Trying to determine if my move was successful(14 posts)
I want to begin by saying that I've found this community to be invaluable over the past few months as I've gone through my first infestation. I feel the need to post this to help in my process of "moving on" and to get some outside insight on whether my move was in fact successful.
By way of background - my infestation was diagnosed in late March by use of a NESCDA K9 and some visual IDs (I had found bedbugs hiding inside a picture frame I had on my wall, but despite scouring my bed, I couldn't find anything myself so I brought the dog in to be sure). The dog also signaled on my boxspring, a nearby power outlet, and my old computer chair that was in my living room. Fortunately, I had a good landlord who began treatment immediately, AND I had planned to move in May before I was even diagnosed (changing cities after graduating to start a new job).
My primary concern throughout the process was to ensure that I didn't move my infestation with me. Also, as a student at the time, I wasn't particularly attached to most of my stuff. So I made the decision to leave nearly everything behind. I chose not to take my bed or any other furniture with me. Even my books were sacrificed. Ultimately, all that I brought with me was heavily laundered clothing (that was laundered & heavily dried twice on-site, placed in sealed bags, and then laundered again off-site at my sister's place), and my electronics (desktop computer, monitor, laptop & ipad), and kitchen housewares. Of course, I also brought my cat and his carrier.
As a further precaution, at my new place, on "day 1" after my stuff arrived I had a K9 inspection done of everything (we opened each box & bag, checked the cat carrier, my computers, monitor, and other items). The K9 couldn't find any bugs on these. At the same time, the K9 also checked my new unit (a 1BR apartment, which thankfully is NOT on the registry) and was not able to detect any BBs along any of the baseboards or in the empty unit more generally.
Unfortunately, I still seemed to be getting strong skin reactions, especially on my thighs/upper legs. To be extra cautious (was worried we missed eggs), I had another K9 inspection done 3 weeks after my move, which turned up negative. I have also not been able to find any signs of BBs on my new bed (no fecal traces or obvious blood stains) but unfortunately that hasn't been very reassuring because but for my good luck with the picture frame, I had not noticed any of those signs at my old place when I certainly had an infestation.
The skin reactions, which I know are not a proper diagnosis tool from this forum but are nevertheless very disconcerting, seem chronic and have continued unabated throughout this entire time (both pre & post move). The two pictures below are typical representations of the reaction, and were taken this morning.
It is exceedingly rare that I don't have any of these itchy bumps present on my upper legs - sometimes there are more or less, but nearly always at least a couple. I will rarely get a similar reaction in other parts of my body (lower leg, lower back, back of arm), but these other reactions tend to be a single red spot and not as "clustered" as they are on my upper legs. With that said, my chest/arms are pretty scrawny (my legs are by far the biggest part of my body) and for what it's worth I've read that BBs tend to be attracted to high-heat areas while sleeping, and my legs are certainly as warm and perhaps significantly warmer than my trunk or arms.
In terms of trying to rule out other causes, I should finally disclose that I am a runner and do sweat a lot during this activity, though not just on my legs. I also find that these reactions "flare up" or sometimes appear worse after wearing jeans or slacks, but this isn't a "universal" pattern either. For example, the photos posted above were taken this morning shortly after waking up, and the day before I had only worn loose-fitting shorts.
I would deeply appreciate any thoughts or guidance from this community about whether I should still be concerned that my move has potentially failed. I'm truly at my wits end after taking all of the precautions/making all the sacrifices that I did, and yet still managing to transport my infestation.
There's a post here on old bites I posted on recently.
Basically, don't freak out. My bug bites faded and came back. Sweat definitely factors into my body's response. Stress is a trigger. You may find as you relax that your bites fade very quickly.
Other people shared their experiences on the thread as well. just look at my profile and you'll see it.
Keep Calm and Carry On (Inspecting).
Thanks for the link! I guess what might distinguish my case is that while I'm aware that bites can take days, or even a couple weeks to emerge, my move was back in Mid-May. It's now mid-July, with my most recent negative K9 inspection in mid-June (weeks after my move) and as mentioned in my OP, I'm still getting new reactions like the ones in my photos on a consistent basis.
I'm staying vigilant in terms of inspections though it's frustrating because despite being aware of BBs as a general issue (I had been living in Toronto, where it's a very serious problem) in my initial infestation I was largely unable to find the traces myself (I couldn't find anything in the usual spots, no fecal stains, etc.) and the picture frame discovery was really just chance fluke luck. I can't find any signs now and am worried that I'm just missing them again, though rationally I know the K9 negatives should count for something.
Thanks so much for the idea about old bites. I really just want to put this behind me but the continued red bumps on my legs are making it very difficult to move on.
I had bites emerging from old locations for a while. When I bought my first bed after my air mattress exploded, I experienced a really miserable night where a flurry of "bites" came up. They stayed up long enough that it was clearly not allergic. I went over my wood floors with a flashlight and a magnifier. Nothing. They faded within a couple of days. I could never explain them. March was warm, but I didn't see any insects in my home. At that point I was familiar with old bites emerging. They felt like that, but I don't recollect ever seeing a bite there before. My only explanation--and one makes sense given my anxiety related just to owning an expensive purchase like a mattress--was that bites that hadn't caused reacts began to cause reactions while under stress. It makes sense. Something stays in the system that causes the reactions in old bites. I'm obviously reactive to that something now, so perhaps a reaction could occur in other areas where it is lingering. I'm not sure it's scientific, but until I find something...
