Misidentified As Bed Bugs?(15 posts)
Hi, I've been perusing these boards for nearly two weeks now. Ever since I started getting the occasional odd bite/skin reaction and later found cast-off skins of some sort of bug in a picture above my bed. Warning: this post is going to be long and I apologize in advance.
I was already slightly paranoid about possible bed bugs after my young son spent the night at a friend's several times and came home with red, angry welt-like bites in threes on his arms and legs and torso. The mom has admitted they once had bed bugs, but denies it now insisting that no one else there is being bit and she is so allergic she'd be reacting too if they had bed bugs. Additionally I went shopping three weeks before and purchased an art kit that I took home only to discover the cast-off skins of some type of bug inside the lining of the box. I threw the box away in a panic and cleaned my kitchen floor like crazy.
About two weeks ago I begin itching like mad on my neck one night and over the next few days I develop a rash at the hairline and down to my shoulders with pimple like red bites. I also develop a three spots on my arms that are randomly placed, not next to each other at all, and that may or may not be spider bites or something else. I then searched my bedroom for possible causes and discovered the cast-off skins of some sort of insect in the wooden frame of a painting above my bed and in cracks in the wooden slab platform of my bed.
This sent me into a panic and I began calling around to find an exterminator experienced in treating bed bugs. The first one came out and did a free evaluation. He showed up, looks around for five minutes, asked me where I found possible evidence and said he saw several live bugs although I didn't and I was standing next to him. I'm so inexperienced that I take his word for it though and my husband and I tell him we'll call once we figure out how to pay for the costly extermination.
I also call my sister in Canada to consult with her. She's an apartment manager and has dealt with bed bug infestations more times than she can count on both hands. When she finds out the PCO insists we do no prep work and that a fogger will kill everything she tells me not to believe it. That her exterminator always does a follow-up visit/treatment in two weeks and that he is very thorough and never asks a person where they found something - he looks for himself. He also wants to get paid for a follow-up visit.
I then contact another PCO. This guy talks nonstop about how busy is, but promises he can fit me in somehow. He doesn't feel he needs to come to the house to inspect since the last PCO IDed the problem and that along with cast-off skins and my bites are enough for him to decide we have bed bugs. By this point I'm desperate, his price is half the first guy's and so I accept. He does state we need to prep and he tells me where to get the checklist for this online - he doesn't have one himself. This PCO also says he doesn't need to do a follow-up visit, because he is so thorough the first time around and uses a variety of pesticides to kill off every stage of the bugs. He does state he gives a two-month guarentee on his work.
My husband and I schedule him to come out and begin preps. In our kitchen/laundry room I find what I think are bed bugs infesting the ironing board padding, a group of cleaning rags and steam mop pads under my sink, and the fur lining in my snow boots stored in a nearby closet. I'm freaking out and crying at this point since there are at least 50 or more full-sized cast-off skins of bugs and I get one live bug in a rag. I clean like a mad woman and grab samples of skins and the live bug to put in ziploc baggies. At one point I call my sister and describe what I'm finding. Her comment is that it sounds like a full-blown infestation if there are that many cast-off skins and they're in the laundry room. Which is not next to any place we sleep although I do work at the kitchen table daily on my laptop. She queries me closely about any of us getting bitten and I tell her what I'm getting. She asks if my son has been bitten and when I say no she reminds me that the first PCO said bed bugs were in the couch bed where he sleeps. She also asks if I've smelled the odd sickly sweet vanilla scent where I found the bug infestations. And I haven't and neither has my husband who is cleaning right beside me.
I go to bed freaked out. The next morning I get up and examine my body for any new bites - nothing. Same with my young son and when I reexamine my husband his bites appear to actually be the sort of pimples one gets from sweating heavily. It's been hot and his work is very physical (he's a home inspector).. Nothing on his arms or legs. And my son is definitely not getting the reactions at our house that he does at his friends, which I suddenly realize is odd since I'm finding cast-off skins of really big bugs all over the house now in wood and cloth primarily.
After thinking all of these things over today I googled insects that look like bed bugs and found the carpet beetle, which looks alot like what I've found. These will attack wood and cloth and do like to stay close to humans as well, so will sometimes go into beds and such. Plus our bed is made of wood so... I also googled book lice since I found a very tiny, slightly sluggish insect in some of my books. And I look extensively at pictures of bed bugs, their skins, their eggs and fecal material and realize nothing I've found looks exactly like that. The skins I find are yellow with black/brown stripes on the body and they're long. There's very little in the way of black or red spots and the only thing I've seen even remotely like that resembles black gun powder instead. No eggs whatsoever and the one live bug I have looks much more worm-like. My sister tells me that bed bugs look like "a creepy tick" and I then explain what I've been finding looks more like worms. She agrees it may well not be bed bugs given how many I've found, the size of them, and the lack of bites.
