Help! - New to this and need advice(4 posts)
Oh, man. After looking around online, I fear we have bedbugs, but I don't know what to do about it! Here's the background:
A few weeks ago (maybe 3) I noticed some bites on my arms and legs. I thought they were mosquito bites. But then I got an actual mosquito bite, and it disappeared after about a day; unlike the other bites that are still lingering. I started suspecting bbs, but I looked at my mattress and didn't see anything.
But now it's been at least three weeks, and every morning I wake up with 2-5 new bites. They itch and burn so much, and I now have over 60 bites. My husband has only 4-5 bites, and my toddler (who sometimes sleeps in our bed) has maybe 4-5 bites as well. I want to believe it's not bbs, but I can't imagine what else it could be.
We have two beds (and maybe a crib) that could possibly be infested. We can't afford professional exterminators, but we could try to get our landlord to pay. But where do we start? Looking for the bugs?
I want to clean my room from top to bottom, but I'm scared to move stuff to other rooms for fear the bugs will spread. What are the first steps? What should I do? Help! I'm feeling very helpless right now.
look at the top of this page and click on BED BUG FAQ. it is very informative. Should you have any other questions, then post back here again.
The people here are so supportive. There are experts here who are great and will answer your questions.
With a light infestation, it is possible that the signs of bed bugs are hidden away in places that you cannot see them--especially early on.
However, it's also at least as possible that you're being bothered by a pest other than bed bugs.
How to figure out what's making you itch?
A couple of possibilities:
1. There are some inexpensive things you can do to help figure out precisely what is biting you. If I were in your shoes, knowing what I know now, I would want to rule out fleas and carpet beetles. (And yes, you can get fleas in a home without a pet. And yes, you can carpet beetles without carpet. They are now on my list of badly named bugs in the sense that lots of people think carpet beetles only go with carpet and fleas with pets.)
Plug in flea traps are relatively inexpensive. I would also lean toward suspecting fleas if most of the bites are clustered around your ankles.
Carpet beetles do not bite. But their larvae have their hair-like things that cause a skin response that looks just like a bug bite--and itches like one too.
Inspect the rooms you most suspect to see if you find carpet beetles and their larvae. If you do, treat for those first.
In the meantime, passive monitors like Climb Up Interceptors and/or David Cain's new monitoring device may help you catch a sample.
2. Inspect thoroughly.
I know you don't want to disturb things, but with a little education *before* you inspect, you should have a better idea of how to inspect without sending the bugs into other rooms and/or sending them deeper into hiding. Look around for the videos on how to inspect a hotel room. That's a good starting point.
Read the FAQ on how not to spread bugs after you've been exposed. There are a lot of resources about inspecting and preventing the spread of bugs over here.
A lot of people (myself included before I had bed bugs) take the name of bed bugs at face value and only look at the bed. You'll also want to look in places like the screw holes in the wood frame or under adjacent furniture.
WHILE INSPECTING, important things to have on hand:
a. a spray bottle with 91% isopropyl alcohol. It's a contact killer. So if you come across any bugs, you can kill them when you see them. If you found them and didn't have something on hand to use, there might be screaming and smashing.
And smashing is bad. (Screaming has no real positive or negative long term consequences as far as the bugs are concerned.)
b. Some clear tape and white paper or card stock, and a ziplock. If you find bed bugs, or any other bugs, it is best to preserve the samples for a pest management professional. PCOs can't treat without proof of the pest, and bed bugs can be hard to find, so if you find some, keep the samples. (Gross, I know. But trust me, if you find samples, you definitely want to hold onto them. Some people go months without any signs.) Other people suggest using an old empty prescription bottle, which also works; I just never have one around. If you find bugs, and you're using the tape method, stick the bugs to the tape and then the bug in the tape to a piece of white paper or card stock. (Honestly, I used index cards.) Then stick that in a ziplock. (I stored my ziplock with samples in the freezer. Not sure it did anything, but it made me feel better. I also knew it would keep the samples fresh since at the time, I had a friend who was doing a project for her bio class on a bug collection. That's where she kept her samples until she killed the bugs and mounted them.)
From my perspective, the advantage of the tape and index card route is that you can photograph what you've got and post it here for identification.
While you're inspecting, by all means, take the time to start decluttering and making your place less bed bug friendly if you want to.
But I wouldn't make any radical changes until you've thoroughly inspected the rooms you suspect the bugs may be. If there are bugs, you want not to scare them into hiding deeper. Effective inspection, however, shouldn't do that.
If you do find bugs, make sure that you follow the protocols outlined in the FAQs so that you don't move, say, unbagged masses of laundry that may have bugs in them into rooms that don't yet have bugs.
3. Find out what your local laws about renters and landlords and who pays for treatment are so that if you do have bugs of any sort, you're clear on what your rights and responsibilities are. Doing that now before you get freaked out and have tons of prep to do is probably wise.
Hang in there. I'll cross my fingers that it's something other than bed bugs. Without knowing your place or how much you've looked, I can't tell you what the chances are. Personally, my gut leans towards it not being bed bugs if you've been being bitten for three weeks only because what goes into a bug's digestive tract has to come out, and that means fecal matter.
My experience was that the fecal matter was pretty easily visible. So based on that alone, I'd go with it being more likely that it's another pest. But, again, your mileage may vary.
Wow, thanks so much for all that info! It was very helpful. I'm trying to figure all this out. I'm going out today in search of flea traps - I'm thinking maybe Lowe's or Home Depot may have them. My husband and I inspected our mattress and the area around it pretty meticulously, and I see nothing that looks suspicious at all.
Yet I'm still waking up every morning with 2-6 bites. I even got one bite yesterday evening - around 8pm - while I was still awake. I don't know how I missed something biting me, but I did! I HAVE been seeing little black bugs on me and my husband - maybe 4-5 of them total. I am trying to catch one, but they're fast. The only picture that comes close online is fleas. Or, we're in Georgia, so it could be anything!
I never thought I'd say this (because I've had fleas before and they are terrible!), but I am praying this is fleas. The bites feel very much like the flea bites I had years ago, but they are definitely not on my ankles and legs only. I've got them all over my arms and some on my torso as well.
I realized that this all began about a month ago, which coincides with us moving our bed to another wall in the bedroom. This wall is a shared wall with our next door neighbors, who have pets. I don't know if that matters at all.
Anyway, if anyone has any insights, let me know. Oh, and if you know how to search for carpet beetles, do share that. I couldn't find much info online.
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