New to the BB world. Terrified and want to move.(10 posts)
Hi there. Here's my situation that I really hope someone can provide some good insight to:
I started to notice bites on me about a week and a half ago (large, extremely itchy and numerous bites) and a few days later found an adult bed bug in my bed. My roommate/landlord and I (we split the bill) had an exterminator come in and spray once so far; however, I haven't been able to sleep in my apartment. I have a phobia for bugs and the thought of getting into my bug-infested bed terrifies me. So for 3 nights I would take a shower, put on freshly-laundered clothes and right away walk out the door of my apartment and I slept on a couch in my building. For those 3 nights and 4 days I didn't get any new bites. Then I decided to come back to my parents' house and finally get some sleep for a few nights. Before leaving my apartment I showered and put on laundered clothes, promptly left my apartment, then went and bought new clothes, showered again in my another building (in the pool showers at my friend's building), put on the brand new clothes, sandals, even hair elastics, and came to my parents with only the new clothes on my back and a makeshift wallet. After the first night at my parents' I found one tiny bite on my leg that was itchy very briefly. After the second night, I found one other tiny bite that also itched very briefly. I looked under the sheets of the bed and there are a few very small black specs. My dad seems to think that they're lint or made of fabric, but I don't kmow.
The week before I discovered that I had bed bugs in my apartment, I came and stayed over at my parents' for the weekend (this was about 2- 3 weeks ago). I'm terrified that I unknowingly brought a bed bug with me from my apartment and now infected them as well. (when I discovered that I had bed bugs in my apartment, I called my parents right away to let them know and my dad bought a bed bug spray from a store and sprayed the mattress where I slept, the baseboards in the room and some of the items in the room).
Could these new, smaller, less itchy bites be from bed bugs? My dad thinks I'm too paranoid, but after you get bed bugs, I don't think you can be paranoid enough.
Also, since i have to move out of my apartment by September anyway (for unrelated reasons), I figure I would rather move back to my parents' now in the meantime and sleep at night (especially because I'm starting a new job this week and being sleep-deprived probably won't make a good impression).
Here's what I was thinking of doing:
Go pack up my photo albums and put them in about 4 garbage bags. promptly take the bag (without touching anything in the apartment along the way) out to a rubbermaid container in the lobby of my building. I will likely have to take a few trips since the photo albums can get heavy all at once and I don't want to have to put them down anywhere along the way. when my albums are in the container, place the cover on, seal the cover on with duct tape, then wrap the container up in a plastic sheet. Then store this container for 2 years.
Then with all of the other stuff I kept, such as book, shoes and purses (I sent my clothes to a laundry service that specializes in bed bugs and threw most of my other possessions away. I really only have about 3 or 4 boxes of possessions left), I was going to buy and use a packtite in the infested apartment, shower right before the batch is done and put on clean clothes from a bag, place the items from the packtite into a garbage bag and promptly take it out of the apartment to my car. Then repeat the process with every batch. Then before I get into my car shower again in my apartment and again at my friend's pool showers (as I did above). I still don't know what to do with my laptpo and camera that are both less than a year old:(
Am I missing something? Do you think this is sufficient to not bring any bed bugs with me?
Tonight, I'll post something a bit more detailed this evening. I did basicallay what you're describing and got out bug free. Basically this is a sound plan.
That said, it would be easier to vikane your posessions as a part of a move. Have you looked into vikaning or did the bed bug laundry kill your budget?
Thanks for your post. I live in Ontario, Canada and I don't believe that vikane is legal here. Plus, I just realized that the packtite that's available in Canada is the closet version and it's 800 dollars!!
I look forward to hearing more of your insight
You need to get something to kill stray bugs, even if the packtite is $800. $800 is cheaper than the cost of treating their home.
I'll take some time to write out what I did and why tonight. It may help you figure out what your plan should be.
OK, here goes:
It sounds like with your time constraints that you really have no choice about moving because the time frame won't expand long enough for you to be sure you're bug free.
