No sleep, bugs and shady PCO - help!(13 posts)
Hi everybody, I'm going to write up my full story here, so please bear with me because I would REALLY like some advice and guidance from all you knowledgeable people. I'm losing sleep and my mind is going haywire. My story goes something like this:
In February of this year I moved out into my current apartment (in a wooden low-rise apartment building), previous to this I was living with my parents and have never experienced BB problems of any kind. I have now been here almost three months now and have just discovered a BB problem.
About a week ago I woke up one day with my foot hanging out from under my covers and I noticed that my ankle had about ten bites. I didn't think much of it until it itched in the shower later that day and I decided to read up on BBs. To my surprise, my bites were characteristic BB bites, they had the row organization for the most part. I was horrified and spent most of that night on the web reading up on BBs (including a lot of stuff from here) and I also decided to go do a survey of the house. Sidetrack for a second: I have been sleeping on an unfolding futon couch after moving because prior to the move I have been sleeping on the floor for the past 5 or 6 years and I did not feel right sleeping on the floor in the new apartment (spidey sense much?). Anywho, that night I checked my futon's mattress fairly thoroughly and found nothing. I was then sitting on the toilet doing my business and wondering what was going on. I looked down on the floor and a bug was crawling! I smacked it with my slipper, half-killing it, and put it in a little plastic container for reference. Upon doing some research it was clearly a BB, an adult. I then freaked out and went on another search and found a dead adult right in the middle of my living room (odd, no?). Then later that night while on the john I found another live bug crawling on the floor, this time a smaller one of a similar colour as the adults (reddish-brown). None of the bugs looked "swollen", the were all flat-bodied.
Next evening, I came home to open my door and see another adult crawling on the floor (my entrance is right by the kitchen and washroom. I killed it and put it in my collection. At this point I started to panic and spent another night of little sleep doing research on the web on about everything BB related, much of it on this wonderful site. The next day I contacted my building manager (the building is owned by a company) and she was supportive and booked me an appointment with a PCO just twenty minutes after I talked to her.
Fast forward to yesterday. I followed a prep list given to me that was pretty standard (clear linens/etc, bag clothes, declutter, etc) and the exterminator arrived. I asked him what he would be doing and he said that his chemical of choice was something based on chrisanthemums, but he could not get it due to some problems shipping it. He then said that he would be using Dragnet even though he was not as comfortable with it. I asked him what he would be spraying and he said that he'd do the baseboards and my ?bedframe? and it would take "five to seven minutes". What the hell? Now that is fishy as hell and does not sound at all right to me, right? Well, anyhow, I left my apartment for the rest of the day and came back eight hours later to a weak chemical smell that went away after I spent some time inside.That night I slept more than before and had some decent sleep and no new bites that I was aware of. Then last/this night (it's 7AM now as I type this), I decided to dust my bed's legs with DE and as I was doing so I found two adults running around on the bed whom I promptly killed with 99% alcohol. Then later that night I tried to get some sleep before getting up in the morning to go to class (I'm a university student in my third/fourth year). I rolled around for a bit and somewhat fell asleep, but then I suddenly woke up an hour later. I looked at my bed and I saw an adult crawling bside my head area! Killed him and started to do a bed check. I then found another adult under my bedsheet and a smaller bug crawling on top later on. All were killed by me. Now I cannot go back to sleep and am in total panic mode.
According to the guy who sprayed my apartment, he was also doing one beside me and a few on the floor below (I'm on the third, and top floor). This building is old and my apartment has a lot of cracks, loose basebards and the carpet has "voids" where it meets the walls in a lot of places. From reading that bugs travel, I feel like there is no hope. I am thinking of ways to get some sleep at home because I don't want to sleep on the futon as it seems to draw attention. I would love to dump it and make a bed out of a sheet of metal and four metal legs so that I can revert to sleeping like I did on the floor except on a raised platform. This is a pipedream though and I just don't know what to do. It seems like some other people in the building have problems, but some people don't. I am going crazy and paranoid when I sit at home (especially at night). I am losing most of my sleep, my house is full of bags and piles of books/stuff and I just don't know what to do. I am also taking a few classes right now and am at a pretty important time in getting my [electrical engineering] degree and I have not done any work since finding out about the bugs. Is all hope lost? Help!
I was going to go and talk to my neighbours to see what they say, but I just don't know.
