Got Bed Bugs? Bedbugger Forums » Tales of Bed Bug Woe

Help and hints for a first time infestation

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  1. fantastapotamus

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 4:55:24
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    Hi everyone,

    apologies for the length, but I've had a LOT of questions building up since I've found this problem and I'm taking this time to get them all out and get some answers to give me some peace of mind.

    I am sure this is a sentiment held by many when they first go searching for resources on bedbugs, and don't take this the wrong way, but this is a site I never wanted to visit or become a member of.

    However, since I have a problem and this seems like an excellent community of people that can help since you have all gone through something similar, gather round as I tell my tale of woe.

    My name is fantastapotamus, and I have a bedbug infestation. How they got here isn't important (but in brief I blame the renters I had in here before me... biggest mistake of my life that just keeps getting bigger), how to get rid of them is.

    I found them on Friday night as I was going to bed. I was about to climb in between the sheets and saw some black "lint" on my fire engine red bedsheets. I reach to brush it off and think "I'll vacuum that up on Saturday"... except the lint started to run away. I grab it and it explodes in my fingers, leaving what looks like blood on my fingers.

    now, never in a billion years would I have thought I could have bedbugs as I keep a clean house, I vacuum once I week change my sheets regularly, don't travel / sleep in hotels much, etc., but after a few leaps of logic in my head (bed.. bug.. blood,... red bump on my forearm in late October.. ah !!@#!) I went to the internet and found this site (among others). A few checks on what to look for, and I go back into my room and find.. bedbugs!

    It wasn't as big as I had expected, but the fact that I could see 3 or 4 on the corner of the boxspring and lots of excrement (surprising for how few were visible), and then shuffled along the top of the boxspring to find more traces.. and then more on the other top corner, and the bottom corner, etc., I was outta there. I (barely) slept in the living room floor on my camping pad, and was up first thing on Saturday to start calling exterminators.

    I got someone to come in on Monday afternoon, so after three relatively sleepless nights I got an exterminator / PCO to come in and examine the problem and spray my place. It took over an hour, and he sprayed everything he could - all exposed carpet, edges (I'd pulled the baseboards) the baseboards themselves, bed, boxspring, dresser, nightstand, fogged a dust into the electrical outlets / light switches (I also removed covers), electrical panel and just as thorough leading out to the front door of the house. I've been able to sleep a bit better, but this has obviously left me a LOT freaked out so I have a ton of questions I hope you all can help me with.

    1) is there any way to estimate how big the population was in my particular case? Prior to spraying I saw maybe 30 bugs total (living or dead) in almost all stages of development (more "older" bugs.. half? maybe more?) and all within easy reach of my bed, none much further than the hallway outside my door, and off bed bugs were few.. maybe 6 of the 30?- clearly id'ing from stage 3 to adult with some guesses at mobile black dots as earlier stages after feeding (they all gave off that smell when I squished them).

    1) I know the chemicals they sprayed have a 2 week residual effect on the insects (and I've seen them working on my pre-bedtime "bug patrols" - dead ants / millipedes / bedbugs where there wasn't anything the time before), but should I be concerned about sleeping in the front room of my place vs. the bedroom - will I just move the problem out to the front and risk moving the infestation to my couch / front room?

    1b) should I be staying out of the infested room(s) to ensure I don't track away the residual from the chemicals and give them a chance to survive? or even worse, pick up a hitchhiker and take them to a previously uninfested area (still covered in chemicals, but not ground zero)?

    2) in relation to where I sleep, this infestation is in a room in the basement of a half duplex (I guess technically a fourplex) - do I need to worry about the surviving bugs heading upstairs or next door for a closer snack? ie. do I need to warn my neighbours of the problem? upstairs is already aware of what I found and what I've done, but I haven't talked to the other half yet...

    2b) how far away can they sense their meals? again - if I move too far away will I just be pushing my problem off to others around me?

    3) also in relation to sleep location - if there are survivors of the chemical treatment, do I need to get back sleeping in "ground zero" ASAP so that I can draw them out and through the chemicals so they can die? I haven't found many new carcasses on my searches so I'm thinking one of two things - the bigger guys have headed off to other "diners", or they are in hiding waiting for me to come back. the smaller guys (stage egg to 2) I'm thinking I will never be able to tell if they are gone or not. not such a comforting thought.

