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Diatomaceous Earth - Best Practices?

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  1. TorontoBugged

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 21:24:48
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    hi,

    In a moment of insanity last year, I had coated our mattresses with DE that I bought from Home Depot. I thought I had read on the label that it was safe and organic but I found out later that you are not supposed to breathe it in. Luckily our mattresses are covered with vinyl covers so I don't think it's too bad for us. I sprinkled some of the dust in the cracks of the bed frames. Is this a no no do you think given that it's so close to where we sleep?

    I found the info on carincogenity of DE below...

    "Diatomaceous earth has been tested as a whole and evaluated as a Group 3 carcinogen by IARC. [...] Therefore, there is no requirement under the HCS to state a definitive finding of carcinogenicity on the label or MSDS for diatomaceous earth products containing less than 1% crystalline silica. [...] This enforcement policy does not apply to products containing greater than 1% crystalline silica [...]"

    http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/ewh-semt/pubs/occup-travail/whmis-simdut/compli-conform/diatomaceous-diatomees_e.html

  2. paulaw0919

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Aug 20 2007 21:33:29
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    If you are using De..It is important to use Food Grade DE...for it to be safe..Put it in all the outlets, light switches, smoke detectors, etc through out hte home. But this alone will not stop an infestation. If al all possible it is highly advised to get a good experienced PCO company in. If you are in an apartment it is the landlords responsibility to pay for it. That's about how much I know on DE. to help...

  3. Beatrice

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 11:34:17
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    I am unable to remove the plates around my electrical sockets, they have been painted over several times and I can't get them off. I have a hand bellow, should I puff directly in the socket?

  4. (deleted)

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 12:41:03
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    Toronto, calcined (heat-treated) DE is not effective for killing insects.

    We have a DE FAQ here.

    Btw, if the DE is on the mattress and then covered with a mattress encasing, then I don't see a problem. But placing DE or any DE-like product on sleeping surfaces does not seem a good idea to me. PCOs can treat mattresses and bed frames with some approved products. Encasing should be enough for mattress and box spring, and then you concentrate on treating the bed frame.

    Beatrice, no I would not do that. I'm not an electrician, but I would want to consult one before I did that.

  5. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 12:52:13
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    Beatrice,
    Try a utility knife and score around switch plates then pry off with a small screwdriver. After use some caulk to cover area off plate that meets the wall. I would not puff directly into socket. You can get plate off but it may take a little patience

    TorontoBugged,
    I put a little DE Freshwater Food Grade into my bed slats. Probly some will not agree with that but for me I feel OK with that.

    What is this asking PCO's on specifics. I think if you do some research you will develop a good idea on what not to do and what to do. I still believe that most PCO's still lack the proper experience and sensitivity in bed bug fighting but true they have improved a little from a year ago. My PCO did not wish to use DE because his only claim was that it was too messy.
    Messy for who?

  6. buggeroff

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 13:18:28
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    http://pctonline.com/articles/article.asp?ID=331&IssueID=65

    from PCT Online about DE and what it does to bugs.

    A problem with "messiness" is that the BB-owner would tend to want to clean it up. You don't want the cat walking through it then jumping on the bed, for instance. And you don't want it sticking to your feet when you get out of the shower or to the baby when she plays on the floor. If you mop the floors, you might wash it out from under the baseboards. I guess you have to find a way to use it so you can live with it.

  7. (deleted)

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 13:21:36
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    I also dusted my bed frame slats with freshwater DE, but I asked my PCO first if it was OK.

    There is at least one highly regarded PCO in NYC who will NOT treat your home if you have put down DE. It is important to discuss all aspects of treatment with PCOs, even the stuff you do yourself.

    I believe in making the most out of the PCO relationship. Take advantage of their experience, escalate to a service manager or technical director when you have problems, and otherwise consult them. They work for you. Yes, some PCOs are still not up to speed, but that is changing in most markets. Moreover, you can speed up that change by being an educated consumer of PCO services and letting them know when a tech has not been thorough or when other things come up during treatment.

  8. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 14:51:58
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    DE should be used strategically.

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Aug 22 2007 23:57:20
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    ltdan,

    nomo's point is a valid one: if you do any kind of treatment on your own, without speaking to your PCO, you could sabotage their methods. With DE, I suppose that is not likely, however, it is nonetheless true that using DE or other treatments on your own could void any warranty they give you. Lots of people get a "we come back for 60 days" policy. Do you want to tell them it's cool to do something that might void that?

    Seriously folks, why not talk to the PCO?

