If Money Were No Object, Which Elimination Technique Would You Use?(14 posts)
I've stayed up all night scouring the wealth of information on these forums! Thank you so much for this wonderful community.
Here is my story in a nutshell. One morning I woke up with maybe 10 bites, and though mosquitoes love me, I knew I couldn't have gotten that many mosquito bites while I was sleeping. Bed bugs flashed through my mind as they're an epidemic here in New York. As I researched online, I was certain that we had them because I found casings on our sheets. My husband recently went on a business trip and stayed at a hotel that had an infestation according to the Bed Bug Registry, and we're pretty sure that's where they came from. We had a certified dog come in and verify that there were bed bugs in our bedroom and nursery in the exact places my husband left his clothes as soon as he got home from the trip, slept, and hung out with our baby in his nursery (!!!!). The PCO also took the casings I found, examined them under a microscope and verified they were bed bugs. Also one came crawling out when we threw our mattress away. Our neighbors do not have bed bugs so this is isolated to our apartment for now (we live in a 3 unit brownstone).
I want to act fast before they spread, but researching has taken days, and prep will take even more days. Because we have a baby, we want to pursue more eco-friendly treatments, but also want to be as aggressive as possible to make sure we get it done right. We also have a LOT of stuff (thousands of books alone) and not a lot of time. We'd have to hire someone to help us prep our apartment for spraying -- this is more work than packing for moving!
There are so many options out there, I'd love to get some insight on what you, personally, think is best. Everything is adding up before we've even started treatment! But..... if money were no object, which bed bug elimination technique, or which combination of techniques would you use?
1) 2 rounds of chemicals, 2 weeks apart (+ Cryonite)
2) Vikane (which we could only use for our things off site & would still need to spray, but perhaps worth it for peace of mind and saved time)
3) Thermal Remediation
4) Nuvan Strips, Pack Tite, Professional quality steam cleaner, dry vapor steamer
I just want to make sure every single bed bug and egg is gone. I have ocd and anxiety, and have been forever changed by this entire experience. I'm freaking out because I keep thinking an errant egg will survive and we'll be back at square one. I'm doing laundry around the clock and living out of ziploc bags. I have so much respect for those of you who have made it to the other side in one piece because it truly is a nightmare that takes over your entire life.
Thank you so much for any advice or insight you may be able to provide!
A lot of variables.
Do you live in a single non attached home?
Then vikane or thermal I think would be the best options.
If you live in a multi unit attached situation, neighboring units have to be considered and treated too.
Do you have chemical sensitivity, kids and/or pets?
Can you live out of the bags and such for the duration of chemical treatment if you go that route?
If money were no object and I owned my own home, thermal would be my personal choice.
Hopefully those more experienced will chime in. This is just my 2 cents.
thermal. without a doubt. even in an apartment. yes, the other units need to be checked. I am going through this myself having had chemicals thrown everywhere in two apartments, and moving with very little and having a packtite. They hang on. Vikane sometimes isn't done right. Thermal they warranty. If you live in a multiunit, have the other units inspected, caulk all holes and baseboards, lay DE down by heat vents and bring in thermal remediation. Shortly, it will I think become the standard of bed bug eradication and the prices will come down.
I've heard thermal is costly. Does anyone know, how costly?
where i am, a one bedroom apartment? $2600. In NYC you can find it I think for around $1000, which is the same as poisoning yourself. Depends on competition. Capitalism. Eh.
I'm not an expert and I've done neither, but if money were no object and time was, I'd go with thermal or Vikane. New York prices for anything being typically higher than elsewhere, including Buffalo, Beth, I'd expect the rates to be high. But time is money and I believe you feel that way.
Vikane can't be done on attached structures, like a brownstone, so your items would be taken off premises and your home would be treated with chems, dusts or thermal.
Thermal can be done on apartments, but does require coordination with neighbors and residuals for any bugs that crawl back. There's also some risk of damage to some materials.
Any treatment can be done wrong, so shop carefully, ask questions and be vigilant.
If you're going with conventional treatment, try and find someone who's thorough and has a track record.
Best of luck.