    4) preventative measures - I'm getting mattress enclosures dropped off tomorrow by my exterminator (part of their service / "guarantee"), but I'm looking at the following steps for preservation of personal sanity:

    4a) pillow enclosures - the pillows I had were pretty much at the end of their life, but when I buy new I don't want them to get infested, so enclosures = a good idea in my mind.

    4b) boxspring and mattress enclosures: a no brainer - the location of the majority of the bugs, lock them in, starve them out. I have no idea on the brand, are there any that are that much better than the rest?

    4c) climbup interceptors - I have been considering these for the simple fact that they will let me know if there is still a problem, and they are fairly cheap. anyone know how sturdy they are? do they work? what are their dimensions? I've got a sectional couch that only has about 3 inches of height clearance under the legs, so I'm hoping they are somewhat short to fit under those.

    4d) DE powder for the edges of the room, electrical outlets, etc. put down a coating of that, put the baseboards back on and viola an effective barrier to carve these little vampires up when they come for me. at least that is my understanding of how that stuff works.

    4e) annd possibly drawer liners / garment bags for clothes - it has only been a few days but I'm already very frustrated with living out of garbage bags. which leads me to

    5) laundry - hot wash, hot dry. does it have to be back to back. ie, if I run stuff through the wash and then it sits for a bit before going in the dryer, do I give them a recovery time to live again? how long does the clothing /bedding /fabric stuff have to be dried before eggs to adult are d-e-a-d?

    5b) the most curious question for me about laundry is this - I bag stuff prior to spraying because it is clothes and they may be infested. I then put it in the wash (Reaching in the potentially infested bag) and put it in the wash, possibly getting some on my skin. when dry, I pack into bags again and fold into other bags so I have some sense of organization (clear garbage bags were purchased after 1 day of "what @#$@# bag is my underwear and socks in... and do I have anything clean / bedbug free?). my question is - how do I know I've taken enough precautions to ensure I haven't just stored some lone survivor away to release into the wild after the chemicals die away and they can begin to rebuild their army of bloodsuckers?

  2. fantastapotamus

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 13:51:27
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    ugh.. that should be titled "looking for help..." but that's what I get for typing this up in the middle of the night.

    any way to edit this, or delete and re-post with a proper title?

  3. wchicago

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 19:30:08
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    hi
    a disclaimer, i am new to all of this too, but since none of the oldtimers have yet replied, i'll give it a shot (i know how awful it is to be up all night worrying, am still doing that to an extent)

    first off, infestation level
    here is a thread on estimating levels, created by one of the experts here.
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/how-we-grade-infestations#post-17126

    where to sleep -reading the FAQs here -it seems consensus is STAY IN YOUR BED or risk spreading them elsewhere

    your PCO sounds awesome, btw -MUCH more thorough than mine (who just sprayed the baseboards and steamed my sofa on his first visit). i now have PCO envy.

    folks here seem to like the protectabed encasements cuz they have been tested by an entomologist as bb proof. that said, mine ripped in less than 2 months, they are pretty fragile, and hugely expensive. this should not stop you from buying one -just make sure to check it for tears often, like a couple of times a week, and be prepared to re-encase. some folks put ductape on the corners before putting it on the bed (After matttress is encased, but before it is on bedframe) and say this helps with the tearing. wish i'd done that. live and learn. my bed is now doubleencased because of the tears on the first encasement - my second encasement was an inexpensive one from target (all i could afford after shelling out over $120 for the first one that ripped) that said "waterproof and BB proof" it was arond $20. i duct taped the zipper. i hope double encasing works -seems to as i have many fewer bites.

    if you're going to use DE read the FAQ and buy a respirator. seriously. don't breathe it in. awesome stuff but be careful to use it safely

    your laundry protocol sounds good, as long as you're drying in a HOT dryer. clothes need to be bone dry + 20 minutes at 160 (i think? you can search the forums, there is a handy table somewhere with temps and minutes). you can test your dryer with a cheap meat thermometer to make sure its hot enough, i did and it gave me peace of mind (168 degrees -whoo).

    seriously, your list looks good. the only things i might add would be buy a pactite to bake anything you can't throw in the dryer (e.g., shoes, books, cds, dvds, etc) and caulk your brains out on any cracks and crevices (ask your PCO when, he may want you to wait until after the 2nd treatment in 2 weeks)

    good luck! i know the old timers will probably have way more to add, but i saw you hadn't gotten any replies yet so wanted to try to be helpful. also -the search function in the forum is awesomely helpful i've found -there is a thread on almost anything bedbuggy to be found.

