Need help assessing PCO treatment approach in Queens(23 posts)
Please help!!! I just recently discovered this site and find it invaluable to anyone experiencing BB's. Thank God I found you. I've been reading this site for what seems like hours...and I really mean...hours and I have some questions I hope someone can help me with quickly.
Here' some background: I found a small, live unfamiliar bug on my pillow five nights ago and immediately searched the internet until I confirmed my worst nightmare...a BB. My husband and I quickly lifted the mattress and box spring and visibly found approximately 6 more (not moving like the first one) and two molted skins in the mattress seam and box spring wood. At this point there was no need for me to examine the bed further, I freaked out and we immediately removed the mattress and box springs (King with 2 boxes) outside. I live in a small, single family unattached home with a main floor, converted attic and finished basement. (Our bedroom is upstairs in the converted attic.) The next day I purchased vinyl covers for the box spring (couldn't find one for the mattress) and covered them for disposal. I am now sleeping downstairs on the main floor in LR while my hubby's in the basement couch. (I know....I just read that they can follow me to LR but I do intend on treating the whole house and did get rid of the bed I just can't go back up there until it's treated by PCO).
It was then that I discovered this site and while I realize I didn't really need to throw out the bed, I just couldn't think of sleeping on it at that point and did want to buy a new one. Further inspection only revealed two more molted skins by the outlet and rug's end. No more live BB's that I could find. Lord knows what's in the closets and attic eaves. So, we also pulled up the rug in my bedroom and have begun to bag my clothes and clean them putting the clean ones into new bags. I then began to search for PCO's. I don't have any recommendations since I don't know anyone who has had this problem and ever used a PCO. Also, I believe I may have gotten BB's from my visiting neice who has been experiencing a recurring BB problem in her building. I've been guiding her on her rights ...that's a whole other story...
So here's where I could really use your help:
I contacted several PCO's and have found a variety of fees and approaches. One particular PCO I am considering is "O7 Pest Control"- says he's 23 years in business, 4 years with his own co. His approach is the following: a contact spray (Sterlfab- not sure this will be effective since we can't seem to find any more BB's), followed by a vacuuming of said contacted BB's, a steaming of cracks, crevices, etc.(how effective is this?), a spray of Suspend SC (residual) with Gentrol (growth regulator) and Exiter (?), and a powder of Drione and/or Deltadust in isolated areas.
He only suggests one visit since he deems my situation a mild infestation although the molted skins suggest a few months of inhabitance. Based on what I've read on the forums I want to insist on a 2 week follow up. When I mentioned this, he thought three weeks would be better if I really wanted it and that I should consider a maintenance schedule every three months or so (very inexpensive - $75 for a residual spray of Suspend or Demand).
Does his approach seem like a good one?
Is there a more effective approach that I just insist on and look for from PCO's?
How effective is steaming?
He told me we can re-enter the premises an hour after treatment, while everything I read says 4 hours. I'm still staying out for 4 hours plus.
Is a multi-treatment approach (steam, spray, powder, multi pesticides) the best?
I need to prep the areas for treatment by moving all to the center and remove contents of closets. Do I put the contents back into closet or live out of bags for several months and use kleen free on everything I can't wash like shoes, pursues, accessories?
How many mistakes have I made thus far?
Did I mention I have to decide this morning if he is to come tomorrow? Hubby wants to have this handled ASAP.
So many questions. Any advice you can offer is very much appreciated. Thanks so much. Good luck to everyone...may you and I all be Bugfree!
I do not know if nobugsonme likes PCO recommendations posted so I Private Message you.
Please check your PM.
Don't worry about the mistakes - it's pointless to waste energy on what's done! You already know that the mattresses could have been kept, and getting rid of them may well have spread BBs to other rooms in the house, but that's not tragic in a detached house. It's a mugh bigger deal in an apartment building when you spread BBs to common areas, for instance.
I think this PCO sounds OK except for the follow-up. Two weeks or three - personally I'd be happy with either, though others here say two weeks and not day longer. 90-day follow-ups are a waste of money. These aren't ants wandering in from the garden: you either have BBs or you don't. If you get reinfested (niece visits, for instance), you'll have to go through the whole process again.