Here is a brief summary, but please read through the full(er) version to get a better idea if you can:
- Moved into apartment building, never had bugs before.
- Found bites last week, then found several adults and a small BB
- Called building manager, she made an appointment for a PCO
- Prepped for PCO with typical prep work, losing sleep
- PCO showed up and said he'd be spraying Dragnet for 5 to 7 minutes on baseboards and bedframe (not even sure that he did the latter).
- Slept decently the night after he sprayed, no new bites that I could identify
- The next night (tonight) I found five different bugs on my futon where I sleep and got only an hour of sleep
- Apartment is full of cracks, holes and such and other units have problems too apparently
- I'm freaking out completely and cannot bring myself to sleep on my bed.
- Contemplating on what to do next, but have no clue.
Experts advise that it often takes a multi pronged approach and repeat treatments to successfully eradicate BB. In and of itself, it's not unusual to see bugs after the first treatment (and you should plan for two, regardless). People also sometimes take time to react, so you may be seeing old bites flaring up. It is possible that you are seeing bugs scattering from other units which were treated with agents that are repellent (such as foggers).
Pyrethrum is extracted from chrysanthemums. I've read that supplies of natural pyrethrum are tight. Most of the insecticides in use indoors in the USA today are based on pyrehroids, synthetically produced relatives of pyrethrum. Pyrethroids are believed safer for humans and pets than other classes of insecticide, but are shorter-lived and somewhat less effective against BB, which complicates matters. Dragnet is a brand of permethrin, of of these pyrethroids. I guess the PCO was trying to be friendly/helpful, but confused you.
If your building has lots of crevices and a systemic problem, it probably pays to do repeat treatments and use dusts, which last longer.
Read our FAQ. They will help you to fight BB more effectively.
If the problem persists and/or you believe you'll need to move, read the faq on travel and strategize with us on how to move without taking bugs with you.
Hi Cilecto, thank you so much for your reply, much appreciated. When I wrote that post early this morning, I was in full panic mode and was running on one hour of sleep. I then talked it over with my mom who put my mind at ease.I also went to a class today and got some fresh air with some friends which also helped me calm down. Keeping your cool seems to be crucial in this situation. I then went to talk to my building manager who was very supportive, some good updates/news:
- Apparently only two apartments (including me) have reported BBs in my building of probably 40 or so apartments. The PCO guy treated four units because they were doing the adjacent ones as a precaution (good thing, right?).
- The PCO guy did not have his chrysanthemum chemicals due to some border issue (I'm in Vancouver, Canada) and for some reason only did a half-assed job using Dragnet which he was not comfortable with. My building manager was also very weirded out as to why he did that.
- Apparently, according to the local laws, the PCO has to wait three weeks before he can treat again, but my building manager got me an appointment next week because of his ineffective first visit (this is an under the table thing, but I'm glad that she cares so much about this). He will also be doing at least another follow-up treatment after this coming proper one.
- According to my building manager, the last time my building had BBs was two years ago and it was a small outbreak in one or a few suites that got taken care of immediately. My suite has supposedly been bug free for something like 25 years (one guy lived here just before me for a year and the previous resident was here for 25 years).
- My building manager, although she lives in the building across the street which is owned by the same company, had BBs two years ago and used the same PCO who eliminated the bugs after two treatments. This sounds like good news because the PCO must be doing something right, no?
I then spent most of the day doing house treatment and cleaning. My house is still in bag and declutter mode (although my decluttering is probably not great) as I am waiting for my next PCO visit this coming Wednesday. Here are the actions I took today:
- First thing first, I decided to isolate my bed to put my mind at ease and get some sleep tonight hopefully. I did the following (with a some help from my mom, god bless her):
- Vacuumed my futon mattress thoroughly as well as the area around it. I also tried to vacuume the wooden frame to the best of my abilities.
- Encased the mattress in an Aller-Ease waterproof allergen encasement which works against dust mites and should theoretically work against BBs, right? I also taped over the zipper with some duct tape for extra security.
- My futon where I sleep has irregularly shaped legs, so I used some plastic food containers. I put the legs in the containers (they also have these rounded/squared edges which I don't think BBs could even climb) and filled them with a combination of liquid hand soap, dish soap and 99% alcohol.
