Thermal Failed - Did they/we do something wrong? [expert photo ID needed](15 posts)
My situation: returned from an overseas trip where we did not see bugs, but apparently either had a pregnant female travel with us, or eggs laid in our luggage. We even unpacked the suitcase in the dining room. Three days after returning, we begin to see extremely tiny nymphs on the bed and couch in the bed room, have not seen any adults. One day later, we had a reputable company in Charlotte bring their dog, who hit on the bed, couch, and nightstand, but they could find no source. Their thermal remediation treatment was booked solid for a week, so we finally had treatment scheduled the following Thursday (less than one week from our return home). The PCO said they were too small to reproduce and we had caught it very very early. We did not notice any bites at first, but they were so small that we might not have noticed.
Despite the warnings not to, we could not bring ourselves to sleep in that room and moved one room away to the guest room. Before doing so, we encased the mattress and pillows and purchased white sheets to make it easier to see if they migrated. In the week waiting for treatment, we found maybe 5 nymphs on that bed and dining room, but PCO assured us they were hitchhikers. We did have a few suspicious itchy areas, but no obvious bites.
We removed clothing in drawers, dried it for 35 mins on hot (industrial drier), bagged it and put into tupperware. We stayed out of the room as much as possible except walking through twice a day, as it is the only way to get to the shower.
When the crew came to set up, the dog inspected again, and hit on the dining room (where suitcase was unpacked), so they set up to heat both dining room and bedroom to 120 for 4 hours, which I feel was done, because a candle was accidentally left in the dining room and melted.
In addition, they steamed the bed in the other room where we were sleeping and put the encasement back on. I also had them check my car since the luggage had been there, but the dog did not alert. They put Bedlam under both beds and the upholstered chair in the dining room. For good measure, they put Nuvan strips in the containers with our clothes and instructed to not open for a week (the containers are stacked, and taped around the lid in the living room). We have been living out of bags and taking all precautions.
About 24 hours after the treatment, we found 5 live (although slow moving) nymphs on the mattress in the room that had been treated, and 2 days later, I just found one on the encased bed that was steamed. The "live bugs only" dog was scheduled to come Tuesday morning (4 days after treatment), but the PCO is coming Monday morning to figure out what happened and possibly do pesticide, which I am not totally comfortable with because I work from home, we have a dog (I have been careful to check her bedding as well. I purchased an encasement for it too.), and we live in a small, older house where there will be no escaping the fumes. We have hardwood floors and a moderate amount of stuff.
I have read the only reason thermal could fail is if it wasn't hot enough, or not hot enough for a long enough time. This especially confuses me since it was supposedly a very light infestation with only nymphs.
Where I need advice: should insist on heating the entire house (single family, 1300 sq ft, one floor, no basement), dispose of furniture and redo the heat, or resort to pesticide? Which is the lesser evil? What are the risks associated with pesticide, considering we have a dog? Should we look for another company? At this point, I am thankful money is not an issue - our health and sanity are the most important thing. What to do?
Have you actually had the insects confirmed as being bedbugs by someone other than the pest control company? Dogs can be wrong sometimes.
Will you please post a picture of some of the bugs you found? Before someone types a bunch of advice for you, it would be nice to know that the critters you're actually dealing with are indeed cimex lectularius (the bedbug).
Yes, we got photos. Not sure if I am posting this correctly, here is the link to the Flickr set.
There are new instructions in a green sticky post (top of main forums page) for embedding photos. On flickr, you click "Share" then "grab the HTML/BBCode" and copy the BBCode, pasting it here.
Too small to see here, but if you click on it, go to "actions" then "view all sizes" and choose the very largest size, you see them up close. This is the largest version (can't embed it, too big):
Also this one:
I can't see your bugs well, but they have distinctly delineated heads, which bed bug nymphs don't have.
Compare your bug with this:
(Photo credit: Louis Sorkin, used under a Creative Commons license)
Your bugs are shaped quite different. They don't look like bed bugs.
Are these the same bugs you showed the PCO initially?
All that said, your heat treatment sounds a bit unusual. Most people who do this kind of work report heating the home much higher than 120F for four hours, because they're trying to reach the killing temperature in all areas (in the core of the home).
If I am not mistaken they generally treat entire homes -- either houses or entire apartments, if it's an apartment and only one unit has bed bugs.