I am not a big believer in steaming, but I do agree that the more weapons you hit the BBs with, the better chance you have of getting them. Steaming might be particularly helpful on the sofa or other upholstered furniture.
You might casually ask whether "Phantom" would be used on the follow-up visit.
What have you found in the room where your niece slept?
One hour/four hours. If the PCO says one hour, then one hour is probably fine. On the other hand, it's not hard to find a reason to be gone for four hours, so if you're more comfortable with four, no problem.
I have been living out of bags since I found my BBs. I plan to continue doing that until I am convinced the bugs are gone.I spent a lot of time and money laundering and don't intend to risk reinfesting my clothes if I can help it!
PCO recommendations can be posted in threads, and it is probably better this way so others can see them (and disagree!).
Linking to PCO websites is not allowed, however.
People do also need to read the warning in the GREEN STICKIES (top of main forums page) since there are unscrupulous people pretending to be "satisfied customers" in our forums.
DD, I would insist on a 2 or 3 week followup (prefer two). I would not be sure it was an easy infestation to clear up. Most bed bug cases take 3 or more visits, many take 2, and one is almost unheard of. I would prefer a company that promised to come back within a certain time frame (2 months is a good deal and some places say this) if bed bugs are still there. And what defines "still there"? If you get bites? This is a good question to ask. Do you get bites? As awful as they are, I hope so, because if no one does, then you won't know if they are gone.
I am not a PCO, but contact kill, then vacuum, then steam, then sprays and dusts, seems like a very good plan, and it is worth saying that a multi-pronged approach like this is more likely to knock them out sooner and need fewer visits. They may be on to something.
2 visits may do it, but what's the deal if not?
OK. I copied and pasted from my PM to DDwithbugs for all to view and comment.
I am not recommending but advising.
DDwithbugs, Sorry but you are now one of us.
I have some advice for you. ASAP is a good approach. It appears that tactics may differ with PCOs.
I did not use these guys but I would consider them based on the reputation of the man that owns the company.
Gil Bloom appears to be a respected figure in the bed bug war. Gil is an entomologist who also owns an exterminating business called Standard Exterminating Company In Queens.
Standard Exterminating Company,
Inc. 25-80 Steinway Street
Astoria, NY 11103-3708 718-728-4080
He is a liitle quarky like most of these guys but he appears to be respected in the pest industry. I have spoken with him a few times and he and his people are no strangers to bed bugs since they are located at a location that some professionals say was a ground zero. Again, I did not use these guys but now with my experience in the bed bug war I would consider them if God forbid I had to. I hope this helps and I wish you the best.
Is he going to vacuum everything in your house? Or just whatever dead bugs he finds after the first sweep with Sterifab - a contact kill.
Vacuuming properly and steaming are labor-intensive. That's a good sign IF he's willing to do that. See if you can stay for that part of the treatment, just to see how thorough he is.
What's with the expectation that it'll only take one treatment? Maybe he's THAT good. But how many bedbug cases has he done? And what's his success rate? Even if he's been in the biz 23 years, bedbugs have only surged in recent years - so his experience should relate specifically to bedbugs.
The maintenance schedule has me scratching my head. Is that just in case you bring new bedbugs into your home? Or is it because he never annihilates the bedbugs totally, so he sells this piecemeal treatment. Waiting that long between sprays will do nothing to beat the current infestation.
Gentrol - why are PCOs still using it? I know one PCO who's removed it from his bedbug arsenal for now.
See this blog post on one study that indicates it's ineffective w/r/t bedbugs and might even make the problem worse long term.
I understand it's just one study and results need to be confirmed in other studies. But if these are bona fide laboratory results, then I'd go with them. I'm guessing PCOs started using Gentrol on bedbugs based on speculation it would have the same positive impact it has on other pests. But if even one study indicates it could aggravate the situation in the long run, why bother?
Lieutenantdan and Buggeroff, thanks so much for the advice. After contacting several PCO's mentioned on this site and others from the phone book, hubby and I are going with O7 Pest Control. The PCO agreed to come back in 2 weeks and guarantees his work for 60 days....a small yet comforting guarantee provided they revisit me within that time frame. I also confirmed their license with the Deparment of Environmental Conservation and checked them for grievances on the BBB. (I know they can change their name but at least it's something.....)
