What Would You Do?(7 posts)
So after finding a single cast skin and one set of bites on my husband's ankle almost 4 weeks ago, I am at an impasse.
We have had 2 visual inspections which revealed nothing. We also had a K9 inspection (without visual confirmation-my mistake) with 3 hits (that later revealed nothing but a carpet beetle larva on visual inspection by a PCO). Then we set up NightWatch monitors for a week and vacated the home for 5 of those 7 nights to maximize their potential- still nothing.
I think we are going to do one more week of NightWatch, but frankly I am just at a loss for what to do now.
Clearly at some point at least one nymph snuck in, but it has yet to turn up. Can I really believe there was only one? We have never seen fecal matter, other skins, any live creatures but I am afraid of not doing anything in case there is really a problem.
Our PCO advised us not to treat without more evidence. I think he's right but I'm still having a tough time thinking about life outside of ziplocs. Stress is high and it's tough for my kids.
What would some of you advise?
(I'm still just a newbite here, but...)
Me, personally, I'd concentrate on prevention. You mention a lot of inspection-type things you've done, but don't say whether you've started in on prevention-type things like:
- encasing mattresses
- isolating beds
- clearing clutter and potential bedbug habitat, including wicker and corrugated cardboard.
- caulking cracks and gaps in walls & baseboards.
- (other sensible prevention measures that I can't seem to think of just now).
I agree with O Buggery that some general "let's make my life easier if I do discover an infestation" steps might be useful--both to make your life easier if you find proof and to make the home less likely to be as friendly a harbor in the future.
However, I'm not a big fan of encasements in every circumstance, and while caulking can be very helpful, most people suggest it only *after* you've eliminated the bugs/definitely ruled them out.
By all means, think about what you can do to make your place easier to inspect and less hospitable to bugs--that has the added advantage of making you feel like you're doing *something* which is important since while you're sitting around waiting for confirmation, it can be deeply frustrating.
But I personally wouldn't caulk until after I knew for sure that I was clear of bugs for 60 days.
The problem with encasements is that if you have bed bugs inside your mattress or box spring, those encasements you put on will have to stay on the bedding and remain completely sealed for at least 18 months before you open them even a tiny bit. If you're sure you're clear, encasements can make the mattress and box spring easier to inspect and keep them free of bugs moving into them. But certain circumstances (kids, pets) can make it very, very hard to keep those encasements free of tears.
Also, (and I am sorry about this) I don't remember the details of your story, so I'm not sure about the following: do you live in a detached single family house or in a unit in a multi-unit building?
Because that would make a big difference to me about how secure I felt that we really might have had a lone hitch hiker.
It is possible that you got a single nymph as a hitch hiker. I wouldn't normally tell people to bet on it, but nothing about your story says to me that there's anything in the story that suggests you're clinging irrationally to a desperate hope of that. After all, nymphs can't reproduce (if I'm remembering my bed bug science correctly, anyway.), so if you had a lone hitch hiker, you might get lucky if it died before it could get old enough to reproduce.
I think you're right to remain vigilant, and I know that's frustrating and you want a conclusive answer and to do something, but I think the PCO's advice at this point is sound: wait and see.
The only thing you don't mention that I might add is this: if you don't have passive monitors in place after the Nightwatch goes away, I might consider those.
hang in there. I know the waiting game just sucks.
Thanks for your thoughts. Buggyinsocal you have been really helpful through this!
The reality is I was super vigilant before this happened and had been anxious about the possibility of bbs all summer long. I have been putting my family through serious "avoidance" protocols for quite some time, so you can imagine my shock on the night my husband told me his ankle had been itching for a week. I ran to the bed where he had been sleeping, pulled off the mattress cover and there was the skin!
We live in a 3 story brownstone so that is a complicating factor, but it is not a turn-over situation (I know these days it doesn't mean much). I don't have clutter, but we do have stuff that we live with. I've been PackTiting what is in the rooms where the dog hit despite no evidence- maybe to make myself feel better. I don't know.
I guess we need to wait for 60+ days with no further evidence before I can hit some resting point. I probably will also get some form of passive monitor after this last round of NightWatch- I guess we have to accept that no matter how careful, this can always happen. A bit depressing. . .
Sorry if I've led you astray, Bugfreak.
Buggyinsocal, you've got me a little confused...
It seems like just about everywhere that I've seen the words "bed" and "bug" conjoined in that order, they've been surrounding by the advice to Encase, Encase, Encase. Encase Now, Encase Early, and Encase Often.
A close friend and fellow bed-bug-battler was recently shocked to learn that I hadn't encased my own mattress yet (I was still scraping my pennies together...).
Only you and Bedbugcouk have mentioned that encasement may not be a mandatory first step for every existing or potential infestation. Is there more to the Theory of Encasement than I had gathered?
