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Pest control companies just steam? What should I be looking for?

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  1. buggedmama

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 12:19:09
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    eta--found FAQ, reading now...

    OK, so excuse the 2nd post by me (please but I've been calling around a few different pest control companies to get an idea of what the cost would be of treating, so that I can take that to the landlord and tell her that it won't actually happen if we have to pay for it--because we don't have that kind of cash--and how bad that can be; but everywhere I call says that they are just going to steam clean everything. When I tell them I can't afford the $700-900, they tell me "Well you can try steam cleaning yourself, then."

    Is there something else that the pest companies should be doing other than steaming? Some sort of instecticide, or something? At least in your opinion/experience (I realize answers may vary). I just want to make sure I find the right company. I don't recall seeing anything in the FAQ about this but if I am wrong, I apologize in advance.

  2. (deleted)

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 13:09:33
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    http://bedbugger.com/faqs/pestcontrol/

    There are a variety of treatment methods. You need to interview more companies.

    Read the FAQ written by a PCO on how to select a PCO firm.

  3. buggedmama

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 13:26:54
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    I just read through that FAQ, but unfortunately the author doesn't really say what type of methods a good, effective PCO will use... If they are using only steam on the floors and baseboards and furniture, I don't see how that will do anything about the 2 nymphs I just spotted on my ceiling. I guess these are questions to ask the PCO.

  4. (deleted)

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 13:43:42
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    ?

  5. currentinsomniac

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 13:59:05
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    I've just been calling PCO's as well. It's pretty frustrating because they all use chemicals but none really follow the advice found in the FAQ. One says he recommends 3-4 treatments but he only comes once a month. He says it would be cheaper for me to do a year plan than individual treatments and charges $285 for the year. On the first visit he said he'd do a fog/spray and then on subsequent visits a spray. (He says he's done 100 different bed bug calls just this year....which I think is a lot for UT)
    Another one will use a spray to treat the mattresses, cracks, baseboards, etc. but they said it would probably only take one visit because the product has a residual.
    Terminix will be coming out to inspect on Friday, but they are more expensive and won't treat our cars (which also have them). They do follow ups every 3-6 weeks.
    And a couple other companies wouldn't even talk to me or let me set up an inspection because we are renters and will only allow the actual owner of the place to make the call.

  6. currentinsomniac

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 14:03:15
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    But yeah, my post was supposed to have a point. The point was that all the ones I called use chemicals and none use steam. BB hide out in baseboards, etc. but you would probably want a residual chemical of some sort there so any bugs out and about would die when they returned (or as eggs hatched in the area).

  7. (deleted)

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 14:08:40
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    There are no treatment standards in North America. No agreed upon protocols. Over time, there have been suggested best practices that have filtered down to us. We do our best here to give the best available information.

    We each have to do our best when contracting PCOs, by interviewing them rigorously and, sometimes, choosing the best option among several imperfect ones. Sometimes choosing the most experienced PCO whose services are available to us is all that we can do.

    My personal emphasis is on a) technicians that do very thorough, very patient applications, and b) timely follow-ups to inspect and retreat as close to the recommended "every 2 weeks" rule.

  8. nomorebugs

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 14:31:34
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    I agree wholeheartedly. Plan on at least two treatments perhaps more. From reading, I don't think steam treatment alone will get rid of an infestation, a use of a residual pesticide is generally required.

  9. itchyincharmcity

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 14:42:24
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    I have read that you need to be careful with steam. If it is too wet and you do it too often you could develop a mold/mildew problem.

  10. currentinsomniac

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 15:07:33
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    I used steam on my couch where they originated. I think it worked some...although it melted the buttons to the rest of the couch. Oh well. Guess the bugs will stay encased or at least not be able to climb under them anymore. (It's ok....it's such an old couch that after the treatments I'm throwing it out).
    But I have a question. Does anyone know what chemicals we should prefer when selecting a PCO? If they just use a liquid DE, is it worth for me to pay for their services when I already have been using a powder DE laced with Pyrethrin and sassafras oil on my baseboards, mattresses, etc? Is an initial fogging along with spraying so bad?

  11. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 15:29:18
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    Professional steaming (dry steam) expertly applied, followed by pesticides, can be really effective. Most PCOs won't steam. From what I hear, most PCOs won't even inspect properly.

