Not bed bugs: Chimney Swift Bugs(5 posts)
I've read posts on this site for two years and want to tell my story in case it helps anyone out there. I’m not the best writer and am chronically sleep-deprived b/c of my kids so I hope this makes sense.
We moved into a single family home outside of Boston in July of 2007. That summer I remember getting very itchy bites across my torso, three in a row. I thought to myself if the bites didn't stop when the weather turned cooler I'd look into what they could be. They did stop so I assumed they were mosquitoes.
The following spring we were on high deer tick alert since they are prevalent in my area and I had a toddler and a wooded yard. In March 2008 I found a tick-like bug in my bed. Confirmed it wasn't a tick (phew!) and tossed it. In June I started getting very itchy bites on me again. I had this feeling something was crawling up the wall and biting me while I was sleeping. I even caulked the molding behind the bed (which is utterly ridiculous since our house was built in the 1800's and is nothing but one big crack). But I was subconsciously onto something because a few weeks later I found two bugs, one dead and one alive on the tub in the upstairs bath. I saved them, ran downstairs and googled my brains out until I found the dreaded photo of a bed bug. We called a PCO the next day, they came out and a college kid looked at the samples with a magnifying glass and confirmed it was a bed bug. We started treatment. During the course of the treatment I found about 10 bugs, all the same size, which was slightly smaller than an apple seed. After treatment we lived with our bed pulled away from the wall for an entire year. I was vigilant in all the ways you become vigilant when you've had bed bugs: everything gets laundered to death, nothing gets put on the bed, pjs never get worn downstairs, I get uneasy when my son goes from his bed to my bed back to his bed. But that year passes and there are no definitive signs. My son gets three bites in a row the following summer (2009) but room torn apart reveals nothing and no more bites occur. Then March of this year I'm walking out of the downstairs bathroom one morning and on the wall I see a bug. Yet another compulsion of mine from dealing with bedbugs is examining every single scab, fleck, speck, booger and bug whatsoever that I see anywhere, especially apple seed-shaped things, so of course I zoom in on this bug and it actually is a bedbug. I tape it up in packing tape and call in another PCO. Mail sample to staff entomologist who confirms it's a common bed bug. This time I have a newborn so I don't want to go though the whole chemical thing again especially since it didn’t work the first time and I can’t figure out where the things are coming from. I chose (against everyone's advice from the PCO to UMass extension to this forum) to self-treat. I hire a dog to tell me where the bugs are and focus on those areas. The dog alerts in my bed, my son's bed and in a dresser in the attic. We bag and get rid of the dresser and I systematically spray every surface of the frames with a mixture of 91% alcohol, soap and water then spray with a DE mixture. It's time consuming, messy and stressful but I'm determined to try this before jumping into the chemical thing because at this point we aren't getting bit and I'm not seeing any other visual evidence. The dog handler says our problem is the most unusual he's ever seen and is a .5 on a scale of 1-10 (10 being most serious). I vacuum every day and wash sheets twice a week. March, April, May, and June go by: no bugs, bites, or signs. Beginning of July I start getting bites. Two in a row all over my body and they are very itchy. My husband had left a window open with no screen one night so I assume it's a mosquito. I'm nursing my infant son one night and see a row of bites down my arm. I go back to my room (it's 3am) turn on the light and there's a bed bug on the wall behind my bed. (Bed is pulled away from the wall and has Interceptors on each leg, and bed bug proof mattress protector on). Somehow that thing still got into the bed (bridge from pillow touching wall?) and bit me. Get the sample and begin full freak-out. Call PCO, explain situation, drive sample over to company. Same (kind, patient) staff entomologist from March identifies as common bed bug but it makes no sense. The PCO listens to my whole story starting from the first summer of bites three years ago and shakes his head. It doesn't make sense! Bed bugs don't come and go. They stay and multiply. If we had bed bugs for three years we'd have thousands and thousands of them. We'd see visual evidence. If we'd had them since March when I found that one on the wall we'd have hundreds. We'd see visual evidence. I’d see bites! Were we reintroducing? Over and over for three years? He said he'd call his entomologist friend at U Kentucky to ask what else it could be. Answer comes back: Chimney Swift Bugs. Sample sent to Entomologist and it is positively identified as Chimney Swift Bug. Since that sample was sent over a month ago we’ve had no further activity. We set up a carbon monoxide trap while we were on vacation to try to collect some live samples for the PCO and other scientists and we caught nothing. We're still waiting to hear how the PCO plans to treat the house but he's going to focus on the voids rather than the rooms themselves.
