Need help? Tales of Bed Bug Woe 2.0

by nobugsonme on July 6, 2007 · 36 comments

in bed bugs, information and help

Remember when you were little and the lights went out and your parents got out the candles and flashlights and you pretended you were camping in your living room? A bit of that spirit of “roughing it” is called for right now; as per my last post below, the forums are temporarily down due to a technical glitch.

If you need bed bug advice, have a bed bug horror story, want to update us on an ongoing issue, or have a great idea, post a comment below. We’ll respond.

(And when the forums are back, we’ll go back there.)

Thanks for your patience, and don’t be shy. We’re still here to help, despite the capricious whims of the technogods.trolls.

1 arora July 6, 2007 at 10:02 am

Hi there.

Is it possible to have allergic reactions (swollen & itchy) abt 10 days after being bitten?

My roommate and I spent the first night at our new apt last Tuesday. We slept on a clean mattress she brought in with her (the only piece of furniture we had) and were eaten alive. Neighther had allergic reactions to the bites then, but we caught and killed a bunch that night. My roommate left for a flight to Houston at 3am. I sat on the mattress, fully vigilant, until 7am.

I’ve been sleeping in my office in a sleeping bag after that one night and I go back to check up the apt every afternoon. I’ve read enough to know sleeping elsewhere is probably not a good idea but forgive me I really can’t stay in that haunted apt alone. I was scared to death. And I have been extra careful about what I bring to the office. But this morning I discovered welts (of various sizes) on my waist and elbow, which I never had before. Could they be from the old bites I had last week?

2 Bugalina July 6, 2007 at 10:21 am

The problem with bed bugs is that different people have different reactions, thus there is no black and white answer…However what I don’t hear in your post is What are you going to do about your infestation???? You have to take PCO action ASAP…There is a good chance that you brought them to your office…not necessarily but these bugs hitchhike in seams of luggage and clothes…and sleeping bags ???? So start to read the FAQ’s about how to organize your apt. to make your blood less available and get in touch with your landlord and hire a skilled and capable Bed Bug PCO…RIGHT AWAY…

3 arora July 6, 2007 at 10:49 am

I’ve cleaned (wash and dry on hot) all my summer/spring clothes and put them in XL Ziplocs. For winter clothes that are less easy to watch, I now have them in Rubbermaid with duct tapes on the lids. Beddings are in duct taped Rubbermaids too. Other belongings are either in Rubbermaids (books and CDs mostly, althought I didn’t duct tape them) or in the closet (bathroom items or things that were moved-in in tight boxes so I’m sure they are clean). It’s just that my roommate won’t be back until end of Aug. and it doesn’t look like she’ll come back earlier for this matter (bedbugs vs. bf?!). This means I have to deal with her stuff (quite a lot) too.

My landlord is (thank God) responsive. A PCO is coming, in fact, in less than 2 hours, which means I have to go. I’ve done the prep work yesterday. Will update tonight if I’m back in my office.

4 arora July 6, 2007 at 10:50 am

*less easy to wash

5 hopelessnomo July 6, 2007 at 10:50 am

Good luck today!

Yes, delayed allergic reactions of up to 14 days are cited by Harold Harlan in his armed forces technical guide (see sidebar).

6 nobugsonme July 6, 2007 at 12:40 pm

Although, and I hate to say it, it’s also fully possible that you’ve been bitten more recently.

Anyway, it’s great you got the PCO in. One reason you need to sleep at home is because if there’s no bait, they won’t come out, walk through poison, and die.

I know that sounds horrid, but you need not necessarily be their lunch, just their bait. Following the FAQs on Protecting the Bed can mean you aren’t bitten, if done right.

Once the PCO is working, I’d also reconsider keeping your unwashed winter stuff in the rubbermaids. Even if they are sealed (and that may not be a reliable seal), you are storing bed bugs for another day. So you want to get them out of there. Once washed, the XL/XXL ziplocs are the way to go, since I would better trust their seals. Some people even do ziplocs inside tubs if they want something portable and stackable and sealed.

Also, this is important, ask the PCO if the other stuff (CDs, books) should be exposed (i.e. rubbermaid lids off) or not. PCOs vary on whether they want your stuff sealed away for the first treatment. Even if they do, they will likely want them off sometime during treatment.

