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NEED ADVICE! Can't decide on best treatment

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  1. krissy

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Aug 22 2013 15:17:55
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    Hi, I am from Toronto. I live in a semi-detached, two-storey home which was built in the 70s, with my husband and three young children. We have three rooms in our basement, one of which we are renting to a tenant who has been with us for a long time and with whom we are on good terms.

    Our tenant, A., lived in the second room in the basement. Two months ago, in June, we decided to make a rec room out of the first and second basement rooms, so we asked our tenant if he would move to the third basement room, and he was happy to move for us. The third basement room was furnished with a better bed and dresser than what he currently had, so he left his old bed and dresser in the second room.

    Two days after he finished moving all his stuff, I went into the basement to see if I could get a start on taking apart the old bed. I went to lift the boxspring, and noticed that the corners of the bed and boxspring were covered in black dots. Then I saw several cast skins on the rug under the bed. I called my husband in and he confirmed my fears: bed bugs. As landlords, we have tried to stay informed of the signs of an infestation for the past few years, and there was no mistaking the evidence. We asked the tenant if he had known about it, and he said that he had noticed something over the past few months. [A FEW MONTHS?!] Apparently, he doesn't react to the bites. I was so disappointed that he hadn't mentioned anything to us.

    Thankfully it was a weekend, so we devoted the Friday evening and the Saturday to disassembling and tossing the infested furniture, de-cluttering some of our own stuff in the basement, dis-infecting with rubbing alcohol and sealing items in bags. We had A. run all his clothing from the closet through the dryer on high for 30-40 minutes, as well as his bedding, and bag much of it. My husband bought some pesticides from a local pest control company (a spray which isn't actually rated for bed bugs, pyrethin powder, and an aerosol pesticide), and he sprayed all around the basement and the main floor and we put down pyrethin powder on A.'s bed, around most of the perimeter in his room, and around the perimeter in the second room. Three weeks later, we sprayed the house again, this time all three floors, and laid more powder down in A.'s room.

    At six weeks, I cleaned up all the pyrethin powder in the basement. I found the powder had crusted over because the basement has so much humidity, despite a dehumidifier unit running night and day. I bet the humidity made the powder practically useless. I then had a K9 bed bug team from Canada K9 Detection inspect the house. I wasn't totally impressed with their service, and realized later after more research that though the dog reportedly had NESCDA training, he wasn't accredited. I hadn't been able to watch him work, because his handler claimed I couldn't be on the same floor otherwise it would distract the dog. She also claimed that she didn't need to open the plastic bags of sealed items because the dog could "smell the bugs through 4 layers of bags." [Does anyone want to comment on the truth of that statement?]. After their inspection, the handler reported that the dog hadn't detected anything on the first and second floors, but detected activity in the wall, closet, and outlets of the second room, activity in the bathroom, and "went crazy" in A.'s room. I asked her if the dog could identify the specific items in A.'s room that were infested, and she answered with a lame "Oh, it's the general area. The smell is everywhere." The K9 company's website had claimed that the handler would mark the different places the dog indicated with sticky notes or something else, but she didn't do this at all. She made some notes on her report page, and recommended going with a heat treatment from a company called Greentech, here in Toronto.

    I looked up reviews on Greentech's parent company, Royal Forest Pest Services, and have a strong suspicion that they write their own glamorous reviews, or else pay someone to write 5 star reviews for them. It wasn't until I stumbled across Globe and Mail's consumer complaints site that I found any bad reviews. There, consumers reported that Royal Forest employees were only sympathetic and helpful until they had your money in hand. Furthermore, I discovered that Greentech made referrals to the K9 company I had hired. Obviously there's kickbacks. I tried looking up another company, but suspect that they too write their own reviews. Sharks.

    Now it has been about 3 weeks since I had the dog come. We've sprayed the house twice with the pesticide we bought, but I don't think it is doing anything, since we never found any dead bed bugs, only dead pill bugs, house centipedes, and silverfish. Two weeks ago, we found a cluster of bites under my four-year-old's chin when he woke in the morning, and one week ago I found a bed bug cast skin in the corner of our dining/living room. There have been no further bites on us, and no other evidence of bed bugs in the first and second floors has been detected, although we haven't been looking carefully. We have started caulking and sealing all the baseboard on the first and second floor. We pulled the beds away from the walls, and put the bed posts in plastic containers with pyrethin dust and diatomaceous earth sprinkled in them. We have more plans to declutter and seal things in bags, as well as caulk other cracks and crevices. [Thank God I don't have carpets in the house! Only laminate, hardwood, and tile floors.]

    But right now we are having a hard time deciding how to proceed.

    Should we:

    (A) Hire an exterminator?

    We don't know who to trust in the business, are pretty suspicious of pest control company's claims, are die-hard DIY-ers, and obviously have much more interest/investment in getting rid of the problem than any PCO, no matter how sympathetic he might be. That said, if we DID find an honest, reliable, effective exterminator, I would hire him in a heartbeat. Does any one have any recommendations for a reliable and effective pest control company in Toronto?

