I need an expert to read this: my story, along with bites and photos.(13 posts)
I feel like I have been posting way too much lately, and that my situation is so unique that it might be hard for any of you to help. But I am really, really confused/depressed/feeling lost. I am looking for an expert opinion/advice/anything really.
A brief background again:
1. My GF came to visit me in LA on January 21 - 28th. This is prior to knowledge of any BB infestation. We both stayed in the bed, occasionally left bags/clothes on the floor, etc. But didn't know we may have had bugs, so we never took precautions. We left LA January 28th with said bags and clothes and went to SF together. I stayed in SF with her until February 3rd, then returned to LA.
2. Upon returning from my trip to SF, I found dead, old BBs (10-12 adults) in my LA apartment on February 3rd. They were mostly along the baseboards and found ONE dried up dead adult BB in a sheet I had on my bed. It was missing legs and looked really old. Confused, I contacted my landlord and had a PCO come out. I saw no other "classic" signs of infestation, just dead , dried up bugs.
3. PCO comes out and treats with DE February 5th. They said the BBs in my place likely came from my neighbor who sprayed on her own 3 months ago, and they were probably coming to my apartment to die.PCO claims to never have seen an infestation of dead BBs -- he is "confused.". I don't know if I believe it, but I have nothing else to go on. We did a thorough search of metal bed frame and mattress. No signs of stains, fecal, casts, or live bugs. Nothing. Regardless, PCO agrees to spray and I did everything this site suggests: prepared for my treatment properly, laundered everything in my home, etc. Upon treatment completion, I bagged up all my clothes and cleaned off all my possessions, except the bed frame and mattress, which I left coated in DE, along with every baseboard in my home (small studio) I got a mattress cover and climb ups, and made my bed an island.
4. I tried staying in my LA apartment that week, but my severe (diagnosed/medicated) anxiety disorder made it unable for me to sleep. I stayed 3 nights, February 12, 13, 14th. I had very bad panic attacks to the point where I almost needed to be hospitalized. I woke up the morning of February 14th (happy valentines day) and found a nymph bed bug in my bed, despite it being totally isolated and on the climb ups. My guess is they started hatching on the frame? I still don't understand. I freaked out. I took ONLY a few articles of clothing to the laundromat, cleaned them, and went to stay with a friend. Still no signs of blood, fecal matter, anything on the mattress. Found a few more small, dead BBs on the floor.
5. I traveled to SF for business February 17th with only my clean, quarantined clothes in bags. Nothing else. I have been staying with my GF in her SF apartment. We meticulously checked the bed this whole last week, looked all over the frame, sheets, everything, and found no signs of bed bugs except this: http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r503/buggerinLA/65ea8197.jpg dark brown spot on a sheet, which honestly could by ANYTHING. We started to get nervous because of point #1 in this post -- we traveled to her apartment with bags from my apartment (before we knew of the infestation, of course). Now we feel that we may have brought something back with us January 28th. I never saw a live bug, so we have no way to know if something crawled into one of our bags and traveled with us to SF. Or despite all my efforts to clean my clothing and shoes, I brought something back this past week....
6. This week in SF apartment, I have woken up with a few strange "bites" on my back and one on my arm over the past 2 days.
a. http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r503/buggerinLA/93ce7e01.jpg?t=1330106737 - this is the bite on my arm. It is a little swollen and reddish, and has what looks like a pinprick in the center. It doesn't itch much, and its only slightly raised.
b. http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r503/buggerinLA/93ce7e01.jpg?t=1330106737 - these are the bumps on my back. they resemble pimples. they do not have the pinhole mark in the center, but rather look like raised red bumps...they also don't itch much at all. my GF looked at them (since i cant see them) and described that they had a yellowish tint to them around the red swelling. We cannot really ID them. the clearish mark in the center is a skin tag, though it looks like a breakfast, lunch, dinner formation.
Now this is already way too much information, I know, but this is why I'm posting here for us....we're freaking out. I had some kind of BBs in my LA place (dead ones, and one live nymph) and we're worried we transported them to SF, effectively contaminating everything we own.
I looked again last night in the SF apartment and could not find any traces of bugs (I've only been here for one week, so I am not sure if enough time has passed for them to show up). No blood (even though I have bites, assuming they're from BBs), no fecal stains (other than that mystery brown spot I posted), no eggs, nothing in any crevice of the mattress. We feel like the bugs could have come back with us January 28th, but considering it has been nearly 30 days since that possible exposure, wouldn't we start to see signs of infestation in the SF apartment? My GF has never experienced a bite to date, and she has slept in that bed every night for the past 30 days. We are probably being overly paranoid. We both definitely feel like we've lost our minds. It's causing us a lot of problems both physically and emotionally.
