Sad, helpless, afraid(10 posts)
I'm new to this site, but a friend (and bed bug survivor) said I should check out the forum.
I've been getting bites for two weeks exactly. Pretty much a bite or two every other night I've spend at home. I live in a big, beautiful home with three guys. The place is immaculate. Anyway, I noticed a couple bites here and there and suspected a spider was getting me at night. I washed the sheets and pillow cases, and continued with my life. I travel quite a bit, and I went out of town this past weekend -- no bites while I was away. Upon returning home, I got a few more bites on my foot. I went crazy, inspected the bed and found a few brown clumps -- they looked like a shell from which a bug had hatched. I began placing the mattress in a waterproof cover from Target, THEN I found a live bug crawling! I sprayed it with alcohol and threw the sucker in a zip bag.
I washed a few days worth of clothes in the hottest water I could get, then dried everything for 50+ minutes and put everything directly into a brand new air-tight space bag. EVERYTHING else has stayed in my room. I took the hottest shower of my life and practically scolded my skin. I spent the next two nights at a friend's house on her couch with only my air tight bag and my keys, phone and wallet in a zip lock bag.
The bed bug pro is coming over tomorrow morning to evaluate the situation. I'm spending the night at home, probably on an air mattress downstairs. I have terrible reactions to bug bites.
I feel filthy, itchy, guilty (because of the possibility I brought these creatures into a beautiful home), depressed and distracted. I can't concentrate and have barely been able to eat without feeling sick.
From the sounds of it, it's nearly impossible to get rid of these bugs. I feel very hopeless and confined. Worst of all, I'm supposed to stay visit an out-of-town friend next weekend and I'm SO paranoid that these creatures will hitch a ride with me.
Any advice? Someone please tell me that it's possible to get rid of these bugs.
Sorry you are here on the site. I understand completely but do not stay in any other room or the bugs will follow you and infest another room!
That being said, there are a few very good PCO's that regularly frequent this site that say that FINDING the bugs first is key, they you can eliminate them. Say they find them in your mattress - they can 1. kill the ones they see 2. SPray to kill any more. 3. Encase the mattress so they die in there. Make sure you get mattress and boxspring encasements = not the cheap ones either - they rip.
Say 2 more are in your chair = they kill one. If you circle your bed with pesticides (over simplification-it is smore of a process than tha) that you KNOW they will cross to get to you they will die - in some cases not right away, because one of the best products they use is a non-repellant (they do not avoid it) but it is a slow kill.
An extensive prep list is key also = wash dirty clothes at temps over 120 and dry bone dry then another 20-30 mins at the hottest temp (will ruin your clothes) OR clean clothes can be dryer heated to an ideal temp of 140 for 30 mins-this will do less damage to your clothes. BBs will die at temps over 113F for 10 mins (I think) the higher temps are overkill but everyone does it to be sure. Do not overpack the dryer. Then all items go back into a ziploc or air/water tite (must say so on the label) plastic storage bin. All clothes and fabric items must be bagged - even if you can't treat them now - so that the bs don't decide they would be a fun place to hang out when the PCO is spraying.
If you travel a lot get a packtite - see the left side of this page/site. It is a portable heater that is larger than a suitcase for other things like dry cleanable items, books - It is not recommended but I put a flat screen TV in there and my computer (they cam out fine). You will continue to use the packtite long after this is over - like when you buy something new or come back from a trip.
Your PCO will surely give you a list but this is basic. 91% alcohol kills them on contact - getsome into a spray bottle and keep handy. If your PCO does the through inspection (mine did not - he sprayed the whole house - 3x) they can treat only the areas in question to great success. It is time consuming and tedious and you can't be squeamish if you see them but it works the best. There are a few hardy souls on this site who eradicated them BY HAND but it is not for everyone.
Continue to troll the site there is a wealth of info here - I have learned a lot. I am 35 days clear and all I ever saw was on cast skin, some fecal and one dead bug. I work in residential real estate so I knew the signs and called in a dog to inspect right away. I have a single family home also and I know it is easier to get rid of as you do not have to worry about other tenants. Having the place uncluttered is a good thing too - less places for them to hide. Have your roommates checked too - they could have brought them in too and be non-reactors.