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  10. Fatherbug

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 8:38:40
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    I have experimenteed with DE and found it ineffective. It is labeled organic and/or natural and the company therefore is not required to have scientific data on whether it works or not, since it's a naturally occurring product. We had the bugs in a vial wading in the stuff for days, and only about 10% died. It was a while ago, but i think more than 10% of our controls (untreated) died, so that means it doesn't work.

  11. (deleted)

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 8:44:59
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    Hello Fatherbug,

    Thank you for your perspective, very much appreciated.

    We've had reports from people who have talked to entomologists looking into DE and they indicate that DE does kill bedbugs, albeit very slowly, 10 days if I'm not misremembering.

    May I ask how long the bugs were in the DE? Do you know of any studies we can read?

    If DE doesn't work on bedbugs, I'm sure we all want to know. This is especially important because environmentally-concerned groups tout DE as an effective treatment as part of their case against pesticides. DE will probably be a part of the IPM recipe for such advocates.

    Further thoughts?

  12. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 8:52:01
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    Two months after my PCO sprayed my entire house for the third and final time I asked him this question.

    What about using DE?
    His answer. It is too messy.

    nobugsonme,
    I never said that one should not speak to the PCO, Of course they should, why not. But what I know about the use of FRESHWATER FOOD GRADE DE is that DE will kill bed bugs if they come into contact with it. Bed bugs will walk or run through light dust or CLUMPS of DE and within two weeks they will die. nobugsonme you probably know where I got that info from.

    I think that the PCOs word should not be the final word but should be considered. Many PCOs in this country still in my opinion do not fully understand how to treat for bed bugs. I do believe the PCO and his limited pesticides are important but I know that all of the additional tactics that I used such as vaccuum, steam, DE, Bedlam, etc... and all of the hard work that I did was equally as important and the war could not be won without personal hard work. We all know that untill recently most PCOs in the U.S. never ever even had seen a bed bug and most have never experienced a personal infestation. Hell all of a sudden they are the experts! I think that the true experts are people who have fought the war on their front which is inside their home.

    Also let us discuss most PCOs methods.

    You are told usually but not always and usually over the phone to launder and bag and toss stuff and pull furniture away from walls. You are not told what chemicals will be used unless you ask. You are not provided a chemical data sheet.
    The PCO arrives and sprays some Suspend SC or some other product.
    You have to call them back for a second, third and maybe a fourth spray.
    You have to stay on top of these guys. It is not in their interest to have to come back again, this cuts into their profit.

    No, my friend I believe this war is an individual war, so you do your research and make a plan and implement that plan. No one really gives a crap because you are the one fighting for your home and your life.

    Has anyone ever seen a study on using DE after a PCO sprays? You can by DE with pesticide mixed in with it.
    Where do PCOs get their info? Imagine if one day we find out that DE is really the main tool and it costs are practically nothing.
    What would the PCO companies do then?

  13. Bugalina

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 9:36:51
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    ltdan. I agree with you. I am a resourceful person...When my infestation hit, I hate to say this, but I knew almost as much as the PCO's did, more than some of them and I knew more than the NYU dermatologist did. ....of course this was after research on the Web. I believe that people definitely should use PCO's, but my heart goes out to those on a tight budget. The salesman who repped the PCO I used, told me that it broke his heart when woman would break down in tears aftering hearing the price of their extermination. I also stand firm that in order to get rid of bed bugs a person/family must put in the hard work necessary. One cannot rely only on a PCO. I think that since my infestation PCO's have learned more. ( I hope !) But my advice to people is always Buyer Beware, and use supplemental products....I believe in DE and Bedlam and Kleen Free and hard work and cleaning often and intense inspection/searching. I do think that most of the population needs PCO's.....There are affordable PCO's out there...and I think its very wise to always recommend using one, but I also think that an infested person cannot sit back and rely on the PCO's thinking all the time....there is an advertisement for a clothing store that I always liked " An educated consumer is our Best
    Customer", its up to people to educate themselves , and then they can work along with the PCO's and not allow themselves to be taken advantage of...Educate yourselves....do your own thinking...

  14. (deleted)

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 9:52:25
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    While no one can argue with anyone's personal experience with PCOs--if it was bad, it will color your perspective forever--it's also important to consider that not everyone possesses judgment and discretion and a calm, methodical mind in the face of an infestation, all of which are necessary.

    People can and do hurt themselves with pesticides. Or they can make their infestations worse. Further, not every PCO is incompetent, far from it! I rant about bad PCOs often enough, but I worry about instilling in others a distrust of professionals and experts. Why? I have seen what such distrust, in the midst of the misery of an infestation, can produce: really bad decisions and dangerous actions.