My understanding of the practicality of encasement is that if you know you are free and clear of bed bugs, having one on will protect your mattress. Recently, my landlord had a K9 inspection for every apartment in the building. I was fairly certain I was bed bug free, but didn't think the entire building would pass. So I quickly encased PRIOR to the inspection feeling reasonably confident that if I passed, my mattress would be protected provided no tears, no removal. Admittedly, they have to be inspected regularly for tears. Also, the encasement has to be designed sufficiently to keep the zipper entirely and fully closed. If you already have bed bugs, I would check with the PCO before buying or putting on an encasement. I have read that you can use an encasement to cover an infested mattress, but as already mentioned above, the encasement would have to be left on for at least 18 mths with no tears and absolutely no escape routes. Quite honestly, there is no way i could sleep on a mattress i knew had bed bugs, even if it were encased like Ft. Knox. ICK!
Encasements can be useful--no two ways about it.
But sometimes people aren't 100% clear on what encasements can and can't do.
Encasements if you don't have bed bugs already can help make your mattress (and box spring) easier to inspect regularly.
Encasements can also help keep the bugs out of those places if you don't already have them.
For people who are using chemicals to treat, encasements can help as part of the protect the bed strategy.
On the other hand, encasements can trap bugs that are still alive inside them. Some PCOs use that fact as part of their strategy. However, if your PCO doesn't *know* you've putting the encasements back on after he or she leaves, you can imagine how that might create issues, right?
For some people, encasements just aren't a great fit.
If there are live bugs trapped inside encasements, and you're waiting to starve them out, you have to keep that whole encasement completely free of any possibility that the bugs can escape (through a tear or small puncture in the encasement, or through any leakage at the zipper which is known to be a weak spot anyway in many encasements) for the full 18 months from the time you put the encasement on. That can be a very, very long time.
For that reason, some PCOs prefer to not encase until after the place has been declared all clear and/or ever.
I would imagine, for example, that a PCO that uses steam would be more likely to encase since the steam, used properly (if it's dry vapor) could kill all the bugs and eggs inside the mattress/box spring.
On the other hand, a PCO who is all about luring the bugs out likely wouldn't.
I did ultimately put a middle of the line encasement on my mattress. I found that it made it easier to inspect the bed on my monthly inspections. But I didn't put the encasement on until I was bed bug free for long enough to believe that they were really gone. This is largely because I have a cat.
I believe that declawing is cruel, so that's completely off the table as an option. The way my apartment is laid out (the bathroom is only accessible through the bedroom), I can't keep the cat out of the bedroom unless I want to move her litter box to the kitchen (ick) or living room (ugh).
I don't trust Softpaws (the little caps that cover their claws to keep them from damaging furniture) when it comes to keeping her from ever puncturing a mattress. Softpaws do fall off. If it was how my couch looked that I was worried about, I could live with one falling off a day or so before I noticed, but if it's keeping an encasement free of punctures, that's not very useful, right?
Unless I want to faithfully clip her claws about every 4 days for the entire time the mattress an box spring are encased, encasements aren't a great fit for my situation.
Again, I have an encasement on the mattress. I don't dislike them.
I do think that like most other treatments, how useful they are and what precisely they can accomplish varies widely by situation.
Sometimes people, I think, especially early on look at encasements like they are almost magical--like once you put one on a bed, the bed is bed bug proof. (I'm not suggesting you or anyone in this thread does that. I just have seen it other places, including with me. While I was sleeping on the living room futon, post treatment (I had heat, so the bugs really were gone in one shot, but it took me a long time to believe that), I was sleeping on an encasement spread across the futon like a fitted sheet. I used one flat sheet as a cover, and I had a lone pillow (also in an encasement).
Why I felt safer that way, I have no idea. Clearly, I was engaging in some magical thinking about encasements myself, right? It's not like if there had been stragglers or reinfestation, the bugs couldn't walk across the sheet (that was really an encasement) to get to me, but I did it anyway.
that's the same encasement I now have on my mattress.
Encasements and isolating (now described more as protecting) the bed were one of the early strategies we've had for a while. When I found my infestation, we didn't have climb ups, or packtites, or most of the monitors--passive or active that we have now. As we get more tools in the arsenal, it may be that we change how we use some of them. Encasements may be an example of that since the idea of completely isolating the bed is starting to change somewhat as we learn more about the alarm pheromone issue, for example.
Again, I'm not knocking encasements entirely. In some situations, they're an incredibly useful tool. I think for people without pets and children, post treatment, they're a great way of making inspection easier and making it harder for the bugs to settle into the mattress and box spring proper, which I think is a good thing. I don't like the idea of sleeping on a mattress that's been treated with chemical pesticides.
But I do think that people should really understand how encasements work so that they understand how the PCO is using them and also understand what they will and won't do. Additionally, I think it's important for those of us who aren't PCOs to understand that different PCOs use them in different ways during treatment.
Does that make more sense?
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