I think I have PTSD, but I am working on it. I have a beautiful home too and it killed me to have it invaded like this. ALso - if you are visting someone - run a canvas bag thru the dryer and pack your clothes and overnight stuff in it and ziploc it until you leave - dress at the door with clean pre-heated/dryed clothes. You won't infest others this way.
You also said you had a friend that was a bb survivor - he/she got rid of them and you will too. A well known PCO said that you really hear some awful horror stories and the success stories never make it back to the site. The vast majority of infestations are eliminated. It can be hard, but it can be done.
Too long a post - sorry - good luck!
Thanks very much for your advice and words of hope
I've done *just about* everything right -- from scolding clothes and packing them in an air-tight bag, to searching out the bugs and actually finding one. The only thing that I'm possibly doing wrong is sleeping in another room (it's not even a bedroom -- it's the dining room, on an air mattress, haha). In all seriousness, I can't handle sleeping in my room and risking getting bit because of the awful reactions I have to bites and stings. Does anyone else out there have allergic reactions to bug bites? If so, how do you handle the bed bugs?
I haven't even been in my room since Monday. I've been rewashing and redrying the same few items of clothes. I stopped carrying a purse and put all of my necessities (keys, credit cards, cell phone) in a zip-lock bag stuffed in my pocket.
Also, I'm not the owner of my home -- I live with the owner and two other guys. I must say, the homeowner is extremely responsible and cautious. He's meticulously clean. I'm very fortunate. At the same time, I feel horrible that I'm the one with the bugs. In a way, I hope that I'm the only one whose room is affected. I would hate to learn that the bugs have been living in the house and I'm the only person who reacts.
Ruby, I find that rubbing alcohol and cortisone creme help relieve the itch for me; I'm also very allergic.
I know what you mean about not being able to sleep in the bed. I just could NOT bring myself to do it and slept on the couch for a month. Then I got bit on the couch. So I bought an airbed and slept in the office for a few nights until the exterminator could come back. He searched and found "one" in the sofa. That's what convinced me I had to get back in my bed, like it or not.
It was very difficult to say the least. The first few nights I slept with the light on like a little kid. The second night I had one small bite and found a little shell and fecal spot and felt my heart drop to my stomach. But I've found no evidence since then and it's been two weeks.
I've had a few bites here and there, but not in bed, and I think they're gnats or mosquitos or something. This time of year, there's lots of flying, crawling, biting things. With the bed bugs, I was waking up at 3, 4 in the morning with extremely itchy welts. That has not been happening. Tonight when I was changing my bed, I found a teeny tiny gnat and that actually made me feel a little better about those random bites.
I think what helped was getting the third treatment, the mattress & boxspring encasements, and climb-up interceptors (although I've found nothing in them). Also, before the guy came back to spray for the third time, we completely dismantled the wooden beframe and cleaned it with Murphy's oil soap (check out the FAQ on that) and then the guy sprayed the hell out of the bedframe. I've also been washing and/or drying my sheets every day or two.
I don't feel like I'm out of the woods yet by any means and am still not completely comfortable getting ready for bed (why I'm still up on the computer now instead of reading in bed by 9:30 like the old days).
But it does get easier, so hang in there. If I can do it, you can too.
"Any advice? Someone please tell me that it's possible to get rid of these bugs."
Absolutely it is possible. I did it and so have countless other people. It's not easy but it can be done and it does get done.
I know that's not advice that you can use to guide you in specific treatment decisions, but I wanted to say it anyway. There is hope, no matter how overwhelming this seems.
Thanks for following up, everyone!
Once the exterminator gets here tomorrow and gives exact instructions, I'll try bringing myself to sleep on the bed. I did buy some of the diatomaceous earth online today. From what I hear, that stuff really works wonders for killing the bugs. I'm looking forward to sprinkling that around the bed. I think I'll sleep a lot better knowing that I'm actively fighting these blood suckers. I'll also feel better when there's an exterminator battling the bugs with me.
