In need of advice:(14 posts)
I've been reading several of the posts on this forum over the last few days hoping that I would discover some magical solution to my potential problem. I've since discovered how naive I really am. I moved from New Paltz, NY to Brooklyn with my boyfriend and our two cats a little over a month ago. Since then, we've honestly been very happy. My boyfriend teaches in the city, and we've plans to move down here for months. The apartment is affordable, ideally located, and everyone in the building has been extremely friendly. I suppose it makes sense that the shoe needed to drop eventually.
While I was still in school, friends of mine suffered through a bed bug infestation in their dorm room. I did a little research then (I'm very insect phobic to begin with), and went a little crazy laundering my own things and making sure my mattress didn't have any traces of fecal matter, blood spots, etc. Luckily, I was in the clear, and that was over three years ago. I believe the college heat treated the whole building, but I lived on the other side of campus, so I'm not entirely sure. I've moved several times since then, and though I've always a little paranoid, I've never had any potential cases of my own. I have really sensitive skin, and I think that if a bed bug was choosing me as its host, I'd probably figure it out sooner rather than later.
As it turns out, I spotted a few dark marks on my sheets within weeks of moving into our new apartment. I didn't think much of it at the time; the sheets were cheap and purchased from Ikea, so there's a good chance the marks came from the packaging. A week ago, however, I started finding little mosquito bite-like marks on both of my arms. I'll have maybe three or four at a time, and they seem to fade within a day or so. They don't itch, and they haven't extended beyond my elbows and forearms. My boyfriend and I share a bed, and he's currently blemish-free; I don't know if it's possible that the bugs would only affect me, but I suspect that might be the case. I've checked the mattress (or more accurately, I made my boyfriend check the mattress while I cowered in fear in the corner), and there are no traces in any of the creases or under the frame. I've yet to actually find a bug.
I'm really starting to lose my cool here. I'm fairly certain we received some sort of flyer with our other forms upon moving in that stated that the building had no instances of bed bugs (or at least no reports) within the last year. I obviously don't know for certain whether we brought the bugs in ourselves, but I do know that the apartment we just moved from was not infested. I never received a single bite while we lived there, and my landlord had a dog come and inspect the whole building every few months (he was more paranoid that I am). Other than the move, we haven't traveled at all, and we're very careful never to take any furniture in off the streets or from secondhand stores. I'm really worried that if we do have bed bugs, we'll be responsible for the entirety of the bill for an inspection/extermination, and there's absolutely no way either one of us will be able to afford it. Moving into a new apartment is such a large expense, and we're honestly still recovering.
I know this is excessively long-winded, but can anyone offer any advice that doesn't involve hiring a PCO? I want to be certain I actually have bed bugs before I start treating my furniture, but I have no idea where else to look. Any information would be endlessly appreciated. I'm so lost here.
Hi, E. Being watchful puts you ahead of the game. People have different skin reactions to BB, from nothing to severe allergies. If you have BB in your home, it's plausible that only one of you shows reactions. I believe that it would help if you frame a BB problem as a maintenance issue (like a leaky pipe) that needs to be dealt with, but (unless the building acts irresponsibly), it's not necessary to throw away your things and/or move. In NY, it's also your landlord's responsibility. I recommend that you review our FAQ to give you a solid knowledge base from which to manage your fight against bed bugs.
First thing is to confirm it's bed bugs for sure !
You will also need to educate yourself such that you can best deal with the upcoming action items you may be facing.
Read the FAQ & various resources here. Also, access the articles page via my profile page. Be sure to read Over 201 Things to Know About Bed Bugs as this will help you in many ways including being able to seperate fact from fiction.
As pointed out above by cilecto your LL should be providing BB remediation resources for you and the building. How soon was it after move in that you started to discover bites?
In the meanwhile there are steps you can take to protect yourself and you will find much of this information via some of the resources mentioned.
Keep us updated as to your situation and if it does turn out that you need to self remediate then you can find suitable guidance here.
Hope this helps ! paul b.
Thanks for the direction, guys, it's very, very appreciated. Knowing where to look for the right information is practically a luxury on the internet these days.
The bites started showing up about a week ago that I've noticed. I have a very strong reaction to mosquito and flea bites, so I'm kind of used to seeing bites such as these during the summer months. I'm almost thankful that I'm catching them now, as I likely wouldn't have given it much thought after April.
My biggest issue is this: I don't have any furniture too close to the bed; no headboards, wooden frames, side tables, etc. The bed is pushed away from the wall (my dad put the whole thing together for me after he painted the room, and he was super anal about not letting the metal frame scratch the paint), and we don't have a dust ruffle. I now know the little freeloaders can live in electrical sockets, but even those are very far away from the bed. I took the plate off earlier, and found no traces. Could they be living in the cracks in the floor? If so, how can I go about looking for them?
Moreover, would it be a bad idea for me to invest in a mattress and box spring cover? I have a futon in my living room that was purchased with one, but I don't know how effective they are the longer you wait.
One more thing: would it be foolish for me to begin sealing away my winter clothing? I have a few of those vacuum seal bags, and I was initially hoping to start putting my clothes away for the season to conserve space. I really want to make sure I do all the rights things if I do have an infestation, but I also want to try not to let it interrupt my life too drastically. These situations are often a slippery slope for me.
If you're going to seal things away, make sure they're bug-free. For already clean items (including non-washables), skip the wash and do 30-40 minutes in a medium-warm (130-140F) dryer. For washables that need laudering, wash (any temperature), then throughly dry+15-20 minutes on medium.
Not all experts are into washing and bagging, but sealing up out of season goods makes sense in terms of saving work/storage space and reducing possible places for BB to infest.
