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Trying not to panic - bugs found, treatment coming

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  1. husky12

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Tue Nov 28 2017 10:58:25
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    Hi all, I'm tragically posting here after two previous bedbug scares. As of Sunday night, I've finally fallen victim to the bastards.

    Essentially - I moved into my apartment in May 2015. In July 2015, we learn our disabled downstairs neighbor has bugs and we're having preventative treatment done. While this triggers my anxiety, and makes for some restless weeks, we were in the clear. Lo and behold, it happens again in August 2017. Preventative treatment, and after a few weeks I totally forget about it.

    Until Sunday night. I come home from Thanksgiving with family an hour away to discover bugs - not just a few, what appears to be a few dozen - on my mattress tag, my mattress and my box-spring. I haven't yet lifted the boxspring to see if it's fully infested, but I have my fears.

    So far we've had a bug man come in and confirm they're here, and we have a first round of treatment coming on Friday. So far the infestation appears to be limited to my bedroom, as I haven't seen bugs anywhere other than my mattress/boxspring, but god only knows.

    I've taken every item of clothing I own except for currently dirty laundry (going in a trash bag as soon as I get home) and either thrown them out or dried them on high, and they now reside in sealed vacuum bags in the downstairs closet. I slept on the couch last night out of an attempt to keep my sanity (couldn't sleep at all Sunday night), though I know I need to brave the bugs from tonight onward to prevent them from spreading. But what else should I do? Vacuum the mattress/boxspring to clear the obvious bugs? Get encasements or an air mattress to put on top of my mattress?

    Also, I'm very concerned because while I wasn't aware until Sunday, on Wednesday I pulled the sheets nonchalantly off my bed and left them in a plastic hamper on top of my clothing, first in my car for about eight hours, then at my parents' house overnight before I was able to wash them. And I'm unsure the wash/dry was long enough to kill all bugs/eggs. Could I have given my parents and/or my car the bugs?

    Basically, as someone already prone to anxiety and depression, I'm at the end of my rope. I'm shaking, barely able to function on no sleep and can't eat. It's impossible to relax, I'm always on edge. The exterminator said he's coming for two rounds, this Friday and next Friday, then will check two weeks later. Will I have to throw out all my furniture? Torch my car? Pay for my parents' house to be fumigated? I'm terrified...

    Edit: Other questions: Would this be from the neighbor or could I have tracked them in? I've been to NYC three times in the last two months, twice in areas that could attract bedbugs (Times Square movie theater, Chinatown hotel), but the infestation is large enough that I doubt there would have been time for them to spread that far. Also, my roommate has two cats. Are they in danger/at risk? And of my possessions, the two things I don't want to part with are my PC and my vinyl collection. PC is located in the same room as my bed, vinyl downstairs in the living room. How at-risk are they?

  2. StopTheSpread

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Tue Nov 28 2017 12:09:49
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    1. Make sure they are inspecting all units around you. It sounds like there is an issue since you received a "preventative treatment" in August. Ideally all units should be treated together. I would specifically ask about this (they can't disclose the identity of the tenants but can tell you what that they have inspected, if any units were found positive for bed bugs and what they are doing about that.

    2. I wouldn't get an air mattress. I don't think it would help. You can get a encasement at least for the box spring because that is the most difficult place to inspect. You can decide if you want one for the top mattress. Put your money towards a high quality non-vinyl one. It is worth every cent. The exterminator may be able to help you put it one and make sure it is installed correctly.

    3. Vacuum thoroughly and regularly to remove any bugs you can see. Make sure you put the vacuum bag in a sealed ziploc bag immediately after and dispose in trash (outside if possible).