- Later that day I took on a huge DE campaign. I dusted along all the wall/floor "contacts" including all closets. I also did some cracks where the carpet turns into linoleum and did a lot of dusting under the heater which is probably a great hiding place. I'm not 100% sure of how thin the DE is supposed to be, but I was dusting everything with a nice dust bottle tip which made puffy clouds of DE and I then did several runs across all the areas being fairly liberal with the dust. The only place I haven't really applied DE to is the kitchen area except behind the fridge and stove, the rest of the kitchen doesn't look like it has any gaps in the linoleum/wall baseboard-y thing.
- I also did some light DE on my bedframe underneath the encased mattress.
After applying all the DE over several hours, I feel like I probably inhaled some as there were big clouds at some times. I took maximum precautions and was wearing a dust mask and had my window and balcony open the entire time and am still airing the place out just in case. What are the risks of inhaling some DE? I'm going to take a nice steamy shower later today to hopefully do my lungs some good (not that I feel like I inhaled a lot of DE).
- I then also started to do some of my bagged up laundry/drying. I picked up some of those XXL Ziplocs today and my god are they awesome. Seriously! I did two big loads today so that I have enough everyday clothes available. I ahve them stored in two of the Ziplocs now, but have no clue what to do about wearing them outside/around the house/in bed. My usual (pre-BB) routine was:
- Dedicated "house clothes" which are usually a t-shirt, a pair of shorts/sweatpants and some separate socks.
- "Outside clothes" which is whatever I wear outside - jeans, shirts, sweaters, etc.
- "Pajama" which usually was a pair of pajama pants and whatever shirt and socks I wear as my "house clothes".
I am now wondering what to do about all this. I'm thinking of storing the "pajama" in a separate sealed bag and only wear it in my (presummably/hopefully) isolated bed. Then I would have my "house clothes" which I would change into when I get home, they could hang somewhere like on top of an open door where bugs are not likely to walk around. Then I could have a separate "laudry" bag for all my laundry which I would keep on my balcony alongside some other bagged stuff. Some things like hooded sweatshirts which I rewear outside, I could keep on a hook hanging on the outside of a closet door. This is what I was thinking, but I would really like some advice on if this sounds like a good plan. Please let me know.
I would be really glad to hear some advice and such from all of you. Based on what I have going now does it sound like a good battle plan and do you think it will be possible to eradicate the bugs completely? The PCO is coming in next Wednesday with his good chemicals and I'm hoping that the combination of all of these strategies can lead to a success. I have just started summer school two weeks ago at uni and I am taking some important classes (I am oh so close to getting my degree) which I have not been keeping up with due to this last week of fear/panic and lack of sleep. I would really love to not have to worry about any of this and be able to concentrate on my schoolwork and everything else that I was doing prior to finding out about the bugs.
Please let me know if any of this is good or bad, I value every single opinion here because I would probably be crying in the fetal position right now if it wasn't for all the wonderful information on this site and its users. Thanks so much!
I'd appreciate any input at all, feel free to add anything.
I did have one more question, does DE work on adult BBs? I dusted along all walls and most furniture, but I'm wondering if adult bugs are affected by it since I don't know if their bodies touch the floor. Anyone know?
I think the best practice would be to bag all of your clothes right out of the dryer and keep them sealed up until you wear them which will limit the places that the bugs can harbor and also give you peace of mind when you dress to go out that you are not carrying any with you. Hanging clothes on a door will not keep the bugs from them. They can climb anything wooden. Until you think you are clear of them try to change into clean clothes whenever you leave home. I am trying to keep to a few changes of clothes that can take a lot of washing and drying. Dirty clothes go into a marked sealed bag until I wash and dry them. There is a lot of information in the FAQ's as well about laundry
I have some clean laundry that I have ready to wear outdoors in some XXL Ziplocks right now. I am now thinking of keeping things that I plan to wear several times (like a hoodie, etc) in plastic bags that are tied and hung from hooks on doors. I realize that this is not the best solution, but I cannot afford to be doing laundry every few days.
What about dirty laundry? I've been using a garbage bag and a little tie, should I be throwing out the garbage bag or would it be OK to reuse it if I tied it again?
Wow, I can imagine what you are going through.
First of all, I think you did well on the bed isolation thing. Allerzips, if not ripped, are the best. I would keep pj's in a bag, like you said, and put them on right before bed. If new bites occur, check the bed thoroughly. The DE was also good. You could also put some double-sided tape around a perimeter of the ceiling above your bed to prevent "fallers."