    also - in terms fo freaking out - i had my first pco treatment 2 weeks ago <not as thorough as yours, but worth something cuz bites reduced, and i had my second PCO treatment today -oddly this one he was more thorough, treating the dresser drawers too as opposed to just the baseboards> and i am beginning to calm down. you'll get less freaked out with time. when i first joined the group someone PMd me and said the first 2 weeks are the worse, freak out wise, and then you just learn to live your new bedbuggy life (decon before going out, living out of ziplocs, etc) till you get rid of them. they were right, i'm on week 3 and less freaked out <though not rid of them yet>. it'll be ok.

    remember, i'm new and not an expert, but feel free to pm me anyway if you need to rant/panic/sympathy. ranting and panic i understand - my first few two weeks i was pretty unhinged.

  4. hathead

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 22:02:24
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    your climb-ups should fit under your couch no problem! they are not more than 2 inches high, at a guess

  5. fantastapotamus

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Nov 5 2009 22:45:07
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    Thanks for the replies.

    I actually just got off the phone with my PCO and he has calmed quite a few of my fears.

    The quote I gave him was "the internet is a wonderful tool for information, and an even better one for fueling hysteria", and it is very true in both cases. His statement was to not worry, and that they have about a 95% success rate with a one time application, and many of the revisits are from people being lazy or not taking the time to wash everything or follow the advice given on how to avoid re-contamination.

    message received - the laundry train will not stop until everything is roasted and bagged.

    based on that scale you linked to I'd estimate my problem to be in the 6-8 range, which (not surprisingly) coincides perfectly with me moving in to this location... meaning it was a parting gift from my former tenants, or I picked it up in my moving truck (my stuff sat in there for 2 days).

    the mattress / boxspring cover brand they sold me was mattress safe inc. (mattresssafe.com)and it looks like they were entomologist tested, so that again is a load off my mind. I'll definitely look at the frame and make sure there are no sharp spots before I rebuild my bed, but I might be sleeping off the floor tonight! yay!

    I actually paused in writing this to go fight with the bed and get everything together - one question - shouldn't the boxspring cover fit snugly, like a second skin to the boxspring? mine says "one size fits up to 9 inches in depth" , but it just hangs loose as my boxspring isn't 9 inches deep, it is only 7.

    so there is an extra 2 inches of material just hanging there... any suggestions? I see that extra as a inviting home to any bb's that want to settle in on the creases. duct tape to the rescue, and make folds etc like wrapping a present?

    in regards to sleeping - he confirmed I should have been back in my room on night 1, but without a mattress cover (they ran out the day before I hired them) I just couldn't. he wouldn't come right out and say that I was pied piper-ing them to the front of the house, but with how insistent he was to get me to bag up my bed and get back in there tonight I think the message is clear. also, he said I can't track the residual effect of the chemicals away by walking around on it, so that is good to know.

    so back I go tonight in to ground zero and hopefully they haven't scattered in search of another meal, or migrated up to the front of the house looking for me. I need to draw them out and drag them through the chemicals. (die bugs, DIE!)

    he said if I'm really worried about the couch and if it has bugs, I should put down double sided tape as a cheap first stage detection tool, but I thought I read somewhere that they can just walk through it so. that is why I was considering the climbup protectors (if they will fit under the legs)..?

  6. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 1:55:22
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    Hi fantastapotamus,

    Sadly, I can't edit thread titles. (Weird, I know.)

    But I think people will look anyway. Even if it sounds like it is maybe an expert's thread -- with all the tricks and tips -- that is likely to entice experts in to see if you really know your stuff. And they'll find you need their advice...

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

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 3:06:23
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    thanks nobugs,

    I'm certainly not trying to represent that I know what I'm talking about. quite the opposite, I got myself so worked up reading everything on a number of different websites I had myself convinced I was totally screwed for life with these little parasites.

    if I had been even as coherent as I am now (and I'm totally exhausted) I'd have made the title of the thread correct so people would know this was a giant (I tend to ramble when I'm tired / stressed) call for help and clarification.

    fingers crossed some of those experts can get back to me and answer my most pressing questions (handling of laundry, additional measures of protection and the fit of the boxspring encasement)

    thanks to everyone's input so far, every little bit helps

  8. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 4:27:56
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    fanta --

    Don't worry, I really don't think people are misreading the title of the thread.

