HELP. BBs on walls/floor, but not beds; biting 1 of 4 residents(4 posts)
My family (me, 1 y.o. and 3 y.o. daughters and their father) moved to this 2BR apt. around 2/29. The unit looked wonderful at first, although I noticed the building itself was far from pristine. We are on the 2nd floor of this 3-story structure.
The 2nd night I was here, I saw a BB on the wall in the living room next to a light switch around 9pm. At that point, I had no idea what it was. Took light mental note of it, squashed it, and went about my life.
Perhaps four days later, I was cleaning up and found an old glue trap under the LR (living room) radiator with 3 dead ones stuck to it. At that point I told myself to look these up online, but forgot about it for maybe a week... no one was complaining of any bites.
Finally on 3/16 I found another live one on the LR wall behind my futon around the same time, which I lightly squashed and saved in a ziplok. Found another one on the floor under the futon, put it in the bag as well, and finally looked them up. Sure enough, they're bed bugs. I alerted my ex-husband via text, but didn't know what to do next.
I should mention, we're still technically married and living together so I can be a stay at home mom, but since we'll be divorced at some point, he's been sleeping in the living room while me and my kids share one bedroom. He works late nights, usually goes to sleep on the futon around 3-4am and when my girls wake me up around 7-8am, we're up for the day in the LR and he would take his blanket into the bedroom and sleep on my bed until 11am when I'd have to wake him up for work. When I first noticed the bugs, however, he had not been sleeping in the apartment yet, he was staying at our old place the first 3 nights. Since noting the problem, my ex has been sleeping on an air mattress on the LR floor and not moving to the bedroom in the mornings as usual, in attempts to try not to spread them, and me and the girls have been changing our clothes before heading to the bedroom, using Ziploks etc. But then he started paying attention and noticed he WAS getting bitten, just not a whole lot. Me and the girls for some reason have yet to be bitten (or notice a reaction at least) after nearly a month of really being the ones who are always here, and mostly in the living room. The BBs seem to prefer my ex so much that they wait for his 3:30am bedtime instead of feasting on my angels who are in bed by 8pm.
Anyway I finally told the landlord on 3/19. I think I panicked because my family is very messy by nature and I didn't want the landlord to assume WE brought the BBs in. I am certain we didn't... I did not travel anywhere with the girls between moving from my old place to this one, the first few times I saw the BBS we had barely unpacked and my ex wasn't even sleeping in the LR, AND eventually I got confirmation from my upstairs neighbors that they had bed bugs last July and "took care of it" themselves with BedLam. They said it worked "instantly". What kills me is that I found out my landlord DID try to say I brought them in, but after I bickered with him for a while he finally said the tenants upstairs had them, so he KNEW they were in the building. Maybe he didn't know how BBS can hide in wall structures for so long. He said his exterminator never mentioned bedbugs to him. BUT, another inconsistency, I talked to the exterminator and he knew of the BB problem upstairs and even said HE treated it. (Weird, coz the neighbors said they did it themselves, not through him.) Point being, the building has an infestation and they seem to have found my ex as their preferred new host.
So my landlord said the PCO was going to come do his routine monthly visit anyway on Tuesday 3/20 and spray each apartment. I refused to let him in because of the embarrassing amount of clutter, bagged laundry, trash to be removed (in Philly we're only allowed to take trash down once per week) and many cardboard boxes, some partially unpacked. I didn't tell him clutter was the reason. But he still came to spray upstairs and downstairs. That night or perhaps the night after, we were attacked by a barrage of stray bed bugs. About 5 wandered out on the LR walls, 2 of which made it to the futon. Found one the next day in the 2nd bedroom on top of our opened moving box. Found another crawling on the kitchen floor under wooden dining table, which I just bought. Sadly, one in a bag of clean laundry that I left open but didn't put away. I wonder if whatever he sprayed, which he told me was NOT specifically for BBs, flushed more of them from the other apartments into mine and into my clutter. He said he'd be back on Friday to do my place when it was more convenient for me, and I had hoped by then my ex would help me with the clutter/boxes and trash, but we didn't get enough done and I found another excuse to get out of his coming on 3/23. He did tell me he wasn't going to spray for BBs specifically, that first he had to confirm what they were and then get clearance from the landlord to use the more expensive BB methods which I believe he said will be BedLam and Phantom, I think a spray and dust combo he said he'll run along baseboards etc. What I did do was give the PCO my ziplok with the specimens which he confirmed to be bed bugs, without letting him in my apt.