As you say Buggeroff (love the name, BTW), he is using a multi treatment approach and more can only help. The other PCO's I was considering pretty much duplicate all but the steaming part of the treatment so it can't hurt to add it. I believe I read that the steaming was helpful with penetrating the eggs provided they actually get steamed. I feel better just knowing that he is coming back in two weeks and seems to want to make this customer happy. My impression is that although he has 23 years of total experience (hope that's true, said he used to work with metro something or other) his own private company is still relatively new (4 years) and he may be trying to build his reputation by accommodating my requests. No matter, based on our conversations with him and despite the "1 hour comment", he appears knowledgeable and his fee fell somewhere in the middle compared to other PCO's.
Buggeroff: what is Phantom? Is that like a Placebo treatment? Sure hope not.
Thanks, all. I'll let you know how things work out over the next few weeks.
DDwithbugs, he sounds so responsive to your questions and concerns - actually explaining his protocol and all. That's pretty cool, and probably the most important hiring factor after knowledge.
NBOM, I recently joined Angie's List (for those not familiar with it, it's a word-of-mouth internet network for consumers w/over 600K members who share their ratings/experiences they've had with various service providers), and have been using it to find PCOs. Today I was looking through their web site and came upon a group of articles they had written for their members. I was about to suggest that they do an article on bedbugs, but was surprised to see that they had already published one, in AUGUST OF 2004!!! It's an EXCELLENT article, and I was overjoyed to see that they were raising awareness and providing good information more than than 3 years ago. I had not joined Angie's list in the past because the fees published on their site are what I had considered pricey (more than $100 per year...but I was able to get a $35/year membership at a home show a month ago and it has already paid for itself). They have just offered members $25.50 memberships to give away as holiday gifts. My thought is that maybe you could partner with Angie's to get Bedbuggers a similar rate. I have found Angie's List to be extremely useful for finding feedback on providers of all manner of services, and I'm sure that if more Bedbuggers were members, they could not only find out about their local PCOs, but in sharing their experiences, also raise awareness and effect better PCO services.
NBOM: I forgot to mention that I had been getting some bites but nothing like some of the pics I've seen. I always assumed they were mosquito bits until I read about the 2 or three clusters and their strong resemblance to mosquito bites. My husband had never experienced a bite. He may be one of the lucky 30 percent that don't react. Interestingly, last summer I remember finding a great deal of spiders in my bedroom and read somewhere that spiders can feed on BB's. Wonder if that's when they first infested me which means they have been around for a year and I didn't know.
PNB: The PCO is not requiring that I leave the premises during treatment. I assumed he would ask me to wait in another part of the house. I intend to wear a mask while I am in the vicinity but I will try to watch to see how thorough he is. Has anyone else been present or is it highly advisable to leave the entire house during the application?
Also, I read somewhere in my research and was told by two other PCO's that a maintenance program was available. I wonder if this is another way to ensure incoming revenue for them or some indication of what's to come. Not sure. Will read your cited article on gentrol.
Persona-non-bugga: OMG, I've just read the post you sent about Gentrol. Now I am confused and very scared. What may be a mild infestation could turn into something worse? This is a nightmare. One I know you all share with me....
Hi All: Wanted to let you all know that I just contacted the National Pesticide Information Center 1-800-858-7378 (referred to them by the Dept of Enviromental Conservation)regarding Gentrol's efficacy. The researcher I spoke to could not find any research for recent scientific studies revealing a negative or adverse effect of Gentrol. He first looked up its active ingredient "Hydropene" (may have misspelled that) and said nothing negative was cited based on EPA standards. According to his studies, this pesticide will inhibit the growth of a nymph to an adult. Perhaps the studies cited were new. Well, I will hope for the best tomorrow.
Thank you all for your great insights, tips and support. I feel very lucky to have found this site and all of you! Thanks.
Good luck tomorrow, DD!
Anecdotally, I've read of lots of PCOs still using Gentrol, and some of these folks report the bugs have been eradicated from their home. Sorry for alarming you. It was just a question that had been in the back of my mind for a while, and I piggybacked it on to your query.
Just so I'm sure I understand, that hotline searched for studies on efficacy as well as the EPA stuff - which would have to do with harmful effects on mammals and not necessarily whether it worked on bedbugs?
