Success - early detection & eliminate, encase or dryer(2 posts)
I posted originally that I was planning to use Pure Heat in Massachusets, but didn't have to bake the entire apartment as it has turned out. They'd sent me to American K-9 Private Investigators, Inc. for a pre-treatment report on the location & extent of infestation - Mike Tache's company. He is located in south eastern Massachusetts and works in the state and nearby it (like Rhode Island).
I used the services of Mike and his dog Badger to locate the bug. On the first inspection Badger alerted to two suitcases, a travel food carrier, a garbage bag of clothes I isolated as suspect during the trip where I got the BB bites and hitchhikers. And the bed, of course. And that's all I had to deal with, a fairly manageable list.
I'd been home with imported bedbugs for exactly one month when Mike and Badger did that first inspection. I knew the problem when I got the bites at home, because I had been bitten to pieces at a motel during a May vacation - ignorant initially as to what was biting me - and had informed the motel after I saw a doctor in that city for diagnosis. I'd also seen one bedbug full of my blood and killed it during the trip home. I was very worried, but until I got the first bite at home, I was ignorant about how to cope if I had brought them home. Then I started looking for information online in a very focused way!
Here's what I decided about the infested things that the dog pointed out: I threw out the infested luggage and food carrier (in sealed garbage bags). Mike put on the mattress and box spring encasements and I put on the pillow encasement, which I'd bought already. I decided to get rid of the metal bed frame after he explained where BB can hide out in its crevices - Mike carried it to the dumpster for me. (I am a short, not strong, senior. He was extra, extra helpful.) Mike told me the plastic type of box spring cover I'd bought was not sturdy for the long term use needed - up to 18 months for the trapped bugs to die - that it would tear, and where to order a sturdy one. I ordered it, from a company named Mattress Safe, after I went to their web site, by phone so they would expedite shipping it, to get it here before Mike's re-inspection visit. With box spring and mattress on the floor for two weeks, I wrapped a large quilt I had around mattress and box spring together, to protect the encasements from puncture by my cat's claws. I couldn't tuck sheets in this way, so went out for a second quilt at Walmart, as well as a replacement metal bed frame from Building 19 that I left in the box until I was confident there were no bedbugs loose to get into it.
I asked Mike to re-inspect after two weeks, which he did. The second time, the encased box spring and mattress, and the clothes Badger had ID'ed earlier and I had put through a dryer for 90 minutes, were the only things Badger alerted to. The dryer I used for the clothes apparently didn't get hot enough. Mike walked the dog around the baseboard by the bed, in or by all the closets, and by every piece of furniture including the desk where the computer sits on both visits. So I feel pretty confident about the thoroughness of detection. On the first visit, at my request, he also had Badger get up in my car trunk and into its back seat, where I'd carried home infested luggage. No bedbugs had escaped into the car, I am happy to say.
Badger alerted to the clothes on the second visit, as well as to the mattress and box spring that were already encased. There were no other alerts. I was pretty surprised about the clothes, by the way, and awfully glad I had kept them isolated in a new garbage bag for Badger to check. I asked Mike if it could be a false alert or an alert to dead bugs, and he didn't think so. Dead bugs lose the scent that the dog detects after just a few days, he told me. Evidently not every clothes dryer gets hot enough. (Mike also told me that he had personally seen bugs that had been kept in a bag in a freezer for two weeks by a customer, for definite identification, come alive again when they were taken out and they thawed. He'd also found infestations in bedding after it had wintered in unheated camp cabins. Again, who knew such things could happen?) Mike helped me again - to set up the bed frame, then he put on the sturdy box spring cover, and together we wrapped the box spring in one quilt and the mattress in the second, new quilt. Fitted sheets do go on over the extra bulk, but the corners don't pull all the way down. The protection from my cat claws was my own "uh-oh" extra step, but I've seen my cat get her claws caught in bedding pretty often and wrestle herself loose.
Good thing I had re-bagged the clothes until I found out whether the dryer treatment had worked! After 2 hours in a different model dryer, they did not cause Badger to alert when Mike made a very brief third stop just to check that bag. (Different garbage bags each time, by the way, because bedbugs could stay in a bag.)
I haven't had any bites since first encasing the mattress and box spring and pillow, which was a month ago. I don't expect to have any more bites, because I'm pretty confident there aren't any more bugs loose in the apartment. What a relief from nightmare that is!
What I can say to others is, catching an infestation at its early stage, before the bugs have proliferated, finding out exactly where they are, and dealing with those things has worked for me, and might well work for you in a similar situation. If you are pretty sure you've been bitten in your home, "do not pass go, do not collect $200" - find and schedule a canine inspection! Done early, it can save you months of pain and struggle and psychological suffering that I've read so many accounts of here - if you are mercilessly thorough in dealing with whatever is identified as infested. (You can pretty well know that your bed is infested even before the trained snif test.)
I want to publicly thank Mike Tache at American K-9 Private Investigators. Most of his clients are commercial, and he certainly treated me, as a vulnerable private individual, very generously with his time and effort - the extra help is his form of community service, he said. Mike told me he gets up at 4 a.m. to do daily reinforcement training with his three detection dogs. He is a dedicated man, as well as kind. You can see how closely his dog is tuned to him and how precisely the dog paws where the bugs are (to signal an alert) without clawing through the plastic of a garbage bag or otherwise damaging anything.
Mike didn't really approve of my throwing things out, by the way. That was my decision - get rid of anything I couldn't encapsulate or treat, and get this thing solved quickly and completely. Like everyone else, it was making me so stressed out, anxious and haunted, I needed to do it that way.
My final step will be to try to get reimbursed for my actual expenses from the motel where I picked up the infestation. They did reimburse my prescription medication for the bites (just a few dollars) and move me to a different room and take the infested room out of the reservation system for extermination. So we'll see now if the owner will reimburse $734 quietly, or if I have to make a fuss, create publicity about their infestation and file suit. Once again, Mike gave me extra help: not just receipts for payment, but a letter that says what he and the dog identified and what treatment steps he saw me take (that created the expenses I'm claiming reimbursement for.) My request letter and documentation are ready to take to the Post Office (for weighing) on Monday.
Thank you for this very detailed and very helpful follow up report. I wish you the best of luck with the motel paying your expenses.
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