Thank you. I just needed to hear that it's possible. I feel better knowing that I shouldn't be totally hopeless.
Thank you for sharing your experiences, and for your advice. I've been spraying alcohol around furniture to kill possible bugs, but I hadn't thought of using it to relieve the itch. I will try that!
Good luck with the exterminator - but with the DE - please be careful! It is an inhalant risk and you do not want to put it where it can be kicked up and inhaled - see the FAQs here on using DE.
After the exterminator comes, you will need to sleep in your bed to draw them out - awful but absolutely necessary. Make sure you get the encasements for your bed a good monitor (there are a few on this site) and maybe climb up interceptors if your PCO feels they re a good idea (not all do - I have them and no prisoners since late June). It seems from what you have said you caught them early - always a good thing!
You will beat this -
DO NOT sprinkle DE around your bed. DE is a major inhalation hazard if applied improperly. (Applied properly it can be a very useful tool in the fight against bed bugs, but most people trying to use over-apply it and apply it in places--like around the bed--that it should not be used. Please read the FAQ on DE before you apply it anywhere.
Also, some pest management professionals (the term that they prefer to exterminators--you'll see it abbreviated most often as PCO on the boards) will not treat a structure that has been treated with DE by someone other than them, so applying it will mean cleaning it up before they can treat.
Bed bugs are a pest of exposure. They are not about how clean or dirty someone is. While I'm sure you feel terrible that you brought the bugs in, the bugs are not your fault for being dirty or even because you travel.
Bed bugs (I'll say it again) are a pest of exposure. If you were exposed while traveling, you might bring a hitch hiker home. But bed bugs can be acquired anywhere: movie theaters, clothing stores, from used furniture picked up on the street. You'll note that some of those are things that perfectly clean people do all the time.
You now know about the existence of bed bugs, and if you're a regularly traveler, educating yourself about how to decrease the chances of taking hitch hikers home is important. There are several good FAQs on the subject (definitely read that very first one).
As for how impossible they are to get rid of, well, I'm not sure how familiar you are with the problem known as sample selection bias, but it's important to keep in mind.
You're reading an excellent source of information about bed bugs--these boards. The problem, however, with seeking out a place like this is that because the people on the boards have self-selected into posting here, we're not entirely a statistically random sample. People with really tough to get rid of bed bug infestations are over-represented, statistically speaking, on these boards.
In the hard and social sciences, if you want to do a study on how exercise affects mood, say, you have to develop a very specific protocol for randomly selecting the group of people you're going to study. Because if you went to a gym and asked people there, you'd have a built in bias: people who go to gyms are already not representative of the general public because they've volunteered to go to a gym, right?
So on these boards, you're going to see a lot more people with really difficult bed bug problems than you would see if you randomly surveyed the general population.
There's also the Rateyourprofessor problem.
Students who really like and/or really hate particular profs will take the time to go to a website to talk about them there. However, most students who were just "eh, whatever" about a prof probably won't take the time to go to a website to say that.
People who get bed bugs, hire a professional, and get rid of them quickly don't generally hang out here. So there are far fewer posts here from people who find the bugs, hire a pro, and get rid of them effectively than there are from the smaller subset of people who have very challenging infestations--because those with challenging infestations are more motivated to post.
In other words, while some people do have really tough to get rid of infestations, you can't judge what the arc of a typical infestation is by the posts here--not reliably--because of sample size bias.
The single best thing you can do to get rid of your infestation quickly is to do the research to hire a pest control pro who knows bed bugs and have that company/person come in and treat as soon as possible.
Be sure to ask that individual exactly what you can and can't do to support treatment. Many activities that people don't think would affect treatment do: mopping floors, vacuuming, adding additional self-treatment measures like DE are all things that can make professional treatment less effective even though some of us don't realize it. Remember that PCOs do this all day long every day, and in any profession where the professional knows stuff that is obvious to them but not to you, familiarity can sometimes mean that they forget to tell us stuff that wouldn't be intuitive to us.