To be honest, I don't think it's lucky to not be affected by bites. The reaction is the best detection mechanism. In fact, without it (itchy red hive like marks), most of us would never know about our unwanted guests.
When I was getting bitten, I think my body was developing a resistance to the things BB inject into my body. The bites were less itchy, and not even itchy in a day.
Now after the first treatment, I think I only have newly hatched nymphs at most, no adults. I think nymph bites have less chemicals, they are smaller? So slightly less of red mark, less itch (actually no itch at all). But I wish they itch like crazy. That would be a sure sign that I still need more treatment. I've had one bite that was suspicious. The bright pink glow and the location made it suspicious. But it did not itch.
PNB: Yes, I think the studies researched dealt more with the effects on mammals but I mentioned that I was also interested in learning on its efficacy with the BB's. Although it may have been a pat answer, he mentioned that the EPA would not endorse the pesticide annually if it was revealed that it was an ineffective pesticide. What I can't be sure of is whether the EPA's most recent review of pesticides captured the recent study you cited. I was told that the Natl Pest. Info Ctr is a cooperative effort of both the EPA and the Univesity of Oregon.
Thanks so much for the well wishes regarding tomorrow!
Phantom is a non-pyrethroid chem recently labeled for bedbugs. My PCO didn't use it, but I am interested in it because of reported problems with pyrethroid resistance in some batches of bed bugs. As you say, the more different things you hit them with, the better. So if for some reason the Suspend (a pyrethroid) doesn't do the job, it may be a good idea to switch horwses for the second or third attempt.
For what it's worth, my PCO used Suspend and Gentrol and I'm now in the waiting-and-praying phase.
Much success Buggeroff! I do hope those treatments solve the problem for you! What a way for us to live. How many treatments have you received. BTW, my PCO told me that he alternates different treatments for the follow up visits due to the genetic ability of offspring to develop immunities. For example, he will use Suspend SC this time and follow up with perhaps Demand. I hope he's right.
Nomorebugs: I hope that pink bite is the last one you experience! When is your next treatment?
Tomorrow (Friday). I mailed order some mattress covers. And will be covering them the minute they arrive. This morning I ripped away the cloth at the bottom of my box spring. It looked very clean to me. The bite was very suspicious. I wished it itched. It's the only true detection mechanism I have.
yes, I hear that. Tomorrow is important for both us! Much success to us both!
Hello DDwithbugs. Yes, may Friday hold blessings for both of us.
I would agree that there's no need to panic about Gentrol. There definitely was a study, but it was only one study. More information is needed. Plenty of good PCOs still use Gentrol, and still manage to kill bed bugs. (They're using multiple methods, and this is the key, I think.)
I also agree with nomorebugs that it isn't lucky to not react. If you have a two month guarantee, a person who reacts should begin to see increasing reactions if the treatments stop after a month, and the bugs start coming back. A non-reactive person might not notice for a very long time. Years. I am not sure if there are any real statistics on exactly how many do not react to bites. Someone said 70%. DD said 30%. This seems to be among the many things we don't have time or money to study right now (and rightly so--bring on the aggregate pheromones and the knock-em-dead-in-one sprays!)
I think most things I've read indicate most people (more then 1/2) do have some type of reaction.
Everyone on this forum knows about the impact of bed bugs. But unless you have them (or work on them, PCO/entomologist, etc), you can't really know how bad they are. Keep in mind that BBs do not cause disease or are life threatening. But it like uncuts most people's lifestyle and life in a major way. So much time, energy, and money has to be spend addressing this issue.
If you can point me to some sources of those statistics on how many react to bites, I'd be really interested. I haven't seen any actual data. Just things "someone" said here or there. Thanks!
I'd also say this--in rare cases, people have life-threatening allergic reactions to bed bug bites. One such person was Jessinchicago, who no longer has bed bugs, and does not post on the site anymore. Several others have come to my attention. It is extremely rare, but does happen. It happened to Jess after she had been bitten and experienced normal bed bug welts for weeks, and if she had not gotten to an E/R, she could have died. It was not her initial reaction to bites either, so it is something to be aware of. It is also true that Indian researchers have found that children have acquired asthma from living in seriously infested surroundings.
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