten - 44 minutes ago  » 
    My husband and I followed the exterminator's advice anyway and bagged up all our clothes. We had to walk 12 trash bags full to a laundromat 5 blocks away because we do not have a car. We couldn't afford mattress encasements so we wrapped and sealed our mattresses in heavy duty plastic. I didn't think the hot shot fogger would do anything but we used it anyway because we didn't know what to do. We laundered our bedding, pillows, curtains, and put other items in bags indefinitely or in the freezer. This was the first weekend in October and I didn't have any more bites after that until yesterday. 3 of them.
    I don't know what to do. I'm 26 and my landlords are an elderly couple who've know my husband since he was a little boy. We can't pursue legal action. But I feel like they just don't understand. Apparently, I'm the only person in the building actually getting bitten. I can't get away from this nightmare and it is a nightmare. My plan is to do the laundromat thing again and spray Ortho Home Defense Max around our bedroom and nightstands. I still don't know where the bugs are. We don't have a bed, just a mattress on the floor. My guess is they are somewhere in the nightstand? But I haven't been able to find anything.

    I feel your pain, I also do not own a car and can do nothing but bag my stuff at the laundromat after it goes through the dryer. And similarly, I cannot press my landlady, I feel too bad for her (and I don't have a lease!)

    Have you tried double-stick tape to figure out where they're coming from? Or lifting your bed up on something and putting bug interceptors around were the feet or wood touches? At least then you could put some pesticide or diatomaceous earth in their path, or under your mattress. I don't know enough to tell you whether Ortho Home Defense (Bifenthrin 0.05%, at least in the indoor/outdoor formulation) is a good residual pthyrethroid, but this site says it's one of the most commonly used: http://www.cirrusimage.com/bedbug.htm
    and this label describes it as usable in many indoor areas: http://www.masterline.com/pdfs/bifenthrin79_salessheet08.pdf

    If you find any good links about best application practices and concentrations, or if you have success, let me know! But your first step is to figure out where they're coming from, I think.

    Check out: http://www.domyownpestcontrol.com/msds/Bed_Bug_Guide_2009.pdf
    (Though they trust Phantom/Chlorfenapyr, Gentrol and Deltamethrin, all of which I've heard conflicting reports on)

  13. watkinsnewan

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 17:37:43
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    these are words that ring in my head when I fell like picking up Pesticides to spray now...
    Dont forget them....

    spideyjg - 1 month ago  » 
    If you care about your 5 kids, do not go hog wild overapplying this stuff around your house. Never, ever, ever, forget that what you are spraying is poison!
    Glad to hear it inflicted BB causalities but do not overexpose your family by applying off the label.
    Don't be "the most ignorant person in the world" and poison your family. People have done that.
    Jim

  14. cilecto

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 18:10:31
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    Windy. You are in a tough situation. Essentially a boarder in an extended family arrangement. Odds are that your hosts' combination of denial and haphazard self treatment (including, no doubt, foggers) has succeeded in infesting the entire building. By some quirk they might not be getting bit, but more likely, they are not reacting, as many don't, have successfully driven all the bugs to the attic, or are fibbing to save face. With your bed on the floor, the bugs could be harboring below you and out of reach. Assuming you are staying put, I see your options as refreshingly limited. You cannot cure your building. Learn to isolate your stuff, learn to prevent spreading your BB to the people and places you care about. Reduce the population to the extent that you can. Relieve symptoms. Plan for a safe exit long term. Best of luck.

  15. soscared

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 18:36:20
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    Is that true about deltamethrin? bc they used it in my place.

  16. cilecto

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 21:39:09
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    soscared - 2 hours ago  » 
    Is that true about deltamethrin? bc they used it in my place.

    If it gets rid of most or all of your bugs, it's fine. There are lots of opinions and viewpoints out there. Delta dust is a recognized member of the BB team. Remember, it's more about the process than the chemical.

  17. soscared

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Tue Nov 10 2009 21:47:39
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    Thanks, cilecto.
    The process seems to not be working, bc baby and i are covered in bites. I am going to hope we are delayed reactors and give it another couple of weeks.

  18. eval

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Nov 11 2009 6:37:43
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    Hi soscared,

    The story about deltamethrin avoidance is here:
    http://www.nmpma.org/PMFoundation/documents/BedBugResearchStory.pdf

    The story about deltamethrin resistance is here:
    http://www.bioone.org/doi/abs/10.1603/0022-2585(2008)451092:BAMAOD2.0.CO;2

    Note that the resistant bedbugs in question came from NYC (right by where I live). Not all strains will respond this way, but it's another reason I chose to incorporate cyhalothrin and cyfluthrin (unfortunately I can find much less about their safety profile and usage, except that I read they are more effective). The label on the cyfluthrin granules says for indoor use I can sprinkle them around and then wet them, and to stay away until they dry; I may try that.