I searched further and also found the same insect skins sealed up behind what looks like a cocoon in cracks in my bed and on a bookmark in an old book that was chewed up. My husband called the exterminator who said we can send him pictures and that bed bugs do sometimes cocoon themselves off. Something that doesn't make any sense since none of my research has ever shown that. I called my sister and she said she never heard or saw such a thing and commented that it's weird this guy is willing to just show up and do the extermination without ever having been out to the house or identified bed bugs and any evidence for himself. Her exterminator will not agree to a job until he himself has found the evidence of bed bugs after inspecting the home.
Currently my husband and I canceled the extermination and are now seeking a third opinion from yet another PCO. In the meantime we're cleaning like mad and I'll keep a close track to see if any of us come up with new bites. Any thoughts or feedback from anyone else who has had some other bug misidentified as bed bugs would be most welcome. Also anything about PCOs insisting one has a bed bug infestation that turns out later to be something else entirely. Right now I feel more than a bit lost about the whole thing.
the exterminator who said we can send him pictures and that bed bugs do sometimes cocoon themselves off.
False. BBs have no ability to spin a cocoon or anything.
Post pics up here to get confirmation of your samples. Many folks that offer IDs have no ability to treat you hence no agenda.
I'm not in the industry, KQ and Loubugs are in NY. David is in the UK, and EffeCi is in Italy.
Thanks Jim, I appreciate the quick response. And yes, I was suspicious about the "cocoon" comment since bed bugs are not a worm or arachnid. After staring long and hard at my white sheets and finding no real evidence there I looked further into carpet beetles. My symptoms seem to fit an allergy to these little bugs alot more than bed bugs. I have respiratory problems, eye irritation and feel sharp little twinges and itching in my legs and body sometimes sitting in the kitchen. It's like something bites me hard and occasionally there's a tiny red welt, but no bugs are ever found. I understand that's from the hairs off these little guys, which makes sense. The bites on my arm could possibly be spider bites since I found plenty of those cleaning my bedroom today.
At this point I will try to get some good pics of what I've found and post these. And I'll see if I can find someone in L.A. who identifies bugs, but doesn't treat them to weed out any vested interests. In the meantime I'm taking my sister's advice, which is to go ahead and do the steps needed to defeat bed bugs anyways. Some extra vacuuming, decluttering and steam cleaning certainly can't hurt either way until I get a confirmation of what exactly I have.
Pictures is the way forward so diagnosis can be based on visual confirmation.
My gut feeling is carpet beetles from the description, but that said in 20,000+ cases the word cocoon has never left my lips in connection with bedbugs so I think your right to stop with the pest controllers you have spoken with as they don't appear to know what they ate talking about.
You may find some answers at:
Hope that helps.
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In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about products.
I'm in LA county ca..don't know if that's waht your name suggests or not but I was in a horrible situation, getting bites for weeks, that stayed for weeks, scratching myself raw and being left with scars.
I searched and searched and at no point did I find any bugs, castings or fecal spots (there were blood stains on sheets but all matched up with the huge holes I had scratched in my skin.)
My son had a few bites as well, but no where near as many as I did and my fiance didn't have any at all.
So imagine trying to get him on board for the hours and hours of cleaning along with the hundreds and hundreds of dollars in laundry, dry-cleaning, encasements, etc. etc.
Finally, because I was going crazy, checking evey night, sleeping with a flashlight (when I could sleep) to check for bugs, wearing patches to sleep to deter bites....crying, cursing, generally freaking out, we contacted Isotech and had a handler and bed bug canine come to do an inspection.
They were amazing, he spent well over an hour, closer to two, the dog, Dash, "alerted" to 2 places, but only slightly and with no excitement, he scratched and sniffed but left it willingly, then Manny did a through visual inspection, lifting my mattress and box springs, moving my bed etc etc. he found NO BED BUGS...
so he said he was going to have Dash check again and although Dash seemed mildly interested there was no excitement, when he hid a vial with live bugs, Dash went bezerk!!!
Manny decided that I did not have Bed Bugs but he had definitely ID'd carpet Beetles...UGH GROSS...btw I have NO carpet in my house, they eat fabric, lint, wood, dust etc....I had a cleaning company...no longer...turns out they've never dusted, swept, mopped under any of the beds....EWWWWW...guess I'm back to cleaning duty..hahaha
I have to admit, I had worked myself into such a frenzy and was so positive that we had BB's it's a little hard to let go of the notion. but I'm trying.