(I teach for a living. My job is repeating myself all day long at work. As a result, sometimes I leave out a piece of information that is totally obvious to me but not to my students. They hate it when I do that. I hate it when I do that. But since I know more than they do, we're starting from different places. I don't do it on purpose, and I try to keep track of what they need to know that I can't assume they know, but it's a moving target. I presume that the same thing is true of PCOs since they are teachers too--just in a different subject. They know all kinds of stuff about bed bugs, but not all of us do, so don't be afraid to ask questions of them.)
Hang in there. It will get better. It doesn't feel that way now. I vividly remember how despondent I felt when I found the bugs, but it absolutely will not stay as miserable as it is now.
buggyinsocal, Thanks for your detailed response. It made me think realistically about the issue.
I'm still very freaked out. I think we may be taking the wrong approach to killing these bugs.
I'll repeat a bit of my situation:
I live with the owner and two other housemates in a big, beautiful, squeaky clean suburban home. For two weeks, I get a couple bites at night. I found a bug Monday night, immediately packed a tight zip bag with a few days of freshly washed (hot water) and dried (bone dry, and then some!) clothes. I spent two nights with a friend -- no bites. I came back home, started bagging clothes and washing one bag at a time, storing each load in an air-tight zip bag. I spent two nights on an air mattress in the dining room. Again, no bites.
Here's what I think we've done wrong:
We tossed the mattress. The room was furnished before I moved in, so the mattress belonged to the owner, so the decision was really his to make. There was no box spring to worry about, thankfully. I also bagged and tossed my pillows and comforter. Tonight I will sleep in the bedroom, but on an air mattress. Also, we're going to try exterminating without a pest control professional. The cost of treating the home properly would cost $3000 according to pros' estimates. The owner wants to try every method of controlling the infestation before spending the big bucks. And, from the looks of it, our area doesn't have many bed bug pros.
I feel awful. I ordered diotomaceous earth online, but it's on backorder. It'll take at least another week to get it.
So now I have to sleep on an air mattress in the only-known infested room (though I've tried to explain that this is probably not the case -- the other guys probably just aren't feeling the bites), and I have nothing that's going to kill these bugs as they prey on my defenseless sleeping body.
I have wiped down the furniture with rubbing alcohol, and we did sprinkle flea/tick powder and treat the baseboards with indoor pesticide treatment. We also set out sticky traps at the suggestion of the exterminator. But what else can I do? Should I REALLY be sleeping in that room? It'd going to take a while for the DE to arrive, and anything else that I order online.
And, again, I'm ALLERGIC to these bites.
In for a night of hell,
I know self-treatment is not usually recommended, but if your roommate (and home owner) is dead-set against professional treatment, and if ALL in the household are willing to be very anal, thorough, and take a "do whatever it takes" to get rid of the bugs, then perhaps you could look into this site: http://doyourownpestcontrol.com/bed-bugs.htm
They have detailed instructions for using the different products available and you have several different package options.
I used this site to purchase Nuvan strips (DDVP) to put with all our son's boxed & bagged stuff when he came back from an overseas 15 month trip in Southeast Asia where he and the other people he was working with unfortunately LIVED with bedbugs with very limited resources to treat.
Depending on where you live, some products may not be available.
I noticed they now have aerosol can pesticides available there like Phenothrin and Bedlam. I don't think many folks would recommend aerosol use since the force of the spray can cause bugs to go deeper into hiding.
Please...if you go this route...take whatever safety precautions you need (respirator mask, gloves, etc).
You could get all the products you need for $300-400 max (probably $200 is more realistic, but add in bags, respirator mask, etc) as opposed to the 3K quote the PCO gave.
Again, this could be a route to go if the homeowner simply refuses to shell out the 3K. Self-treatment is NOT the first choice and IMPROPER self-treatment can ultimately make the problem worse, but it is AN option and some people have been successful when they are careful, meticulous, and judicious in the application (too much product sprayed out is not a good thing).
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