    4. Ask the exterminator if he can spray your car. We had this done but we were dealing with this 8 years ago. I am not sure if this is still recommended. You need to stay out of the vehicle for at least 4 hours. I would give it 8. Vacuum it thoroughly about once a week once he gives you the ok. See if he can spray it both times. At the end of your treatment you can decide if you want a canine detection service for your car. It is cheaper if you can drive there instead of them coming to you and it is just a car so that is usually not that expensive. We did this also. It's cheaper than torching your car! Infestations in cars are not as likely but I would want to make sure just so you don't transport them back to the house.

    5. Don't throw anything out unless you are told by your exterminator that it is just too difficult to treat. Most things don't need to be. Your PC and vinyls should be able to be treated. Ask the exterminator. If you need to throw something out, do it responsibly. It should be bagged and sealed and identified as being infected.

    6. You need to tell your parents. You owe them that. No need to treat unless a problem is identified but they need to know so that the problem is caught early. At risk of sounding harsh, you brought them there. That was the chance you took when bringing over dirty laundry. You were treated "preventatively" so the risk was there. I am so sorry. I am not being judgmental. It is just that this is a problem that is with us to stay and we need to learn behaviors to stop transporting them around. It is a learning process and an awareness issue.

    7. The hotel stays are irrelevant now. Just take precautions when you stay at a hotel. When I travel I use a cloth duffel bag (from AC Moore for $10) and an XXL ziploc bag. I also bring 2-gallon ziploc bags. Once in the hotel room, the duffel bag gets put into the XXL bag and stays in the bathroom. Dirty clothes get put into the 2-gallon bags before going back into the duffel. When you return home, empty everything in the dryer and heat for 30 minutes. Seal and discard all bags. I then wash and dry. The cloth duffel bag goes in the dryer as well and I can also wash it!

    Keep in mind that people get rid of them all the time. We did. You just have to be meticulous at first, follow your exterminators instructions and don't be afraid to ask questions. At the end of your journey, I would meet with your landlord and review your building's bed bug protocol. Reassess what was successful and what wasn't. Talk to him (or her) about preventative measures all residents can take so that this is not an ongoing issue. This may include periodic inspections, resident meetings, or resident and management awareness and training sessions. Good luck and you can do this!

  3. thirdusername

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Tue Nov 28 2017 12:19:59
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    It would take a while to have 2 dozen BBs.
    When they did this preventative treatment, the inspection found nothing?
    Where are you located?
    Spraying chemicals without proof of BBs is not usually done.
    Get encasements for your box spring and mattress.
    Spray the bugs and kill them, then vacuum up the bodies (do you have a vacuum with a bag?).
    Car infestations are apparently rare.
    It's impossible to know how you got them.
    BBs prefer to feed on people.

    How close is the PC to your bed?
    My guess is they are not in that because they found a nice home in your mattress.
    Your records are probably safe but the risk would be if you carry one on your clothes.
    Ask the PCO you're getting what they think.

    I am NOT an expert.
    My opinions are just opinions, they may NOT apply to yours or any situation.
    My advice is to always do a LOT of research.
    A lot of what I read contradicts other stuff on the Interweb.
  4. husky12

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Tue Nov 28 2017 12:36:59
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    To StopTheSpread: I called my parents before anyone else, and they've already washed the bedding and checked the room I was sleeping in. I called them even before the landlord (granted, it was Sunday night and the landlord was not available). After about a month of no bedbugs after the "preventative treatment," we went back to normal living, though they may have already been there.

    The "preventative treatment," when done in the past, has been done for all adjoining units to the one in question both times it was deemed necessary. The first exterminator visit on Friday is actually likely delayed from Thursday so the landlord can inform all adjoining units of the issue.

    I have already vacuumed my car in every location the bugs may have gotten to, and on Friday I will ask the exterminator how likely it would be for the bugs to have roosted there and follow his advice accordingly. I plan on vacuuming my room, mattress and boxspring as soon as I get home from work following your advice.

