My action plan - will it work? (sorry for length, I'm so stressed and tired)(5 posts)
hello, I've been reading this forum and the blog since I found it late last night - it seems to me like there are many people on here who know what they're talking about and I desperately want/need advice!
When I moved into my apartment in very late February, I was told that they had *just that day* had their first bed bug report in the building. Ha. This is definitely not the case (it was about two weeks prior to that they had reports and a live one caught, but I was really down to the wire and had just brought all my stuff to a new city to start a new job which I really couldn't put off to deal with finding a new place at the very last minute that just might have the same issue. Now I feel really dumb that I didn't just run away screaming at that point and find a new place!) Anyway, the rental company answered all my questions correctly - yes, they were treating with a PCO several times, treating above, below and to each side of any apartment where signs were found, etc. I thought, 'okay, I'll just be super vigilant about my stuff.' Didn't hear anything more, thought it meant it would be okay. I've since found out that a guy who owns a condo in the building has a super bad infestation that he REFUSES to have treated or deal with in any way, this guy has some mental competence issues I was told.
About a week ago, on Monday night I found a bed bug crawling beside me at 1am (I developed a habit of staying up late reading with a soft low light to look for bugs.) After days of waiting for my landlord to make sure the PCO got in, I took my little bug-in-a-well-taped-jar to them (it was hot enough in my car that it died en route). They confirmed it was a bed bug, and that the two blood stains (streaky, about the size of my adult bug in the main bit with about an inch or two of smear beside it) meant that I had an infestation. They'll be coming tomorrow to do the first spray. Now, they told me a few things I've seen elsewhere that seem decent information, but some of the other stuff they told me doesn't make 100% sense - a girl who works answering phones told me that they won't be in my books and those should be fine, they sold me some 'bed bug traps' - no labels on the wrap - that 'have an attractant in them'; about $26 canadian for four of them. Now I'm reading the website, I'm not sure if these attractant traps exist, particularly if they've not got labelling, and that the price seems kind of low if they're real?
The other thing I'm concerned about is that the PCO company told me in the sunshine (we have had several days of weather around 27-32 celsius) with no shade, my car is getting hot enough that it is baking itself. My parents drove down and took a bunch of my stuff (all the fabric's gone to the laundromat, we baked it in high in the industrial dryer drums for at least 40 minutes each load and made sure each load that had hit the high heat washers also was dried until bone-dry and scorching) to store at their place. I made them promise to do EVERYTHING you do when you travel and suspect bugs, and they never stayed overnight in my place. Every time we entered my place we went straight to the bathroom and put on 'apartment clothes' and put our street stuff in sealed ziplocs, which we put back on immediately before leaving the building. We didn't even wear the same shoes outside as in, I made sure everyone had on flip flops inside the building that we sealed in bags when outside.
My parents also took home some of my stuff that couldn't easily go into the dryers. It's all sealed in giant ziplocs at the moment (which we had on the carpets briefly, AFTER we had spent almost a half day vacuuming my teeny one bedroom apartment); they'll leave them in their car until it's another super hot day, let them sit for a few hours, then spread them in their bags in the sun on the driveway until the sun starts to cool down THEN take them inside to their sauna inside the house that reaches 60 celsius, and leave them there for a good chunk of time.
Given the guy who refuses to deal with them in this apartment building, I want to move at the end of this month. I will have had two sets of spraying done (by the PCO who told me that my books would be safe and my car will bake itself in the heat), and I'm worried that it won't be enough so I will be getting a u-haul to put all my stuff in and either pay someone to bake it or fumigate it with Vikane (if it's legal either here in Alberta or if I can hop across the border to Montana and have it done there? It's a stupid long weekend here, nothing has been open!) I am hoping that this will work and I won't have to deal with things. I haven't noticed any definitive 'bed bug bites', haven't found any fecal stains or carapaces or any signs besides that one adult bug and the two fresh-that-night blood spots so I don't think it's a bad infestation. Mind you, I'm not a professional, maybe there's more of a trick to it than waking up every five minutes and trying to watch for movement in the slight light coming off the street?