Today I spoke with a tech who deals with other pests, rather than Manny who specializes in BB's, he didn't even try to hard sell me, as a matter of fact he told me some other things to do to get rid of the carpet beetles, steaming the floors and all bedding before we use chemicals, and only when i mentioned I was also afraid of fowl mites and rat mites (I did a lot of research while itching:P) did he schedule a new inspection. He had already told me I could call on his personal mobile phone at any time if the bites continued or if I got freaked out.
I love that they didn't try to sell me on something when DIY could solve the problem, but are willing to spend valuable time, coaxing me of the proverbial ledge...
There are good people out there.
So I am trying to be optimistic, I hope my nightmare was only a BB scare and not a true infestation.
I'll exhaust all other options first, I better go get some gloves on cause I'm gonna clean this house till it sparkles, underbed and all but in the meantime I hope you find a good PCO who you can trust and can help put your mind at ease..the itchy bitey thing is shear torture!!
I had a similar experience with KillerQueen. I called him considering taking treatment into my own hands and was turned down for some solid reasons. (Which sent me back to moving.)
It's nice to have someone refuse to take your money because they are honest. Especially in a mess like this.
Yes, I'm in LA County too. Thank you so much for the info on IsoTech and Manny and Dash. I’m so happy that someone else has found an honest company in this whole mess, and if I need to use them I’ll definitely do so. I really appreciate you taking the time to let me know about them. Were they expensive? Not that I’m going to cheap out if I do indeed need to handle a bed bug infestation, but as a working class middle income family we do have to watch our resources. I’d be interested regardless though if it’d give me answers.
I just spent the Labor Day weekend with my family cleaning, decluttering, vacuuming and washing everything. And throughout all of this I only found what I have now positively IDed as carpet beetles. They are in everything and yeah I do sneeze and itch whenever I find a big infestation of them, so they could definitely be the problem. When I read about the symptoms of such an allergy I have it all – slight asthma, itching eyes, welts that swell up and then disappear etc. I’m also looking into possible mite or flea infestations since we have a gopher problem and the bites started showing up about that time. So if the dog didn't find anything for you it could quite possibly be the carpet beetle allergy or perhaps you could look into the mite/flea issue as a possibility. Certainly my bites do feel like what happens when I get bitten by fleas - it's just those are usually on my ankles and the ones I'm getting now are primarily on my neck and shoulders and face and scalp with a few on my arms.
I’m still on high alert though, mainly because I now realize in hindsight that my house has been put at serious risk for bed bugs for the last year or so. My son’s best friend had them at their apartment complex across town two years ago. And my son goes over there a lot as well as his best friend and sister coming to our house to spend the night usually once or twice a month. The two families are really close and the only thing that has troubled me all along is that my son would always come home from their house with red, raised itchy bug bites--sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, and sometimes in the pattern of threes though not always. Yet whenever I grilled the mom about this she’d insist they didn’t have bed bugs, that she had searched, and she always had an excuse for what the boys had been doing that might have exposed them to spiders or fleas etc. Silly me, not knowing then what I know now, I believed her. Then two months ago her kids spent a week with us during a family emergency and shortly after that I started to get bitten by something at night. Needless to say play dates are now being arranged outside of either home.
This is the reason why I haven’t quite relaxed and decided I’m in the clear just yet. And to make matters worse two days ago my husband showed me three little spots of blood about the size of a piece of popcorn beside my pillow that we weren’t sure had been there the day before. So the freak out began all over again and this time I even took the plates off the electric outlets and lamps in the bedroom only to find still more carpet beetles and mosquito remains. I did all the laundry again including a pillow that had been overlooked in the first round of cleaning too.
After I calmed down though I went to the forum and did more research then decided to order the Bed Bug Beacon and a mattress cover. I’ll let you (and everyone here) know how the Beacon works out. It will hopefully either finally give me peace of mind or at least answers. I’m grateful to have found this forum and all of you who have been kind enough to reach out to me. Hopefully I can do the same.
P.S. Also the same with me. My house has no carpet, but lots of wooden floors and furniture and hardcover books. A veritable nirvana for a carpet beetle (or bed bug). And I have learned the hard way not to store things under the bed in cardboard boxes. My house hasn't been this clean in decades.
Isotech was very reasonable for the canine inspection (250$) and they have really impressed me with their after care.
I hope you find a solution, please let me know if you do. It's such a frustrating situation and you feel so isolated
I'm in the same boat as you, my house hasn't been this clean in years..hahaha..and we are completing a project we started when my son was first born (he's 6 now) to re-do our master bedroom.
I just saw in another post that you were cleared by Eric at Isotech. So happy for you!! I hope the bites and itchies are gone as well.