HOWEVER, I have woken up with these bites on me the last 2 days. Which is why I'm posting this. I'm confused as all hell. They could be anything. But we're getting ready to move and we don't know what to do. We're both going down to LA tomorrow to look for apartments, then coming back up to SF in a few weeks to move stuff. We're not sure if we should do anything to the bed/our possessions while we're gone....
Some highlights to note:
> Never seen a live bug in LA apartment, apart from nymph. Had confirmed by PCO that what I found were 10-12 dead bed bugs
> No traces of bed bugs in SF apartment, though I am getting bitten, or rather, bites are showing up. It has been about 11 days since I was last in my apartment in LA and saw the nymph. I guess it is possible bites are just now surfacing??? I'm hoping this is all this whole thing is.
> We have a very bad moldy, dusty bedroom in the SF apartment. It might be possible that there are some other kinds of bugs lurking in there...mites, carpet beetles (though we have hardwood floors), lots of spiders...we don't know.
Things we have thought about doing:
> Loading up all our stuff to move in a few weeks and getting a Vikane treatment
> Getting a new bed and frame (JUST IN CASE)
We're trying to get a PCO out to our SF place before we leave town tomorrow, but I feel like it might be hard to get someone on such short notice. Unfortunately we cannot stick around to see what's going on due to work obligations. So, we basically feel screwed.
I'm so damn confused and feeling neurotic. The likelihood of us bringing back a live BB January 28th seems so slim, but then again, now I'm getting bites here. I feel like a crazed, insane maniac scouring every piece of fuzz on our bed. I guess this is more of a venting/rant session, but I am just so confused.
I have read it, looked at it, followed the other posts and yes it's an odd one. However it's by no means the end of the world or even close to a worst case scenario.
As you will have read bite responses are the worst diagnostic as they are influenced by so many other factors from air quality and in particular air travel to stress levels and anxiety. Bedbug issue aside this is a stressful time moving so its all a bit amplified.
My advice is actually quite simple. Take steps not to travel with it on clothes/luggage until you know where you are moving to.
Them when you pack to move take care to inspect and check everything. Don't throw it unless it needs replacing anyway and when you get to the other end unpack quickly and check as you do so.
For various reasons the current isolate method has not worked for you so go for a more natural monitor replacement approach. You check weekly and replace as needed based on confirming bedbug activity and taking control of the situation rather than loosing control.
You could also use a K9 and visually confirming handler to assist at the packing stage.
You need to replace anxiety with order and a methodical plan.
Hope that makes sense , it's certainly feasible.
Bed Bugs Limited
In accordance with the AUP and FTC I openly declare my vested interest in the Passive monitoring technology as the inventor.
Thanks, David. Appreciate the clarity of your response.
Our plan is to....figure out a plan.
We've already packed most of our SF house up in boxes. A lot of it, frankly. So we're not sure what to do with it all. When it comes time to come back up to SF to move down to LA, we may have to go through each box and inspect all items carefully, then repack. Unfortunately, we don't have time to do that tonight, as we leave first thing in the AM. We are obviously concerned that the items we packed could have been infected and that the bugs will be living in those boxes. We won't have any way of knowing what's safe to bring. But I am curious what the odds are on them leaving the infected bed to inhabit a packed box full of kitchen items or household stuff. Seems overly paranoid to think they would do that over the next week or two.
Most of our items we'll be moving can be placed in the Packtite, but our timeframe is so tight that we have no place to store things while we move in and Packtite belongings. It sounds like we might have to bite the bullet and get a storage space, and gradually move our items into the place a few boxes at a time in order to Packtite them. Then again, we are thinking that the infestation is probably in its beginning stages and isolated to the bedroom, therefore we just focus on treating bedroom items only. This may be a foolish assumption. I'm not really sure. The house is very big and there are no other signs from the roommates in other rooms that they've been getting bites this past month.
We struggle with a lack of strategy, as we want to do this right and avoid introducing bugs into the next place we move to. I would hate to bring them and cause new neighbors the stresses we've already endured.
My hope is that the odds of the SF place having an infestation are low, if not nil, despite showing signs of potential bites in the past week. However, like I noted above, the initial possible introduction of the bugs would have been over 30 days ago. We still have no solid signs we have them apart from the bites (which could be anything, I will definitely agree with you on that).
The LA apartment is another story. We plan to ditch almost everything there apart from washables. I feel like this is a good strategy bc I have very few possessions to begin with, and we can make absolutely sure everything we move out of there is "clean."