    Steaming alone, probably not a good idea. I am open to being proven wrong.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  12. Bugologist

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 18:47:55
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    This is what you should look for (as a person knowledgable in the topic):

    1. They don't rely solely on pesticides. Non-chemicals measures are a plus and they should use bed encasements or at least recommend them, vacuums and hopefully steam. Current research is showing tolerance and resistance to a lot of pesticides we have available so relying on them may be a mistake.
    2. Some sort of crack and crevice treatment, and hopefully a dust, is an absolute must, these bugs hide in cracks and crevices and if you're not getting to them you're not addressing the problem.
    3. Follow-up treatments. Having done lots and lots of jobs I almost never get rid of the problem in one treatment and depending on the conditions (infestation level, clutter, construction, etc...) is will take 3 or 4 typically, maybe more.
    4. They address most if not the whole structure. If they just do the bedroom that has the known problem, or the bedrooms or just the couch it's a mistake. These bugs distribute throughout the structure and you can't limit yourself to one area. The treatment should encompass the entire structure.

    I could probably go on and on but these are the big ones. The rest is a personal decision.

  13. itchyincharmcity

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 19:03:31
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    Thanks for that excellent list, Bugologist. I wrote it all down and I will have it with me, along with the FAQ's, when my PCO visits on Friday.

    Since you are a pro, can I ask you a question? Do you often see bedbugs in the wall-ceiling juncture? I have seen no signs of bedbugs at all, except for some tiny bugs hanging out up there, pretty far from the bed. Most of them didn't even move to get away. They are so small, it's hard to tell, but I think they could be nymphs. I have no ceiling fixtures, just sort of white stucco.

    I am beginning to think I am nuts. No signs of bedbugs and no bites in eleven days, without treatment. Part of me wants to believe that I am just a paranoid psycho. But I know something has bitten me twice in the last five weeks or so, and both times it was three bites in a row.

    Ew, just typing this is making my hair itch.

  14. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Wed Nov 14 2007 19:47:13
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    Bugologist,

    Thank you.

    I have updated the FAQ to include your message above with a link back here.

  15. buggedmama

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 10:24:31
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    Bugologist--thanks a lot. I think I have found a company that meets most of those guidelines, and since I only have one piece of furniture that requires steaming left so it won't take as much time, they are willing to bring their price down into a range that we can afford. Unfortunately, I am still concerned that if the bugs DID come from another apartment they are just going to come back since I can't pay for every apartment to be treated.

    It seems that the law isn't on the tenants side regarding bed bugs in Ontario; they aren't yet considered health threats. This is what I am gathering so far.

    Another question--if anyone is still listening. I have some tote containers that I brought books and other belongings from Vancouver. One of them is still packed with books. I am considering reinforcing it with duct tape and putting it in my mother's yard for the winter. It definitely goes below freezing in Ontario. I am also considering machine washing or treating with boiling water/alcohol where applicable a number of other items (extra clothes, suitcases, backpacks, mini vacuum, etc.) and putting them in the very large tote container that we brought some of our things in, and also putting that in the yard for the winter. Are there any "cons" to this plan that I should be aware of?

  16. buggedmama

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 10:54:31
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    So I called the property manager--I got her machine, but I said that I have caught some bugs (on double-sided tape) coming out from the wall between our apartment and the vacant apartment next door -- makes sense, right? Can't get anything to eat over there. Obviously they could have been hiding in there from "our" infestation, but it is the opposite side of the room from where our bed was so it seems to me like why would they go over there? And they do appear to be coming OUT of those baseboards. It doesn't really matter, either way they could be in both apartments and there is no point treating this one and not the other one. I said that is what I thought, and that the pest control companies also basically said the same thing--they can't guarantee the bugs will be gone for good even if they do treat our apt., if they just come back in from another one. I really think she needs to take some, even if they turn out to only be preventative, measures, and have a number of the apts. around me inspected!

  17. pleasehelp

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 11:40:07
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    Absolutely. If inspections are free she should have no excuse not to get a PCO in to check the other apartments. Was the apartment next door vacant when you moved in? If so, and bugs are found, that would prove that they were there before you.

  18. itchyincharmcity

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 12:05:47
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    I know a professional dry steam is the way to go. But if I rent a steamer at the store and do it myself, very meticulously, will that be at all helpful? I must say my carpets could probably use it anyway.

