finally, my little bedbug success story(14 posts)
I wanted to post my success story primarily because I used this blog to solve the problem, and I wanted to give encouragement to others who are in the overwhelmed stage of it.
One thing I noticed is how varied the solutions are and that different things seem to work for different people.
My concerns and main issues from the start:
- My landlord refused to pay for anything (yes, I know this isn't right).
Toxicity (I have three cats and also live as natural a lifestyle as possible).
Money (I'm unemployed).
The Bugs (They are indeed horrible and caused great interruption to our lives for a solid few months).
My stuff (lots of wooden musical instruments, records, books, papers etc...)
My story begins with my boyfriend and I moving into a new apartment which we were very excited about and had been planning to do for awhile in order to leave a bad living situation we had been in for a couple of years (noisy building, crime issues etc...).
About one week after a month of unpacking, organizing, cleaning, hanging pictures etc... we started noticing weird bites or a rash or what... we didn't know. We thought it was something in the new water or spider bites perhaps? I should have taken pictures of the place then, because the newly arranged and tidy apartment became chaos for the next six months.
We had once had a neighbor in our old building who had bedbugs (and had major treatment) but that was definitely over a year and a half ago, so we were doubtful that somehow we never got infested there, but would take one to our new place. Though ultimately we still have no idea where the bugs came from. The old tenant? A new neighbor, suspiciously the apartment below us moved out soon after we moved in, but I didn't see any items being thrown away.
Finally, after a couple of weeks I found this blog. I spent hours simultaneously disgusted and fascinated by what I was reading. Then I went to inspect the bed. Hmmmm, nothing, I didn't see any signs. Still deep down I knew that bedbugs were probably what were biting us.
One week later, clear signs. Bugs hiding in the corners of the box-spring just like those horrible pictures. I went into action mode after reading everything on this blog and devised a plan as fast as I could.
My call to the landlord did not go well. Heated conversation in scraps of poor English resulted in threats and a clear answer that he would not pay for anything. Plus he said we could not say anything to anyone else in the building since how does he know it's true, etc... Rather than fight that battle, I started working on what I could do immediately on my own.
I spent many many more hours on this blog. After several hits and misses, I found the combination of things that ultimately worked for me and without ever hiring an exterminator. I'm not saying don't hire one, because I know that the policy of this blog is that you need one, and I can certainly attest that I worked really hard to get rid of the bugs without one. If I had had the money I would have definitely thoroughly researched that option.
What I did instead:
Got the little red Reliable steamer... we love it! I admit my mom bought this for me since I was basically broke. Central Vacuum Factory shipped it the next day at no extra charge. We immediately steamed per excellent instructions on this blog.
Next I began the tedious launder and ziploc bag process of clothes, blankets, curtains etc... In New York these huge bags are at all the drug stores now due to this epidemic. I found several live bugs crawling on my clothes in the closet and actually threw away a favorite skirt because I didn't know about steri-fab yet and couldn't handle killing it, so just threw the whole skirt away (sealed of course).
Then, I got rid of my mattress, frame, and box-spring, which actually I was ready to part with anyway because it was all really old. We sealed it all up in heavy duty garbage bags with duct tape and marked with signs warning of bedbugs before putting them on the curb.
Bought an Endura aerobed. This thing is amazing and actually super comfortable. We put it directly on the floor. It is camouflage and great for camping when we stop using it as our main bed. My cats have slept on it, jumped on it and kneaded claws into the blankets with no damage to the bed.
Got Steri-Fab, Bedlam, double-sided tape, DE powder, spray bottles, caulk and excellent heavy duty clear duct tape.
Over a couple of week period of time during which we still got bit a lot (turns out that the infestation was pretty bad as we were to find out) we implemented many things that began to give us relief.
Steri-fab kills on contact. I could not live without that spray during the height of the infestation. We strategically sprayed a border of Bedlam a little above the base of our bedroom and hallway walls. I found a formula on this blog for spray-suspended DE that left a nice thin chalky layer. We have a molding that goes all the way around the bottom and three-fourths of the way up the walls around the entire room. We put one solid spray of DE on both of those which dried nicely with little visibility due to the color of paint on the molding (kind of cream color).
We found a nest or accumulation of perhaps a hundred bugs hiding all over and inside the radiator in the corner of the room, and after steri-fabbing like mad to kill them all, thoroughly treated that area with DE and bedlam, after steaming and sealing with caulk, and duct taping any possible escape holes into the wall or floor. This was a pretty scary day and fortunately we were both home to work hard to deal with it right away. We also used face masks to protect ourselves from inhalation of chemicals and dust.