Some PCOs would want you to seal it away for 18 months, which I don’t think is necessary. BUT, and this is important, no one would want you to seal up stuff that wasn’t carefully cleaned and inspected for bed bugs, regardless of duration.

Anyway, I hope none of that was overwhelming–it certainly doesn’t all have to be done today. But do make sure you ask the PCO about the box of stuff, and also make a plan for the non-washed clothing. Good luck! Things will be better soon!

7 nyjammin July 6, 2007 at 4:30 pm

I may be moving. Why? Because I can’t handle these mofers anymore! I don’t wanna move. I have a BEAUTIFUL apartment which was renovated 2 1/2 years ago. But, this apartment has so many nooks and crannies for the bbs to hide like in the wood floors, etc. I know a lot of people ask this question about moving w/o taking these a..holes w/you. Anyways, here is my plan. Taking only necessary items like few clothes and computer, keyboard, mouse, tvs, gameboys, pictures, etc. and especially very important paperwork like birth certs and the such. I was going to vikane gas everything, even clothing before moving into new apartment. I know you guys said that clothing is easy to treat, but I fear that the bags that have the clothing might have eggs or whatever on them. I don’t wanna take ANY chances.

I was planning on buying new clothes and putting them in ziplock bags after I put them in the dryer. Take them to the laundermart and change into new clothes in the laundermart and throw away the old clothes that me and my family have on. Put old clothes in bags and then after we change to spray ourselves w/kleenfree all over our new clothes, even our underwear, socks shoes, etc. I was thinking of the possibility of putting new clothes right into ziplocks but who know what is on me? 🙁

My only concern is the car. That would be the only variable in my bb equation that may go wrong. What if the mofers are in my car. I was spraying w/dforce for a while but stopped because my son developed a terrible rash from the stuff where his skin touched the car. He was wearing shorts one day and got a terrible rash on the backs of his legs. Mind you, I sprayed the car 3 days prior so it was dry, but the residual was probably too much for his skin. Anyway, I took a clean towel (in a ziplock of course) and placed it in his booster seat so he was not touching the car. When we were done with the car I took the towel and put it in a ziplock and then took it home to launder the normal bb way. No more rash after that. Maybe I’ll spray the car w/dforce and take precautions so as not to expose my son’s skin to the interior like him wearing long sleeves and long pants.

Any suggestions, comments, would be greatly appreciated.

BTW: I’m so sick of having to move because of lousy landlords and lousy situations. I moved to this nice building because the private house I was living in was swarming with mice and too overpriced and the landlord did sh.t as far as repairs go. Now I hafta move because of this stupid bb thing. I don’t know where I’m moving too as of yet, but I’m looking. I was even thinking of moving to another state so I could do thermal treatments although I do not know the cost and of course, it’s illegal to do thermal in NY.

8 James Buggles July 6, 2007 at 9:27 pm

nyjammin, where do you plan to get your stuff gassed? NoBugs once pointed out this option, but I’m curious as to other options (there’s an idea for an FAQ — vikane gas chambers in all 50 states).

9 arora July 6, 2007 at 10:55 pm

The good news is that the PCO came and flooded the apt with some liquid chemical and then covered the floor with some white powder stuff. As far as I could tell they were thorough.

The bad news is that my neighbor across the hallway reported bites (which happened AFTER the previous tenant in my apt moved out) to the landlord too. After spraying (self-treatment) they said it’s been two nights without new bites. But the PCO guy said he could almost absolutely sure that my neighbors (not only the one across the hallway, but also the one downstairs, and the one adjacent to my unit whose balcony is connected to mine) have them too and given time the bugs will crawl back.

Even if my landlord agrees to treat all connected units, the apt adjacent to mine is actually in another building, which means for them to get treatment it’ll be a whole lot negotiating with their landlord.

In this case, would you suggest moving? How do I make sure I don’t bring bedbugs into my new place? I guess an answer to nyjammin’s question will answer mine too.

One last question – the thought that I might have brought bedbugs to other places scares the shi* out of me. So I’m doing my best to identify the time of these bites. Can bedbugs bite through clothing? Or do they bite the exposed areas only? I had long pants and mid-sleeve shirts on the past couple nights, but the bites were mostly on my upper thighs, upper arms, and waist. (I wore shorts and short-sleeve Tshirt the night I spent in the apt tho.)

