Please help (questions about how to proceed)!(2 posts)
So, I've been on the bed bug train since late last year, and they are still.not.gone. I live in a rental building in NYC and my landlord (big company) has sent the pest control guy they use six separate times now over the past ~8 months. Our infestation is tiny at this point because our bites are really few and far between and we rarely find evidence when we look (although we recently found a bunch of nymphs running around in a couch crevice, and an adult a few days later). But we still have them, and I don't know what else we can be doing at this point.
This is kind of a stream of consciousness post, but I'm just feeling so stressed out, frustrated, and upset. I'm also 6 months pregnant and am terrified we won't be rid of them by the time the baby comes. So I guess I just have a few questions and am looking for any input at all.
1) Is my prep good enough? We've been living out of bags for months now, and have nothing in either of our bedside tables. Our dressers and closets do still have clothes in them but they are on the other side of the room from the bed and since we've never had more than a couple of bugs at a time our PCO told us it was fine to keep that stuff in the dressers and in the closets. Also, before the first spray we did wash all of that stuff and dry it carefully. Each time he sprays we wash all the bedding and dry it, etc.
2) Is my PCO good enough? He doesn't specialize in bed bugs or anything. He's the guy my apartment mgmt company hires to do all of the pest control for the 100 or so buildings the company owns in the city. He seems to know what he's talking about but gives me a hard time whenever I ask him to come spray again (he gets paid a flat rate by the landlord) and never seems to believe that we still have them when he inspects, even though I finally caught an adult recently and saved it for him.
3) Is he spraying frequently enough? I feel like what we have now are nymphs, because in the past month I saw some on the couch and one in the bed, and the bites I've gotten recently are tiny. How often do they need to spray in order to kill any nymphs that may have hatched since the last spray?
4) Do I need to throw out my couch? This is what the PCO says we might need to do, because the couch is rather complicated with lots of hard to reach crevices, and it's turning into a finger pointing game, which is terrible. The couch was really expensive and I don't want to throw it out unless I think we really have to.
5) Is my landlord doing enough? After the fourth time the PCO sprayed and we still had bugs, I called my landlord furious and asked him to pay for a professional bed bug expert because this guy is clearly not getting things done. He refused, and refused to hire a bed bug dog, and said that it must be my prep that's lacking. I pushed them to inspect the neighbors' units and they said they did but didn't find anything, but I reminded them that every time the PCO has inspected my place he hasn't found anything even though I've clearly found them on my own. At this point should I fight them to get more attention on this? Or let this same guy come back again and again?
I'm just feeling so lost and frustrated (and itchy) and just don't know how to proceed. To make matters worse, every time he sprays I've been leaving the apartment for 3-4 days because of the pregnancy, so this has been a major upheaval for us. I'm just so done. Any thoughts/input? So sorry for the novel.
I'm not an expert, just another person who's had an infestation and read a bunch of stuff on here already. That said, here's my advice:
Just for your peace of mind, find out what chemicals they're spraying and read the MSDS. Most of what gets sprayed for bed bugs is just pyrethroids, which are relatively safe. This isn't chlordane or toxaphene we're dealing with, or older bad ideas like arsenic and kerosene. Reading the MSDS probably won't change your plans, but it should help you sleep a little better.
Do the prep your PCO wants. Ours said to pull everything out from the wall and empty the closets, so they could spray all the baseboards. If you have reason to think a closet might be infested, you could ask them to spray there. Get their prep instructions in writing, and follow them to the letter to avoid the finger-pointing.
You should be able to keep the sofa. Encasements aren't all that cheap, but they're a lot cheaper than new sofas. Our sofa is what was actually infested, not the bed. I sprayed it with Rest Easy (cinnamon oil and some other stuff) before encasing it. Cinnamon oil is a really weak insecticide: they can smell it, so they won't expose themselves to enough of it to kill them. But inside an encasement they can't get completely away from it, so I hope it will keep any of them from being in the 1% that survives for however many months. Warm weather shortens their life span too.
As for whether the PCO is good enough, as long as it's on the landlord's dime I think we're pretty much stuck with whatever baseboard-jockey exterminator the landlord decides to hire. Of course, getting the job done is cheaper for the landlord than paying for ineffective treatment over and over, so as long as you don't sound as though you're trying to scapegoat the PCO for a problem you're causing, the landlord may decide it's in their interest to get a better PCO sooner or later.
Keep inspecting the couch as long as you're getting bitten. You can do a lot with just your eyes and a flashlight, and just killing the bugs by hand. If you want to spray the ones you find to kill on contact instead of vacuuming or squishing or catching them on scotch tape, use isopropanol instead of Rest Easy or Murphy's Oil Soap. Isopropanol evaporates completely, and you can probably find the next bugs in the same spot. Rest Easy or Murphy's will repel them, so that next time they'll hide somewhere else, and somewhere else again the time after, until they happen to go someplace you don't find them. Do spray Rest Easy on hard-to-inspect places like particle-board dressers, where they could hide and you probably wouldn't be able to find them.
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