The problem is just not KNOWING what's going on in SF. The bites caused us a lot of alarm. But the lack of blood, fecal matter, stains, or cast skins makes us both think that my bites may be old (from 12 days ago when I stayed in my infested LA place) and are now surfacing due to increased anxiety/stress from work and the move itself.
Again, we just don't know.
I think another plan we can pursue is that once we find a new place in LA, we'll come back to SF and have a PCO come out with a K-9 inspection and give our stuff a once over. If he clears it, we'll pack up a truck and go, and try to packtite everything we can. Or go the extra step and Vikane our moving van. These seem like nuclear options to me.
It's very hard to stay positive and not see the worst case scenario.
You missed the point of and in my post.
I will repost again when I get to a keyboard but frankly less anxiety and more logic is what you need. You are not in a bedbug appocalypse situation but I am stuck in slow moving traffic and cant type.
OK, I've read it and had to take notes to keep up with the dates & details.
I'll underscore DC here as well.
You need to get a grip and take control of the situation.
(Secretly, and a lot of folks don't really know this but I'm sharing this with all, the bed bugs want you to panic, it's part of their plan. If you're busy panicing, you lose sight of the logical and practical things to do.)
Let's remember what the basic fuindementals of bed bugs are:
> Eggs, nymphs, shed skins, adults, carcasses, fecal stains.
> Bites alone do not necessarily mean an active infestation.
> Regarding bites: Bed bug mouthparts are tiny ! You cannot see where the bed bug inserted the mouthparts. Think about it; have you ever had a medical injection before? Could you see the hole created by the syringe needle? We can barely see where they inserted the tube when they take blood and that device is many times the size of a bed bug's mouthparts.
> A PCO told you that the bed bugs came into your place from the neighboring apartment to die? Hmmm.
> I recommend that you re-inspect and isolate your bed. Be as careful as possible.
> It's prudent to keep you stuff bagged up to either keep bed bugs out or, if they're there, to keep them in. These items can be suitably treated when convenient for you.
Please stick with the basics and maintain your sense of calm & control as well as your vigilance.
Hope this helps !
OK, I am not driving/traveling now.
Normally I would advise someone to stop the move process deal with the issue, make sure its gone and then get on with the move. This is by far the best way to deal with it but in your case you can't/wont do that so we need to look at the facts and adapt to what can be done.
As Paul repeated and because its so fundamental I will again you can only confirm bedbugs with:
- Live samples
- Cast skins
- faecal traces (Lou will dive in with Ureic as well but lets keep it as simple as possible)
You have had reactions but they could equally be something else including a stress / anxiety induced reaction and as I said you clearly have a lot on so this is bad timing to be dealing with this on top of everything else. This is again why its best to stop resolve and then resume so that you deal with one issue at a time and don't try to change all the variables at once.
If you want to 100% make sure that nothing is taken between the locations then the options are:
- Vikane fumigation if available in your area (I don't think it is in California)
- Thermal treatment of the possessions
- Screening with a scent lead inspection where the dog is used to narrow down the search area and clear item by item with the handler/PCO visually confirming
These are your 100% options but all are a lot like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut as we know from the fact you cant find anything that its not a massive infestation.
This is however good news as it means that the kitchen items, bathroom items and in fact all items that are not in either main occupied or sleeping areas are extremely low risk and a thorough visual inspection should be enough to clear them. Once cleared you can wrap in saran or pallet wrap and once sealed they are safe to transfer.
The problem is frankly not one of not knowing it is one of lack of clear confirmation makes you think the worst and with the other stresses a mild situation becomes a massive worry and the more you worry the greater the anxiety becomes. Its a vicious circle and feedback loop that only you can choose to break or at least put the brakes on.
If you focus on moving what you need immediately with the assistance of the PackTite you can make sure that clothes and other items are bedbug free before you unwrap / unseal them in the new property.
This advice goes for both locations, there is no point in going through unnecessary expense by disposing of things with value. The options above will deal with those/any items although it may be an expensive process on a per bug basis as I don't think you have many if any.
Although you feel this is a unique situation I have over the years had conversations with quite a few people who discover bedbugs as they are packing up and moving a home, sometimes on the day of the move. In such situations I listen to what has been found and if light enough advise that you can be feasible to physically remove and deal with the few bugs present with a steamer/vacuum cleaner or even just the blade of a knife or some tape. The trick in such situations however is what you do next. I always get people to unpack and resettle the rooms as quickly as possible to get the bedbugs back into "normal" behavioural patterns and effectively relocate them into the bed area. This requires a non isolated bed for maximum efficiency (using isolator in such settings can delay the relocation by 2 weeks or more (we have done the experiment so you don't need to)). You then in essence do what I call treatment by passive monitor replacement and given that a bedbug infestation takes 45 - 90 days to get where it could be called out of control time is again on your side.