    Thirdusername:

    When the preventative treatment was done in August, we were told we followed directions perfectly and that we had nothing to worry about. Womp womp. I am located in Connecticut. I've been kicking myself for not noticing them earlier, as five small stains on my mattress means there are not a small amount. I fell into a long depressive episode at the outset of the fall that I struggled to recover from, and during that time I did not clean as thoroughly as I should have. I know I didn't change my sheets often, which I now regret, as I may have been able to discover the issue earlier. I still don't fully know how many bedbugs there are. I counted about a dozen when I initially inspected my mattress, but it's clear there are likely more in the boxspring.

    The PC is under my desk which is about three feet away from the mattress. I have inspected my desk and clothing dressers and found no evidence of bugs, though I have not checked inside the PC case yet. I am worried because I have a bad habit of leaving my PC on while I go to work or leave the apartment, meaning the bugs have a dark, warm place to hide beckoning them just feet away. The records are located in the living room, probably a few dozen feet from my bedroom.

    I'm waiting on more information from the PCO, which should come as early as today, before taking further action. My plan today (though I'm sleep deprived and struggling) is to vacuum the mattress and boxspring, purchase two covers at Wal-Mart or Target and cover both of them, then use a single blanket to sleep which I will redry every third day. My eventual plan is to discard of both the mattress and boxspring after treatment, marking them to ensure no one takes them, as they've both outlived their lifespans anyway.

  5. StopTheSpread

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Tue Nov 28 2017 13:15:42
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    I honestly didn't mean to sound harsh. I just believe that to combat this issue effectively, transparency is key. I have two daughters in college and if they ever brought them home, I wouldn't love them any less. I would want to know and support them. I try to raise them as responsible adults and that is what a responsible adult does, as you definitely seem to be. Your parents love you and will be a great support to you as you deal with this.

    Your landlord seems to be responsive. That is great! When you vacuum, I would get a notebook and document where you see any bugs, the number of bugs, and the location if possible. This will help your exterminator. I did this throughout our entire treatment.

    We encased both mattresses. I kept the mattresses until I was pretty positive that the problem was resolved. I then threw out those and bought new ones. I didn't want any tears in the encasements and chance any bugs escaping and going through it again. I did encase the new mattresses in new encasements before I brought them into the house. They are still on! Be very wary on how your new mattress are delivered. We borrowed my BILs truck. Personally I wouldn't do a delivery truck but that is just me!

    Keep your head up! Things could be so much worse. There was actually a silver lining in our situation and I don't think that's unusual.

  6. husky12

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Wed Nov 29 2017 0:13:19
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    Updating: Since my last post, I have vacuumed out my car twice at two locations (meaning I've done so three times total now for about 20 minutes) and will continue doing so daily (a location near me has free vacuums). I'm treating it on an if-then basis, meaning if I see true evidence of bedbugs instead of assuming every little white speck is an egg, I will take further action.

    That's because I took three hours this evening and vacuumed just about every square inch of my room. Here's what I learned - the infestation seems centralized to my room, specifically one corner of my mattress/boxspring furthest from light; in total, there were likely at maximum 18 bugs at the time I noticed them, and every single one that was visible has been vacuumed or otherwise disposed of; I have not been able to find any hint of where the interlopers are entering the room from, which I'm choosing to see as a good thing; such a low number of bugs gives me hope that I caught this before it exploded; my parents have not seen a single speck of evidence that they have the bugs, and while I'm being diligent, I'm hoping for that same result in my car; and any survivors are now encased in mattress covers. I'm out another $75, but any remaining bugs are trapped assuming the bags don't tear. If I get an all-clear in a few weeks, the encased materials are going straight to the trash, clearly markered to tell passerby to avoid them at all costs. I threw out the pants and socks I was wearing during the cleaning process.

    My roommate below me has still not seen a single bug. As a result, he's taken some... semi-lax precautions, though he checked and double checked most of his belongings and has not seen anything. I still think he should be using sealed bags like I am, but we'll see. If he plays with fire, we both get burned.

