How long will it take to know for sure if you have bedbugs???(5 posts)
As you can probably tell by my username, I am FREAKING OUT! My boyfriend stayed at a hotel this past Friday - Monday and he saw 3 bugs the entire time he was there. However, neither of us knew what these bugs were. But since I am terrified of any bug I made him leave his stuff on our balcony when he came home. The next day (yesterday) he unpacked his stuff and brought it inside and put it away. Today I read an article about bedbugs in the newspaper and the picture was identical to the bugs he saw in his hotel room. Now I’m FREAKING OUT and am convinced that they must be in my apartment. Is it certain that if they were in his room they are now in my house? How long will it take to know for sure one way or the other whether or not we have them??? How soon is too soon to call an exterminator? I am so scared of bugs that I probably will not be able to sleep until this situation is resolved. I have put all of his things back on the patio and bought a mattress cover claiming it has bed bug protection and I am currently washing all of his clothes, our towels, sheets, etc. What else can I do? PLEASE HELP!!!!!
First of all, FOPH, if you haven't read the FAQs over at the main site, you might want to start there. I know it's hard to do when you're in the panic stage, but there's a lot of really helpful information there.
Next, to your questions:
Is it certain that if they were in his room they are now in my house?
No. It is true that bed bugs are capable of hitch hiking with unsuspecting people pretty easily. I suspect that I got my infestation from staying in a hotel room that had bugs. On the other hand, if I'm right about which hotel room it was, which is by no means certain, I got them while neither of the other two people I was rooming with, one of whom I was sharing a bed with, got them. Before I knew I had them, I traveled to the homes of several other people, but none of them developed an infestation.
You should be cautious and inspecting and taking some of the precautions you have taken, and a few others you haven't, but it's by no means a 100% thing that just because you were exposed, you have them. It's possible, but not definite.
How long will it take to know for sure one way or the other whether or not we have them???
In many ways, that's an even harder question to answer. Bed bugs can be very difficult to detect, and esp. if you have a lone hitch hiker, it can be a while before you see any conclusive signs. Read the FAQs and hard as it is, look at the photos there so that you've got a better idea of what to look for. Inspection is your best defense right now.
How soon is too soon to call an exterminator?
Calling a PCO (the term that pest control pros prefer to exterminator) *before* you do research to find a good PCO with a lot of experience dealing with bed bugs would be too soon. If you find a good PCO who is knowledgeable about bed bugs in your area, then calling one in for an inspection right away might be helpful.
I cannot stress this enough: the quality of the PCO you choose will likely have a huge effect on how well this process goes. You don't want to call in a bad PCO who "treats" you for bugs you don't have, but you also don't want a bad PCO who clears you in case you're one of the people who doesn't react to the bites, which would allow a population to build up to levels that are harder to get rid of.
Bed bug detection is a tricky business, trickier still when populations are small. Some people here go weeks before they find a bug or other evidence, and that's a long time to be completely freaked out. (Most of us know exactly how long that is because we've been through it.)
If I were you, I'd search the forums to see if other people in your metro area recommend PCOs in your neck of the woods. Many people in your situation might consider a bed bug detection dog. As with PCOs, the trick with a bed bug detection dog is that you need to choose a good team (dog and handler), which requires research, so you're going to have to find a way to tamp down the panic enough to do that work if you want to have the best experience.
I've saved the bad news for last: putting the items on the balcony, if they are infested, isn't necessarily going to protect you. Bed bugs will travel long distances to get to food (i.e. us) if they need to feed.
Also, whatever luggage was in the hotel room also needs to be treated.
Before self-treating *anything*, even luggage, read the FAQs here. For the luggage, for starters, I would suggest going to the local drug store and getting some 91% isopropyl alcohol. It's a contact killer that's relatively safe (it is highly flammable, so don't spray it near, say, pilot lights or cigarettes) and is inexpensive. You will probably feel a lot better if you douse the luggage in that and leave it on the balcony to dry.
In addition to clothes, you'll need to inspect any other items that were in the hotel room that can't be washed and dried until very hot and dry (most people around here suggest either a hot wash and a hot dryer until 20 minutes after the items in it are dry, or any temperature wash and a hot dry until 20 minutes past dry. Obviously, this can wreck havoc on delicate fabrics, so read the FAQs for what to do with more delicate items.) or sprayed with 91% alcohol (books, papers, electronics.)
Once items are washed and dried, you might want to store them in sealed bags, because in the event that you do now have bugs in your home, you may have to follow those protocols with a lot more items, and it can get expensive to have to do that, so putting clean items in sealed plastic bags will save you some effort in the long run.
In the event that you've dodged a bullet, consider yourself lucky that you're learning now what to look for so that you can be vigilant in the future. It's still entirely possible that you are bed bug free. Unfortunately, much as I know you want to know right now what the case is, one of the most horrible aspects of bed bugs is that it may take a little time and some work to figure that out. Hang in there.
Oh, one other thing. Whatever you do, don't run out and start self-treating with anything other than rubbing alcohol before you confirm that you have an infestation. Bug bombs don't work on bed bugs and can make the problem (if you have one) worse and harder to treat.
Many people act like diatomaceous earth is perfectly safe, but like any other substance, it's not 100% safe. True, it doesn't cause many of the reactions that chemical pesticides do, but it is an inhalation hazard, and anecdotal evidence suggests that exposure to it can make skin more reactive and give some false positive responses. Many PCOs won't treat until you've cleaned it up if you've put it down.
So 100% rubbing alcohol should be safe, but I also wouldn't even do a major cleaning of your bedroom or apartment/house. If you do have the bugs, disturbing them can send them deeper into hiding, making the problem harder to treat. If you can carefully inspect around the bed without making major moves of stuff, by all means, do so. But don't go in and clean the bedroom top to bottom without inspecting as you go to see if you see signs, and make sure you've read up on what to look for before you do.
Buggyinsocal, Thank you so much for all of your advice! I have looked at the FAQ's and the pictures (which do not help with my paranoia) but at least now I know exactly what to look for and I will be buying the isopropyl alcohol TODAY! I check my bed several times a day for signs but have yet to find anything. I called an exterminator just to ask a few questions and they told me that if I have no sign of bedbugs and no bites after a month then I am probably safe. Is this true??? I will definitely keep checking the forums for a good PCO in my area (DC).
You have given me some peace of mind knowing that it is not 100% guaranteed that if they were in my boyfriends hotel they are in my apartment. I was afraid that whoever responded to my post would tell me I most likely have them. I'm trying to tone down the panic a little bit now, but I've been taking sleeping pills every night just to get some sleep! (The first night that all of this started I woke up nearly every hour in a panic thinking the bugs were all over me). Now, I'm just praying that I have dodged a bullet and will ALWAYS check any future hotel rooms that I stay in. Thanks again!!!
FOPH, just wanted to add that supposedly up to 70% of the population does not react to bed bug bites, so it's possible that someone could be bitten and not know. Since you are sure that there were bed bugs in the hotel room that your boyfriend stayed in, does he show any signs of bites? Keep in mind that it can take up to 9 days for bites to appear, although people can have reactions to the bites much sooner than that. You aren't OUT of the woods yet, but at least you know you're IN the woods so to speak.
Your boyfriend might want to put the name of the hotel on the bedbug registry so that other people can be warned before they stay there. The link is here: http://bedbugregistry.com/ (NoBugs, please remove if that's not allowed. Thank you)
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