We live in a 3 unit brownstone with attached buildings on both sides, so on site Vikane is not an option, and I'm not sure if our landlord would allow us to do thermal remediation if it causes damage since this is a classic brownstone from the 1880's. I'm just trying to be creative and look into every option to ensure 100% decimation.
We have a baby and two cats and my husband and I both work from home so the cost of us vacating our apartment/prepping/cleanup with spraying would really add up.
I'm going to look into thermal and see if it's a possibility. But I'm definitely getting a packtite for future business trips!
I agree with other folks that part of the equation in any situation is the particulars of that particular infestation.
Personally, I'm a fan of thermal, but as big a fan of thermal as I am, I also admit that it's not the best fit for everyone.
(for example, if someone has a lot of musical instruments or rare books? thermal is definitely not the best option as the risk of damage is much too high.)
Pros and cons of chemical: takes the longest of all forms of treatment. (con)
has a residual effect (both pro and con. Pro in that if you live in a multi-unit residence, the residual will help prevent reinfestation if neighbors are infested. Con in that if you're chemically sensitive, you're exposing yourself for longer to those chemicals.)
must use self as bait during treatment (for me this is a giant con as the bugs squick me out massively and I already have insomnia)
least expensive up front (pro)
but you must spend a lot of time and money on prep materials. for many people the difference in price between this and other options disappears when you take into account the total cost of prep in terms of cost on prep and your labor. (con)
If done properly and you do not have any issues with chemical sensitivity, it perfectly safe.
Pros and cons of heat:
Form of treatment most likely to cause damage to items you own--if done improperly up to and including the structure itself (con.)
Requires the removal of some objects which must then be inspected or treated on their own.(con--you can reinfest yourself if you don't deal properly with those items)
Requires family and pets to vacate residence for all of a business day. (pro? con? simply a fact?)
Does not deal with infestations in adjacent units or have any effect on stragglers from adjacent apartments. (con that can be mitigated if all adjacent units are fully and effectively inspected)
If done properly, kills all bugs and eggs in one treatment. (pro)
Tied with Vikane for needing the least prep (heat sensitive items need to be removed, but the laundry may not be required at all or to the extent with chemical.) (pro)
Can be used on individual units within multi-units. (pro)
Generally, more expensive at one time than chemical (although if you add up cost of prep, for many people this difference disappears and/or isn't actually there--again, varies by situation.(con)
Pros and Cons of Vikane:
Cannot be used on units in a multi-unit building. (con)
Cannot be used when temps will drop below 40 degrees F (I think) at any point during the several day long treatment period. (con--and probably part of the reason it's not available in Canada, along with the fact that the pest it's most often used for isn't a problem there.)
Requires very little prep (anything sealed in plastic must be removed prior to treatment.) (pro)
Requires the family and pets to vacate the structure for *several* days (con--esp. as you'll need someplace to stay during that period and you need to take precautions not to infest those places or pick up another infestation there)
May offgas the fumigant used in very small amounts from highly porous materials post treatment. This one is unlikely and not often talked about. I've only seen mention of it from one reliable entomologist( and a lot of crackpot non-scholarly websites that we won't mention), and I know a lot of people who've been through Vikane since I live in southern California where it's used regularly to treat termites, so if it were a very common issue, I'd have heard about it. (con)
Can be used to treat heat sensitive items like DVDs , rare books, musical instruments, and all electronics devices. (pro)
Is the least widely available treatment approaches. Here in the desert southwest where dry wood termites are a common pest, it's more widely available and less expensive. As you move north, this is less true. (pro/con depending on where you live, I suppose.)
Like thermal, has no residual effect, so if neighboring units have an issue, you have no defense against that. Rigorous inspection of adjacent units can help. (pro/con depending on situation.)
Like thermal, isn't cheap up front. Vikane, in fact, is likely the most expensive option of all (I didn't price it, but simply based on the length of time and number of techs, I'm guessing it's the most expensive one, esp. if you're not in the southwest.)
There are also mechanical and heat methods that include the use of dusts and dry vapor steam. Many pest management professionals use a combination of both to overcome some of the limitations of the primary method.
So, you see, each approach has benefits and drawbacks. As a result, it's nearly impossible to tell one person which one is best or worst for his or her situation without knowing all the details of the situation--including some that people often neglect to put in their posts.
