My story and plan of action. Can anyone tell me if I have a chance?(7 posts)
Hi everyone. I've been reading since November, when I first found that my apartment was infested. Two Terminix treatments, a ton of diatomaceous earth, some cedar oil, one botched treatment from my incompetent landlord and about a thousand dollars later, the bugs are just as bad as ever.
I apologize in advance for the length of this, and in case I skip around from topic to topic. I'm only twenty years old and I live by myself. I'm a translator, but I'm fairly new to the business so my income is typically meager and unpredictable. I was already living with C-PTSD for about 5 years before I moved here. The bed bugs have single-handedly (six-handedly?) destroyed a ton of the progress I've made toward becoming healthy by interrupting absolutely every aspect of my life.
I came here optimistic, adjusted enough to function well at my job/social life, and enough to live by myself. At this point, flashbacks are almost a daily occurrence, my anxiety keeps me from speaking to anyone I don't know by name. Even writing this post is making me shake. I've barely slept in a month and have spent most of this week in a perpetual anxiety attack. What I'm trying to say is, these bugs are destroying me. I can't afford not to get rid of them. I need help, advice, encouragement. I'll try to be as clear as possible.
I moved into my tiny (maybe 300 square feet) west Philly apartment in July 2011. About a month afterward, I started to see a few little seed-shaped, rusty red bugs on my couch, which was where I normally slept. (All my furniture was brand spanking new when I moved in.) I stupidly (so, so stupidly) thought nothing of them. I guess I thought they were just some tiny harmless beetles that lived in the building. I got occasional bites, but I never made the connection. They sometimes looked like odd pimples, or spots of dry skin, and rarely lasted for more than a day.
I lived in relative peace until late December. My boyfriend was staying the night, and around 2 AM he woke up clawing at his skin, all over himself. Saying something kept stinging and itching him. We climbed down from the loft bed and turned on the lights. Lo and behold, there were all those little bugs. I finally made the connection.
I spent a few days cleaning and reading and then called the landlord to tell him there were bed bugs. He brought me two flea foggers and a spray bottle of an industrial pesticide that killed on contact. Having done a little research, but certainly not enough, I knew the foggers were a bad idea, but figured I should spray the contact killer. I sent the cat to a friend's, donned my gas mask and went to town. This, as all of you already know, didn't do me any more good than standing outside with a strongly worded picket sign and telling the bugs I wanted them to vacate.
I read some more. About diatomaceous earth. Neat! Cheap and effective, judging from the reviews. I bought some food grade DE and applied a thin coat to the entire apartment. I thought I was good to go... right up until I developed a painful, hideous-sounding cough that produced little clumps of DE and occasional blood streaks. I dug out the gas mask again and cleaned up all the DE to avoid what I was sure was about to be a trip to the emergency room. In the mean time, the bugs were still joyfully cruising around, seemingly none the worse off for the DE that was supposed to slice their guts open and dry them out like horrid little prunes.
At this point, I was barely eating, sleeping in the bathtub, and standing while I worked in order to minimize their chances to bite me. I took to drinking a lot in order to numb myself from the anxiety/crawling skin, and with a vague hope that the bugs would be poisoned by partaking of my whiskey-saturated hobo blood. During this time, I was pretty useless to myself and anyone else. A well-meaning but awfully-bug-educated friend came in with a fogger and some kind of cedar oil nonsense. This seemed to excite the bed bugs, who proceeded to take over both of my chairs and happily screw, poop and lay eggs inside the legs.
At this point, another well-meaning and much better-read friend called Terminix for me. I was delighted! I did everything they told me to do, down to the letter. I threw out a ton of things, I cleaned, vacuumed, took every single piece of fabric I could get to out of the apartment and washed and dried them on high heat for over an hour. They came back two weeks later and I did the same thing, with the same zeal as before. After that, I saw no sign of them for almost exactly one month.
About a week ago, I was sitting on the couch, working. And looked down, and saw an adult bed bug crawling across the blanket. I was/am devastated.
I have one free treatment left from Terminix, which I'm going to take as soon as possible. But then I'm moving. Partially because I live in an awful neighborhood, but also because this building is older than my grandparents and I'm pretty certain it would be impossible to get into all the little cracks and kill these nightmares.