Some of these cases were in fact resolved before the move and did not require any post move treatment or inspection. The likley of additional support being needed is always related to the extent of the issue and how thorough the initial clearance was. Given that yours is light at worst and I am sure you have the motivation to be thorough there is a high probability of success. To increase the chances of success you need to channel that wasted energy of stress and anxiety into constructive energy the kind that all about attention to detail and doing rather than worrying.
The only other thing I can think to add would be to try and bed bug beacon in the properties while they are not occupied to see if you can again add to the physical removal and to confirm what is going on. It would help if you had someone who was able to enter the property and restart them every 5-7 days.
Hope that makes it all crystal clear.
Thanks all. You can all clearly see that I am a very anxious and nervous person. It makes dealing with this situation very difficult.
As far as halting our move, it's not a "won't" it's a "can't." Due to work and financial situation, there is no way to prolong the move. However, I should note that we are not moving all our possessions tomorrow, just leaving town for 2 weeks to find a place, then coming back to get our possessions.
We have decided to hire a K-9 expert in the area that comes highly recommended from a lot of people in the area. It's very affordable for us, and will give us some peace of mind that to at least confirm somewhat that we do/don't have bugs in the SF house. I guess it might be extreme to you since we don't know that we have a major infestation...just bites (and confirmed BBs in another house I occupy time in, therefore making the SF house a risk for BBs) and you can't tell anything from bites.
But at least we'll know. If we have them, we can do as you outlined. If we don't, we can move as we planned, and make sure to use passive monitoring and other precautions to ensure we never get them.
buggerinLA - 1 hour ago »
Thanks all. You can all clearly see that I am a very anxious and nervous person. It makes dealing with this situation very difficult.
Go easy on yourself. If those of us with severe anxiety disorders could simply channel the sensibilities of the Vulcans and override our malfunctioning nervous systems and hyperactive amygdalas with reason and logic we all would. In a New York minute. Because it would provide an antidote to our suffering. And anyone who has mental health challenges (or loves someone who has them) knows these illnesses cause tremendous suffering and come at a great cost to us and our loved ones.
I haven't been through an infestation myself, but the subject of bedbugs and fear of infestation has reached debilitating, phobic proportions for me and is fueling my OCD, PTSD, and panic pattern and taking it to a level I’ve never experienced. (This is likely triggered by recent, unrelated trauma and I'm currently trying to sort through it all, hence my participation in this forum.) But I see the trauma they cause, and I see those patterns in myself. And my heart goes out to every single person is suffering or experiencing any sort of loss because of bedbugs.
I can say that when I've been faced with challenges involving great uncertainty and loss that have leveled me and brought me to my knees, they always teach me a little bit more about myself, and I always grow from it. Admittedly, this process is never pretty (for me at least). Facing your own demons never is. I clearly have a long way to go.
In your case, it looks like the only way out is to go through it. I know this is cold comfort now, but this experience can be a great teacher for you if you let it and could serve as a way for you to practice challenging the stranglehold your anxiety has on you.
"The problem is frankly not one of not knowing it is one of lack of clear confirmation makes you think the worst and with the other stresses a mild situation becomes a massive worry and the more you worry the greater the anxiety becomes. Its a vicious circle and feedback loop that only you can choose to break or at least put the brakes on."
This quote from David Cain is actually spot on. This is indeed part of the pattern. It’s true that the uncertainty is typically one of the hardest things to deal with for anxiety sufferers because it keeps you locked into the hell in your own mind. But it’s hard to break that loop. Which is why you need to go easy on yourself. You can do it.
Getting to the point of acceptance and gaining control over your own fear and biochemistry is often a long, circuitous journey. I know I'm not there yet. And I've been through some gnarly shit.
Good luck to you. I'll be rooting for you and sending you good vibes from the Pacific Northwest. This too shall pass.
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Thanks, Mindoverbbs - very encouraging words!
We had our K9 inspection on Saturday morning. Like I noted earlier, we are in the process of moving, so some things were boxed up in various rooms, but we left the bed and most of the bedroom in tact.
The dog and handler that came out were AWESOME. They were a very knowledgable team and seemed to follow all the protocol listed in the FAQs here about K9 inspection. He listened to our story carefully and asked questions, which has been outlined on this board many times, then started their inspection.