Most logically, you could be getting bites from summer insects. I would seek to exclude them before including BBs. In my whole life, I've had BBs once, but mosquitos, gnats, and spiders regularly. The odds aren't weighted in the BBs favor after a while.
Honestly, it's worrisome that they're so good at hiding, but bite reactions aren't descript enough to say they're here. Just enough to keep looking. I say inspect and relax. Relistically, BBs are another pest you may have to deal with and you're not infested until you find the infestation, so don't stay in that mental zone.
Thanks for the sage advice. In the interim I've got a BB Passive Monitor on the way and will install it when it arrives in the next ~10 days or so. I've read some other threads about this product and it seems like it will be a good supplement to the K9 work I've already done to help with any detection process.
Is there any baseline out there for how long it takes using this product (with no signs of trouble) to be able to comfortably rule out a BB infestation?
David Cain (bed-bugscouk) is the inventor. You should message him if he doesn't see this post and your query.
Following PM I will reply public so it keeps the info together and will help others. The question was:
So that brings me to the BB Passive. Once I install it (I have a steel bedframe with a US-style boxspring and mattress on top of it, so I will likely affix the unit to the bedframe itself), how long would you say with no signs/traces would indicate that I am in fact free & clear?
If there is room you should be able to install on the box base itself at the head end of the bed as per the install instructions.
Once installed you should start to see signs once bedbugs are feeding, if it is bedbugs. As they feed on a 3 - 5 day cycle I usually say 7 days installed or after 20 skin reactions a clear Passive Monitors is a good indication that you don't have bedbugs. We have recorded signs as soon as 12 - 72 hours but it does depend a lot of the level of activity int he property.
Unfortunately skin reactions although the most obvious in some cases and the most anxiety causing, in almost all cases are the least accurate sign to diagnose from.
Hope that answers the question.
Bed Bugs Limited
In accordance with the AUP and FTC I openly disclose my vested interest in this product as the inventor.
Thank you David for this very helpful information. Unfortunately, I will likely not be able to install it directly on the box spring , as when I bought my new bed on arriving at my new place, I immediately encased it and my mattress using a recommended product on these forums as a preventative measure.
I gather from reading other posts that the BB passive should still work if installed close by the bed, though perhaps the optimal detection time will increase somewhat from what you've quoted above. Thanks again for the response, it is greatly appreciated.
With some encasements you can install Passive Monitors on the outside so long as you do not take them off too often so that you damage the material. You would need to look at the quality of the material to be certain.
Outside of that yes you can install on the frame, if you take a picture of the bed with the mattress dragged 2 foot towards the foot end I will mark it with an install location based on your circumstances.
The detection time on an install further away will be slightly longer as you ideally want the bedbugs to find the Passive Monitor in between current refugia and source of food.
Hope that helps.
Thanks David - here are some photos of my bed as you've requested. I don't plan on removing the monitor or the encasements often, if at all, so I may end up choosing to apply it directly, but will take your advice based on the photos below:
I want only to say that I'm coping with the same kind of situation, but much younger (moved few days ago, wake at night with new bites). My signs even look similar.
In what you wrote, for me the signs being so localized, in your case, raises some alarm. I am not in a position to say anything definitely, at all, but I think this is another sign to indicate some other non bed bugs cause as a possibility
I have few questions for you:
- Do the signs tend to appear at any particular time of the day?
- How do they feel? Itching? Burning? Anything else?
- Do they ever wake you at night when new ones appear at the middle of your sleep?
OK, before I start I just want to say the image embedding function is a massive help in cases like this because the information is kept clear and this would not be possible without it. Thanks host, my frustration at the screen is greatly reduced although my image editing time has increased dramatically.
The image embedded below indicates where I would install give what you have. I don't want to be responsible for you ripping an encasement so I have to still stick to the line of test it first maybe with a non essential area of pillow encasement (although I still see zero value in those).
I have marked a secondary install location in green for which you would not need to remove the protective backing from but you do need to make sure that it sticks out between the mattress and the base. If it gets buried in between so the bedbugs cant get to it then efficiency is obviously going to go down to zero (I say obvious because it was not obvious to one entomologist).
Hope that's clear.
Thank you David, the diagram makes sense. I'll test on a spare pillow encasement first to be sure, and will otherwise just install it on the green marked location in your photo. It's no problem for me to keep my mattress pulled out a little bit to ensure any "visitors" have access.
To the earlier poster re. the skin reactions, the reasons you cite explain why they are awful diagnostic tools, even though they are VERY stressful (it`s really ruined my summer so far). In my particular case, while they are *generally* localized to my upper legs (both on the top of the thigh as pictured above, and on the sides/back of the thigh too), I have occasionally gotten similar reactions in the form of a SINGLE red spot like the ones above (but NOT a cluster of them) on my lower back, chest, and back of my arm near my elbow.
The only common thread I see in the reactions is that they tend to be in areas where I have some hair, so I can't rule out a skin-related condition like folliculitis. The challenge for me is that these reactions occurred both during times when I had a confirmed BB infestation, and times like now when it's unlikely but possible - thus making it hard for me to know whether I've just had a skin condition the entire time, whether it's just been BBs, or whether it's been a combination of both. The only pattern I can think of is that the reactions seem to be worse/more intense after I've worn long pants, and especially jeans. Is this common to your case as well (or others?)
Again, given the complexity of the situation, this is why I'm seeking to use better and more reliable detection methods, like the passive monitor. My K9 inspector has also graciously agreed to do a free inspection next week for me, which should provide some additional information. I would find it difficult to imagine that a well-trained K9 would get a false negative three times, but "proving a negative" is one of the hardest things out there.
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