    The worry with deltamethrin is that you may be creating a barrier which they avoid and this encourages the bugs to 'disperse' around the room or apartment building. I am not sure this has been scientifically proven. Like cilecto said, if it works, go with it. The deltamethrin concentration I've read as approved for box spring and mattress use is 0.02-0.05%.

  19. cilecto

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Nov 11 2009 7:29:17
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    Does the label for cyfluthin *granules* indicate bedbugs?

  20. eval

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    Wed Nov 11 2009 10:20:25
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    cilecto - 2 hours ago  » 
    Does the label for cyfluthin *granules* indicate bedbugs?

    No. The Bayer product with beta-cyfluthrin for indoor use on bedbugs is Tempo SC Ultra, diluted to 0.025-0.05%. The (for ant) granules are 0.05%, probably less after dissolving in water (which they do quite easily).

  21. WindyCityBitten

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    Wed Nov 11 2009 11:07:49
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    "You cannot cure your building. Learn to isolate your stuff, learn to prevent spreading your BB to the people and places you care about. Reduce the population to the extent that you can. Relieve symptoms. Plan for a safe exit long term. Best of luck."

    A little help please? Do I need to steam my clothes and shoes before I go out everyday? My mattress is already covered. BTW I just found a bug crawling around my sheets this morning. I don't know where he's been all month but he looks full grown. I will have to show him to the landlord.

  22. cilecto

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    Wed Dec 23 2009 14:05:23
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    WindyCityBitten - 1 month ago  » A little help please? Do I need to steam my clothes and shoes before I go out everyday? My mattress is already covered. BTW I just found a bug crawling around my sheets this morning. I don't know where he's been all month but he looks full grown. I will have to show him to the landlord.

    I missed this earlier.
    It means finding ways to keep (or get) BB out of the things you take or wear elsewhere. People have set up inside clothes and treated, bagged outside clothes. Strategies are discussed extensively on these boards and nay also be available in the FAQ and resource sections.
    Wrapping the mattress is OK, but it would be best if you can set up your bed so bugs can't get to you without crossing poison.

  23. buggedmama

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    Wed Dec 23 2009 23:55:07
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    I don't have time to read all of the posts on this thread, but I did read the one by the OP talking about his/her use of various pesticide chemicals. If people who want to do their own pest control safely to save money, especially considering bed bugs can require repeated treatments, what about taking a PCT/PCO course through a local college first? For example, a nearby college offers a correspondence tech course for only $150 and it looks like it doesn't take long to complete. (Then you have to get a licence through the government as well but at least the course would give you some of the necessary knowledge, though of course, not as much as working with an experienced PCO.) I am trying to convince my fiance, who's a truck driver, to take it. Never hurts to have a second career option, and could come in handy... But he's afraid of bugs.

  24. bait

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    Thu Dec 24 2009 0:35:45
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    In New York State, I think you have to do a certain number of hours as an apprentice after taking a course and before or maybe after you take a test. It's a process and not something one would do without being pretty serious.

  25. bed-bugscouk

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    Thu Dec 24 2009 5:50:19
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    Hi,

    I certainly agree that studying what you are doing is better than not but the reason for using professional help is that they should have dealt with multiple cases of bed bugs wheras even with training you are still on your first or second case.

    To put this into perspective I once explained to someone that they would need to have bed bugs and get rid of them once a month for about 4 years to get the same level of experience as one of my technicians gets in a week.

    When I got my license in 2003 the bed bug section of the 5 day course was about 45 minutes and was certainly not detailed enough to have lad the foundations of what I do today. I do however think that in the future there will be a roll for public education seminars aimed at those who want to do their own pest control bu to be successful I think a day's course may even be too short, after all you are unlikely to want to be operated on by a surgeon who has only ever completed a correspondence course.

    There is also the aspect that if all you get from your PCO is someone to apply chemical products then you have not enlisted a bed bug specialist and that is a term I reserve for very few in this world.

    David

  26. cilecto

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    Thu Dec 24 2009 7:52:04
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    bait - 7 hours ago  » 
    In New York State, I think you have to do a certain number of hours as an apprentice after taking a course and before or maybe after you take a test. It's a process and not something one would do without being pretty serious.

    if my current gig doesn't work out, I might camp out on KQ's stoop.


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