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Despair

(11 posts)
  1. SleeplessInToronto

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Dec 16 2007 16:58:43
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    I'm a student living in Toronto, currently still living at home (I'm 20). I live in a 3-bedroom apartment with my mother and her husband, as well as 2 dogs and a cat.
    This setup is essentially a recipe for disaster when combined with bedbugs, but it gets much worse; my mother's husband doesn't give a damn about the situation (go figure), and my mother is unwilling to call an exterminator due to financial problems, not to mention the difficulty that comes along with the service because of our pets. In the previous apartment we lived in, we had the same problem, and had a professional exterminator visit us about 4-5 times, but the infestation persisted, and they have even followed us here. We took minimal precautions to ensure that they would not re-emerge in the new residence, and now I see what a mistake this was. My mother now spends money on Raid bug killer occasionally (the "Keeps Killing For Up To 2 Weeks kind), but I have come to realize that its effect rivals that of a kiss to the dead. A friend we have had a bedbug problem also, and apparently she and her husband packed all the furniture and everything up into bags and used a cyanide-based extermination method with the assistance of a professional, and are no longer having this problem. When I discussed this option with my mother, she stated that she "can't do so much work".
    I am psychologically and physically tired of this problem, and I am at a loss of what to do. I am convinced that the only way I can be free of this is when I move out on my own, and I have nightmares about moving into the new place and the dirty little blood-suckers appearing there also. This has been going on for far too long, and I feel completely powerless to fight it.
    I apologize for the extended post, but I was curious; what would you do in a situation like this one? Under the circumstances, is there a plausible and effective way to cope with this problem, or - perhaps - even solve it?
    I apologize once again, but also thank you in advance.

  2. DougSummersMS

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Dec 16 2007 19:40:47
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    Sleepless in Toronto

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if there was a simple solution everybody here would be utilizing it.

    As you have already surmised the Raid insect spray is worthless for treating a bed bug infestation.

    If I understand your description of the problem you are currently at a social impasse with your family.

    Given the situation, I would have to vote for moving out to gain the autonomy to address the problem effectively.

    I would recommend the use of a bed bug dog & a good PCO to screen any contents that you choose to take to a new location to avoid re-infestation.

    In the meantime, read the FAQs about isolating your bed, bagging your laundry & use of DE products.

    Given that you have pets & non-compliant roommates, you might want to consider a product called a sleep tent. I have never used one, but I like the concept.

    Here is a link http://www.longroad.com/cgi-local/SoftCart.100.exe/Travel_tent.htm?E+scstore

    Continue to ask questions & let us know how your situation progresses.

    I hope this response is helpful.

  3. bugobsessed

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Dec 16 2007 19:58:36
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    Hi Sleepless in Toronto,

    Do you have your own room? If so, maybe you can begin by sanitizing your room as best you can (as per the FAQ's). You can use DE around the perimeter, and caulk any cracks around electrical outlets, light fixtures, molding, windows and door frames. Then at least the only entry point for the bugs is under the door. If you isolate your bed, they won't be able to get you while you're sleeping. I also isolated my clothes and shoes once I sanitized them. I bought wire storage racks and plastic draws for my clothes, and I rubbed the legs of the racks with vaseline and put them in bowls of mineral oil. It doesn't look pretty, but I know that the bugs can't breed in my clothing now.

    Good luck!

  4. (deleted)

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Dec 16 2007 20:47:16
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    Sleepless,

    I'm not sure of the tenant/landlord laws in Toronto with respect to bedbug eradication but there is a link in the FAQs to Canadian resources you can consult. I think sometimes landlords are willing to assist, even in those provinces where they are not legally responsible, in order to prevent the spread.

    Please do read the FAQs and, as suggested, the bed isolation and the clothing/how to deal with stuff FAQs. (You don't have to buy expensive ziploc bags to manage your clothing; sturdy plastic bags are adequate.) Keep your personal items and shoes protected at home so that there is little chance of your inadvertently spreading your problem to other places you regularly visit.

    With some elbow grease, you should be able to improve your situation, but may not be able to solve your problem until professional help can be arranged for and/or everyone in your family is on board.

    Some safe things to use as contact killers are 91% alcohol and Murphy's Oil Soap. Any visible bugs can be vacuumed (disposing of the vacuum bag securely) or cleaned with a soapy rag. You can also consider using freshwater food-grade diatomaceous earth (food grade due to the presence of pets) as suggested in the FAQ.

    You can and should encase your mattress and box spring with covers. Please read the FAQs for instructions on how to protect your bed. You can find inexpensive vinyl encasements--try to find the sturdiest available since there are some really flimsy ones that will tear. You can tape the zipper with duct tape and repair any tears as they appear. I've used vinyl covers in the $15-$20 USD range successfully. But I think this will only work if your cat is not allowed on your bed.

    If you use Raid or similar products you may scatter the bugs and make them more difficult to treat. If you discourage your mother from using them and instead take some cleaning abatement measures, you will have better results. Decluttering and caulking also help tremendously. You can caulk cracks and crevices to limit possible hiding places for the bugs and this is something you can do for very little money.

    However, all of this will likely not be enough. You should try to contact a tenant advocacy group in your area who can advise you of your options.

  5. Bites44

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Dec 16 2007 20:51:43
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    Hi SleeplessinToronto....Sorry about the bugs and the tight spot you are in. I thought that in most of the Canadian provinces, the landlord was responsible for treatment of bedbugs, mice, cockroaches, and the like.

    Here in Alberta, when you phone the health board to ask about bed bugs they immediately want to know the address, because they want to know if an health inspector has been to that apartment complex. If there is a complaint, they send someone out to see about it. I know, because when I phoned them about nymphs they really didn't want to talk to me because I did not live in an apartment or rent a house, and they have no interest if you own your own house.

