Spread bugs - what to do? Shoddy advice from PCO!(14 posts)
I would be extremely grateful for some advice on some shoddy advice we received from a PCO which may have exacerbated our bed bug problem. I will post another question separately about cimetrol but i wondered if you could help with my concerns about some clutter under the bed which was moved before a heat treatment. I hope its the right thing to do to post two separately as they are different issues - but happy to consolidate them if easier!
We had approx 3/4 weeks of bites (6 bites in total) and spotted a bug on our bed. We got a PCO out within a few days to do a heat treatment as i wanted a less toxic option as I have a baby. However, we received some very poor advice from the PCO which may have spread the problem.
We have a bed with drawers underneath and unfortunately have stored a lot of clutter under it as we have a very small flat (never again!!) We had the PCO come round the night before the treatment to suggest how to prepare the flat and he told my husband to move it ALL out and put in the kitchen on the table. It included boxes of papers and knick knacks, not disturbed for months, some paintings wrapped in bubble wrap, fabrics in plastic bags etc. Probably ideal bed bug habitat! Unfortunately my husband did all the prep as i was away and he followed the guy's advice - thinking that the professional told him to do so must be ok! (He hadn't done as much reading on bed bugs as me so I was horrified when I found out). The guy who did the prep kept saying that the bugs would not live in that stuff so it would be ok to move it. He also told my husband to move lots of other stuff out - hard plastics, books!
The pco when they arrived the next day to do the treatment - different people than the guy who I advised on the preparation - then told my husband that all that stuff didn't have to be moved and doing so could have spread the problem (!) They completed the treatment with heat and cimetrol but didn't tell us where the infestation actually was despite me asking for specifics. We were away during the treatment and the guys have been terrible at following up with us about what actually happened. I am chasing them daily.
Now we have all the clutter/ stuff piled up on our kitchen table and want to know what to do! I would really appreciate advice on the following:
1) if there are bugs in the clutter, will they have died from the treatment? The kitchen floor was sprayed, is it likely they will come out and cross the cimetrol to get us and die? How will we know if there are any in there and whether they are dead? Which leads me on to my next point...
2) should we inspect the clutter and / or bag it up? Or should we leave it where it is? Obviously we don't want to mess with the treatment if it might work. Should be wait for 3 weeks then whilst the cimetrol works? (Is a very small flat and pretty much impossible to live with all that clutter so would rather not!) Or would it be safe to start inspecting the clutter and bagging / binning it, and if so what is the safest way to do this in order to not spread bugs? Will it be easy to find them in amongst such clutter? Should we bag things then inspect the bath or similar? Should we steam items etc - what about papers, or trinkets which can't be washed or steamed. We are trying to minimise costs after this massive expense - I don't have a packtite etc.
3) what is the best thing to do to see if bugs are in the clutter and/or remaining elsewhere after the treatment? Active monitors in the kitchen? Passive ones? Climb up interceptors and isolate the bed? Or is there no point in active monitors etc as the bugs may have gone into hiding or god forbid gone dormant! What monitoring/trapping should we do to handle the situation best? I heard active monitoring only really works if you are not sleeping in the house?
We have put out yeast traps and homemade interceptors on the bed legs but i have read neither of these are as effective as the bought ones, is this true?
4) what's the likelihood the bugs have scattered round the house when the clutter was moved and/or when the treatment was happening? Would they likely be still alive - could they have crossed the kitchen floor or walked round non-treated walls (table is touching wall) to reach areas that haven't been sprayed? How do we find out and what should we do?
5) presumably we have grounds to complain given the poor advice we received and the fact the problem could have been exacerbated! What should we ask for? Another heat treatment (could we ask them to heat treat the kitchen?) An extended guarantee past the 3 months, perhaps 6 months? Some money back? Perhaps a sniffer dog or other identification considering they also can't even tell us where the bugs were found!
6) in the meantime, how can we sleep without feeling totally paranoid they are breeding and will get us again!
The PCO is a big name company. I am frustrated with the level of service and wish i went with a smaller bed bug- specific one who would be more expert on dealing with these things, as feel the job has been totally botched.
I should clarify we have not seen a bed bug since the treatment. Maybe good news or maybe just because we've moved them and they have gone into hiding!!
Thank you so much in advance for any advice or comments.
All the best
Hi BBLM, I'm not an expert but I had heat treatment in July 2009. Did they heat the whole home or just the bedrooms? Do you know the highest temp they heated to and for for how long? When they heated our house we moved stuff all over the house because they assured us that the whole house was being treated and things needed to be spread out instead of stacked or cluttered to make sure that the temps hit evenly to all the stuff.. .
For me, the combination of heat and chemical worked....although I noticed skin issues all the way until Nov 2009. You're fortunate in that you react to the bites so you'll be able to tell more if it was successful. My skin problems were not like mosquito bites so I don't really know if or how I react to bites....so I'll never know if I had stragglers until November or if I just had stressed out skin from anxiety.
