Exposure to bed bugs, reasonable steps to take with backpack and laptop?(7 posts)
I stayed at a hotel 4 days ago. I did my standard bed bug check the second I hit the room. Like at the mattress, including the seams, and everything looked clean. I took a 2 hour nap in that bed. Later that night, right before going to bed, I saw an adult bed bug walking on the sheet. I'd never seem one in person but it looked exactly like the pictures. About a centimeter long and really flat. I killed it. I kept looking at the bedding and found one that had fed recently. It was like a walking blood drop. I killed it. I looked all over my body and could not find a bite. I talked to the hotel owner and he came up. Both he and I couldn't find anymore. The hotel was booked, as was every hotel in town that weekend. So I went to sleep. I got a few hours and woke up and checked for bites. There were none. I did see a nymph strolling on the comforter. That day the staff took everything out of the room and sprayed and put everything back in with new sheets. I asked them not to put the comforter back in. I could not find another place to stay and had to spend another night there. I checked before going to sleep and found nothing. In the middle of the night I woke up and found a nymph under the pillow. I killed it. That morning I found no bites nor any other bedbugs.
My question is what to do with my backpack including my laptop? The first night, my backpack had been on the bed as I dug through it and at night it was leaning on a wall about a meter away. The second night, I sealed it in a plastic bag. I've since looked through my clothes and the packs and I have not found any bugs. I haven't been bitten by anything either. Obviously, I don't want to risk taking them back home. I'll leave everything on the drive way while I stripdown and shower. I'm going to launder the clothes like crazy and go to a landrymat and wash the backpack in an rug washer/dryer. What to do about the laptop/phone/kindle though? I can't wash those. Should I get a packtite? Use a DDVP strip in a enclosure? What?
Any advice appreciated.
I am not an expert but these are my suggestions.
If the backpack and most stuff inside it can go in a hot dryer, I'd do that.
And then visually inspect the kindle, phone, laptop. (If it is safe to shoot a little compressed air into the holes on those gadgets, then you might do that, but ONLY if you know it to be a safe thing to do.)
Do the inspection over a sink or bathtub (preferably white), and have a contact kill spray like 91% rubbing alcohol handy to kill any you see, or smash them. Make sure you know what they look like in advance. And rinse the sink/tub with boiling water afterwards to be sure you got them all.
A Packtite is pricey for a one-off use but is a great thing to have if you travel or even if you just live in a place where bed bugs are going around. You can toss your bag in with the stuff, and stick the probe in the center to be sure it gets to the right heat.
Most of us would probably not Packtite the electronics, though some have tried it.
It may harm or destroy your electronics to heat them, and you're taking a risk if you do it, but if you do, be sure and remove the battery first and don't heat that.
Most people here aren't qualified to advise on the use of DDVP, including myself. I have linked to some articles and resources on it in other threads tagged DDVP above. If you do use it, follow all label instructions, and keep in mind that stuff in a sealed plastic bag containing DDVP must not be disturbed. Beware if you have pets or kids present, as they might disturb the bag. Cats seem to be magnets for this kind of trouble.
Great. I just noticed a bug bite on my leg. It wasn't there an hour ago when I showered. It doesn't itch at all. It's not a mosquito bite, I know what that are like. It's smaller, hard and pointy on top, mosquito bites for me are larger, flat on top and squishy. I just bagged all my clothes to take to the laundry tomorrow. Unfortunately, I'm in Argentina and they use dryers, everything is line dried. I also don't have a way to deal with my backpack.
Also keep in mind that many, many people have delayed reactions to bed bug bites.
What do I mean by a delayed reaction?
Let's say you were bitten this morning.
For some people, bed bug bites from this morning don't show up until as long as 19 days later.
The fact that you've found a new bite this morning is not proof that you brought hitch hiking bed bugs home with you. A new bite is cause to be cautious, but not reason to panic.
I, personally, would not put electronics through the Packtite. I say this because I had heat treatment of my apartment, and several of my electronics didn't make it. (Granted, they were all plugged in, which was my fault. But the techs also brought me an iPod that I left in the apartment too.)
Some laptops have batteries that cannot be removed (the newer unibody MacBook Pros, for example; iPods, I'm guessing ereaders like the Nook and Kindle). Any item like that is definitely NOT an item I would put in a Packtite.