Bugalina, hopelessnomo, nobugsonme, THANK YOU SOOO MUCH!!!!!

10 arora July 6, 2007 at 11:03 pm

Acutally I do have some more questions. Apparently the landlord didn’t schedule a second treatment with the PCO. But I’ve read that in most cases multiple treatments are needed to get rid of the bugs. I will call that company tmr to ask about (1) second treatment??!!! and (2) what I should do with my books and CDs and unwashed clothes and other random items.

My nightmare only started last Tuesday and I’ve found it almost impossible to not let it interfere with my normal life. I’m a graduate student and now I have full-load summer classes. I’m already behind. Dealing with bedbugs is like (at least) a part-time job. Any suggestions on how to handle it without putting EVERYTHING else on hold?

11 nyjammin July 6, 2007 at 11:04 pm

Buggles: I’m in NY, so probably in my state via Terminex. The same site that you posted above is where I got my info. from

12 nobugsonme July 6, 2007 at 11:08 pm


Bed bugs probably don’t bite through your clothing, but they can crawl under clothes easily and bite you.

Seriously consider whether your landlord might treat properly, since moving is a big risk. NYJammin knows this–and is moving after the landlord has treated repeatedly and failed to eradicate bed bugs. In such situations, it may come to be apparent that moving makes sense.

However, many people move and take bed bugs with them. We do not have a moving FAQ because there just is no foolproof way to do it. Some people get lucky, but many people move their bed bugs. And the 6-8 weeks after you move (or longer), when you are waiting to see if you did move them, can be a nightmare.

How attached is this adjacent unit in another building? Some PCOs do put dusts into cavities in the wall (they drill, they treat, then they seal up). I am not saying staying means you can beat them, but just saying moving isn’t surefire either. You might want to stay if the landlord is taking it very seriously and dealing with all the adjacent units, and even talking to the neighboring landlord.

That said, if you can have some treatments before moving AND at the other end when you do move, it might work. Did your landlord know the place was infested? I seriously hope you can get some compensation if s/he did.

13 arora July 6, 2007 at 11:13 pm

I don’t have any furniture, and I’m OK with throwing away some of my older stuff. And I can certainly seal up most of my books and CDs for a year or even longer. Does that reduce the risk of bringing the bedbugs with me when I move?

The apt is a 1BR converted into a 2BR. One bedroom shares a wall with the adjacent unit and our balconies are connected – you could easily WALK from ours to theirs. And the PCO guy didn’t do any drilling today.

14 nobugsonme July 7, 2007 at 1:53 am

Sealing things in an airtight manner for 18 months is recommended by experts. But that means a true seal (as opposed to something like a duct-taped rubbermaid tub, which may not be airtight), and it means you don’t go in at all during that time.

If you were getting treatment, I’d actually not recommend sealing stuff besides clean clothes, because bed bugs allowed out can contact poison, on the way to you, and die.

I am not trying to discourage you and I know this is seriously depressing to hear, but you should be aware that many people move with almost nothing and still move bed bugs. Knowing it’s very possible gives you some power to help prevent it. But you can’t really be confident. I’d try to engage the PCO in treating at the other end too (you’d have to pay of course).

Also, make sure the PCO comes back at 2 week intervals until the problem is entirely gone. One statistic said only 6% of cases needed one treatment, and 37% needed two. Most need 3, 4, or more. If you saw bed bugs, you may have a good number of them. Many of us are seriously bitten and see none, for 6 months even.

15 nobugsonme July 7, 2007 at 1:54 am

ps Connected balconies is, I suppose, not great, esp. if the other landlord does not care.

16 Sharon Liebing July 7, 2007 at 9:13 am

I need to know if my life will ever be normal agian? We found them on Sunday had the exterminator here on Tuesday and scheduled the next 6 visits from him so far. We have covered the mattress and boxspring, and were told never to remove the encasements from them. I am washing everything nonstop and vacuuming everyday. My problem (other than those damn bugs) is I can not go upstairs or sleep in my room or anywhere in my house, I think it’s time for therapy!!!!!!!! Maybe I can put together a support group that meets on the internet so we don’t give the bugs back to each other. some one please HELP me!!!

