Need advice: Have my things been in storage long enough?(7 posts)
Dear All: In August 2009, I moved to a new apartment using a very careful moving plan that I devised based upon advice and information here on bedbugger.com. In the past two years, I have had no bites that looked like my bed bug bites from the last apartment and I have found no fecal stains like the ones on my old futon, either on my sheets or mattress encasement.
I am now moving to a smaller apartment in the same building. Here's my question: Two years ago with my initial move, I put a bunch of artwork and older, rare books inside of two twin-size mattress encasements (Protect-A-Bed), zipped them up, and left them in my spare bedroom. They have remained untouched and unopened for 2 years. This summer, I was gone for the past 4 weeks, and at least in the last 5 days, my apartment apparently hit temperatures of 85-90 degrees. When I first moved into this apartment, I had a k9 sniff around, and he signaled at one of the mattress encasements, suggesting that there might be live bed bugs inside one of the encasements that I was using as a storage mechanism. We didn't want to open up the encasement, given the fact that we didn't want to contaminate my new apartment. After two years, is it possible that something is still alive within these encasements that I've been using to store my artwork and books? Or is 2 years well beyond the time limit of bed bug survivability?
I don't think anyone can say anything with 100% certainty.
I had heat treatment of my whole apartment in June 2008. Several bins of items that couldn't be in the home during treatment were removed and stored outside for about 8 months. I treated those with DDVP strips that were sealed in with them before bringing most of them (DVDs, CDs, etc.) back into the house.
There were a few items in those bins that I didn't want to treat with heat or DDVP. I kept those items in sealed bags for about 2 years before I opened the giant ziplocks.
These were all items that I was fairly sure were bug free to begin with, but it was still really hard to go back and try to deal with them again because I was terrified of reinfestation, so I get where you're coming from.
It sounds like it's been way more than 18 months, which has generally been the standard advice for how long to leave stuff in storage.
If you haven't looked through the forum for info on life spans of the bugs in various stages, you might take a look at that chart that we so often refer back to.. If I remember it correctly, the only bugs that lived, on average, over 400 days were larger stages. So if you're particularly prone to anxiety, as you open each bag, remove the items and take them into the bathroom for careful inspection. It's the youngest nymphs and the eggs that are hardest to spot, and after neatly 2 years in isolation, all of those youngest stages (I think) are the ones that couldn't possibly have survived (as far as we know.)
I have seen this chart here before, but thank you for re-directing me to it. I'm assuming that any bb's in those encasements are probably dead, but maybe I'll put everything in the encasements that aren't heat sensitive into my packtite, and things that are heat sensitive into ziplocs before I transport them, then keep them in storage another 6 months. Overkill? Any others who can help me assuage my fears?
I too am planning on leaving my stuff for two years which means I'll be unpacking this coming January. The general rule is 18 months so I think 24 months is on the safe side. Just make sure you wipe down/inspect everything before you bring it in the house.
You could leave the stuff in there for 6 more months, but in 6 more months are you going to really be any more convinced that the items are bug free?
I ask because I know that every stage of post bed bug treatment I went through--post-heat treatment, post-first hotel stay after treatment, post moving back in post-heat treatment, post-warranty expiring after heat treatment, post-bringing back in the items that had been outside and DDVP stripped, post-opening the last bags that hadn't been DDVPed or heat treated, post going back to sleeping in my bed--I had fresh waves of anxiety. Now, granted, the level of anxiety was slightly lower each time, but would say that I still have occasional scares.
If you think there are still live bugs in there after over 18 months, by all means, wait six more months.
But as you're doing that assessment, I think it's also important for you to ask yourself whether six more months will make you feel any more confident than you do now.
I know this is a hobby horse of mine, but I think sometimes as a society, we want 100% guarantees on things that don't come with 100% guarantees. I'm completely willing to understand and sympathize where that comes from with bed bugs: they're a pest that can be epically hard to detect, they disrupt lives in ways that make some of us miserable (particularly people with allergy, respiratory, anxiety, and/or sleep issues,), and they're expensive as hell to get rid of.
For that reason, and because one impregnated female or two opposite sex eggs or nymphs can start the whole thing all over again, I get that people want absolute guarantees that X method or Y plan will work.
Unfortunately, the truth is that no one can ever give anyone that. Even Vikane and heat sometimes fail. Reinfestations are possible.
And everyone's threshold for acceptable risk is different.
If it were me, I'd take the stuff out of the bags now. You're past the 18 month mark. Chances are if any bugs managed to survive that long, they're big enough that you should be able to see them with inspection. But I'm also the type who doesn't want to let anything that tries to terrorize unduly change my behavior (hence my desire to get on a plane within days of the 9-11 attacks. I know a lot of people were very skittish about flying, but I was sincerely bummed that I couldn't manage to find an excuse to fly until mid-October 2001.)
I can't--and no one else can--tell you where your line is. There are people out there who think my lines are too conservative and others who think I take crazy risks. It's a very personal decision.
But I would encourage you to think about whether waiting 6 more months is going to reduce the anxiety you're likely to feel when you open those bags up--whenever that happens. If 6 more months will reduce your anxiety when you open them, go ahead and wait. But if it's not, you need to know that too.
I totally see your point and agree 100%. For me, part of the reason I'm waiting until winter is pest related. There are bees the size of house cats that hang around my balcony sometimes and I don't like being out there doing things when they are buzzing around. I'd rather get out there on a very cold frosty day to pick through my things in peace
Thanks for the information and the cautionary tales. I think this is what I'm going to do. I just ordered a king-sized protect-a-bed encasement. The encasements I'm currently using as storage are twins. The things inside are mostly in ziploc bags, taped shut. I'll open the twin-sized encasements, visually inspect for anything noticeable, then carefully bring those bags to my new apartment, and immediately put them in the king-sized encasement. I'll wait another... 6 months? Should that be enough? I hope so... I've been 2 years now in this apartment with no bites, after moving out of an infested building. I got rid of so much of my stuff... I paid a contractor to haul stuff directly to the dump, after putting things in contractor bags and wrapping largeer pieces of furniture in industrial strength cling wrap. I did everything possible to avoid cross contamination and to prevent people from picking up my stuff on the side of the road. It cost me $700.00 just to deal with the dump (here in Ithaca, we have to pay a hefty fee to bring large loads to the dump). After all that, I don't want to go through the anxiety and costs of having them again. The thought that just one pregnant female might be lurking inside those encasements is driving me crazy!!!
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