DDVP strips are an option for treating electronics, but make sure you research them carefully. The strips cannot be used in an occupied structure, so you'd need to seal the electronic items up with the strips in an airtight container (like a giant ziploc inside a hard-sided plastic container to make sure the bag doesn't get ripped). Again, these strips offgas a chemical fumigant that does kill bed bugs, but it's an organophosphate pesticide, and accidental organophosphate poisoning isn't something to mess around with. Make sure you do your research if you go that way. DDVP strips use Dicholvos, which may be available under a different brand name where you are.
The fact that you're in Argentina also means that you probably don't have access to a Packtite (my understanding is that they're only licensed for use and sale in the US and Canada. I also know that currents and outlets vary widely from country to country, and while I'll happily use adapters for something like an electric toothbrush, relying on adapters for the Packtite seems like a really bad idea to me. )
On the other hand, there may be different pesticides available there that are not available in the US, Canada, the UK, and the rest of the EU which is where most (but not all!) of our regular posters live. That's actually kind of good news; however, don't rush to believe the hype about DDT. In countries where DDT continues to be in regular use (and I have no idea whether Argentina is one or not), there's good evidence that at least some bed bugs have developed resistance to DDT just as *some* US bugs are developing resistant to pyrethrins.
Lastly, I'm sure it's very little comfort right now, but it's VERY uncommon for bed bugs to harbor in electronics. Bed bugs like dark, tight hidey holes close to their food source. Electronics like laptops often get very warm when they're running. Portable ones get bounced and carried around a lot (which likely doesn't make the bed bugs feel safe.) You'll likely need to be extra cautious about inspecting and monitoring for a bit, but I can assure you that while it's statistically possible for the bed bugs to be in the laptop, it's pretty darned unlikely that they'd pick it over another harborage site.
The laptop bag would worry me a lot more. Depending on what it's made of and how attached you are to it, if you're in a country without gas or electric clothes dryers (that's not uncommon outside the US. My American friend who moved to the Netherlands complained all the time about how stiff her line dried jeans were.), you could put it in a bathtub and submerge it in very hot water--like the hottest you can get from the tap maybe supplemented with boiling water (obviously without the laptop inside). It's the heat in the dryer that kills bed bugs, so if you can get the whole object as hot as it would be in the dryer without a dryer and without creating a fire hazard, that'll do the same job.
It won't work with leather, but it might work with nylon.
Hope some of that helps.
Thanks. I'm travelling in Argentina right now, but I'll be doing the defestation back in the US. I actually found a laundry that uses driers today.
As for the bite, it's gone as of this morning. For example a mosquito bite lasts 2 hours for me. It gets really big but is complete gone two hours later. This bite lasted a bit longer but right now, I can't even tell it was ever there.
I was down in Argentina giving a bedbug conference earlier this year.
The main hot spots to look out for are hotels which form part of the "normal" tourist trails, with these you need to be extra careful and make sure that you tip the bed completely before you move into the room.
It does not seem as pandemic down there as the main US and EU cities but bedbugs are no respecters of borders.
Finding the time to spot and user a dryer is about the best thing you can do when traveling other than making sure you have a PackTite waiting at home or plan your return via a Laundromat with good dryer capacity. Once home try to relax but keep a routine of weekly checking for signs until you have been back for a month or 3 weeks with no activity.
On the plus side the fact that you did not see many during your inspections means that it will be low level and thus the risk of transfer out will also be low.
I hope it does not spoil the rest of your trip, keep a record of any bites including the locations and date so you can use it as an indicator although you may find you respond differently in different environments.
All the best.
Bed Bugs Limited
So, according to this thread.
It takes say about 2 hours at 106F to kill eggs and the bugs. If this was summer, I would just let my laptop sit on the driveway for a day and it would be taken care of. Why can I just ziplock my laptop and put it in the oven at say 110F just to be safe? A ziplock doesn't come close to melting at that temperature and I know my laptop has been left for a day in my car that regularly hits 130-140F in the summer. So it can take it too? Is there a flaw in my plan? I'll just leave it in there for say 4 hours. Yes, even with the battery in it. I know that high heat isn't good or a battery but 110F is well below the storage limit of the battery and like I said, it gets about that hot during the summer anyways.
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