They scoured our bedroom twice and could find no traces of BBs, despite the fact that I have had these phantom bites over the past week. To assure us that the room was clear after the sweep, and that the dog could sniff out even a lone bug, the handler placed a small vile containing one bug, hidden away in the top back corner of the closet. After inspecting the area again, the dog alerted once he was in the closet. We felt pretty sure that he was able to sniff out anything hiding.
The bad news
When the dog searched our hall closet he alerted twice. The alert was for a piece of luggage my GF had brought from my infested LA apartment back up to SF. It had been sitting on top of another bag in the closet, and the dog alerted on both. We looked through the bags, but were unable to see any live bugs, but the handler noted that there could be live eggs hidden away, or even a nymph, that may be unable to see.
We cleared the bags from the house and had the dog reinspect the closet and he no longer was alerting. We brought the bags back in, and he once again alerted on them. We trashed them on the spot.
We also had him sniff my laptop, which was in my LA apartment for a week or two during the infestation. He also alerted on this, which makes me very nervous. I have had it sealed up, but on occasion pull it out to use for an hour here or there. The handler suggested again, there could be bugs or more likely, eggs, somewhere in the computer's body. We zipped it up in a bag where it sits now...unsure what to do with this.
There are a few reasons the computer infestation makes me nervous:
1. A lot of info on this board suggests that bugs don't infest electronics unless infestation is severe. I am fearing mine is severe. Although, the wild card is that I had my computer next to my bed for a week while I was not there (post DE-treatment). I guess it is possible they migrated, since there was no host and that the infestation ISN'T that bad, but that they were looking for somewhere warm to hide.
2. I used my computer sporadically a few weeks after my treatment, so I am worried the bugs could have escaped (though that makes no sense since the dog alerted on them just the other day)...is it possible eggs or nymphs still lurk in the computer for all this time? (been about 2.5 weeks since my computer was last at my house).
3. The bag that my GF used which was alerted as infested had been sitting in her bedroom for a week. How is it even possible that a bug/eggs persisted for so long in there without infesting her bedroom or anything else in the house for so long? (about 30 days)
These mixed findings are confusing. We called our K9 guy yesterday to follow up, because we were still a little worried about the findings. He assured us the rest of the house was cleared, and that the closet where the bag was found -- even though packed deep with boxes -- was clear, bc the gasses would have built up enough to detect anything else in the space.
I know some of you have had experiences with K9 teams before, so feel free to weigh in. I cannot stress how professional/knowledgable this guy was. He even offered to go over to a friend's house for an extra $50 who we sold our couch to, out of fear that something might be in there. He ended up doing the guy's entire house, PLUS our car. I really felt like he cared a lot and wanted to make sure he did everything possible to put us at ease.
He said that 75% of his clients are BB-positive, and he didn't see any telltale signs -- despite having a couple of infested items in the house -- that we were infested in the SF apartment.
He did recommend I have a K9 come out for my LA place and see if any of my electronics are salvageable for my move though.
Just wanted to share an update. Please let me know your thoughts!
Starting to feel way more optimistic we can win this battle, despite not knowing what is going with my computer/fear I have spread BBs to others bc of my infested laptop :/
Also, I should note that he offered to come back out, free of charge, when we actually pack our moving truck to move down to LA and re-inspect any pieces of furniture or boxes if we felt uneasy. It was a really good experience to have someone so used to dealing with this kind of stuff in there helping us understand the situation. Though he admitted, the bag situation is a bit puzzling.
One other thing I should mention about this whole saga...
The place I had stayed all last week and am staying in now until I find an apartment is very curious and may account for these "bites" I keep finding on me (and now on my GF who is sleeping in the same place as me and seeing the same kinds of small bites)....
Right next to the air mattress we're sleeping on was a potted plant/lamp full of dirt. Our hosts are kind of hippies and landscaping people, so they have a lot of plants in the house. I set my phone on the table next to our bed and within minutes saw dozens of tiny, tiny WHITE little bugs swarming it. Not nymph or BB looking, just white like wood mites or some other kind of creature. We inspected the lamp that was filled with soil from outside, and there were hundreds of the same little bug swarming around -- obviously some kind of little tiny colony living in the dirt. I don't think BBs live in dirt, and we're certainly feet away to feed on..if there were hundreds of BBs they'd be having a field day on us -- so I'm fairly confident these little outdoor pests might be the culprits for the bites I've experienced these past few weeks.
Then again, it could be a delayed reaction from my house where I stayed 2 weeks ago!
Can anyone weigh in on my questions from a few posts above about the K9 findings?
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