As far as the rest of the house goes, be thorough with the DE (which you have done it appears), and keep communicating with the PCO. I think you will start to feel better, especially now that you've got your bed isolated.
I actually lived in a dorm for 4 years in college. Amazingly, not one bedbug problem that I knew of. I'm surprised by that. Anyway, I know what you're going through. Just stay strong.
Blarggg, thank you so much for your reply and support!
The PCO did a half-assed job last time and I think (my building manager said so too) that he basically drove the bugs out with the first "treatment". I found three live adults over the last 24 hours. The first was on my !balcony! which I had open. I have some bagged stuff out there and the bug was just sitting in the middle. How??? Then I found one as I came home late last night very slowly climbing up the wall beside my bed close to an outlet. Then I found one today running across my wooden chest in my living room (where my futon bed is) when I was answering my phone.
I'm worried about jumpers now. What kind of double sided tape is needed? I bought some regular double sided scotch tape last time, would that suffice?
Good news is that I have managed to get some fairly good sleep the past two nights after isolating my bed (*knock on wood!*). I even slept without socks last night and I have not noticed any new bites which I am hoping is the case.
I would really love it if someone could reassure me about the DE, how much is enough? I sprayed a good amount of dust around (and a little more today), but I cannot visually see it in most places on my carpet. Is that good or am I supposed to actually see the powder laying around after?
My other dilemma is with regards to the bugs' life and such. Most of the ones I've seen/killed/found have been flat adults which I am assuming to be unfed. Where are the small ones?! Can the adults keep reproducing without feeding?
Thanks again, everyone. Your help and words of encouragement really mean a lot to me!
The "enhanced" type of DE seems the most effective, in any case they die quicker.
Sadly we can't buy all these nice products in Europe. Even the DE seems not the same. I never had effect with the DE I bought here. The bugs laid their eggs in the middle of a DE treated surface.
The effectiveness could also depend on the atmospheric moisture in the room I guess.
I would buy the Tempo to put it around my bed.
Thank you for the reply! Hmm, interesting. So far I've been using Chemfree's Crawling Insect Killer which is 80% DE and has some other stuff in it:
but I also have a 1kg tub of pure food grade DE that I bought from a local pet food store that I will be using once the other stuff runs out. That report is very interesting indeed, good to know that DE actually kills (although it still does not mention if it works on BBs of all stages, most of the ones I've seen were adults). I've found a few bugs crawling on walls in the past few days and it really seems like they were a little slow and unresponsive (compared to other ones that I've seen). Could it be that the DE is working and makes them less lively as it kills them? Anyone know? Also, I'm kind of anxious because I'm worried that DE does not work against adult BBs, can anyone put my mind at ease if tehy know the answer?
Okay, time for a quick update!
I found a something like one or two live bugs since the last update prior to the PCO's return and even noticed a few bites on my upper arm one day, yikes! Nevertheless, I'm truckin' on and trying to keep my cool.
The PCO was back for a second treatment on Wednesday, he had the pyrethrin this time as well as the permethrin (Dragnet). He supposedly sprayed my mattress, bedframe and my furniture with the pyrethrin and he said that he would be using some of the permethrin around my bed to kill any intruders (on top of the Dragnet that he sprayed the baseboards with the first time). According to him, the permethrin/Dragnet has a residual effect of 30 days, does that sound right?
I am very slowly trying to wash and dry all my bagged clothes, but it is going very slowly as I am busy a lot during most weekdays. I have slept well for the two nights since the PCO's lst treatment which is good, no new bites as far as I can tell. Hopefully that continues to be the case, fingers crossed.
Talked to my assistant building manager today and then my building manager later on. Good news is that they're treating all the surrounded apartments (mine and the one below have reported bugs) and are very supportive. They said that they will keep going until the problem ends which is wonderful news for me and eases my worry. Apparently the company that owns my building along with five others in the area is supportive too and wants to remain BB free which is also good news!
I am also starting to feel generally better because this situation had me kind of down the past two weeks, I feel a bit depressed at times (usually in the evening). However, I am starting to slowly get back to my schoolwork which is very good.
Oh yeah, the PCO is coming in again on June 2nd to treat my apartment along with some surrounding ones which will be 2.5 weeks after the very first treatment. The cooperation of my building managers and [supposedly] the building owners makes me feel a lot better about the whole ordeal.
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