I was working on a FAQ for moving that isn't finished, and I'm going to pull this because it seems appropriate:
"If you just found out that you have bugs and are reading this because you think that it’s your only recourse, my best advice is to stop. Full stop. Panicking is not a great way to move. It will lead you to failure. I repeat, do not move in a panic. You need to control your panic. First, start learning about bed bugs right way. Find out what your options are, and genuinely reevaluate your resources: emotional and financial. If you’re here, you already have one resource that you didn’t have when you saw the first bug: a community of support and a lot of information available to educate yourself. "
What you're suggesting are good things to do. It sounds like you're reading the FAQ and getting educated. Keep that up. Make sure you're taking time off of this problem. You need the break to gain perspective and relax.
Moving carries specific risks that only someone moving has to deal with. At the BedBug Summit, one researcher discussed the importance of "bug load". It’s much less likely (though not impossible) that a building infestation starts from a solo hitchhiker. It’s much more likely that an infested object introduced several or many bugs into the building. The more bugs at introduction, the greater chance a colony has of thriving in a new location. (To the best of my recollection) Obviously, if you’re moving from an infestation, your chance of bringing in that infested object is almost certain unless you treat your items. Moving doesn’t mean avoiding paying for treatment, it changes what you will have to pay to treat. Instead of your home, you’re treating your things.
I can't stress this enough, you have to find a reliable way to treat what you own. If you don't treat your items, you'll likely infest your parents' home when you move back. Frankly, even if you do treat your items, you're still running a risk of still infesting yourself at the next place. Hoipefull, it will be made a much smaller problem by the proactive steps you take during the move to minimize risk.
The easiest solution is to pack everything up and have it treated in one shot. In Canada, there may be heat treatment/heat remediation for items if you have furniture you'd prefer to save. It would also be the fastest solution, if it's available to you in your area. It won't be cheap.
If not, and you're doing this by hand, I have to tell you: you have to purchase a packtite. The method mentioned by cilecto and jean would also work, but until it's vetted by someone I'm not going to recommend it. You need to do something with a strong record of working to kill bugs. If you can't treat stuff, and it can't be hand inspected, or laundered, I have to highly advise against taking it. You're first goal is to lower the risk transfering bugs as much as humanly possible, while saving the objects that really matter.
I suspect you're thinking this way, but it helped to have it spelled out for me, so that's what I'll do for you.
To me the process of packing goes:
Prepare and plan. Be overzealous in your planning. You will ultimately cut corners and when you look back, you want the corners you cut to be the things you think would have made your risk level near zero. Not shit, did I just carry in a pillow from my bed?
Think through your plan a few times. Do you have everything you need?
The first thing I did was a major de-clutter/inspection. This was done in circles. I treated my bed as a hot zone. As you do when handling a infection (my BFF's hubs was into infectious research and so he suggested several steps I took.), I started on the outside and moved into the hotzone. From furtherest away working in: first my bathroom, then my living area that was futherest away from my bed, then my kitchen, then my bookshelf, then my closet, then the floor around my bed. I didn't disturb the bed waiting for the PCO to come. Once I decided to move, I left it and the area alone where the nest was most likely to be. As my apartment was so small I fear any disruption to the nest would make moving impossible, I only rescued one item from this area: my baby blanket.
This process allowed me to assess that it hadn't spread too far from the bed, and that many of my items were safe to move. The items under the bed were left there.
Inspections were conducted where the item was located in my studio apartment. I cleaned items as I inspected them. I would set up a TV tray with hot soapy water in bowls, paper towels nearby to dry. Nothing I used was placed on the floor. I used clear, clean easy to inspect surfaces. I pretended that I was dealing with a contagion and so I prepped the surface each time I used it. Items were bagged as I cleared them, and ziplocks were not put down until they were sealed, unless I set them on a recently inspected surface. I didn't inspect every item I heat treated--in fact I only inspected a couple of items from each location. I did this to see if I saw any evidence of a widespread, but undetected infestation. I found no signs away from the immediate area around the bed.