  19. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 12:27:34
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    itchy, there is a FAQ on that. It links to Dr. Potter's research on steam. I suggest you check it out. The short answer is dry steam is considered best (and this is at least partly because it helps avoid the growth of mold--which can have consequences more serious than bed bugs!)

  20. buggedmama

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 12:42:46
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    Good news. Apartment building company doing block treatment. Back to packing.

  21. Bugologist

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 19:02:21
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    Bed bugs don't usually have more than one or two bugs on the wall-ceiling junction unless it's a pretty good infestation. Can one or two be up there in a low-level infestation, sure, but usually their aren't several unless there is evidence in more typical locations (bed, couch, etc...).

    Obviously, my best advice is to collect a few or have a PCO collect a few and have them identified by an entomologist. They may not even be bed bugs. Also, depending on where you live, it's late fall and if you are in the colder states this is a time where we see more run-ins with bat bugs. They look very similar to bed bugs, can only be differentiated under a microscope and tend to hang out up high rather then on the bed (probably because they originate from bats that were probably sleeping up in the attic/eves). Bat bugs do not prefer human blood and in a lot of the cases I've been involved with people are seeing bugs but not being bit. In the north most bats migrate during the colder months and thus the bugs in the structure lose their host and start to go out looking for a food source. This time of year, bugs only on the wall-ceiling junction, look like bed bugs, I might want to get them ID'd.

    Also, in my last post, I re-read it and realized I put a negative spin on pesticides. Pesticides are still an integral part of bed bug management programs and defintely serve use, they just shouldn't be the only method of control.

  22. itchyincharmcity

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 19:18:46
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    Thanks, bugologist. I have more than several, I've collected about 10. I do live in the mid-Atlantic and it's getting chilly. However, while I'm no expert, I am guessing it's unikely that bat bugs would be on the 4th floor of a 13-story high-rise in the city!

    PCO inspection tomorrow, I will show him my collection. Regardless of what he says I will beg him to begin treatment, then ship them off to Harvard for a second opinion.

    I have visions of teeming millions of them everywhere, evicting the babies up to the ceiling. Did you guys ever see this movie called "Damnation Alley," where this guy gets eaten alive by post-apocalyptic mutated cockroaches? That's what I see when I close my eyes.

  23. pleasehelp

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 19:30:53
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    bugologist, if a bat bug loses its host, then finds a human, will the bug make the human the host until another bat comes around?

  24. Bugologist

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 21:20:58
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    I agree itchyincharmcity, probably not bats in that situation but nothing surprises me at this point.

    As for the bat bug question, I'm a little unclear on that one and I'm not sure anyone has the right answer at this point. As I mentioned, the two jobs I've completed myself, neither tenants were being bit. That being said I think I remember a job where one of our tenants were but I can't remember for sure and I know it wasn't a bad situation.

    I know they don't prefer to feed on humans and my observations make me think they may in isolated incidents but I've yet to hear of an established population in a structure reacting like bed bugs.

    If this is suspected or confirmed, the first step should be to get the bats excluded from the structure. If the bats are there, the bugs will be since the bats are the source. As for what to do with the bugs, it all depends. I have an inkling that you may not have to do anything and they may disappear on their own. That being said I have no evidence to support that so I would say an abbreviated bed bug treatment would probably be the safe bet and then take it as it comes.

    Remember this is just an opinion as there isn't a lot of definitive information on bat bugs, how they react in a structure in the absence of bats or how to deal with them when they are there.

  25. nyjammin

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 22:25:05
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    Guys: check out http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/607?replies=24 re: batbugs. Check out Bugalina's message about her friends from Kentucky who tried for MONTHS to get rid of their bat bugs without success. Buggeroff also had bat bugs and from where this post is from and as I've read, they are just like bed bugs.

  26. Bugologist

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Thu Nov 15 2007 22:45:36
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    I'd want to know who identified the problem in Kentucky and how it was dealt with. If you successfully exclude the bats from the home (which can be difficult) I've seen how they act in a home and I have a hard time believing they couldn't get rid of the problem. I also don't know what the pest control company was doing to address the issue.

    I will say that I know for sure they don't act like bed bugs. You take me into 20 accounts with a mix of bed/bat bugs and I guarantee I go at least 90% identifying the problem without touching a bug. Bat bugs, for whatever reason, tend to be primarly on wall/ceiling junctions and tend not to bite and of course bed bugs are the exact opposite. They tend to be in association with the sleeping area and of course, love human blood.

