Potential bed bugs in NYC studio apt (with pets)(6 posts)
I'm sure a couple of my questions have probably been answered already on this forum, so I apologize ahead of time, I just wanted to put everything in one spot.
Last week, I was woken up in the middle of the night to find a very itchy bite on my ankle and after inspection, found 2, what I'm pretty sure were full-grown bed bugs; 1 in my sheets and 1 on the bottom of comfortor. I immediately killed them, which my first reaction, and didn't think to save them for someone to look at. Then took everything off my bed and put the blankets and pillows in garbage bags until I could wash them the next day, and slept on the couch for the night.
Within the past I'd say 6-8 months, I had been randomly finding bite/hive-like swellings on myself...1-2 every couple of weeks. My initial thought was bed bugs, but after doing research and completely searching my mattress, bed frame, and the area around my bed, I found no evidence of bed bugs...and also the bites I would get would normally appear at other times, not usually after waking up in the morning. I have pretty sensitive skin when it comes to bug bites, so I next figured it could be dust mites. I've since put my mattress in a protective covering (but not the box spring), as well as my pillows.
Overall, since doing this about 2 months ago, I had not noticed a thing until this past week's incident. From what I've read online, everything seems to basically guarantee that if I've seen 1 bed bug, there ARE definitely others. Knowing this, I was able to find a product called diatomaceous earth, that I dusted the entire top of my box spring with, as well as behind my dresser that is located at the foot of my bed. I chose this because I also have 2 cats, and most of the products I found online were not pet-safe.
Since last week when this happened, I have not slept in my bed since, and truthfully do not know when I'll feel safe enough to do so.
I guess my main question is, and I know this is a long shot, but does anyone think the 2 bugs I found could be completely random (the weekend before this happened, I also had moved a lot furniture and everything else to clean, which hadn't been moved around for a while, I thought this may have "stirred up" activity)? Or is this something I need to get checked out? At this point, I think having an exterminator come is the only way I will be able to have peace of mind to sleep in my own bed again.
Living in NYC, I know my apartment building would be responsible for any problem, however, this is also where my other few questions come in. I don't have roommates and so it's only me and the 2 cats living there. Should my building send an exterminator to check out my apartment and they in fact find a bed bug problem, what are the odds that the treatment would be pet-safe? While I do have friends I could stay with, I would not have a place to take the 2 cats. And from what I've read, bed bug treatments aren't a one time thing, and seem to take multiple treatments.
Sorry for the long post, but just to sum up, I guess my main concern is whether or not to call my landlord? I know I SHOULD tell them immediately, but I'm also hoping that maybe it really isn't a problem and I won't see anything else again. The thought of having the worst case scenerio of having an exterminator come and have to move my cats from the apartment is a major factor in this, as I would not board them somewhere alone, and also do not have the money to stay at a pet-friendly hotel somewhere in the city...and I'm sure this not something my building would be required to reimburse me for.
Help with any of these questions would be greatly appreciated...thanks!
I know that it's hard to do, but sleeping on the couch isn't a great option. (I have insomnia, so sleeping in a bed I knew to be infested with bed bugs didn't seem like a great option either, but I have an obligation to say so.) Sleeping on the couch is only going to run a much greater risk of the bug migrating and spreading to become a larger infestation. Depending on the size of the apartment, that may not be an issue, but I felt like I should warn you anyway.
It is pretty rare to see only two bed bugs in any infestation. I think the plan to get a PCO out to inspect is a good one.
As for pet safe products, a good pest management pro who uses chemical pesticides will tell you and your cat to be out of the apartment while the apartment is being sprayed, and will tell you to keep the cat out until 4 hours after treatment. The chemicals used are safe for most pets once they have dried, and if properly applied, the chemicals should be dry 4 hours after treatment. (I would, of course, go in myself after four hours to confirm that the treatment has completely dried before bringing the cat back in.)
The other possible complication is that a cat's claws are great for penetrating things like bed encasements, so if encasements become a part of your PMP's plan for treatment, managing the cat's ability to puncture encasements is part of the issue. (And I'm not suggesting declawing a cat, a practice I find to be inexcusably cruel. I'm just mentioning a commonly discussed topic in terms of cats and bedbugs.)
Let us know how things go. I'll cross my fingers that you had two stragglers, but if I think you're right to be very concerned that there are more there.
I'm pretty sure you would have to remove your cats from the apartment before any chemical treatment can be applied. Your PCO would be the one to advise you on that, and tell you for how long. I know it's hard to think about boarding your babies, but that may be the only way to assure effective treatment AND your pets' safety.
If you do decide to board your cats for a day or two, you might want to check into PetSmart. Some PetSmart stores have on-site "pet hotels." I just checked New York, and they have three boarding locations that seem to be in/near the city. I don't know how to post links, but you can go to petshotel.petsmart.com and take a look . They do both long- and short-term boarding. I know people who have used the one here in Chicago and they were quite satisfied with the staff, the cat cages and the cost. None of the cats seemed unduly traumatized by their stays. You would need a reservation and proof that immunizations are up-to-date.
Just wanted to suggest an option for you in case you do decide to go with professional treatment.
delorac, who is in no way affiliated with PetSmart
Thank you so much for your response. I've actually gone ahead and called the exterminator my building uses to set up an appointment for this Thursday.
They also told me to make sure and leave my bedding on, which I have already taken off and washed, so hopefully that doesn't cause a problem.
I'm glad you mentioned to watch the cat's claws, because I have already noticed 1-2 small tears in the sides since putting it on my mattress a couple months ago. I'll also look into the PetSmart boarding in case it ends up being something I need to consider.
Hoping this doesn't end up being an issue, but guess I'll have to wait and see what happens on Thursday.
Hi jknyc! Sorry you have reason to be here! These bastards are no fun! I live in Chicago, but actually did use Petsmart to board my kitties for 48 hours at treatment time. You PCO might tell you differently, but my PCO simply wanted them out while he sprayed and said they could come back about two hours after he was done, but I felt better having them gone a little longer. Dropped them off the night before and picked them up the day after. Fairly cheap for the two of them and even better, you can schedule to have them bathed and brushed so they are nice and clean when you bring them home. Ran about $120 or so total for the both of them together including a bath & brush, so not too bad considering.
And yes! Watch those claws on the mattress cover! I put a fitted mattress pad over the top of mine on my living room futon underneath the futon cover to help protect it. Probably not 100% kitty proof, but so far so good! ::knocks on wood::
Good luck on Thursday!
Well this morning I had the exterminator come to check my apartment, and after looking through my bed was finally able to find droppings on the bottom of my box spring. He said usually he can find some sort of evidence almost immediately if there's an infestation, but it took him a while to notice anything on my bed and what he did find was a small area, so he thinks it should be fairly easy to treat at get rid of them.
I'm hoping to make my appointment for the 1st treatment early next week, then another the following week to get it taken care of as soon as possible. They gave me a long list of precautions to take...about clothes washing, taking pets out for a min of 4 hours, etc. Since I'm now going to have to wash all of my clothes and bedding, I'm just imagining the time and extra money I'm going to spend getting it all done. My building is paying for the exterminator, but I was just wondering if anyone thinks it would be possible to get my building management to cover the cost of the all of the laundry?
I'm trying to think positive that it really will be a simple treatment and will fully get rid of them right away, but I'm already dreading having to take all this time off of work and take my 2 cats to a friend's apartment for the days of treatments. Keeping my fingers crossed that all goes well, especially after reading story after story other people have posted where they had to go through months and months of this.
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