Anyway, if the whole house was heated, I'd think that stuff from under the bed had an even chance to be treated than under the bed....just based my own experience of course.
Hey repulsedbybb - thanks so much again for this response. No, they didn't heat treat the kitchen and said they could not do this. I should have clarified, sorry!
I recognize the MO on this one, its a well known UK large pest control firm.
1/ That would depend on if the heat got hot enough in the kitchen.
2/ Bag for now and look at options. The UK does have a decon facility in London and its not that expensive if you are local and bring items in to be processed.
3/ They should have advise you on that at the time of treating. If you are still living in the property active is not what you want to use.
4/ If present int he kitchen bed bugs would most likely wander till they can find a new food source.
5/ Complain to the following in the following order:
- Bed Bug Foundation
- British pest Control Association
- Trading standards
- BBC consumers affairs team
The first and third should take action for you.
Hope that helps.
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I'm so excited you responded! Sorry to be a little giddy but over the last few days, you have jumped to being one of my all time heroes! Swoon!
I knew nothing about bed bugs before last week - would just love to be so innocent again!
Thank you so much for your response. Massively helpful and appreciated.
I hope you don't mind if I come back on this again. But I also know you must be a very busy man, so understand if you don't have time.
So - following your advice, my husband spent this morning bagging up the items on the kitchen table. Lo and behold, he found skins and fecal matter in the bags containing the pictures.
I am just devastated. What was possibly a minor and localised problem, that could have presumably be dealt with quite swiftly, now has potentially been spread around the house, and become much more difficult to treat. On top of that, we have now clouded the waters in knowing what the scale of the problem was and how long they might have been there.
They also probably heat and chemically treated areas they didn't need to.
I am sure you know which firm this was. They were one of the top companies that came up when I googled and I did some research. They seemed to have positive reviews.
I just wish I could turn back time and - I probably should not say this - have gone with another, bed bug specific company, that you may or not be affiliated with! This has cost a lot of time, effort and stress when we don't need it - very busy for my husband work-wise, and with a little baby. We have potentially exposed our baby to toxic chemicals and made the situation worse - and paid nearly a thousand pounds for the pleasure!
Thing is, I am sure this wasn't even a difficult job. Our flat is modern, small, and well sealed. We I think picked up on the problem pretty fast as I seem to be allergic to the bites.
I would be extremely grateful if you had time for just a few more thoughts:
Overall, what would you do now? Unbelievably, I have STILL not heard back from the company with a breakdown of what they found and what they did where during the treatment. I will chase this morning and we are composing a formal complaint. I would ask them to come back and heat treat again - but I am not only scared they will botch the job, but they told us they cannot heat treat the kitchen and bathroom, both potentially areas where the bugs have now gone. We will complain through the channels you suggest.
And to follow up your other answers (thank you so much for these)
1) They didn't heat treat the kitchen. Gutted. Just cimetrol I believe. Presume the bugs could be very much alive in the clutter then.
2) Thanks. We will do so. Problem is - what if they spread/dropped off when transporting the stuff to the kitchen? Will they have come out of the clutter when we left on the kitchen table and spread in the house (they have been on table for 4 days as we waited for the pest control guys to get back to us and tell us what to do). What is the likelihood?
3) As you can imagine, they have provided us no info whatsoever about follow up or monitoring. Its something I am chasing them for.
4). Thanks. would they wander across laminate floors and cimetrol residue?
5). Will definitely complain.
Finally - I don't know if you saw my other topic, but I am concerned about the toxicity of cimetrol super. If you have time to help, even on one or two of these qs, that would be fab - but totally understand if not. So so frustrating I am in this position as I went with heat treatment exactly in order to reduce the chemicals used as I have a little baby, but have now found they used cimetrol super.
I have found very little info about there about what to do after the cimetrol treatment. I am staying away from home with my baby (have taken lots of precautions about not bringing bugs, though am now totally paranoid I have done on reading more about how pervasive they are) . Again, I have asked the company for more info. They said they would just be sprayed the floors, and the residue would be safe, however I don't exactly trust them! My concerns are namely,
6) When should I clean up and how? What's the best way to detox the cimetrol without making it worse - steam clean, mop, what detergent? Company said the residue turned liquid when wet which was more dangerous.
7) Are there any other steps i can take to help detox - house plants etc?
the PCO said they only sprayed the floors - but I am concerned about the baby's toys and other things in the same room (some of which were low to the floor in an open weave toy basket). How close would it need to be to contaminate the toys? What should i do with them given they often get put in his mouth? (EVERYTHING gets put in his mouth) Bin them all? Rinse the plastics, bin the fabric or wood? Or can wash the fabric and wood?