17 Bugalina July 7, 2007 at 1:47 pm

Sharon..Click on the Big Blue Bug on the right hand side of this Blog…it says Forums…there you WILL find a support group….Many , like myself, are “recovering bb phobics”…in other words, we have fought the battle and won, so here you will find support for any of your questions and emotional needs. Have you isolated your bed completely…some say not to do so, however for others its absolutely necessary in order to function…I was an “isolationist”….go onto the forums where you will find ongoing discussions and where you can start a new topic…Deb

18 nobugsonme July 7, 2007 at 2:17 pm

Sharon, You will find help in the forums.
Let me say this, though, you MUST sleep in your bed or the poisons will not work. The bed bugs need to be attracted out of their hiding places to bite you and walk through the poisons. If you read our FAQ on Protecting the Bed (click FAQS button at top) it explains how to protect the bed so you can sleep there WITHOUT being bitten.

19 mitch July 8, 2007 at 2:58 am

I’ve read that sealing items in an airtight manner for 18 months is recommended by experts to starve and kill off any possible hidden bed bugs – but is the full 18 months necessary if the item can be inspected beforehand? Aren’t adult bed bugs large enough to inspect for in some items such as books/cds/dvds? It’s the much smaller nymphs and eggs that are difficult to detect. Adult bed bugs can live up to 18 months without feeding. Do nymphs and eggs have a much shorter life span without feeding, say 3-6 months? If so, can’t items that have been inspected for larger adult bugs be stored sealed for only 6 months, if that is sufficient to starve off any possible remaining nymphs and eggs?

20 nobugsonme July 8, 2007 at 3:05 am

Younger bugs don’t always live as long, and adults may not even live 18 months.
However, no one can give you any guarantees.
Lots of people have visually inspected their stuff and pronounced them clear, and bugs have nevertheless been present. You’re supposed to inspect before sealing for 18 months.
Can you really be sure your visual inspection caught any bugs present? Remember, they love to hide.
It may be extremely cautious, but most people have been so burned by bed bugs that they do not want to go through all the trouble only to repeat the entire process. Remember, many people who bring bed bugs into their homes must bring in a few bugs. So if you visually inspect, but miss a few, you can restart a colony in time.

However, I don’t think sealing your stuff away is the only way to go. I will repeat this–there are other methods besides sealing stuff for 18 months. I seriously think there’s something to be said for exposing your stuff to poisons and enticing bed bugs out to walk through it.

And, of course, there’s putting it in a truck and having someone gas the contents with Vikane. If I were moving from a bed bug infested home, this is what I would do.

21 mitch July 8, 2007 at 5:11 am

Yes I agree 18 months is the safest and most cautious if one chooses to go the sealing route. I was just thinking that if only the large adults live as long as 18 months – those also happen to be easiest to find during visual inspection. Nymphs and eggs are much harder to visually ID, but they also seem die faster in general.

Books would be hard to inspect since there are so many pages. Electronics too since they may be inside where you can’t see. But things like CDs and DVDs can be inspected for adults bugs fairly easily since there aren’t much hiding places within, so maybe you can get away with sealing for a shorter time. But true there is no guarantee, there is more risk than going the full 18 months.

There’s no guarantee with the expose to poisons route either, right? Couldn’t the bugs go dormant and stay hidden? Some people may just not want to use themselves as the bait to attract them out even though it would be best to do so.

22 Bugalina July 8, 2007 at 9:57 am

Mitch…This is one of the huge problems with bed bugs…so many variables. The pesticides that are being used now don’t have a great residual ..because of the short residual rate you are correct…some bed bugs can possibly survive the treatment..that is why, we here on the Blog have suggested treating in 2 week intervals…Supposely the pesticides used now breakdown in light and humidity..they are photo sensitive…more variables…I always recommend sealing away items that you can live without for 18 months..not only because this is a guaranteed time limit, but also because during this time of bed bug epidemic, its really best to live as minimally as possible…because it G-d forbid, you experience another bout with monsters…you will have less “stuff” to deal with…Clutter is the friend to bed bugs…so I think its not a bad idea to have a “bed bug frame of mind”…until something comes onto the market that will kill these monsters with more efficacy….So only you know what you can and cannot live with or without…I agree with you that reason says the nymphs do not have the same life span…Lou Sorkin actually mentioned this sometime ago…I believe…also, when you store things away..if only for 6 can puff some DE into the bags and or plastic bins…its a great dessicant…I did this..I am now reopening some things that I have stored for 14 months and it gives me comfort to see the Drionne sprinkled about…..One can isolate their beds..which will not allow the bugs to get to them but still possibly make the bugs TRY to get to them…bed bugs need blood meals to mate..both male and the less blood they get , the better to kill the population off..I think that when we isolate the beds it forces them to get bolder and start to appear in the daytime…that’s what happened to me…

