Getting bitten, but can't find the bugs!(8 posts)
I moved into a new New York apartment four months ago, after escaping a bed bug infestation at my former apartment. The apartment I moved out of was treated, but I don't know effective the treatment was. I moved out because I believed the landlord wasn't going to handle it effectively, and the rent was to high. I was VERY careful when moving out - got rid of most furniture and carefully inspected everything I brought, dried all my clothes thoroughly, and put three cover on my mattress, including a Protect-A-Bed cover. My new apartment was recently rehabbed, and I am the first tenant living in there after the rehab job. I got the apartment through a broker, and I wasn't able to talk to the new landlord about bedbugs prior to moving in. However the apartment looked so clean and new that I thought the risk would be small. Come January, my boyfriend is over and gets bitten 6 times within a couple of hours. I hired a reputable PCO, who inspected the apartment and saw no signs of them. He looked at my mattress and new metal bedframe, and said it was highly unlikely that I brought bed bugs with me from the old apartment. His guess was that if there are bed bugs, they would be living in the walls of the apartment and were there before it was rehabbed. He sold me Climbup Interceptors and showed me how to isolate the bed. That was at the end of January. Since then, my boyfriend has been bitten twice, but nothing has shown up in the interceptors. I seem to have been bitten a few times, but the "bites" are either so tiny them seem nonexistent, or are hard lumps under the skin that last a really long time, and are occasionally itchy. If my boyfriend hadn't been bitten, I would not have suspected anything. I don't see any fecal stains or cast skins anywhere. About a week and a half ago, I put a very light dusting of MotherEarth D along the baseboards using a hand bellows. I am resigned to the high possibility that there are bed bugs in this apartment - what else could be biting my boyfriend? I haven't reported the problem to my new landlord yet, but I am planning talk to him in the next couple of days. I am hoping that if there are in fact bed bugs, the Diatomaceous Earth will help me find a dead one. I have already paid for my own inspection and don't want to hire a dog. I know it's ultimately the landlord's responsibility if there is in fact a problem. My questions are about the effectiveness of the ClimbUps and Diatomaceous Earth combination. I'm assuming any infestation I have would be relatively small. Is it likely that a bug will turn up soon? I don't want a problem to go untreated any longer, but I have yet to find any concrete evidence. Any suggestions?
You've each been bitten, you think, a couple of times since January. It's possible you brought a bed bug or two with you. On the other hand, they would probably be biting about once a week each.
If you had one or two bed bugs, and they were biting you in a sofa or chair or other location, they might not cross the ClimbUps right away, as long as they were getting fed where they were.
Now a few months have passed, it might be easier to find signs.
I would also give some thought to whether you might be getting exposed to bed bugs somewhere else you both go -- boyfriend's home (I hope not!), cafe, work, bar, friend's home, etc. Remember bite reactions can appear hours, days, or even a week or so later. (We've heard nine days is possible, though I expect it's not common, but delays of hours and days do seem common.)
Hi Nobugsonme, thank you for your input. I've ruled out my boyfriend's place for now, since I never go over there. He is very sensitive to bug bites, and seems to react to them immediately once he gets bitten. He also had bed bugs once before at an old apartment several years ago, so he's familiar with his own reaction to them (damn NYC). He swears he has never been bitten at home in his current apartment. I don't suspect they'd be coming from work or another friends house, but of course anything is possible. I don't have a sofa, so they'd have to be coming from my table or a couple of chairs. However, the PCO told me these looked clean, and my boyfriend got bites only after lying in my bed. It's of course possible that by now they could have spread to my table and chairs, but since my boyfriend is the sensitive one and the bites appeared on him after lying on my bed.
Everything NoBugs said, plus, could you be reacting to something else? Also, in NYC, the landlord (or broker) is required by law to present renters with a disclosure regarding BB, regardless of whether or not there's been a problem.
bed bugs are resilient.
anyone who says you can find em easy, or that you can see their evidence in a big infestation all the time are delusional, they can hide behind a wall, ceiling, under the floor.
I do think bed bugs are resilient as BBGen0cide says, but I also don't think that everyone who says that the vast majority of people will see signs in the case of a large infestation is delusional either.
In almost every case, once the infestation gets large enough, the people whose residence the infestation is in will be able to see evidence. There are too many behavioral traits in bed bugs that make it the case.
(There are, as in any situation, a very tiny number of outlier type cases that don't behave normally. For example, someone living next to a large infestation in a multi-unit building with certain kinds of construction might be getting bitten from a neighbor, but we're talking about maybe 1 case in a million where that could happen. The choice I made for myself about keeping my caution about bed bugs down to a manageable rather than an anxiety-producing level was not to worry about the things that are about as statistically likely as being struck by lightening, just to worry about the stuff that was statistically likely enough for it to be likely.)
Bed bugs poop. Bed bugs molt their skins when they move to the next stage of development. Some bed bugs seem to wander off from the main harborages and set up shop somewhere else.
Given all those factors if the bed bug infestation gets large enough, and you train yourself well enough to inspect and by learning about their behavior patterns, if it's bed bugs, eventually, you'll find evidence.
That said, bed bugs wouldn't be my first guess in the case you've described--at least not in your home. I might guess other sources like an allergic reaction to something or another pest like carpet beetles or exposure to bed bugs somewhere other than home. (I am pretty sure I got bitten by bed bugs at a movie theater once a few months after my treatment, and it absolutely caused a full scale panic of epic proportions, so I just want to be clear that I do *get* how frustrating and anxiety-inducing such issues can be.)
I also wouldn't rule bed bugs out at this point, but, unfortunately, it does sound like you're in a wait and see and keep looking for evidence of whatever the source of the skin irritations are mode, which I grant can be unbelievably frustrating and unhappy-making across the board.
As for what else could be biting or causing the skin response: fleas (which yes, you can get even without a pet), carpet beetles (which don't bite, but to which some people do have a bite-like skin reaction--and which you can get without carpet), mites, chitin sensitivity (which, again, is rare, but not out of the question), allergic reactions to other stuff, folliculitis, and/or being exposed to bed bugs that are biting but not following you home elsewhere.
It is absolutely one of the most frustrating aspects about bed bugs that they're so hard to detect, and while I normally just cross my fingers that it's not bed bugs (which I'm still doing), I also hope that whatever the source is, you get to the bottom of it soon, since I can tell it's (understandably) bothering you a lot.
The FAQ on detection lists some options for monitoring for bed bugs.
Bed bugs are attracted to their waste and harborages. They seem to go back to their main ones. Then the females wander off to lay eggs.
I have eradicated the bugs big time over the years, and have pushed them into the walls, i made sprays from herbs and things. I'm sure i drove them into the walls and floors. I still get bit. I have steamed the carpet, the floor boards, bed, bed frame, layed down DE 3 times, over kill too used herbs and other things. Nothing has worked 100%, i have knocked down their numbers. I wanted to do it green.
Epic fail. You need chemical residuals like phantom to be sure to be rid of these things, but you have to know where and how to use it to be successful.
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