    (B) Have a heat treatment done?

    There are a few complicating factors. We have hundreds of books, an old VHS collection, lots of papers/documents, sensitive electronics; the walls on the first and second floor are made of some sort of plaster, not drywall; we have small bedrooms with lots of furniture; the wiring in the house is aluminum (don't know how much of a concern that is); laminate flooring laid on top of the old hardwood flooring on the main floor, with gaps between the two surfaces; etc. We are nervous about what damage might be caused by the heat treatment, and are uncertain as to how successful it could be given the construction of our house. Can anyone speak to these concerns or recommend an honest and reliable heat treatment company in Toronto?

    (C) Have the house sprayed?

    I'm leaning toward this now, although I'm not too excited about having dangerous pesticides in the house, especially since I am sensitive to chemicals and my four-year-old has some allergies as well. I would opt to have the basement alone sprayed, but then I am worried that if the pesticide doesn't work, the bugs will be repelled by it and come upstairs and infest the first and second floors. I would love to spread DE everywhere in our part of the house to prevent such an invasion, but on account of my rambunctious four-year-old and two-year-old, I'm afraid that they'll get into it and be breathing it in if I sprinkle it on the furniture, bookshelves, and around the perimeter of the rooms. I could send them to stay with my mother-in-law, but I can't leave them with her forever, and I have no idea how long this whole process could take!

    (D) Go gangbusters with safe, alternative methods (vacuuming, DE, active traps, bagging, running clothing through hot dryer, etc.)?

    Once again, there are complicating factors. The brunt of the infestation is in the tenant's room, and so we would need his full cooperation plus have to do much of the work ourselves. Unfortunately, as nice as he is, he doesn't understand the gravity of the situation (probably since he's not reacting to the bites), he isn't clean, tidy, or thorough, and I could see him cross-contaminating things without realizing what he was doing. My husband would prefer to go this route, and combat the problem with such methods, but I don't think he's committed enough to put in the hours and hours I think it will take to make it effective. As for myself, with three young children to care for, the thought of tackling such a mountain is rather overwhelming, to say the least.

    Money is not really an issue, although we would rather not spend thousands of dollars unless it was 100% guaranteed to get rid of the problem without killing us in the process or causing hundreds of dollars of damage to our house and possessions.

    Sigh. Can anybody give us some advice or recommendations? I know that there aren't any pain-free solutions, we just need some help to decide what to do going forward.

    -Krissy

  2. BedBugFrog

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Aug 22 2013 15:32:39
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    krissy - 11 minutes ago  » 
    She also claimed that she didn't need to open the plastic bags of sealed items because the dog could "smell the bugs through 4 layers of bags." [Does anyone want to comment on the truth of that statement?].

    Yes, it makes me hopping mad when I see such ludicrous claims, there is no way a dog can sniff something through sealed bays unless its literally a bag full of bedbugs in which case you hardly need a hungry pooch to spot them.

    Had they made that claim about frogs it would be a different matter, their olfactory abilities are amazing but even our industry has the odd toad.

    K Greenback

  3. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Aug 22 2013 15:44:55
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    Hi Krissy,

    We it appears the frog beat me to the response on the dog, very naughty behaviour I hope you take the time to write to NESDCA and ask for an explanation, that document could well be enough to help you get your money back.

    As for the options I can only suggest that you read the FAQ's and useful tools sections. All options have their pro's and con's and you may find that you go for a mix of options.

    Hope that helps and sorry its a longer way around getting a solution but with the limited local options its best to fully understand what you can do.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    If you have found this information helpful please consider leaving feedback on social media via google+ or FaceBook or by like/loving the images.

    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.
  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Aug 22 2013 18:28:02
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    I asked her if the dog could identify the specific items in A.'s room that were infested, and she answered with a lame "Oh, it's the general area. The smell is everywhere." The K9 company's website had claimed that the handler would mark the different places the dog indicated with sticky notes or something else, but she didn't do this at all.

    On the basis of this -- the website claimed the areas alerted to would be marked, and they were not -- I personally think you should seek a refund.

    Note that we recommend using a k9 team where the handler doesn't stop there but actually searches the areas alerted to, to find visual evidence of bed bugs (bed bugs, cast skins, eggs, fecal stains). Without those types of visual evidence, experts tell us treatment is not warranted or appropriate.

    See our FAQ on canine scent detection for bed bugs for more on this.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  5. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Thu Aug 22 2013 18:33:46
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    As for your current options - I would suggest getting the samples you found (cast skins only I belive?) confirmed by an expert. An expert here can do that if you post a good photo.

    And once the problem is confirmed as bed bugs, I would personally go with a pro. It really is hard to treat for bed bugs, especially in two units and where it has been going on for some time.

    I suggest reading threads tagged "Toronto PCOs". You should get some genuine recommendations and ideas on who to avoid. There are definitely some legit companies there. It should be fairly obvious in most cases from poster's histories here whether the recommendations are legit (beware of one-time posts which are reviews!)


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