The landlord is somewhat upset by my not letting the exterminator in to "do his job" coz he's a "professional", but when I spoke to the PCO he told me in his 40 odd years in the business he's only dealt with BBs a few times in the past 2-3 years and "he's learning more each time". He is NOT a BB expert, because he knew about the upstairs tenants having a problem yet he did nothing to treat the rest of the building simultaneously. I'm also leery of the pesticides he wants to use and how he will use them because of my two small children, and the fact that I am pretty sure these critters are highly infested in the walls and probably even under flooring. Also, I have a cat who is quite a hunter at night (she caught a mouse the same day we confirmed BBs) and gets in all the nooks of the apt, and I'm worried she'll get sick from the stuff. She is likely to eat the powder. AND we're not really allowed to have her -- my landlord doesn't know, but turns out the neighbors have a dog he knows about. Weird coz he told me he wouldn't mind a small cat with pet deposit but not a dog coz he didn't want the other tenants to get dogs too... shrug. Point here is I'm also trying to hide my cat from the PCO and landlord but may have to fess up about that.
Since I think having the PCO come will probably not help the problem and may be dangerous to my cat, kids, and maybe even me (I have asthma), I changed my mind and left a message with the landlord saying I'll take care of it myself with a natural product I ordered (Sleep Armor by AlwaysEco, a kit that has both a powder and liquid). He never returned my call and he was supposed to show me another apartment, because as a solution I am also considering moving. I think he's pissed, idk.
I KNOW you guys don't recommend doing this myself, especially since I'm in an apartment complex, and I know you don't recommend moving. But I have a complicated problem. The other issue is that my ex is SO messy and doesn't take much care in where he puts his dirty (possibly egg-laden) belongings. He also has long, kinky hair kept in a ponytail all the time and he only washes it about once a week, which I've read on here might promote their hanging out in his hair. Even if I do everything I can to get rid of the clutter and contain the bugs, I feel he'll sabotage everything. He also occasionally sleeps in hotels btw so he may be spreading them, he doesn't care. So I want to move out on my own to possibly have a fresh start and SLOWLY bring only minimal belongings that have been treated with a PackTite, laundered etc., but also to get away from him, but I would barely make ends meet doing that since I rely on his money and he doesn't make a lot. I really want to get out though. Of course, who knows whether the new building is also infested since they are by the same landlord. But what are my options? Stay here in a building I know is infested and will not be treated properly? I feel my best bet right now would be to just keep the bugs at bay... and well, that sucks.
I'm also wondering if I'm correct in assuming there is a dense population hiding somewhere in the building structure. I also saw a BB crawling up the LR wall, ON THE CEILING (smooth not popcorn), in DAYLIGHT. It fell off before getting too far on the ceiling though. I've seen a few in the daytime on the floor. Oh, and one was upside down under the air mattress he slept on, full with his blood one morning. I'm not really sure how to treat the problem except to use this powder I have kind of ALL OVER the floor, baseboards, and bedding even though there are no signs of them in the bedding. I don't even think they're in the futon. They might be hiding in my cardboard boxes though... and I just have to throw a lot of it out. (I will encase everything properly and write bedbugs on it, don't worry.)
Sorry this is so incredibly long but WHAT DO I DO?? I hate the idea of waiting for them to move into the bedroom and get to me and more importantly, my little ones Is there any chance maybe it's a small population with some weird wanderers? My ex doesn't have a lot of bites and it's not every night, but then again he's not paying full attention.
Assuming what you're seeing is a BB (to confirm, you can post a pic of a sample to a photosharing site and a link here) and they're running wild, you walked into a nightmare situation.
You need to get educated. Read our FAQ, end to end. Read this guide, to understand how BB are to be handled professionally.
If it's BB, assume your all being bit, just not all reacting.
If it's BB, it's egregious of a landlord to rent out an apartment in this kind of situation. Your building has an entrenched problem that you cannot remedy by treating your apartment alone. Moving out without taking your infestation to your next home will require specialized, costly treatment.