Thanks. Yes we were cleared for bed bugs by the K-9 unit, but I'm still itching and getting bites/hives/allergic response to something. It's hard not to get paranoid that something was missed at times, but then again my son isn't getting bitten by anything and our place is small enough he would by now if it was the dreaded BBs. Right now I'm leaning towards the possibility of an allergic response to a medication I've been taking, which started around the same time as this whole mess. So I'm off it for now and we'll see if that clears things up.
Did you ever get a resolution on your bug bites? Sigh, it's so frustrating doing the slow elimination routine but that's what I am doing right now. Did find fleas so maybe that's it although I have no idea how they're getting in our bedroom since we don't have pets. So annoying that the things I once simply shrugged off as having sensitive skin now take on epic proportions every time. Take care.
From description of shed skins, it seems like your insects are carpet beetles and you have found carpet beetle larval shed skins. It's possible that the k9 hasn't been trained enough on dermestid (carpet beetles) beetle larvae, pupae, and adults so that it will not alert to these when searching for bed bugs. It's not correct to say that "bites" you have are from spiders since in most cases spiders really aren't the causative agent at all, but are always the first on the list to be named. It's my experience that most lesions first diagnosed as spider bites turn out to be something else.Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult on all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology investigations.
I think you misunderstood something Loudbugs, I didn't say that spiders were the causative agent. More just that in the beginning that was one of the things I came up with as a possible cause along with many others. That said we do have a ton of spiders here and the entire family has been bitten from time to time by the yellow sacs and wolf spiders since those seem inclined to roam through our house and get stepped on, brushed up against or otherwise threatened in some way that causes them to bite. The orb spiders and garden spiders never bother us since they're hanging out in their webs just chilling. (I love watching them - they're really quite spectacular)
One of my first clues that something was wrong and it wasn't spiders was the number of bites I was getting - I know that with spiders it's more of a one-time thing and fairly rare. You leave them alone, they leave you alone is the usual rule.
We do have carpet beetles for sure. If you look at my other posts you'll see that in the beginning a dishonest PCO tried to claim these were bed bugs. The dog wouldn't have found carpet beetles since it is only trained to find bed bugs, which is what I wanted. I imagine trying to train a dog to find multiple pests would be a near impossibility anyways and honestly I'd never hire one if that was the case since I couldn't then be sure of what pest it was indicating on. I have also found fleas in our house via the flea traps I started running. We don't have pets, but there's plenty of four-legged creatures that roam around the property we live on so they probably hitched a ride in on a friendly neighor cat or gopher or skunk since these like to get into the crawl space under the house. .
The carpet beetles got cleaned up, but I still doubt that's what's biting me since I am getting bites on my upper body primarily - face, scalp, shoulders, chest, upper back and a very few on the arms. Anyways tomorrow my husband and I are going to pull apart our big wooden bed (ulp) completely to examine every single screw hole and crack and crevice in the bed and that will probably be the deciding factor in does she or doesn't she have bed bugs. It's all I can do as well as continue to steam and wash everything which I'm doing now until and unless I can actually find a real live (or even dead) bedbug.
Doesn't it seem weird that ISO tech clears every house that the canine goes to, but people are still getting bites? I have read countless posts online of the cute beagles and canines clearing houses and people still getting bit, but the dogs "freaked out" when they put the canister of 100 live BB somewhere in the house. This is the same canister that the dogs are trained with and there are so many of them in the canister that I find it hard to imagine the dogs being able to find a few of them in different places around a house. I think its a scam. There are different types of these things and unless you have a huge infestation, where a dog is not even necessary, I don't think there is one person who has had the dogs pick up on anything but the canister. Someone prove me wrong.
LAman, are you skeptical of canine detection as a whole or just of ISOtech? While I am by no means an expert on this subject, I think that there are reasons to believe that k9 inspections are not a "scam." I cannot prove you wrong, but on the whole I think that there has been significant scrutiny given to dogs as a detection method, including academic studies (the most cited one is the U. of Florida study, but I think there are others). Also, dogs are used everyday to detect other scents, so why not bedbugs? Are they fool proof? No, but nothing is.
If you are directing your criticism squarely at ISOtech, why would they use a faulty detection method when they have a vested interest in finding and treating bugs? Every time they miss an infestation, they are missing an opportunity to do business. It seems then it is in their best interest not to clear everyone.
As for your assertion about the canister of "100s" of bedbugs, I cannot speak for other companies, but when I had a canine inspection the canister the company I used brought contained 2-3 bedbugs. That was enough and is certainly what you would expect to see in a real life infestation. Actually in a real life infestation you would probably see more.
I think real issues with dogs have been raised on this forum before, but I have never seen anything that has convinced me that k9 inspection is totally unreliable. In fact, it has given me some confidence that a properly trained and handled dog is an effective method for inspection.
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