    Exterminator comes Friday. I will continue to take precautions and follow instructions until then. I'm nowhere near out of the woods, but my confidence level has risen from a 1/10 to a 4/10 that this is all resolved in a month's (two months') time.

  7. husky12

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Wed Nov 29 2017 11:48:57
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    Another update because this is starting to take over my life:

    Found one bug last night just before I went to bed on the top of the mattress. Struggled to sleep, so I checked my bed all over at least three times from 11:30 to 6:30 - no visible bugs. That's good, I think.

    A friend who visited my house for roughly an hour on Saturday says his wife is finding bites and thinks I spread the infestation to them. On the one hand, it seems unlikely a bug rode on me for hours, deposited itself in the one place he sat, then rode onto him for two days until he went to Boston, then deposited itself into his wife's friend's apartment, there are just too many steps in that process - but on the other hand, obviously it's possible. My stomach is in knots and I'm fighting back tears - he's my best friend and the last person I'd ever want to inconvenience.

    The landlord says I likely brought the bugs in from somewhere and they're not from the neighbor. I think they're covering their ass, but it is possible - but it seems unlikely that a 12-24 bb infestation, which IIRC would mean 7-9 weeks after exposure, would result after travel instead of from a neighbor.

    I'm still terrified about the car and now I'm terrified that I'm bringing BBs everywhere I go.

  8. husky12

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    Posted 10 months ago
    Thu Nov 30 2017 16:51:09
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    Another update: After finally reaching my breaking point yesterday while talking to my mom, I've finally mentally prepared myself for the month to come. It's going to suck, but I'm going to get through it.

    The exterminator we are using does not work with cars, so I spoke to two extermination experts about my situation. Both agreed that the potential for transmission to my car is there, and as a preventative measure, I've scheduled a spray treatment for Saturday morning. Two hundred bucks out of my pocket is worth the ease of mind, and they seemed very capable and understanding of the issue.

    We prep the apartment for treatment tonight and tomorrow morning. The exterminator comes for round one between 10 and noon. Meanwhile, I'm heading to Wal-Mart to purchase temporary t-shirts, sweatpants and socks for wearing around the apartment, and tonight I'll need to do a few loads of laundry at the laundromat. I'm working 3-11 p.m. but need to be out of the apartment starting at 10, so I think I'll see a movie to take my mind off things.

    This sucks. A lot. But I think I can get through it without further damage.

  9. husky12

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    Posted 9 months ago
    Wed Jan 10 2018 15:23:37
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    Wanted to update this post since it's been a month+

    Had treatments Dec. 1 and Dec. 8, unfortunately they were only perimeter and carpet sprays but they seemed effective. Other than two alive nymphs hiding out on my mattress after the second treatment, I haven't seen anything significant since then.

    We were supposedly cleared on Dec. 22 by a specialist. I say supposedly because he apparently did a fairly slipshod inspection after being extremely late that day, but I was not in town that day/weekend.

    I had my car sprayed Dec. 2 and do not believe I've seen anything since. I threw out my mattress and boxspring Dec. 26 after double-layering them in mattress covers and marking them. I've also destroyed and thrown out a variety of other items, and sprayed a bedbug killer anywhere else in the room the bugs may have been hiding. I am now sleeping on an air mattress with two blankets and one pillow and have not seen anything indicative of BBs, meaning no live bugs, no shells and no eggs. I'm remaining vigilant through the 60-day period, though, with the one caveat that I've stopped washing the blankets every five days and am instead inspecting them 3x a week.

    I continue to wash my laundry every five-seven days, keep dirty laundry in trash bags and keep clean laundry in sealed bags. I last saw a single shell come out of a laundered piece of clothing on Dec. 28 when I shook it, which scared the everloving heck out of me. But, considering those clothes had just been dried on hot for 80 minutes the weekend prior, then resided in a sealed bag for five days, it was likely just a scare.