You need to carefully document your situation. You may need legal help to get compensated for the losses of time/money/property/consort, etc. that will no doubt be coming. You may need some kind of social worker to help you all keep your heads, especially with a divorce in process.
By the way, considering what your landlord has already done to you, the h--- with what rules he tells you about when the trash goes out. Let him deal with the ticket.
Thanks for replying, I feared no one would because of the length of my post.
I am 100% positive they were bed bugs. I've seen roaches and plenty other bugs before. I research a lot. I'm surprised at myself for not looking up the bug immediately, actually, but as I said there were no complaints of bites until AFTER I compared what I found to pictures of BBs on this site and elsewhere on the web. I also stated, there was one full of blood that I squashed, found under my ex's air mattress after he woke up. That was one of the samples I showed to the PCO (altogether, 3 or 4 specimens in the ziplok) and he confirmed that they were BBs.
What is weird is that they're not in our bedding. Although, I will inspect the futon again tonight and the bedroom bedding tomorrow.
I also thought it weird that they're not attacking me and my girls who are home like 90% of the time. But I have read an awful lot about these things since determining we have them, and realize we may be getting bitten without noticeable reactions. However since I've seen the majority in the LR, and that's where my ex sleeps, and he's getting bites, I think they're just choosing him over us for now.
Anyway, I certainly AM educating myself as much as possible while having to take care of two needy young ones most of the day. This has taken over my life for the past few weeks. I have other VERY pressing matters that have been put off because of this, but I want to do what I can, as fast as I can, and not make it worse, so yes, I am reading. Thank you for that guide. I'm going to print it out and read it whenever I have a minute, and I think it's something I can show my landlord if necessary.
I didn't think he was a shady guy at first, but that may be more because I liked his wife. Anyway, I seem to encounter more than my fair share of shady people. Getting the cooperation of the above and below tenants will be a problem. I think the couple upstairs has an attitude of "as long as they're not in here, not our problem", and I have good reason to believe the below tenants, a mother and her son in his mid 20s who is on house arrest, are involved in illegal drugs. The son says they don't have anything. The mother just acts high and is not friendly at all. For all I know, the BB infestation is stemming from their apartment but they don't seem to want to do sh*t about it. But I don't think the landlord intentionally rented out an infested apartment. I think he doesn't understand how prolific they are. He said to me, "You're worrying too much. My exterminator is a professional. You found a little problem, all we gotta do is fix the problem." When he told me the above apartment "fixed" their BB issue, he stressed that it was last year and seemed in disbelief that THAT is probably why the BBs are now in MY apartment.
I actually just spent 2 hours reading the FAQs, mainly the one on DE since I received my "natural" pesticide today and found the main ingredient to be amorphous silica which seems to be essentially DE. I'm not sure if it's food grade but it's from a tiny company out in Texas with a staff of I think only two, and the guy says it's so safe I can rub it on my cat's fur and put the powder in our laundry to make sure all clinging BBs are killed. There is also a separate spray concentrate that is mainly "sulfur", he said I can mix the powder with the spray for more killing power.
Anyway I think my plan, for now, is to throw out as much clutter as possible along with the boxes and replace them with contractor bags and plastic bins, taped shut. I will try to caulk what I can. I'll buy a steamer recommended from this site, and the PackTite. I'll vacuum, mop, just clean as much as I can first, launder everything (which is in itself another huge pain because we don't have our own washer/dryer and I have NO help taking lots of loads to the laundromat with two kids and no car), use mattress protectors, and after hopefully isolating where most of them are coming from I will lay down the pesticide. As far as the bins that will be sealed with possible BBs still inside, I plan to PackTite the contents of each bin as they are opened.
Perhaps I have a chance keeping them at bay doing this? I know, they'll keep coming, but then again I'm hoping they'll see my apartment as the not-so-hospitable one, perhaps until I move. I just think I'm going to go through hell if I try to get the landlord to treat the whole building... it really is not going to happen that way. He will only use his crappy PCO.
Oh... also, I can't post pics because I actually haven't seen any in a few days, and I gave my only samples to the PCO. I will link next time I catch one.
And since I think my landlord is being more ignorant than malicious, I would feel bad about imposing a fine on him by throwing the trash out before trash day.
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