Hope that helps.
If money is no object.... Treating the entire structure with Vikane gas is absolutely the best approach.
The entire structure can be tented.... all occupants and pets will need to vacate for 48 hours in most cases... Minimal prep such as the removal of any food items is required... the gas will kill bugs and eggs in all stages... your neighboring units will all be treated at the same time, which dramatically reduces the chances of a reintroduction.... Vikane gas will not damage the historic structure in any way.... K9 teams are used to perform a clearance inspection after the treatment... the treatment is guaranteed to kill all bugs in a single treatment.
Vikane treatment is very expensive in New York, but you specified that cost is not an object. in your question.
Vikane gas can be utilized in temperatures under 40 degrees, if the treatment area is heated properly.
Off-site portable storage units loaded by a moving company can be used to treat the content of your home for a lower cost... the structure will need to be treated with dust and chemicals to treat any harborages that exist in the structure... the company that I am affiliated with uses K9 teams to pinpoint any affected areas in the vacant residence to guide treatment efforts... the company also provides a warranty for the treatment.
The structure is thoroughly aired out until the gas monitor cannot detect any level of gas in the building or storage unit ... I run my K9 through the work areas after they are cleared by the gas monitor...
I personally do not believe that the gas poses a health risk (if proper methodology is used) or I can assure you that I would not be inspecting the recently fumigated storage pods or structures... even the fools that attempt to burglarize a tented structure under treatment usually survive the experience.... the risk of harm is extremely low for occupants of a treated structure.
I think that there are some substantial risks for damage that are inherent in baking a 130 year old building for thermal treatment... I believe that it can be done, but I suspect that your landlord will not be willing to take the risk.
DDVP (Nuvon No Pest Strips) treatment would require you to move out of your residence for a prolonged period of time... I believe you would be looking at roughly 4 weeks.... Which certainly runs up the cost of treatment... I personally would also utilize a full chemical treatment to supplement the DDVP strips.
Chemical treatment requires that you remain in the house to act as bait... it will take several weeks to fully eradicate the bugs under most circumstances... it isn't cheap either, but it is the most cost effective, if price is considered as a factor in the decision.
Keep in mind that I am highly biased in favor of Vikane treatment... I work for a company that sells Vikane Gas treatment with my K9 teams.
Hope this helps you make your decision.
I hadn't thought of damage that may come to an old building, as my house is, in considering thermal. However, mine isn't anywhere near historic (just got through caulking tons of hols in the walls) so I don't think it would be an issue!
Vikane tents, yes, terribly expensive in NY.
Thanks for the info about temps. That's good to know. I guess since it's currently summer I can safely say this without having a lot of people throw frozen, rotten fruit at me, but where I live, it almost never drops below 40 degrees, so frankly, I tend to be a little fuzzy about the details on that end of the spectrum. I did remember reading that, and it may be the case that not every provider knows how to do that effectively, but I'm sure that people in cooler climates will be happy to know that it's possible to do Vikane in lower temps.
I also agree with you that, for the most part, Vikane doesn't pose a health risk. I always qualify that because while just about everyone I know who owns a home here has had it tented and treated with Vikane at some point (and even some of my renter friends have had to vacate for a few days for termite treatment--our climate is just too hospitable for termites for this to be uncommon), I imagine that there are some people with chemical sensitivities for whom this would be tough. I have a few friends with very sensitive or atypical asthma who have to be very careful about what they are exposed to, and I wouldn't automatically call Vikane 100% safe for them.
However, notwithtanding any statistically very rare chemical sensitivity or atypical asthma issues, I agree that Vikane is one of the safest treatment methods out there. It seems to expose people to a much, much lower level of chemical pesticides than most treatments.
Really the deciding factor for me in terms of whether I trusted a company to do heat on your brownstone would be how much experience the company had doing heat.
My apartment had the every living crap baked out of it. While I had damage to a few electronic items that I had either failed to unplug or remove the batteries from, the building had absolutely no structural damage. (It's not an 1880s building, but in terms of the structure itself, an 1880s building is probably far better constructed than my 1950s slapped together thing.) What might concern me in a building of that age is how the wiring handled the heat. (I'm an English major and a renter; I know nothing about construction. So it might be fine. But if I were worried about anything, that's what I would worry about.)