Furthermore, what's the chance of this chemical being disbursed and settling on other things like the sofa, rugs? Any suggestions on what I can do to minimise risk?
9) When should I return to my home? My parents probably won't be too keen for me to stay for 3 weeks, but I could do this if recommended! I would rather be on the safe side - so happy to receive some honest, harsh truths. Or would it be ok to return - and if so what precautions should i take (eg don't let baby play on the floor, wash toys etc - and for how long?). Once floor is cleaned can we go back to normal or would it be better to wait or take further precautions?
10) How would i know if baby is affected by cimetrol?
11) Is there any way of knowing whether fabrics / other items have been sprayed with the product (I am suspicious they have)?
Thank you so much in advance - and again, for your very helpful initial response.
I will stop haranguing you and I appreciate you are a very busy man!
PS - Not sure how the rogue man in sunglasses got in there!
If this is a company with two initials you are not alone, I have dealt with more rubbish from them in the last year than the "household name" of UK pest control which is saying a lot. Often people did not actually have bed bugs so I am going to be sensible and put the brakes on this one.
Please post me images of the faecal traces in the home (the heaviest patch) and then I can advise this in possession of more of the facts.
It may be that we need to have a chat on the phone so I can get more details and then you can post a summary of what I have suggested in this case and why.
Also the MSDS is here:
It is a product that I have not used although I used Cimatrol its predecessor for a while. Its a bit of an unpleasant product to work with as its basically insecticide suspended in a petrol like solvent. I have never been comfortable with the idea of spraying it broadly (walls and floors) and only considered it as a crack and crevice of last resort.
Soon after we went green and have not looked back.
If you want to see it make someone sneeze and how it should not be applied there is a video below:
Good God. That video. Terrifying stuff. Why isn't this more well known? Because it is a taboo subject in the UK i guess. I massively respect you David for trying to get the word out and for tackling the issue so sensibly.
Thank you so much for your responses. They are possibly the only thing saving my sanity at the moment as the PCO who shall not be named but who we both know is STILL not returning my calls. Unbelievable. I have not been given information on what was actually done, what was found and follow up care/monitoring. This is day 5 after the job - which was done last Thursday.
I will post the pics of the bed bugs traces tomorrow. My husband just got home from work and looking through to find the fecal traces wasn't his idea of fun before bed (why ever not?). I really, really appreciate this and will absolutely post the outcome on here. I have now found a new cause to be passionate about - bedbugs and spreading the word about poor pest control!
PS thank you for the MSDS too. I will take a good look at this. As a pest control customer, i feel totally in the dark and anxious about what these chemicals are, how they should best be dealt with and the risks. There is limited info out there that I could find.
And it's somewhat comforting to know I'm not alone, although it's horrible to think how many people may have been affected given these are big name firms.
I have sent you a private message with the pics so as not to compromise dispute with PCO as they may be able to identify location and claim they found them themselves (which they did not). Will post them up on here shortly with the rest of the story.
Thanks so much
As I have explained I NEVER reply to private messages because I conduct discussions in public only so others can benefit from what I say both at the time and in the future.
I simply cant fix the world one conversation at a time and trying to do so is not good for my stress levels because I quickly get 20+ people all wanting to monopolize my time and not respecting the fact I do also have bills to pay and a team to manage.
Its a busy day again today but I will try to find some time to check in over the weekend.
Ah sorry, I must have missed that, my apologies. Of course. I will post the pictures on here shortly.
Once again, sorry for the private message. Completely understand that you have about a million competing pressures and that you are kindly giving your time up for free. I really appreciate your time and thoughts - massively beneficial to all of us anxious bedbugged people.
Here are the pics. I'm sorry, they are not good quality at all. My husband took them a few days ago before bagging up the items (in vacuum bags). The items were in bubble wrap under the bed and it looks to be a skin and fecal matter on the wrap (he did not look inside the bubble wrap to inspect but immediately bagged them up). He hasn't found anything else to take a photo of. I realise they are not ideal but he is reluctant to open up the bags again.
I strongly suspect bed bugs because I woke up after bites on my hand (which turned out to be four bites, later blowing up to big itchy welts as I suffered an allergic reaction to them). I am a light sleeper and just felt something had happened, even though I didn't feel the bites at first. I lay in wait on my bed and saw a bug emerge from the top of the bed. We immediately killed it (unfortunately) and it left a blood stain on the sheet.
It is clear the PCO did not heat treat or deal with the item pictured. I presume the cimetrol super (sprayed on floors) would not be strong enough to penetrate the insides of the bubble wrap - even if the item had been sprayed (which it was not - as it was not on the floor). However, I presume the cimetrol super would possibly work to kill the bugs if they emerged. We have not seen any evidence of this so far.
I would be very grateful for thoughts, and if the kind offer still stands, your advice on next steps.
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