Here's my plan.
I'm going to trash the couch and chairs, just in case. I can't dismantle them down to small parts, and I just don't think they're worth the risk.
Double bag everything I own except for my computer (which I need to work) in contractor bags. All my furniture is Ikea, so I'm going to disassemble each piece, wipe it down with alcohol and then bag it like everything else.
I'm going to steam clean everything that won't be damaged by steam cleaning.
Then I'm going to rent a non climate-controlled storage unit and put all the stuff, bagged, in there. Everything but my cat, my side arm and my computer. I don't care anymore. I can live without it for as long as necessary.
I'm going to give notice that I'm moving out and then take myself, my cat, my gun and my laptop to stay with a friend who has kindly told me I can stay for as long as it takes for the bugs to die in storage, and for me to secure a new apartment.
Can anyone tell me if I have a chance to win this way? I welcome any advice you've got because I need all of it. My main concerns are as follows.
1.) I live in Philadelphia (so you can have an idea of what the local weather is typically like). How long would be a safe amount of time to leave my stuff in the storage unit? I'm hoping the extreme temperatures will kill the bugs. Any advice on how to get the most out of this method?
2.) My worst nightmare would be inadvertently infesting my kind friend's home. If I'm only bringing myself, the cat, the gun and the laptop, can anyone give me any good pointers on the very best ways to decontaminate before going there? They need not be easy, just effective and preferably not expensive.
3.) I'm going to steam clean like crazy, but are there any other ways (that are affordable by someone who has very little money right now) to at least do my part in *trying* to keep the next tenant from having this problem? As I said before, I highly doubt any treatment I do is going to kill the ones who are living in the structure itself, but I'd feel like the worst kind of jerk if I didn't at least try. I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy, let alone a stranger who has never done me any wrong.
4.) My landlord claims this problem is my fault. Maybe it is, but I actually truly have no idea. I don't think so, but it's impossible to know. If I move out and there are still bugs in the apartment, is it likely that he could take legal action against me, or am I just being paranoid?
5.) Any advice on how to ensure the new apartment isn't already infested, strategies on reintroducing my belongings, etc?
Again, I'll be very grateful for anything that any of you can tell me, even if it's just a word of encouragement or a story of having beaten the bugs yourself. If you have questions about the situation that would help you give better advice, please ask.
As far as how long it takes to kill bed bugs left in a storage unit, I have some info on some research the Purdue University just finished researched. (1) Bed bugs can live for up to 16 months without feeding. Yuck. As far as cold: four days of continuous 4° F or below is enough to kill all life stages. That's a lot of cold
Hi Oilersrule, I mean redwings rule. Are you sure about that stat of 4F killing bedbugs after 4 days? From what I read on this site it seems that -23F for 30 days continous seems to be the rule. Just trying to be cautious here.
Warwacky, seems to me you have a good handle on things, despite what you have been through and what you are facing now, your humour shines through in your story. I appreciate that and know firsthand that these bugs can drive us all over the bend if we let it.
I think you have a good plan and I am also wondering what the rules are like in Philly for who is responsible for bugs in an apartment? Regardless of who introduced it, I am hoping that the laws will benefit you so you do not have the worry about being sued.
There will be some good advice on this website and I am sure people will respond.
Keep at it and you will win with grace.
Yes, I am sure of the 4° F or below. This info was just given to me by my superior last week. It was the latest info/research by Purdue. That's not to say you're info is incorrect, it may be. It just seems that it wouldn't be cold enough even with 30 days to kill the eggs completely. We've treated people who have tried that and their issue returned.
Yeah, difficult, impossible, to tell how these things get started. As far as the extreme temperature killing any bed bugs that might be hiding in your stuff? Not gonna happen. Not based on temperature anyway. Like you stated, please do what you can to properly treat your apartment before you leave. If you pm me I will let you use our heat chamber at no charge to treat your possessions. Our office is about 45 min. from West Philly. Make sure their bagged well when you bring them over so you don't infest your vehicle. Check with the manufacturer to see if 130 degrees F for the computer would be safe.
Velvet, you are a class act!
Alberta has Bugs
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