    I am a firm believer in people becoming very knowledgeable about bedbugs and being able to discuss with their PCOs all treatment options and issues. I also believe in cleaning and inspecting, Bugalina, but, on the subject of other supplemental methods, it is not always clear that a person benefits from them. I can think of many situations where doing something on your own will not be in your best interest. It takes a lot of research and thought and specific capabilities. It's not for everyone.

  15. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 9:53:41
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    Bugalina,
    Yes my feelings exactly. This is what I meant, one must become proactive.
    Also in additional to the web one can call entomologists and pesticide product manufacturers and ask questions. I have spoken with many and all have helped and some are very friendly.

  16. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 10:01:39
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    I can think of many situations where trusting others was not in ones best interest.
    PCOs have done things to make infestations worse also. One example was to use Gentrol and some of us veterans know what I am talking about. Professionals have changed their opinions on Gentrol claiming that they now believe Gentrol did the opposite of what it was supposed to do.

    Wait a minute I have just notice something above.
    Is that an ORKIN advertisement that I see?

  17. (deleted)

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 23:01:44
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    I hope Fatherbug will still see my question above. Very intrigued.

  18. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Aug 23 2007 23:33:38
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    Dan,

    You said:

    "What is this asking PCO's on specifics. I think if you do some research you will develop a good idea on what not to do and what to do."

    I said:

    "...if you do any kind of treatment on your own, without speaking to your PCO, you could sabotage their methods. With DE, I suppose that is not likely, however, it is nonetheless true that using DE or other treatments on your own could void any warranty they give you. Lots of people get a "we come back for 60 days" policy. Do you want to tell them it's cool to do something that might void that?

    Seriously folks, why not talk to the PCO?"

    I was directly responding to what you said. And your subsequent points do not in any way respond to my concerns. You are suggesting that people make their own decisions about what to do once the PCO leaves your home. I am saying that could void your rights to follow-ups you've paid for--really-- not to mention (in the case of some pesticides or dusts) that it may sabotage their treatment as I noted.

    You are entitled to state your opinion, but my concerns are valid.

  19. TorontoBugged

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2007 0:26:09
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    hi All,

    I just read the DE FAQ and my head is spinning. Food grade vs. freshwater DE? What is the difference? I bought mine in Home Depot on a shelf with other pesticides. Is that considered freshwater grade? I'm a little pissed that nothing on the label said that it could cause cancer. There is so much that no one knows very much about in terms of bed bugs. We are truly the pioneers of this day and age.

    Although I haven't been bitten since August 12/13, I saw some scars on my dad's arm. He claims its nothing. He's always itching his head too. Do bedbugs bite people's scalps if they have hair on them? Sigh.

  20. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2007 1:03:20
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    No-- "Food Grade / Freshwater DE" (it's one type, not two)

    Food grade freshwater DE means it's edible (food grade) and so added to products like some dog foods and even cereals. Ick, right? But "safe." food grade freshwater DE and other kinds (e.g. pool grade DE) are very different, processed differently. As far as I know food grade freshwater DE does not cause cancer. The only risk is that it can dry or irritate your skin (so don't get it on skin, wear gloves), and you don't want to breathe it--it's a dust. But the other kinds of DE are even worse and can screw up your lungs.

    Another kind of DE is that with pyrethrin pesticides added. It is a different thing and would never be added to food, but should be based on the safer kind of DE, since it is meant to be a pesticide.

    Anyway, the "other kind" besides food grade is usually pool grade. What is on the label? What's the brand? Is it labeled as a pesticide? Googling the brand can often help you find manufacturer's info on the net. Calling the manufacturer listed is another option.

    Also, they can bite heads, but it is not their preference to bite on your head. Some have reported this and I have a hunch it may depend on what type of hair you have, style, how much, etc.

  21. lieutenantdan

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2007 9:09:04
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    TorontoBugged,
    Yes I am 99.9% positive that they bit the back/top part of my head. I had semi long hair at that time if that helps you.

    Nobugsonme,
    I am not in total disagreement with you, not at all. I think that one should communicate with professionals.
    Are people now getting a precise written warranty from PCOs? My warranty was verbal and I had to ask about it. I never received anthing but an invoice and that had nothing on it about warranty and I did not receive chemical data specs. Nothing in writting. That was 10 months ago maybe it is different now but I would believe that in most cases not.
    After first spray by PCO it was not until I complained that I was still receiving bites and found live bugs that I was told about how daylight and certain products such as Windex could subtract from the life of the chemicals.
    I believe that since their is not a standard industry practice that it all comes down to who you hire.