Heat treat it, if it can be heat treated. Items that could not be heated were hand inspected and sealed immediately in ziplocks. I chose to wash many items with hot soapy water in my bathroom before I packed them, regardless of signs on the items. (Bath, body, makeup products: Hand inspect, wash with hot soapy water if possible or if you want to be certain and you start to doubt your vision.)
Items that were packtited were sealed in ziplocks immediately after the Packtite was turned off. It was still very hot to warm. Before I even started, I brushed myself off to make sure there was nothing on me. Items were packed quickly and with as much logic as possible. The closed ziplocks or tied off clear garbage bags went into the clear bins. When the bins were full--and carefully arranged for weight--I sealed them shut with clear packaging tape. Clear was used preferentially in the hope that if a stray bug got into it I would see it before I exposed my new home heinously. I packed items directly over the packtite. This reassured me that I wasn't risking things by setting something down and exposing it. Since I was in a studio, I was about 3 feet from my bed, so as neurtotic as it sounds, it wasn't impossible that I might see a bed bug wandering through my kitchen.
I ran my Packtite in my kitchen. Next to it was a stack of the clear Rubbermaid boxes. I used them as a pedestal to work on when packing treated items. I purposely did not place anything treated on the floor again. This was partly for my comfort when working, and partly because I wanted to watch what went into the bin. The hope was that I might see a bug and remove it/retreating items if such a thing occurred. The smooth clear plastic rubbermaid box I carried out of my house had been bagged in a clear contractor bag, taped shut, with the treated ziplocks inside. The contracter bags allowed me to stack them in my living area away from the bed, carry them on the moving truck and not worry. The plastic wrap was removed as they entered my home. Since I inpected and them taped them in there, I was fairly certain I was minimizing my risk of transfer.
If I couldn't put it in a container, I stored them on shelves as far away from the place I thought the infestation was as possible. I spected these bags visually when I later packed them.
To minimize my stress after the move, I decided to place higher risk items in storage. They're still there. I am close to tossing most of it becuase I no longer remember it and it seems like an unbelievable amout of clutter to me now. I am certain that I would bring more with me now, of that stuff that had been treated.
Re clothing and bedding. I decided to toss all blankets but my baby blanket. I didn't trust the laundry or even the PackTite to be able to fully cook those items. I also found I had no desire to sleep on the bedding from that place anyway.
Clothing I sent off to be laundered at a facilty that handled bed bugs, which is what I think you did. That is the best thing because it's the easiest and so time consuming,
Keep in mind, I was treating them like some sort of pathogen that I could pick up if I set the stuff I was inspecting down. I started doing this because I tend to set things on my bed. Mainly you want to minimize that chance of recontamination (bug/eggs) or introducing contamination (bug/eggs) into clear items. For me that meant thinking of the inside of the box as clean after a visual inspection and either packing things directly or inspecting bags before I packed them. Moving takes thoroughness and attention to detail. I moved 20 medium sized boxes of stuff. It took 6 weeks to treat.
I'm going to add that I did this naked. My apartment was small and cluttered. I brushed against my bed just walking from the kitchen to the living area. I felt I had a better chance of detecting any stragglers on my bare flesh.
It's a close as I could get to David's idea of leathers as I could do.
Someone may have an Insect Inferno near you in Canada. You can contact the manufacturers here and ask. The Insect Inferno is a portable trailer that is heated to kill bed bugs, and David Cain has reported very positively on its effectiveness.
I have been talking with an exterminator. Get plastic ziploc bags and leave everything in the sun for at least ten hours. Over 90 degrees.
I have been staying at my mom's and when I am there nothing happens.
I went back to the place I am staying and because my roommates are doing nothing I saw a bunch on my seats last night.
He said leave the stuff in the heat. In car or outside...
This will cleanse the items.
You really can't rely on putting your stuff in the sun. Core temperatures at the center of the items in the bag would need to be monitored. The exterminator who recommended this may not know a lot about the science involved.
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