Might I have bed bugs? No bites, but a recent guest warned me.(6 posts)
Hi, I’m a bit worried that I might have bedbugs, and I don’t know what to do.
A friend came to visit a few days ago, and mentioned that he had some bites on his stomach. After he left, he rang to say that he thinks it might be bedbugs that he picked up on holidays before he visited. He hasn’t actually seen bugs, and the bites he had aren’t in the ‘three spot’ formation, so I wonder if it could be a flea or something. While he stayed with me, he was in the guest room and his suitcase was open on the (wooden) floor, and he didn’t get any new bites in my house. I had a careful look at the sofa-bed he slept on, but I can’t see anything. He left nearly a week ago, but I don’t have any bites (yet). I’ve washed the sheets on hot (I don’t own a dryer) but I don’t know what to do next.
How long before I see anything, given that I’m not sleeping in the bed? I’ve read that you shouldn’t move out of an infested bed, because it will just spread the infection – but should I move IN to the sofa-bed, to make sure that they don’t spread out of the spare room looking for a victim? Should I vacuum the bed, or anything like that? How likely is it that I actually have them? Should I just get a pest control company in, just to be sure? I’d really appreciate some advice.
The likeliness that you might have them depends heavily on whether or not the spots on his stomach are actually bites, and if so, whether he took any bugs with him. Not every skin reaction is a bed bug bite.
That being said, the best thing to do at this point, if you're worried, is to start using passive monitor techniques to watch your situation. I'd say it's way too early to call pest control at this point. But if you look in the FAQs about determining whether you have bed bugs, you'll likely find some info. Or someone else with more expertise may also advise you.
I had an almost identical situation happen to me. My boyfriend's sister stayed with us and told us she was getting bites all over her stomach for the past month. This was over a year ago. She didn't have bedbugs and neither do we. It's common to be nervous and paranoid though. After that incident I vaccuumed and steam-cleaned the whole house. She works at a zoo, so I think she may have encountered some sort of bitey-critters there.
I did look at the passive monitors, but unfortunately none of them that I can find ship outside the US, and I'm not sure I can buy them in the country I live in (will check the shops tomorrow), so I wonder if the best detection method might actually to be to go and sleep in the guest bed. But if my guest's suitcase left some eggs behind, for example, how long would it be after he left before I would start to get bitten?
If you're attempting to confirm the presence or absence of bed bugs at this point in time you have some options:
> Careful & thorough visual inspection.
> Passive monitors - various types
> Active monitors - various types
Generally speaking, my tact is to avoid/prevent folks from being bitten. I just don't see the utility in this if it can be prevented.
This said, if you simply must sleep in the guest bed to be the "human host" for confirmation sake, then this ma also be done while preventing bites as well given that suitable blockers that can trap bed bugs are in place.
In addition to this, actives may be used as well without placing yourself at risk of being bitten.
As your post does not indicate the occurrence of bites or visual evidence yet, it is also posible that you don't have a problem.
Read as much information as you can to better prepare yourself in the event that you do incur bed bug activity.
Hope this helps ! paul b.
If I had to guess from your post, I would guess you've learned British English. But even if I'm right, that doesn't narrow down the country that you're in very much since so many countries teach British English (as opposed to American English) in their school systems, and I wouldn't want you to feel like you had to identify specifically where you are. I mention this because knowing a bit more about where you are might help people get you more specific information about whether passives are available in your area.
But you might contact David Cain (who is on the site as bedbugs-couk). He's in the UK, but as the designer of the device, he might know more about how to get your hands on those from other countries if you really want to use passives as part of your inspection process.
That said, I'll tell you the story I've told a number of times on this site.
In March of 2008, I picked up bed bugs from a hotel stay. I'm not sure exactly when; I've narrowed it down to one of two hotel stays that month, but I'm not 100% sure which. I have a pet cat.
Because of the cat, and because I was unaware of the existence of bed bugs (I live in the greater Los Angeles area, and in 2008, bed bug awareness in LA was much lower than it is now), I assumed it was fleas and treated the cat. When the bites continued, I figured it was mosquitos getting in through holes in the screen that resulted from the cat's claws. It was only in mid-June when I found bugs on the bed that I went to the internet and discovered what I had.
Now, between March and June, I made several trips for work. I went to conferences in several states well outside of California--one in the midwest Memorial Day weekend and one in the mid-atlantic in June. At each of those conferences, I had roommates at the hotel. The conference on the west coast which I think was the most likely hotel stay that was the source was in March. At each of those conferences, I had roommates (because I basically have to travel for work, and my day job doesn't really reimburse me for that travel). At the March conference, I had two roommates, one of whom slept in the same bed I did at the hotel where I caught what I then thought was a tick but now realize was a bed bug in my bed. At the one in May, I also had two different roommates, one of whom also stayed in the same bed that I did. (US hotel rooms are usually "doubles" with two queen sized beds, but to cut costs, people often double up in the beds in the rooms.) At the one in June, I flew into a different city to spend a few days at my friend's house *before* we drove down to the conference.
That entire time, I was traveling without taking any precautions to avoid spreading the bugs because I hadn't realized I had bed bugs.
Now, this is not behavior that I suggest as a good plan, mind you. When I realized I had bed bugs and had to contact each of those roommates and let them know that I might have exposed them to bed bugs, I went into quite the spiral of terror and guilt over the possibility that I had unknowingly passed these bugs on to several of my friends and colleagues.
I was very fortunate that none of those folks got hitch hiking bed bugs from me.
However, I tell this story to drive home the fact that even if you've been exposed to a confirmed case of bed bugs, there is no guarantee that you will definitely get bed bugs. Bed bugs are an expensive and difficult pest to treat, and the treatment often disrupts many aspects of our lives. No one wants them.
But sometimes that amount of anxiety makes us overly generous about estimating the odds that we'll get an infestation. I once said that we tend to view bed bugs as being like Velcro Tribbles when we first know that we might have been exposed. While bed bugs do spread more easily than any of us would like, being exposed--even to a confirmed infestation--is not an automatic sentence of getting bed bugs. (Which is why I tell that story. Obviously, I don't advocate blithely wandering about taking no precautions and exposing all your friends to bed bugs. I tell the story to point out that doing so is a bad idea, but sometimes circumstances mean that people do so unknowingly. Regardless of the circumstances, though, being exposed does not mean that you will get an infestation, and if you're new to bed bugs, it can be easy to mis-estimate the odds.)
If your guest actually ends up with a confirmed infestation--which is far from the case at this point since bites alone are definitely not confirmation--you do have a chance of developing your own infestation, but it's still only a chance.
At this point, regular inspection and being vigilant may be a good enough plan for you. If you'd like some extra assurance, passive monitors can be a useful tool in making it easier to confirm the infestation. However, even without them, if you're able to put the extra work into inspections, that's also a valid option, especially since it's not yet an exposure to a person with a confirmed infestation.
Sorry to be so long-winded, and I hope that helps.
Thanks very much for the advice. I can get passive monitors shipped from bedbugs.co.uk, so I'll give that a try first.
You must log in to post.