We placed double-sided tape all around the bed. We just couldn't take anymore waking up with several bugs in the bed biting us. We woke up every morning and checked the tape for many weeks, finding a lot of bugs coming from all directions. I killed them with steri-fab to put them out of any misery in case they do suffer somehow stuck like that. We replaced the tape often.
One danger of isolation that has been discussed on this blog happened. Or at least this problem didn't start happening until we started laying the tape down. The bugs went to the ceiling. Soon we had a step ladder at the ready, a couple more bottles of steri-fab and sprayed the overhead lamp base with Bedlam. They were already crossing the DE on the upper molding before reaching the ceiling.
This was probably one of the more horrifying aspects of the infestation. I slept with a shower cap and ear plugs and after getting bitten on the eyelids, a little sleep mask to try to stop them.
We stepped up the steaming, used Murphy's oil soap to clean the floor, and basically just cleaned, steamed, cleaned and inspected a lot with a high power flashlight. I got really good at spotting nymphs that were barely visible and killing them on contact. The aerobed was amazing. Every few days we thoroughly steamed it, steamed the floorboards underneath, and I think in that way killed a lot of eggs.
We also completely sealed the floor molding with clear duct tape so that no bugs could come into the room that way and sealed any cracks we saw in the wooden floor that seemed troublesome.
The ceiling phase probably lasted a few weeks at it's height.
After that things got a lot easier. One life-saver was the Pack-Tite. I scraped money together to buy this thing and then systematically heated up everything I could and then sealed. Books, papers, CD's, DVD's, clothes, shoes, hairbrushes, everything that I didn't think would combust or be destroyed in the process. I had it running two times a day for a awhile.
This allowed me to take trips to visit people after making sure my bag with all my stuff came straight from the pack-tite out the door with fresh clothes on my back from a ziploc, freshly-showered me and steri-fabbed shoes carefully isolated until I put them on.
When we had a house-guest, he followed all the protocols and received no bites, and also pack-tited all his stuff before walking out the door. Then when he got home he took extra measures there as well and didn't have any problems.
We haven't been bitten in about three months and the bugs are nowhere in sight, nothing on the tape either (a practice which we've been slow to let go of). In May, after being reduced to a trickle where we would spot an occasional bug crawling on the wall near the bed it seemed that our system was working to stop the breeding and eventually kill the ones still hiding.
We are still using the aerobed. I like the simplicity of picking it up, turning it over, checking it for anything and cleaning if need be. After getting the pack-tite, I also heated up the bedding often to make sure nothing was hiding in it before using it for sleeping.
I am just now opening the ziploc bags. I always pack-tite it first and then put the stuff away. We finally put all the books back on the bookshelf. I am still careful not to take anything out of the room that has been in the closet or wherever, without re-pack-titing it for extra safety.
So that is my story. February, March and April were the worst months. By May we were fooled into thinking it was totally gone, but realized we had stragglers. By July we seemed to actually be in the clear but kept vigilant. Now I think that if there is one hiding somewhere, I feel totally confident in handling the situation with the right tools. Plus, as I've said I use the pack-tite a lot to be safe. So far, still clear. I also carefully watch what people put out for trash pickup to see if anyone else in the building has them. I don't think they do, so maybe we did bring one from the old building without ever having actually been infested ourselves, or maybe the previous tenants had them, but they hadn't spread to anyone else.
We have kept all the tape down on the moldings as protection for any bugs coming in or getting out.
I just signed a lease extension and am looking forward to finally enjoying the apartment. So far, so good.
I want to officially say thanks to everyone here who's stories, knowledge and advice helped me deal with this. I think it's really good not to panic and get rid of things you can't replace. My wooden classical guitars, vinyl records, and favorite books are all ok. As many people here have said, understanding BB habits, breeding etc... goes along way toward figuring out what's going on with your particular infestation. Also, getting over squeamishness, which I definitely had to do, to actively look for them and kill as many as possible.
Best of luck to everyone. I see what looks to be a whole family's group of mattresses out on the street pretty much daily now walking the streets of Brooklyn. Obviously, this is a really big problem.
We woke up every morning and checked the tape for many weeks, finding a lot of bugs coming from all directions. I killed them with steri-fab to put them out of any misery in case they do suffer somehow stuck like that.
That is a breathtaking act of compassion.