    Did your PCO actually identify the samples? I ask because you describe it as black "lint" that ran away... bed bugs are not black. Were the bed bugs different sizes? Do you have a photo? How big were they?

    In answer to some of your questions:

    You do need to sleep where you normally sleep. Sleeping in a new location may cause bed bugs to move around.

    You can buy pillow encasements from the same sources as mattress/box spring encasements.

    Please also see the FAQs (linked at top of page).

  9. fantastapotamus

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 10:34:27
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    I caught around a dozen samples for him and kept them in a double ziploc bag until he showed up. He didn't say what stage they were at, but definitely confirmed bedbugs. The ones I caught looked to be at the later stages of the life cycle as they were easily visible ( around 0.5cm, some smaller, some larger) , and I did have few that I tried to pick up simply squish when I grabbed them.

    while I was walking him through what I had found and where he actually found a couple more hiding in places I'd have not thought to look (back of the nightstand / dresser in a tiny crack near the top), and 15 minutes before he showed up I saw an orange-red dot moving on the ceiling which I promptly skooshed.

    I guess saying "black lint" was a bit misleading - it was late so I can't say for sure what color it was, just noticeably different than my red flannel sheets so I decided to brush it off on to the floor and instead got the surprise of my life.

    night 1 back in the room is over and nothing to report, but then I wasn't getting that many bites to begin with so I think I'll have to give it a few days before I can say for sure if they got them all on the first treatment.

  10. watkinsnewan

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 10:45:47
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    It is very rear when using chemicals to get rid of them with one spraying and dusting.. I had my first treatment just a week ago..My company says they can do it But I heard it is rare I am going to call them back out in a week or two to come out an spray an dust again... just to be sure...I have gotten a lot of sleep in the past week.. It is such a relief...And I am not on this site as much which helps even tho I am addicted..
    looks like your well on your well you are so informed.. more than I was and WAY MORE level headed than most when they find out...
    Good luck...

  11. watkinsnewan

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 10:47:35
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    OOH NObuggs My husband is color blind and cant tell the color of the bugs... He thought brown was black...

  12. fantastapotamus

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 14:27:09
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    watkinsnewan - 3 hours ago looks like your well on your well you are so informed.. more than I was and WAY MORE level headed than most when they find out...
    Good luck...

    you wouldn't have said that if you saw me the night I discovered them. I think the longest I slept was 20 minutes at a stretch for the remainder of that night. every little twitch and I was jumping out of my skin. even now sitting at my desk at work, with all the precautions I take leaving the house I'm slapping or scrubbing my hand over locations that I feel (or imagine I feel) anything like crawling or itching.

    I tend to be a calm guy until I find a pack of mini vampires making a home in my bed and a meal out of me... then I pretty much lose it

    as for being informed, if I didn't have the internet I likely would have had a lot longer of a time before identifying the problem and making a decision to call a PCO. It has been helpful to get a lot of information, pictures and support, but I confess it has also fed some of the fears and led to my overreaction like being overly cautious when leaving the house or spending any sort of time in my house.

    I have a brand new 4 piece leather sectional that I can't bring myself to sit on in case I bring the problem there, my first real furniture purchase in my life (everything else I have is either cheaper Ikea type stuff or hand me downs from friends / family - not the source as I've had all that furniture for years) and I'm too paranoid to sit on it and relax.

  13. watkinsnewan

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Nov 6 2009 23:58:08
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    WOW you got 20 min I couldn't sleep for about 3 days... Which made me really psychotic and then add 5 kids on top of it and my husband was out of town.. I was so snappy every thing in my life came to A screeching Holt to deal with BB.. and I am a very on the go Mother ... I lost my life...I hated that the most... And then all the precaution and arguing with family and friends to just check if you wont.. I will come over and check for you...every one In my life knows from the DR's to mine and my husbands jobs and the kids schools... I bit quite a few heads off Hear an there...
    I am lucky to work Seasonal.. So sat down an made a plan I had every thing down to a tee.. (very Mild OCD)
    I really understand about the nice new sectional That was my next Big purchase Thank god I have not bought one yet....
    You work all your life to have nice things an some dam bug comes and destroys it... And to top it off I knew Nothing about BB Didn't even know they existed..so I couldent protect me and the family.. I always thought it was a fairy tail "Sleep tight don't let the BB bite if they do smush with Daddy's big fat shoe"(Inside joke)Is what I used to tell my kids Now i just tell them I love them and I will see them in the morning...
    DID you ask your PCO if he could treat the sofa...They can.. Just to be safe I don't know your whole situation but it dosen't hurt to ask...
    I dont know what people do with out the internet when they have BB... So thankful for that little comfort in life..