Thank you. Here are the photos - I enlarged the one to best see, but note the original for size. In regards to the temperature, PCO said they die at 114, they used sensors to make sure everything was 120 and entered the room every 30 mins to rotate items. We wondered if the center of the mattress got that warm though.
Yes these are the same bugs - PCO saw photos, live ones, and about 100 that we had sticky taped. He took those and supposedly looked at them under microscope.
A few other facts that might help ID: we were traveling in Aruba, and currently live in NC. You can't see from the photos, but the profile of the bugs is very flat, especially the rest of the body (not head). Last, when discovered it was evening and they were crawling all over the top of the bed - not hiding. Just last night I got another suspected bite on my hand.
The insects in your pictures are not bed bugs
Thank you. Since the dog alerted and PCO treated as if they were, what should we do next? The company we were working came with many positive reviews, experience (even treated two local colleges for bed bugs). My local Ag Extension doesn't list entomology resources.
I'd go after the pest control company if I were you. See if you can get some sort of refund. Sounds like their dogs may have been wrong, and their treatment may have been unnecessary (and as nobugs pointed out, perhaps it was performed incorrectly, too.)
Thanks. Would still love if any expert bug ID could be made as to what it actually IS, as I do not want to miss anything.
Forgot to mention previously, the dog also alerted on two out of about 6 bags of things from that bedroom. The bags alerted were the pillows and duvet cover, which the handler couldn't have known because we bagged before they arrived. He opened a small hole and the dog sniffed.
Should we consider bringing in a different dog company? Anyone have recommendations in Charlotte NC?
whattodo, It looks to me like a termite but wait for someone to positively ID your pest.
Thanks, LVK9. Just seems odd to have hundreds of them concentrated on a mattress shortly after traveling if they are termites. I am now leaning toward book lice, however it also doesn't seem logical for them to appear mainly on the bed... Either way, good thing I checked here before completing payment!
It could be a psocid, someone will be on to ID it for you. Are you sure this is the pest that your PCO identified as bed bugs?
I am sure that is what they saw with the visual inspection - there were probably 10 on top of the mattress/along the seams at any given time, and it is also what we gave them as taped samples (the photo with the penny is of the sheet they took to look at under magnification).
I am of course, not certain this is what the dog alerted to, but it was in the same location as these guys. I have heard that some dogs are cross trained for termites and perhaps that is what they are. A question I will ask the PCO tomorrow. I also wonder if the PCO just looked at it on the bed, the dog alerted, so "of course" it was bed bugs (made sense given the recent return from travel and location) which required their services.
We are now 2.5 days after thermal and I have only seen one more on the bed in the treated room, but I did have a suspicious bite/irritation on my hand from sleeping in the other room last night.
Regarding my original question about the chemical treatments. After a week, is it safe to open the containers of clothes with Nuvan strips? Does it remain on clothes and do they need to be laundered before wearing? I do not want to be exposed to more chemicals than necessary.
It sounds like they looked at the taped bugs ad "confirmed them as bed bugs" in which case, I would ask for a refund.
Even if their dogs alerted to termites (if they are even termites-- they look like they could be psocids to me), they diagnosed your home as having bed bugs and treated for same. If you had termites, you would have needed appropriate treatment.
Yes, the killing temperature is just under 114F. However, structurally heating a home to kill bed bugs is not as simple as reaching a certain temperature in the rooms. The bed bugs can flee into other areas if it's not done properly. And generally, we hear about treating the entire
home with heat. We also hear about temperatures well over 120F being used (more like 140F), just to get the structure up to the right temperature throughout-- including inside the walls.
Update: PCO and his boss visited today after taking our samples to an entomologist, who confirmed that on a sheet of maybe 75 samples, nearly all were book lice, but 4-5 appeared to be bed bug nymphs.
The good news is we haven't found any more crawlers of any kind, and they turned the bed and night stand upside down with a magnifier and light. The ones we captured live, after thermal, look like the ones they identified as book lice. They looked in the crawlspace and along the vents and found some moisture, which would explain book lice but not why they were all over the mattress, or why the dog alerted in three spots. I did ask about cross trained dogs (she is for termites) and 120 instead of 130-140 and they said the range for Thermal Remediation by Temp-Air is 120-135 and assured me it was monitored throughout.
Clearing dog is coming tomorrow, so we'll see what happens.
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