    If you receive no written contract with specifics from the PCO company then I would believe that a warranty does not really exist. How could you possibly void something that does not really exist.

    After my first two sprays I said to myself, self I can do that. The third spray he did finally spray with some kind of expensive machine and I wonder why he did not use that machine and the whitemire BP-300 in the first place.
    Now I have sprayed with Bedlam and used DE which are available in some stores and on the internet and I have steamed.
    I treat areas that the PCO had never treated. I have turned over furniture and treated, I have treated inside metal curtain rods, etc... PCO did not take the time and energy to do that, that is my point. I have the patience and time to get to all of those areas that the PCO missed. I believe that tactic put the icing on the cake.

    All of that said I DO believe that everyone does need a PCO because I do not think my tactics alone would have been enough and I did not have the understanding at the beginning. Hiring a PCO and watching how he did things was part of my education which now has allowed me to take matters into my own hands.

  22. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Fri Aug 24 2007 11:04:55
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    Dan,
    I don't think you can generalize what your PCO did in terms of agreement and warranty to everyone else. People are reporting getting warranties, and even if a PCO only said verbally that he was coming back until they are gone, I'd sure rather have him do so rather than get mad and not come back because I self treated.

    That is my final statement about that!

    I agree with your estimation that everyone needs a PCO and in time they may decide they have learned enough to do something on their own. I don't think, as you seem to, that this is always a good choice. I am repeating for the last time in this conversation tha t there ARE pesticides and dusts which, used in certain ways, can make things worse. It is possible, some say, to send your bed bugs into hiding by overtreating, even with substances most PCOs use.

    Some PCOs are bad, but many know more than you do about bed bugs, Dan. They have seen many cases, and learned from them. I think that knowledge can be very valuable.

    There's nothing you can say to change my mind on that.

  23. mrbill0626

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Oct 16 2007 18:53:20
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    Nobugs:

    Are you a PCO?

    Bill

  24. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Tue Oct 16 2007 22:36:57
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    No, Bill. I've just heard a lot of stories from people who self treated and made things worse. Some people also harmed themselves.

    (I have also heard from people who, in time, after months of watching PCOs and researching, learned enough to do a good job. But there are good reasons I don't recommend people self-treat.)

  25. mrbill0626

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Oct 17 2007 14:18:50
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    Well, I just talked to the landlord .The inspector from the PCO co. that treated here in July was just here and did another inspection. The inspector said that we should have called them in late July or after we started seeing BBs again and had them come out and re-treat. Well, fact is, I did call them and told them about I had seen a couple more bugs and what they suggested was I come to their store and buy a gallon of the spray (for $18.00) they used when they were here to spray any bugs that I would see. BS! They should have done the job right to begin with. So anyway, the PCO is planning to come out again and treat the same way they did in July, only I don't know if they are going to use foggers (What was it someone said again about foggers--not good?)Then they plan to come back in 30 days and treat again, or sooner, I guess if we see anymore BBs. The landlord said that they didn't offer any kind of warranty, they told him that no company offers a warranty against bed bugs. Maybe not. What do you think? So the landlord is saying that after the PCO has treated the second or third time, he's going to get some DE and other self-treating stuff to use and spread the DE around. Well, why not, if there's no guarantee from the PCO, why not do it yourself and save money?

    Bill

  26. jtwburger

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Oct 17 2007 14:50:53
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    mrbill0626,

    First off - unless the company is extremely experienced with bedbugs (which yours doesn't sound like they are) DO NOT have them use a fogger. VERY FEW companies know how to fog when dealing with bedbugs...

    Secondly - are you located in NYC? If so, I can tell you for a fact that there are companies that DO offer a warranty. I used Horizon Pest Management - and they offered 3 sprays and a 90 day guarantee. I did have to do the follow up calls every 2 weeks to schedule each subsequent spray, but they were excellent. And I just had a 4th (hopefully final) spray this weekend that was done more as a "better safe than sorry" gesture over a bite that was more than likely a mosquito bite - and it was covered under their guarantee. They really were very friendly and had a lot of experience with bedbugs. I actually got there name from this site - so I know I am not the only one who had a positive experience with them. They were very reasonable too.

    NOTE: I have no affiliation with the company, whatsoever. You can look at my past posts and see that I am just another sorry guy like the rest of you who has had to deal with this nightmare and is just trying to help out his fellow man/woman...