  14. bbboogie

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Nov 7 2009 18:06:45
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    I also bought my encasements from MattressSafe which seem to have a good rep. I put them over plastic covers from Target and so far, so good. You can tuck the excess between the mattress and boxspring and tape it so it stays put.
    Every weekend, when I change my sheets, I examine the encasements for any signs of bedbugs but so far I've been lucky not to find any. I padded the sharp edges of my metal bedframe with foam strips to I didn't tear it.

  15. fantastapotamus

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Nov 7 2009 20:44:35
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    I put 3 or 4 layers of duct tape over all sharp parts, but I just left the boxspring cover hanging loose.

    it is a queen size bed and it is just me, so if I were to tape it up I'd be afraid of ripping it while trying to get it on the frame. hopefully this is ok, but if not I'll see if I can get someone to come in and give me a hand while I duct tape like mad.

  16. bbboogie

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Nov 8 2009 13:41:25
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    fantastapotamus - 16 hours ago  » 
    I put 3 or 4 layers of duct tape over all sharp parts, but I just left the boxspring cover hanging loose.
    it is a queen size bed and it is just me, so if I were to tape it up I'd be afraid of ripping it while trying to get it on the frame. hopefully this is ok.

    It should be fine without taping. I just mentioned taping in case you didn't like the look of the hanging part.

  17. fantastapotamus

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Nov 8 2009 14:11:44
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    bbboogie - I've never been one to be more concerned about appearance over effectiveness.

    Thinking about it since I posted I'm likely going to just leave it hanging loose since it isn't reaching the ground. If I tape it up and inadvertently create a bb hotel I'd be kicking (and scratching) myself.

  18. fallacious_8686

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Sun Sep 26 2010 8:19:44
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    Wow everyone seemed so prepared.... I have no money what so ever so it was a lot of dealing with my property manager and finally the owner of the building... cause they wern't doing anything about it and I definatly got the bugs when i moved into this building not even a month after i moved in i found out 6 units moved JUST because of the bedbug... Now i'm stuck in this crappy apartment can't wash all my clothes so they are all bagged up for now waiting to be washed and re-bagged in new bags....my property manager after we had been living here for 4 months finally came and sprayed my apartment (I honestly don't know if she knew what she was doing though) and since she has sprayed I've gotten at least 15 new bites so im' not to sure if its working she said it wasn't going to be instant but i threw out my bed i kept my couch cause it's leather but once me and my boyfriend can afford just a air mattress we'll probably be throwing out our couch and starting from scratch again.

    And i just found this site tongiht and its awesome kinda wished i'd found it sooner, becuase i only fonud sites that freaked me out....

  19. bugnut

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    Posted 3 years ago
    Sun Sep 26 2010 9:04:56
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    fastapotamous-

    You seem to be doing well so far -

    The packtite will help you enormously. So will the dryer. Also the fact you are in a stand alone dwelling allows you more control over the situation.

    I also live in a house and I have been infested TWICE. I believe it was from work (they have been battling for a while - only revealed this info recently - I quit) or work/vacation. I guess I will never know but I am well rid of that job in many ways.

    The first time I got rid of them in one treatment. This time I had 3 treatments but I think one or two would have been fine. Strangely enough it was harder for me the second time around. Much more paranoid this time - I have many protocols that may seem extreme but I really do not want to go for #3. From what you wrote, it seem s like your PCO is pretty through.

    If you have a car, make sure you do not infest it! It is not at all common but it happens. I had my car Vikaned as I had a bite on the back of my knee that may or may not have been from the car. I could not drive it so I had it treated. Very expensive peace of mind. Just make sure the clothes you wear in the car are from a fresh bag of treated clothes. My handbag is canvas and the contents are in a plastic bag inside. I just take the ziploc out and toss the bag in the dryer.

    Be prepared for your clothes to shrink. We all wear highwaters now!

    Good Luck -


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