23 nobugsonme July 8, 2007 at 10:19 am

You have to use yourself as bait to attract the bugs out of your woodwork and other areas, anyway. This is inescapable–it’s not a good idea, it’s essential. (You don’t have to be bitten, if you follow the advice in the Protecting the Bed FAQ).

24 mitch July 9, 2007 at 12:01 am

My situation is that the unit above me in my condo complex was found to have bed bugs – but only after the previous tenants moved out. The unit across from them was also found to have them – that unit is still occupied. Because I live directly below the original unit, management wanted to check my unit. I had already been cleaning out some stuff already because I had been planning on moving out for a while now, this decision was before I even knew of the bed bug infestation above. I actually did see a strange bug while cleaning, immediately wondered if it was a bed bug due to having seen some media stories, but thought nothing more of it. Since that first sighting 2 wks or so ago, I have seen these bugs a few more times. It was only after I got the call from management this past week that I really began suspecting that the strange bugs I had seen could actually be bed bugs. So I have been researching online for hours and hours this past wknd. Based on the pics I have seen, I’m pretty sure that yes those were bed bugs I had found in my place (I guess they could be bat bugs or bird mites too). The PCP that had treated the 2 top units visited me on Friday. Unfortunately I did not have any bites (well I did have a line of 3 on my ankle, but the PCP told me those were not bed bug bites) nor did I have a sample because I had flushed or vacuumed the ones that I had found, so he did not do any treatment due to lack of solid evidence (that was what he told me). He did not do any inspection, just questioned me a bit, put some bug monitor traps around the place, and left. Before he left he did say that there were no live bugs in the 2 above units anymore and that he would be treating all the common area hallways.

So obviously now I am in worry mode with tons of questions, like whether the PCP do a proper job. Since the unit above me is now vacant, will the bugs go dormant until the treatment wears off. Or maybe they will start migrating to my unit in full force now. I’ll have to talk to the management office about the PCO and keep looking out for a bug sample to catch. But in the meantime they could be infesting my stuff, if they have not already. I haven’t really noticed any bites on me at all, just the few spots on my ankle which I don’t know for sure if are bed bug bites or not. I don’t know if thats because I sleep on an aerobed on top of a metal futon frame or because the bugs have only just started to trickle down to my unit. Since I was already planning on moving before, a bed bug problem does screw my plans up, so I’ve been trying to find out what I can do should do.

25 mitch July 9, 2007 at 12:10 am

Oh, and yes I have read the dos and don’ts FAQ… at least 3 times already. 😉

26 nobugsonme July 9, 2007 at 1:19 am

Mitch, I suspect it’s best to treat the bed bugs until they seem to be gone, and then move and treat once at the other end. Or, if they seem really gone, stay.

I wouldn’t overthink the questions of what happens to the bed bugs in the empty unit. If your unit and other adjacent units got bed bugs after the tenant vacated, it’s likely you already have their bugs. I have a hunch bed bugs in such a setting will simply move next door rather than go dormant. They can walk easily from one unit to another, no need to go without food. Lots of people seem to get infested when a neighbor moves out.

27 Bugalina July 9, 2007 at 1:31 am

Mitch…three bites in a symetrical pattern, on your ankles..This is exactly the same kind of bites I was getting…from bed bugs !! They like the ankle area..and the three in a row is classic …Please search and find a bug…which I unfortunatly think you will…yes , nobugs is correct…these monsters won’t go dormant..they will come crawling into your unit via the electrical wire highways…and pipe chases…you have to dust the insides of all your switch plates with DE and all around your pipe need a PCO treatment..I don’t care what that guy said…

28 arora July 9, 2007 at 5:30 pm

A question for Buglina,

How did you seal your stuff? Like Books and CDs. I’m thinking about sealing them in individual ziplocs (one single CD in one small sandwich ziploc, a couple of books in a medium-sized ziploc, etc) and put them in Rubbermaid for the easy to transport and to stack. Do you think that’ll work?