    Best to all,

    John - a bedbugger who is fairly optimistic that he won...

  27. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Oct 17 2007 17:36:38
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    jtwburger,

    did Horizon come every 2 weeks?
    I think someone else used them but cannot remember who or their report.

    mrbill,

    In many localities, it is illegal for a landlord to treat. They are often required by law to get a professional to do it. The Cincy bed bug hotline might help you determine if this is the law there.

    It is interesting that the landlord had you talking with the PCO because usually they do not like to have tenants involved in that.

    Many companies do have a warranty: they promise to come back within a certain period if you still have bed bugs. It does not sound like you had a good PCO. Foggers are bad. So is not coming to follow up with further treatment. Almost no one only needs one visit. And your home sounds like a significant infestation. Shame on that PCO. Your landlord should get a better one.

  28. mrbill0626

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Wed Oct 17 2007 20:17:06
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    jtwburger & Nobugs:

    I'm in Cincinnati, OH.

    Well, there are better PCOs in Cincinnati, and I've tried to get the landlord & lady to consider some others, but they seem committed to using this one. Go figure. Like someone said, "you can lead a horse to water, but.."

    The inspector who was here today didn't find any evidence of BBs in my apt, anyway, but there is still some evidence, even dead bugs in my neigbors place.

    I'll be so glad to move out of here. This seems like it could go on and on.

    Bill

  29. jtwburger

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Thu Oct 18 2007 13:28:58
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    Nobugs,

    Yes, Horizon Pest came every two weeks. I personally called to set up each of those appointments - so I don't know if they would have followed up on their own - but they were very positive and responsive when I called. They included 3 treatments, each 2 weeks apart, in their cost. And give a 90 day guarantee after that - which I used this weekend. They gave me no hassle whatsoever about it either. They really seem to "get it". That's the best thing I can say - ya know?

    Now I just feel like I am in paranoia land about whether we really "got them all"... This was our 5th spray over all - for what we thought was a very "light" infestation. Unfortunately, I'm pretty positive we were "re-infested" half way through by the same dry cleaners that I now think was the initial source of our infestation. And the re-infestation happened on the other side of the apartment - so that just threw us into a whole different nightmare by taking away our "safe haven" < Wow, sorry, I'm a little quotes happy aren't I?
    I've had the psychosomatic itchies the last couple of days - and today I got what I think was a hive in the middle of my workday on my chest and I'm freaking out a bit. It already went down to almost nothing - and I've had hives in the past, so I know I get them - but the whole "what if..." thing is just ringing in my head. ARGHHH!!! So frustrating...

  30. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Fri Oct 19 2007 0:27:57
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    jwtburger,

    Thanks for the details. I really do appreciate it, since people often ask about this company or that. You mentioned 3 Horizon treatments and one 90 day follow up. What was the 5th spray?

    You probably got them all. Luckily, you react to bites, so you have a warning system. Any new bites, call them back. If that ever happens, make sure your neighbors are inspected. It is always possible it was them, and not the DC, that gave them to you, or that they caught them and are giving them back. Probably not, but if it happens again, my mind would go there.

    Also, I don't want to hear from any attorneys, so you shouldn't probably name the dry cleaner, but can we have the borough and neighborhood name? (Then anyone worried can PM you?) Dry cleaners and laundromats are, frankly, likely sources.

    Wash and fold services? Fuggettabouddit.

    Should be called "wash, fold, and itch."

  31. cantdealanymore

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Fri Oct 19 2007 16:10:00
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    I am pretty sure that I got mine from my laundromat.
    The irony is so sick.

  32. Bites44

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    Posted 12 years ago
    Sun Nov 4 2007 10:30:49
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    Just joined a few days ago. This thread is very interessting. I am taking all the points of view seriously, as I do believe that there are many PCO companies that do not know much yet. And each member will have different experiences with their PCO. It is important to be aware of all these different experiences.
    My cousin's apartment was sprayed twice with Cyfluthrin (brand name is Tempo) and the company did not wish to tell her very much. She is still getting bites and seeing BB.

    I phoned Orkin, and was told that they would guarantee for one year--they spray at leasst twice. (I don't think fogging is legal here (Alberta Canada)

  33. minibughater

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    Joined: Oct '07
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    Posted 12 years ago
    Mon Nov 5 2007 9:24:54
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    OK so when you call up a PCO what is the best method of treatment if the fog bomb is bad? How do I know which will work the best? can someone tell me what worked and what different methods and pesticides they used??


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