    My roommate has not seen any BB evidence. We have not seen anything outside of my room. I'm hopeful we've caught the problem before it became a catastrophe.

    The two remaining red herrings are that I have exposed wood for my apartment's ceiling, which leaves plenty of hiding spaces for bugs that attempted to flee, though I gave all furniture a thorough inspection.

    I've also developed some sort of rash on parts of my body, but other than two or three areas where two small scabs appear next to each other post-scratching (leg and abdomen), the rash otherwise does not appear to be anything like a BB bite reaction, and I suspect it may actually be a stress/psychological reaction, as it only really itches when I let myself think about it. It also started on my chest and is mostly located on areas of my body that are not exposed during the night like my chest, and has not appeared on exposed hands/feet/face/neck/etc. (it's cold in CT this winter, so I'm sleeping with sweatshirts and sweatpants on), which further leads to my thoughts that it's not BBs.

    I'm also out roughly $600, which sucks, but hey, that's what emergency funds are for. Though my heart goes out to anyone who's struggling to afford treatment.

    No friends have reported any issues. My parents haven't, either, though I'm concerned they didn't check thoroughly enough. I'll be housesitting for them from Sunday to Wednesday so I'll be checking and will definitely know if they're there.

    While the 60-day mark is a hell of a long way away, and I'm fully expecting to eventually see more live BBs, life is pretty close to normal again. Be vigilant and check often - the earlier you catch an infestation, the better.

  10. bitethebullet

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    Posted 9 months ago
    Wed Jan 10 2018 22:40:14
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    This sounds promising husky! I’m hopeful for you. We’re on day 30 today, and the next 30 days can’t pass quickly enough. Haha!

    “I’ve got edge!”

    “You’re about as edgy as a satsuma.”
  11. SS864

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    Posted 9 months ago
    Thu Jan 11 2018 0:15:06
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    Congrats!!

  12. thirdusername

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    Posted 9 months ago
    Thu Jan 11 2018 0:50:08
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    Husky,
    Congrats, sounds promising.

    My parents worry me too.
    They told me not to worry about giving bed bugs to them.
    I had to try to convince them to thoroughly inspect after I visited for xmas.
    They said it is not important and I had to try to convince them it is important to me.
    I'm not confident I convinced them and they are 5 hours away so I can't check up on them.

  13. thirdusername

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    Posted 9 months ago
    Thu Jan 11 2018 0:50:09
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    Husky,
    My parents worry me too.
    They told me not to worry about giving bed bugs to them.
    I had to try to convince them to thoroughly inspect after I visited for xmas.
    They said it is not important and I had to try to convince them it is important to me.
    I'm not confident I convinced them and they are 5 hours away so I can't check up on them.

  14. husky12

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    Posted 7 months ago
    Thu Mar 1 2018 15:35:52
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    Just when the two-month waiting period was over, and I'd finally allowed my life to resume...

    Guess who found a single interloper on the wall (the WALL) just now? I immediately killed it, though the corpse fell into the carpet and I couldn't find it again.

    Cue a room-wide search that turned up some odd-looking crumbs but no physical evidence. And I've removed most of the hiding spaces in my bedroom - there's only a desk, a chair, an air mattress (I might be thanking myself for holding out on buying that new bed) and a few other items here and there, so it was a thorough search.

    Best-case scenario, the interloper was a solo male who somehow survived the initial extinction event. It was pretty flat, though squishing it did lead to a little blood. It was in the middle of the wall, unprotected, in the middle of the day, my room was bright - that's not typical bug behavior. And it was across the room from where my air mattress is - directly the opposite wall - and seemed sluggish, as it didn't move for a few moments when I found it.

    Worst-case scenario is I have to go through all this garbage again.

    The fact that the room search came up empty is a positive sign. The fact I couldn't find any more evidence is a positive sign. But good lord this is terrifying. I'll have my roommate search more tonight. Please someone give me reassurance that it at least possibly was a single male bedbug.


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