Vacuum sealing per-se does not have any effect on BB, BTW.
A couple of things:
> While I cannot speak for others, I'm in favor of sealing items to reduce potential bed bug harborages.
> Are there medium heat dryers as described above?
> If the vacu-store bags are in fact airtight and much of the air is removed in the vacu-seal process, over time this will have a significant effect on any critter, including BBs, within the confined space and should result in mortality given sufficient time and elimination of breathable air within. I have not yet seen studies on this but it could be interesting.
> BB proof encasements are a good idea.
> Don't forget to install blocking devices to prevent BBs from climbing up the bed legs as you sleep.
Hope this helps !
The blood mark on the sheet is normal blood so therefore not conclusive of bedbug activity as it could equally be from an allergy, a cut , scratch or seepage from any other biting insect.
With regards you action plan, de cluttering and organising things is good and is the sensible thing to do for many reasons beyond bedbugs. In terms of encasement I could advocate box spring at a push but as their only benefit is to reduce harbourage points and provide a contrasting surface for detection go for durable and cost effective rather than a celebrity endorsed one.
I am not a fan of isolating beds as I have found that it can force things to be more diffused than if you just leave the any bedbugs to settle, it certainly helps in building up evidence for confirmation.
Hope that helps.
Bed Bugs Limited
Well, it's official.
My sister informed me a few days ago that she's done business (she works in a bank) with a gentleman who is actually an exterminator for a pretty reputable company in NYC, and after talking, he volunteered to come over and check our place over. Unfortunately, he found four bugs on my box spring. He said they were not fully mature and there was no evidence on the mattress or anywhere else. I've only had a few bites, and there's apparently a very good chance we caught it early. He sprayed the perimeter of the room, the box spring, inside the outlet covers, my bed side table, and in a bunch of cracks on the floor. I was extremely thankful, and he refused my money. It just goes to show you that there really are good people out there who care about young people just starting out.
He was very knowledgeable and answered all my questions pretty much verbatim to what I've read on this board. He recommended buying an encasement for the box spring, which we were able to do just before the store closed. He also gave me a quote for what a full treatment was going to be, and offered to speak personally with my landlord. I called her up, and she was actually pretty sympathetic. She told us to just email her a quote, and we'll go from there.
I want to be a good neighbor and speak to the people living on either side and below us, but I'm honestly petrified. We're new to the building, and I feel like I'm about to turn their lives upside down. :/ Any advice on breaking the news gently? I don't even know where they came from. I know we didn't bring them in from our old apartment, but who knows if we picked them up on the train or something?
Thanks again for answering my questions so promptly. This is a difficult situation, and I truly don't know where I'd be without the right information.
I'm not an expert, but I think you said your boyfriend teaches in the city. Teachers can be at high risk. Some even have kids bag their bookbags, etc.
I have a relative that's a teacher. They don't do that, but they follow the Travel tips in the FAQs section
Good luck. It sounds like it was caught early.
I've thought a lot about that, and I'm sure there's a good chance that's where it came from. He carries a single bag back and forth, not to mention a wool coat, shoes, clothes, tie, etc. I'm pretty confident that we'll be able to handle the infestation we have now (or maybe I've just convinced myself of this to avoid a breakdown), but I'm definitely worried about future exposure. I've looked into getting a Packtite, but after buying the encasement for the mattress and box spring and a new vacuum (our original decided to keel over three days before we confirmed the bugs), we're pretty clean out of money. Both of us are on pretty strict budgets now in an effort to pay rent and student loans. This really was the absolute worst time for this to happen.
Does anyone know if they make a more affordable version of the Packtite? And does the off brand (assuming there is one), hold up to the original?
I wouldn't try anything with a space heater and there is always risk of them escaping most containments.
Paul Bello has a method but it takes a lot more patience and DIY skills then I have. Here's the link:
You may also want to google Paul Bello and 201 for his list of ideas (he's on this site and I bought his book..it is really helpful).
I'd save up for a Packtite Closet if you can...I know it will be a while (and saw that you entered the contest...great timing if you win!!!)
If there are questions I wll answer as best I can.
Thanks much for the kind words theyareoutthere, it's nice to be appreciated ! ! !
So, we're currently waiting for our landlord to respond to our emails with a yes or a no on the PCO we really want to go with. In the meantime, I had to head home to long island for a few days to sleep after I had a major panic attack that nearly lead to me scalding myself while making dinner. I don't care if these horrid little creatures spread disease or not-- sleep deprivation can kill a person in less than a week. For a severe bug phobic like me, how is that not a health concern? I brought nothing but my iPhone and some chapstick to stay with my mom for a few days, and just for sake of thoroughness, I stripped naked in the backyard before jumping in the shower. My boyfriend stayed behind to act as bait and throw out just about everything we haven't used since we moved in that I haven't already laundered or chucked. De-cluttering is sort of cathartic, no? As the daughter of a pack rat, I've always gotten a sick thrill out of a good, complete clean out. Maybe I should thank the bugs for giving us a good reason to have one.
I'm more than a little nerdy and found some solace having a mini Lord of the Rings marathon today, and I just finished that scene where Aragorn is crowned king, and the hobbits try to lower their heads to him, but he stops them and utters the most poignant line in the film: "my friends...you bow to no one." Despite the fact that I've never, ever cried over a movie and I've seen this one in particular no less than thirty times (extended), I bawled like a child. Even my cat looked a little judgmental. I really can't believe what these parasites have done to me. We really need to end these fuckers. Soon.
I apologize for the slightly off-topic rambling. I should probably get some sleep. :/
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