Thank you for sharing your hard-earned victory. There's so much hope in your story, especially the part about extending your lease. A battle site becomes a home of peace again. Congratulations.
that is some SERIOUS dedication! good for you, i really really hope they leave you alone. forever.
Encouraging, thanks for posting. My infestation (one bug I've seen so far, and some bites/evidence) is nowhere near the severity of yours. Kudos for not going absolutely bonkers.
I first want to thank everyone for the great info on this site. Sadly, I'm a new member to the bed bug group. Anyway, I just wanted to ask... could you detail exactly how you made the spray suspended DE? I'm thinking that I want to start there. My issues with BBs just started, so I don't think I have much of an infestation, and hopefully I can do it myself without shelling out too much of my own cash.
Suspended DE would rock, please tell us!!!!
Great story of success, but I was wondering about your building and are you the only tenant who is persistent and dedicated? You should print out the story and give it to everyone or email it. It must be a building problem and if no one talks about it in your building, it's not going to go away on its own. It's also a good thing that you mentioned that you didn't panic and throw everything out and items that you did toss were properly labeled. And you are still monitoring -- great.
BBGen0cide - 3 hours ago »
Suspended DE would rock, please tell us!!!!
NY vs, BedBugs: 1.Entomologist Richard Fagerlund has published a recipe for a suspended DE homemade spray. However, it’s difficult to evaluate its effectiveness and recommend it. Our ambivalence is also complicated by Richard Fagerlund’s cavalier attitude towards bed bugs. In any case, you may wish to review this 2007 PCT article by William Quarles on diatomaceous earth (PDF). In another publication, Bed Bugs Bounce Back (PDF, BIRC, Mar/Apr 2007), Dr. Quarles considers Richard Fagerlund’s spray and reports on a limited test by a San Francisco pest control company. Dr. Quarles seems to think that dry DE residues would not be lethal. But the evidence for this is unclear (the conditions of the failed test and its duration are not described). He also thinks DE “should act as a repellent” to bed bugs. We are aware of no research that can clarify either statement.
On page 7 in the first column, they put BBs into a glass container sprayed with the mixture and they didn't die.
Dry, applied as a dust, DE is highly effective but the once suspended dried residue appears not.
I am so glad you have experienced this success and I hope you never have to deal with this again.
Thanks for sharing your story.
This is great!
Thanks for posting.
I rent a room in a big, gorgeous home in the 'burbs. I started getting a couple bites each night, and within a few weeks realized this had to be more than a rogue spider in my room. In all my cleaning and bug-hunting, I found one single live bug on the carpet, a shell (cask?) behind a picture frame, some tiny black dots on the wall behind another picture frame, and what appeared to be eggs stuck between two pieces of junkmail in my closet. Killed the live bug, stuck it to a piece of clear tape and a PCO confirmed it was a bed bug.
I started cleaning my room, packing up everything in plastic bags and tossed a lot of stuff (at the time, it seems smarter to throw out things than treat them -- dumped the mattress, bedding, etc.). I've been sleeping on an air mattress on top of a metal futon frame. Put DE along the baseboard and sprinkled around the futon's legs. No bites in more than a month
UNFORTUNATELY, the owner of the house decided not to go through with PCO treatments, and he opted to leave it up to me to get rid of them. TERRIBLE. Also, my housemates have not done anything to prevent bed bugs from spreading. They're in denial or just ignorant, and they seem to believe the bugs are just in my room. All the vigilance in the world cannot help me stay bug-free if the other roommates don't at least inspect their rooms and take necessary steps to prevent infestation.
I'm moving out in a month. For now, I'm keeping everything wrapped tightly in plastic, and I'm living out of air-tight bags (Space Bags from Target). I also bought a Packtite, which I will use as a precautionary measure to cook my belongings before moving them into the new place.
A very encouraging story, thank you for sharing your methods. I have just ordered a pack-tite based on a lot of good reviews and I look forward to using it. I also will use some of your methods. I hope you never have to go through that again...here's to hoping I'll be sharing your success!
Can you pactite stuff IN the ziplock/contractor bags? I just bought my pactite and am waiting for it to arrive. I will treat the stuff before ziplocking them, but I was wondering if I could put the items already laundered/dried in hot settings, currently ziplocked, in the pactite for a double-treatment, just to give me an ample margin of safety. also, they've been placed on top of my (perfectly encased, now unused for over a month) bed, so... though they're sealed, I just want to be safe.
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