I would definitely advise against DDVP strips. There is one account from someone who treated his home using DDVP strips, but he had a post bacc degree in chemical engineering, and with a row home from the 1880s, the danger of trying to turn your residence into a DDVP chamber is that if you made any mistakes or you misjudged the airtightness between you and your neighbors (or any of them were chemically sensitive or they didn't know the dangers of organophosphate poisoning) then there are a lot of ways that doing so could put the lives of other people in danger.
DDVP strips are a useful tool; I used them myself to treat the items like my CD and DVD collections that couldn't be in my home during thermal. But while I think they are a great tool as part of an overall approach, in the vast majority of cases they should not be used as the only or even the primary mode of treatment.
I bought a Packtite about 18 months after treatment. I haven't used it yet, but I love the security of having it there. I know now that if I find myself exposed on a trip, I can take care of my luggage before introducing the bugs into my home--avoiding much more costly treatment.
(One of my hopes is that as I get my apartment into the shape I'd like it to be in, I can find an easily accessible home to put the Packtite in to make it easy to toss my bag into it as soon as I get home from the airport. Right now, my space doesn't allow that, but it is part of my long term plan along with regular inspections and monitoring.)
Hope that helps. Since I'd eaten breakfast by the time I wrote this one, it should be slightly more coherent.
Beth .. You're not getting thermal done in NYC for 1,000.
That may cover the cost of the parking tickets .. but not much more
A tear gas like chemical is added to Vikane for safety... it is used to deter someone from entering the structure during the treatment... the additive is more likely to be a problem for a sensitive individual than undetectable traces of Vikane.
I agree fully with BuggyinSoCal & advocate for utilizing a PCO for any type of chemical treatment in your residence.
If you are going to use poisons in a safe manner... I think a licensed insured professional with bed bug experience will produce the best results without compromising your families health
My understanding is that Nuvon Prostrips are only sold to PCOs by Amvac.
Organophosphate (OP) chemicals can affect human health and should be treated with great respect.
Thanks so much for all your helpful replies! Each method does have its advantages and disadvantages depending on your particular situation, and all the insight you've provided has been invaluable.
I think we're looking at doing a combination of pesticide + off site Vikane for most of our possessions because:
- I highly doubt our landlord would allow us to do thermal, esp in a building like this with old wiring/electrical.
- Onsite Vikane is not an option since brownstones are all connected so our building can't be covered, and this is a rental unit.
- Steaming/cleaning all our clothes, books etc to prep for spraying would take forever because we have a lot of stuff. Using Vikane for our sofa, all of our baby's items, and our clothing would save us a lot of time and give us peace of mind that the bugs are 100% eradicated. It will end up costing us, but I'm already driving myself absolutely bonkers wondering if what I'm cleaning with alcohol and/or steaming then bagging to prep for spraying is truly bed bug free, unless I can put it through the dryer and seal it up immediately.
The top unit in our building (there are 3 units) did have bed bugs a couple years ago according to our landlord, so I think the pesticides are a necessity. Vikane and thermal sound great and if we lived in a stand alone house, Vikane is definitely the way I'd go. But when you live in an apartment, Vikane and Thermal don't protect against reinfestation from neighboring units, whereas pesticides do offer some measure of protection? Our PCO would come and drill holes in the wall and fill them with eco friendly pesticides, and cover any holes/gaps/crevices.
When I reported bed bugs to our landlord, he sent over someone who does a bunch of odd work for his properties with a bucket of pesticides. No warning for us to leave the premises... he was just planning on spraying right then and there! He thought it was RIDICULOUS that we would pay more than the $200 in pesticides he usually buys for his handyman (who is not an exterminator) to DIY.
This morning I found bites on my baby (devastation!) even though I've put an anti bed bug mattress cover on his mattress, wiped his crib down with alcohol, put vaseline on the crib legs, moved it from the wall, and washed all his bedding in hot water. We are definitely getting the interceptors.
If all this doesn't work, I'm going to Vikane a moving truck with our belongings and just move. This has scarred me for life! I will never be the same again.
Thank you once again for all your advice. Knowing that I can use Vikane has at least provided me with some measure of sanity.
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