If you google chimney swift bugs you don’t get much info but the relevant information for us is that these bugs feed when their primary host migrates to the area (summer) and goes dormant during the winter. The first PCO I hired said there was no way I was bit by bed bugs that first summer in my house because they wouldn’t stop feeding if they had a blood meal available. Common bed bugs would have continued to feed and multiply whereas the CSB feeds and retreats.
In retrospect these are the main indicators we were dealing with the CSB and not the common bed bug:
· Bugs found crawling around during the day in odd places (tub, downstairs wall). This is atypical common bed bug behavior.
· Bites occur during summer months and activity ceases in winter months.
· All bugs found were the same smallish size: slightly smaller than an apple seed.
· Problem was ongoing for three years on and off with no noticeable increase in bugs.
· Bed bug treatment of mattress and rooms not effective because bugs living in voids in chimney or walls.
This would have never been solved had it not been for the extra effort of our awesome PCO. Despite the fact that he’s a trained Entomologist even he misidentified both specimens I gave him as common bed bugs but he listened to my story and thought it didn’t make sense. He got a second opinion and that made the difference. If you live in the Boston area and need a PCO you can trust please contact George Williams at EHS Pest Control.
I can’t imagine we’re the only ones dealing with a misidentified bed bug situation so I hope this may help someone out there. Best of luck to all of you.
Wow, I really appreciate your post. Your situation sounds just like mine. We were supposed to have a PCO come out today to identify the little critters I've been finding, but some things came up and we have to reschedule. I've been finding a few straggling bugs in my daughter's crib -- one night I found one on her cheek. I freaked out. I've researched and researched and thought they HAVE to be bedbugs. I still think it's possible ... but like you, things don't add up. I've found these bugs crawling around in broad daylight. I've found some in our bathtub as well. I thought bedbugs couldn't crawl up a tub? We've also been dealing with this nightmare for a good two years or so and when it started -- it was summer. Winter time came along though and it seemed our "problem" had went away. I've never seen evidence of a bedbug -- ya know, the feces marks, cast skins, the blood marks ... any of that. I've been puzzled the entire time, but as many second hand clothes and antique furniture I've bought in the past ... I wouldn't be surprised if a bedbug hitched a ride. Also, we live in the woods, in a log cabin (thousands and thousands of cracks) and guess what? we have a serious problem with birds in our chimney. We hear them every spring.
I can't wait to have these critters identified now. It does puzzle me that we've never seen feces mark or blood splatters on our sheets, but we can see these bugs crawling up the side of the tub in broad daylight. We've had bites too -- the typical three in a row. That was two years ago. Actually, I'm suffering from a huge breakout right now, which I'm positive this is an allergic reaction to something other than bedbugs. Can't say I wasn't freaking out though the morning I woke up with red inflamed patches all over my skin. See the post I wrote about that: http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/hives-bedbug-bites-im-miserable. Anyhow, that's another story in itself. What ever came of your situation? Did you get rid of them? Thanks for posting! Even though nothing has changed on my end, I do think my anxiety just lightened up a little as I read your post.
Chimney Swift BED BUGS. seasonal bed bugs that hide in your home all winter.
Thanks for sharing your story. Not the first time we've heard of these, but it is unusual. Some people also have bat bugs.
I can confirm that although rare we also see martin bugs and extremely rarely bat bugs in the UK.
I do however recall having a conversation with someone a few years ago sharing a concern that in certain parts of the US this mis identification and thus mis treatment maybe a little more common in rural areas than we would all like.
In the cases of non bedbugs that I have worked on its always been about finding the source and the harbourage and treating back from there into the human occupied areas of the property which is a very different process from "protocol based" bedbug treatments.
Bed Bugs Limited
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