  27. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Fri Nov 16 2007 2:46:24
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    I don't doubt that bat bugs are less common than bed bugs, but we have seen a few cases here and in the media.

    Most recently on the fourms was buggeroff, who was bitten by bat bugs, and she got Harvard entomologist Richard Pollack to ID a sample as a bat bug:
    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/607

    This OSU fact sheet co-authored by Susan Jones says most bites from cimicidae in Ohio are from bat bugs, not bed bugs. I would guess this may be outdated (the 2000 in the URL may or may not denote the year published), since it says bed bugs are uncommon (and no one is saying that now, in Ohio.)
    But still, there must be plenty of people being bitten by bat bugs:
    http://ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/2000/2105a.html

    Michael Potter warns of bat and bird bugs in this U of Kentucky fact sheet on bed bugs (revised 2006):
    http://www.ca.uky.edu/entomology/entfacts/ef636.asp

  28. itchyincharmcity

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Fri Nov 16 2007 10:56:26
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    Well now I will definitely send my samples to Harvard, regardless of what the PCO says. While there's probably a snowball's chance in hell that bats are hanging around in Baltimore, my bedbugs are acting like batbugs. Primarily in the wall/ceiling juncture and not biting me much at all.

    I am sure you are all thinking "poor newbie, she's still in the denial phase..."

  29. buggeroff

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Fri Nov 16 2007 14:02:41
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    Itchy, no one who is sending bugs to an entomologist is in "denial" phase :-)! It's always good to know exactly what you're dealing with, even if it's just regular ol' bed bugs.

  30. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Fri Nov 16 2007 19:18:47
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    itchy, I do get the sense bat bugs are more common in less populous parts of Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, New Hampshire, rather than big cities.

    Bird bugs are not uncommon--some city folk have had them via pigeons. I am sure Bugologist is right that bed bugs are more common, but IDing a sample can't hurt.

  31. itchyincharmcity

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Nov 19 2007 14:58:14
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    I can't find any samples to send off!! It appears my PCO may have taken my paper with taped bugs, because I couldn't find it after the inspection. And now I can't find any more! There were some around Friday night but I had a few glasses of wine and proceeded to spray them all with alcohol. Must catch more...

  32. crawledon

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sun Apr 13 2008 21:17:39
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    I'm reviving this post because I have questions about steaming. First let me say that I've had 4 exterminations, all chemical.

    They are now going to steam and I read that steaming should be followed up by a residual. Should they ideally do that the same day as steaming?

    Also, I know that if heat is not applied correctly, it could make bbs spread. Hopefully, PCO will know what the heck they're doing. What about adjoining apts. and steaming? Are adjoining apts. potentially at risk if steam is applied?

    I apologize in advance if this info is somewhere else. I have done some nosing around but have yet to see these questions answered.

  33. bugbasher

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Apr 14 2008 8:34:26
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    Crawled,
    I don't think steam will make them scatter,it's either going to be close enough to kill them with suffient heat or they will not be affected if too deep into the area being steamed.If the heat is close enough to kill them,they don't have time to run,they are zapped in thier tracks.If not then they don't need to move,they are safe.That's why chemicals are used as well. I would think the only rule for applying the chemicals is the area needs to be dry first,so it's not recommended to apply them right after steaming,say within the hour. As long as the areas have a couple of hours to dry (yes,even with dry steam there is some moisture involved)it should be fine.I have been steaming and treating app. 2-3 hours afterwards once everything is dry.

  34. crawledon

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Apr 14 2008 12:45:10
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    Thanks Bugbasher!

  35. crawledon

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Apr 14 2008 12:45:48
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    BB, how's your battle going?

  36. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Apr 14 2008 14:37:42
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    Roaches can hang around the ceiling also and roach nymphs may appear to be bed bug nymphs to an eye that is not trained plus magnification is needed to see clearly. The Brown-Banded Roach nymphs could seem as if they could be bed bug nymphs.

  37. bugbasher

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Apr 14 2008 22:42:21
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    Crawled,
    I'm winning,but have not achieved complete and utter destruction of the enemy yet.I'm praying that they are not upstairs,but I don't know for sure.If they are this is going to be the lonest battle in history,since my father's up there and swears there are no bugs,but denial abounds with these bugs.He is also in ill health ,so extermination of said premises is out.Well like I said,I'm praying...Thanks for asking!


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