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Mystery Bites Solved - It Was Not Bed Bugs

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  1. LAWoman

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Sun Sep 2 2012 2:44:51
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    Some of you may remember me from last August/September when I began posting here. I was worried I had bed bugs since something began biting me every few nights and it was around the same time we'd had houseguests who had a known infestation at their house.

    A year later, two K9 bed bug inspections a year apart from each other, repeated failures by either a bed bug beacon or passive monitors to pick up anything and a whole lot of OCD behavior on my part I finally have my answer. It's two things - rat mites and fleas.

    As the professionals on here will tell you repeatedly bites alone do not mean you have bed bugs. I honestly didn't really believe that, but even I had to finally admit it wasn't bed bugs after a year of never finding a trace of a bug or cast skins anywhere. As to the fecal spots, well everything looks like a fecal spot when you're freaked out, so I finally took that piece of evidence out of the picture altogether and just looked for the bugs and the shed skins. And nope, nothing after a year in a very small house with me up at all hours of the night since I often work late nights and yes, I would have seen something by now. Certainly I've seen every spider and beetle that wanders by.

    I finally invested in a good microscope with the camera on it and sticky glue traps plus a few flea traps. I also put carpet tape down along the baseboard at the head of my head since I was getting most of my bites on my face and head. I then took samples every few weeks and examined what I found under the microscope. What I found were several different varieties of mites, these were IDed by two different entomologists as not biting mites. So fine, I kept looking. (Besides I've gotten sort of fascinated with the microscope and I look at everything under it now). And then one night I pulled loose a piece of tape, took it to examine under the microscope and found two little barely visible mites wriggling and still alive. These looked different, they were cream colored and brown very round with short stubby legs and these were still alive. And these looked very much like the pictures I'd seen online of rat mites.

    I asked someone from IsoTech (the company that did the K9 inspections) to come out who was more of a general pest control operator and not just a bed bug specialist. He confirmed these were indeed rat mites. He also spotted fleas, which he pointed out to me and looked at the blood spots on my pillow, examined the bed and area around it and told me that the blood spots were not the type that bed bugs typically leave since these were red and BB fecal blood spots are usually darker. They were more likely from fleas and/or rat mites biting me while I slept and this made sense since they are typically tiny red spots no bigger than the head of a pin. al spots. He then walked around the outside of my house and pointed to all of the areas where our attic and crawl spaces under the house could easily be accessed by rodents including the several spots where the current screens were broken. He also pointed to the abandoned bird nests he could spot in the trees next to my bedroom.

    By the end of the inspection I was much calmer and he told me that I should end off with the idea that it was ever bed bugs. He told me that yes I was being bitten by fleas and rat mites most likely, but not bed bugs.

    That night I went to bed relieved then woke up in the middle of the night with the same weird burning itching I'd felt so many times before. This time I just laid there in the dark waiting and finally felt something brush my arm, I grabbed it and rolled over then dropped whatever it was into a sticky flea trap that I'd stuck under my bed. Sure enough it was a flea. The next day I had bites and the same rash that up until then I'd always been convinced were caused by phantom bed bugs.

    Now I just have to work out a plan with IsoTech to get rid of these two pests that involves environmental cleanup, repairing the broken screens and carefully applied pesticides that I am going to let the professionals work out and apply.

    So for anyone out there who is getting mystery bites and you can't find evidence of BBs even after you're cleared by all the usual resources-i.e. detailed inspection, BB K9 inspections and monitors both active and passive and you can't see a physical bug anywhere think mites as a very possible answer. Truthfully if I didn't have the microscope I'd never have seen the little guys since they are uber tiny. The largest ones I've seen were a black speck that moved so fast I doubted I'd seen anything, the tiniest ones I could barely make out even with the microscope. BBs are giants compared to those little guys.

    I'll post here again at a later date to let everyone know once I'm bite/reaction free after we've done our whole cleanup with IsoTech's help. All I can say is keep calm and be methodical and patient in identifying what the problem is if you can't find any clearcut evidence of bed bugs or other pests. And much thanks to everyone on this board who helped me. Hopefully I can return the favor here.

  2. BittenInSF

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    Joined: Jun '12
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    Posted 1 year ago
    Tue Sep 25 2012 14:45:50
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    Hello LAWoman,

    Sounds like we are dealing with the same problem - rat mites, not bed bugs! i did originally have a BB problem, but it was gone very quickly since i recognized the problem early. But I kept getting "bites". After months of pco's fighting bed bugs, I too, discovered that i have a leaky, rat infested house. I just completed my rodent proofing about 10 days ago, and all signs of rats and mice in the basement/garage (yes, I had both as it turns out) appear to be gone. But I am still getting bit by the mites, and in fact, the problem appears to be much worse than it was before. I am thinking it is because the mites are hungry now that their rodent hosts are gone and are coming after me with a new vigor? I am hoping that it is true that they will not be able to reproduce w/o rodents as hosts, and that they will eventually die off. I am truly miserable; this nightmare has been a very long one now!

    I am curious, how is your experience coming along?


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