1) sealing everything already heated in plastic,
2) ironing papers I don't want to throw out,
3) keeping clothing sealed until just before I leave,
4) washing my bedding and clothing I wear on high heat every seven days and keeping everyhting not on my bed sealed in a garbage bag with twist ties,
5) using my car to bake itself,
6) getting my parents' sauna 60c sauna to heat treat things
7) heat treating/vikaning everything I own in a u-haul
have a chance of working? Realistically, am I likely to take bugs to a new place? I really hope not... Also, what the hell should I do about my shoes and books? Even with our precautions, is it possible/likely that my parents will get an infestation? Can I throw them into bins and seal them until that u-haul treatment and not worry about them until then? If I store things in rubbermaid totes on my balcony and there's bugs in them, can they get back inside my apartment? Should I duct tape all the seals? Will I have to throw out all my furniture or will the Vikane/heat really work?
Sorry this is so long, I just had a lot of questions and some of the stuff on this forum freaks me out. I know I'm not likely to have a big infestation but because I don't know where any bugs or eggs may be (I know bed/baseboards are most likely but I don't think these little suckers have the intelligence to read the 'how to be a bed bug' manual) and I don't think I can rule any hiding place out and still be sure I'm clean at the end.
Drive by post as I've got to get to work, but I believe that Alberta did have at least one thermal provider. I cannot speak to whether that provider did trucks or not, but combing through the forum using the search feature might turn something up.
Also, you might contact your local tenants' rights organization to see if anyone did anything illegal in lying to you (as opposed to just unethical and horrible.).
thank you, buggyinsocal! I had put in 'vikane,' 'canada' and nothing had come up - but there were several threads when searching for 'alberta.' I guess this is proof that when you're tired and stressed, you get dumb, right? I've called a place that seems to have thermal treatments of moving trucks available and left a message, here's hoping they get back to me soon. It seems like even if I have to drive up North for 6 hours, there WILL BE options!
Even more dry by post:
Vikane is a gas used for fumigation. It's widely used in the States to treat drywood (as opposed to subterranean) termites.
Vikane is not available anywhere in Canada. The Canadian government never approved it. Didn't have much cause to, I'd expect, as drywood termites seem to be a very warm climate problem.
Thermal, on the other hand, is approved for use in Canada. I'm not sure about who provides it though.
Sorry that you're in this predicament. Here are my thoughts. Your plan sounds mostly OK, with some (non-expert) thoughts and concerns:
In most BB infestations, the bugs tend to stay close to where people rest, sit, sleep. Any strays in books, electronics, etc. are bound to come out and feed. If a space is properly treated, even though not every item has been poisoned, the bugs will "cross poison" and eventually die. In a "moving" out situation, people get concerned about possible stragglers hiding in an item (or even in the boxes). Thermal or vikane treatment of cargo is one possible option as are heat treating and sealing airtight after.
While heat kills bed bugs, experts (on these forums) warn us that outdoor sun heat is not reliable. They also tell us that car infestations are relatively rare. That said, any item that you are subjecting to heat treatment in a car or sauna should be bagged airtight (tighter than a twist tie) to prevent bugs from escaping out of the items and bags into your car or sauna. (I'd speculate that there's less risk of BB getting IN to a twist tied bag of "clean" things, as there's little in the bag to attract them. If you can get your hands on a "PackTite" (or a shoe rack for your dryer) they could be handy. PackTite (IIRC) is not officially sold in Canada. There's a shelter in Vancouver that uses a sauna to kill BB in residents' goods. I'm not recommending a trip, but they did publish a how-to that may help you with your approach using your family's sauna. Here are the plans: http://www.bchousing.org/resources/Programs/ILBC/technical%20bulletins/29-09-12-15-Heat_Treatment_Room_for_Bed_Bugs.pdf
There are a host of traps on the market, hard to say what you have. The best ones seem to be ones that emit CO2 (mimicking your breath) for use in unoccupied spaces or "passive" ones that either form "moats" under bed/sofa legs or provide "friendly" surfaces where bed bugs feel comfortable and leave their marks. There are ones that claime to have "pheromones" or use hot pads, I'm not sure about these.
Carefully inspecting papers and other "simple" items (then sealing) should do.
Bed bugs crawling from the back yard to your home are (I think, but not certain) unlikely.
At the very least, please review our site's FAQ for things some of might have missed sharing with you.
Lean on us, we'll try and get you through this.
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