For clean (unwashable) winter clothes, can I just throw them in the dryer and tumble dry for more than an hour before I seal them in XL Ziplocs? Will that kill the bugs? I can’t really afford to dry clean every piece of my winter clothes.

29 arora July 9, 2007 at 5:30 pm

Sorry. Typo. *Bugalina

30 nobugsonme July 9, 2007 at 5:38 pm

Drying clean dry clothes is also fine.

31 coyote July 9, 2007 at 6:03 pm

I’ve been sitting at my office all day feeling like I’m being bitten, and I’m terrified that it’s bedbugs and I don’t want to bring them home!

I can only find two small red marks that look like bites, at least they’re not something that was on my leg before.

I mean, I am a clean person who just showered this morning. I know this sounds silly, but I live in NYC and I KNOW this is a big, big problem.

Can I take a shower as soon as I get in the house and throw my clothes into a plastic bag? Is there anything I can do pre-emptively?

32 nobugsonme July 9, 2007 at 6:11 pm

bed bug bites are usually not felt when the bite occurs or for some time afterwards. it’s not uncommon to be bitten at night and not to notice bites or get those itchy biting insect sensations until the next day.

Read this.

and this.

First try to identify if you might have them at home or work.
Ask other coworkers if they have noticed any itching or insects. Look around. See if you see little black specks.

But consider they may be at home and those may be bites you suffered at home last night.
Our FAQs should help you identify the problem and treat it if necessary.

33 July 31, 2007 at 7:20 pm

I am scared s***less to even go near my bed now that I have had my first sighting. I really don’t think I can bring myself to sleep in my bed, or on my couch where the bugs are more prevalent. I am having trouble even bringing myself to take the sheets off my bed… what if they just scatter? My pco is coming friday, and they will be doing two treatments on my unit only, four weeks apart. Is there another way to make sure they get poisoned besides being “live bait?”

34 nobugsonme July 31, 2007 at 8:14 pm

Anonymous, you must read the FAQs on protecting your bed. This method allows you to sleep in the bed and not be bitten. You could also try the tent I posted about yesterday. (Anyway, lots of the FAQs will likely be of help. Click the FAQs link in the top menubar.)

35 bugged on all sides August 24, 2008 at 11:41 pm

Hi All,

I am in a real bind. My boyfriend and I live in an apartment in Illinois (5+ hours south of Chicago, close to St. Louis). We went on a hike 3 weeks ago and shortly there after my boyfriend had this terrible rash. Fast forward to a week ago Sunday where we came back from visiting my folks in NY and find bed bugs on our bed. Turns out I had no reaction to the bugs. We called our landlord the next day to let him know about the infestation. A PCO came to our apartment on Friday saying it would cost $525 to treat our 2 bedroom apartment.

Now here’s the messed up part. Our landlord refuses to pay and claims (through his building manager) that we brought them in because we have a bed that was made in China!!! Now we bought a new bed in June that came wrapped in plastic and had no problems at all until 3 weeks ago. What really is annoying is that when we moved to this place in May we had brought cockroaches with us (we have had lousy luck with apartments) and the landlord treated them at no cost to us even though we accidentally brought them in.

So now we have a PCO coming in tomorrow, a tossed mattress and a $525 bill to pay in addition to a $625 in rent to pay in less than a week. we spent all day today washing and drying clothes. Spent $75 getting tupperware containers to pack up our clothes. It seems like from looking around this website that the landlord may be obligated to pay for this but we haven’t been able to find the exact law that states this. The landlord won’t budge unless we can prove that we didn’t bring the bed bugs in but how do you prove that???

HELP two broke students who are~
bugged on all sides

36 nobugsonme August 25, 2008 at 12:45 am

bugged on all sides,

We are not lawyers and can’t give legal advice.

This article links to a Fox News story in which Chicago Alderman Joe Moore says it’s the landlord’s duty in Chicago to get rid of bed bugs. That may help your case.

This may also help, via our FAQ on who pays for treatment: this from the Metropolitan Tenants Organization in Chicago.

If the info. there does not help, call this group, they may be able to offer local tenants’ advice.

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