    You said apartment, and I took that to mean a rented apartment. If so, isn't it your mother's responsibility to report an infestation so that the other apartment units can be alerted?

    You might want to read a lot of posts on this forum to see what others are doing about an infestation, and how they are doing it. Wishing you luck.

  6. (deleted)

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Dec 16 2007 21:12:30
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    I see no mention of informing the landlord of your situation this should be done immediately. If the landlord seems unconcerned I would assume Canada has something similiar to a Housing Authority which should be able to help or get you in contact with an agency that can help with getting the landlord to do something.

    By not do anything your not just making life hard on yourself but also everyone else in the building as they will not just stay in your apt but spread throughout the building.

    I am going through some like this with my own landlord who seems to think it is only my problem and is unconcerned about others in my building. I called the local Housing Authority. Move you bed away from any wall get encasements as others mentioned do a lot of reading this site has so much info that has been of help to me in the FAQ's and from others who have posted.

    If you do move I'd think of having the place treated after moving. I think I will be doing this myself at the end of my lease as I fear taking them with once I move.

  7. (deleted)

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Sun Dec 16 2007 21:26:47
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    Read this post about Canadian landlord/tenant laws. It would seem that Ontario is among the enlightened but what the linked CBC resource says is as follows:

    "Ontario laws don't cover begbug infestations, but, like most other provinces, the landlord-tenant act states a landlord is responsible for keeping a dwelling safe and healthy, while the tenant must maintain "ordinary cleanliness". The landlord-tenant agency recommends landlords take action for bedbug infestations, as there is no by-law in place. In most cases, the agency has found most landlords are more than willing to foot the bill for exterminators as they don't want infestations to spread."

  8. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Dec 17 2007 0:46:26
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    It stands to reason that if tenants are held responsible for ordinary cleanliness, they might be in trouble if they do not report bed bugs, and they spread to others. This might help motivate your mom to take action, if nothing else does.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  9. SleeplessInToronto

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Dec 17 2007 9:35:48
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    Thank you for your replies; they have been very helpful, if anything just to be able to discuss this problem freely and receiving sympathetic responses. I do think it should be reported to the superintendent, but my mother believes that we will be scrutinized for causing a nuisance, and believes strongly that the superintendent isn't the type of person to willingly help without creating a very frustrating arrangement (this part I believe, but both me and my mother know that this problem isn't going to go away). She has strictly forbidden me to discuss it with the super, and unfortunately, while I live here, I must abide by her rules. I know what you're thinking; this is ridiculous, and believe me, I could not agree more. I love my mother, but her inability to confront and deal with this problem fills me with disappointment. I am willing to take the necessary steps to eradicate these things from here entirely, but my efforts are insufficient when not assisted by the 2 other members in the household.
    To complicate matters, I do not have a bed in my room; instead, I have a sofa. Its bottom rests flat on the ground, making it nearly impossible to utilize the practical methods of protection. There's plenty of places in it for the little buggers to hide in, and few ways with which it can be altered to be a more bug-free environment.
    The only thing I can do is to keep talking to my mother about it, even though it will create constant tension, perhaps being relentlessly exposed to reality will open her eyes and make her rise to duty.
    Once again, I eternally grateful for your assistance and input, and I will continue to attempt to do the right thing here, but being dependant places some exceptionally dire limitations on me. I just want to be free of this problem, and I'm willing to do whatever it takes, but in the current arrangement, this willingness does not go a long way.

  10. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Dec 17 2007 11:18:23
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    Hey Sleepless,

    We are totally here for you.

    One other idea: your mom (and maybe eventually the super) may be helped by doing some reading on the problem.

    One idea is to give them selected articles which convey aspects of the problem you don't think they are getting.

    For example, Joe Fiorito, a journalist with the Toronto Star, has been doing articles on bed bugs for months. You might select a few that convey how widespread a problem this is, how it does not signal poor hygiene (I know your mom doesn't have that, but lots of us think we'll be blamed as causing the problem), and also how quickly it spreads and becomes unmanageable.

    Seeing other people's words might help. Again, in moderation, and selectively.

    Each blog post here links to an article by Joe Fiorito:
    http://bedbugger.com/?s=joe+fiorito

    These two would be good candidates:
    http://www.thestar.com/article/274198
    http://www.thestar.com/article/270657

    Also, this New York Times article.

    Your mom is in denial and unwilling to accept this is a bigger problem than a can of Raid can handle. Reading others' stories should help.

    Some people would say have her read this site--but I think that's too much, too soon. She'll think we're all crazy. She needs to be eased in to understanding the scope of the problem. It is, after all, a NEW problem--it's understandable that people are resistant when they did not grow up hearing about this kind of thing.

  11. parakeets

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    Posted 11 years ago
    Mon Dec 17 2007 19:16:28
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    Maybe you could move out for a short period of time? If you just took clothes which can be washed and dried in a hot dryer and showered and didn't take anything else, you won't take bedbugs with you. If you could move into a furnished room for 2 months or so, it might make your mother realize how serious you are about the bedbug problem. Once you are living in a place without the stress of bedubgs, and sleeping through the night, you will feel better and can decide if you can really do anything to change your mother. If you can't, do you really think you would want to move back into her bedbug-infested place? If she is over 55 or 60, can you contact the equivalent of Elder Services? In the US, if Elder Services gets a report of abuse of elders (and I think an untreated bedbug infestation in the home could be considered abuse) they have to address it. Good luck. It might be time to fly the (bedbug infested) nest.


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