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Found a bed bug in Grandma's car

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  1. sostressed

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Jul 25 2012 22:11:42
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    This weekend I met my 89 year old grand parents for lunch. I took the Toronto subway (TTC) to meet them and we went to a somewhat rundown restaurant.

    I've never had bed bugs before and I find it unlikely my grand parents do. They don't get out a lot anymore, they live in a detached house in the suburbs and don't get a lot of visitors. They definitely don't travel, and I haven't traveled in months.

    Anyway, we sat in a booth in the restaurant and on the way home I was sitting in the back seat of their car beside a blanket that they keep folded in the middle seat. Right on top of the blanket was an adult bed bug. It was very flat but brown coloured. I killed it and quickly scanned the blanket and didn't see others. I'm so perplexed about where it came from. Their car interior is leather and I'm probably the first person to sit in the back near that blanket for months.

    So this had me thinking, maybe it hitched a ride from the subway or the restaurant? I put all of the clothes I wore into the dryer on high heat for an hour when I got him. Now, I'm paranoid. I suffer from anxiety disorder already, and I've torn apart my bedroom looking for bed bugs and there are no signs on my mattress or bed frame. I saw on single spot on my duvet under the cover that could have been blood or feces but it was in isolation and also not totally clear (i have a dog and cat, they get everything dirty easily). I even searched my couch; nothing. Problem is, I'm getting these tiny bites, but I think I might be causing them out of stress. They seem to always be hair folicles that are itchy and very very tiny. Most times not together, I have maybe 4 right now. I don't notice them until I start thinking about bed bugs and then boom, there's an itchy spot.

    So I have a few questions:
    If my mattress is spotless and couch looks clear, should I feel fairly confident? I'm looked very very hard and scoured the internet for tips.

    Has anyone else had "psychosomatic" bites?

    I live in a condo. If I did decide to have a detection dog come in, would I be in the wrong if I didn't say anything to my condo board unless they were detected? I'm very worried about causing a false panic and I'm fairly new in our small building.

  2. sostressed

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Jul 25 2012 22:13:06
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    I should also mention I did not tell my grandmother because I don't want to worry her at her age. I know for a fact if she had any bites she would tell me. She tells me every little detail when we talk each week.

  3. Koebner

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Jul 26 2012 9:47:40
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    OK, you're taking an excellent approach to this, keeping it perspective & holding your anxiety in check - I salute you. BBs are well-known to deepen or even cause anxiety & in your situation, doing the right thing re BBs is made far harder by having to manage your anxiety too. Kudos on taking that into consideration from the get-go. Kudos too on getting your clothes straight into high heat after seeing that bug.

    You are quite right, stress is often expressed through the skin, & your itchy spots may have absolutely nothing to do with any kind of biting insect.

    Do you still have the bug? I'm not doubting you but there are a number of critturs that are commonly mistaken for BBs & an expert ID is always the best place to start. If you still have it, try to take a good clear picture & post it here in a new thread asking for ID. There are some serious experts who frequent this forum & who can give you a definitive ID. (There's a green "sticky" in the section at the top of the forums that explains how to embed a picture in a post.)

    What follows is based on the assumption that you no longer have the bug.

    I'm not an entomologist or PCO but I have far more BB experience than I'd like & IMO, suspecting the restaurant & public transport are not wholly unreasonable hypotheses.

    It would be good to be proportionately vigilant now that you have encountered one of the little varmints. The best place to start would be this site's FAQs. There is a lot misinformation around when it comes to BBs & our host, Nobugsonme, has done a sterling job of collating only accurate & up-to-date info.

    Don't plunge in - read the "Bed Bugs 101" section then do something to relax. Read it again later when you feel entirely calm, then have another break before going on to any subsequent sections you feel may be relevant. Any action you take needs to be methodical & calmly enacted so make sure to keep addressing anxiety as it arises, & don't allow yourself to be seduced by catastrophic thinking. Keep remembering that at this stage, it's just one bug. Once.

    I'm a big fan of the BB Alert Passive Monitor (they're available through this site & buying them through here provides a tiny bit of financial support for the site). I think the device is especially valuable for people with anxiety problems & for people who find physical inspection difficult (eg frail/ elderly people). It will give a rapid indication of any BB problems without the upheaval of manual inspection. I'm not sure how you could best have a conversation with your grandparents that might allow you to install one for them - possibly it's best framed in terms of the massive general increase in the BB population over recent years, rather than by referring to this specific incident. You know your grandparents, best, so I'm sure you can find the best way to discuss it with them.

    I'm suggesting this, not because I assume their risk is high, but because you are clearly distressed by the possibility of BBs in their home & deploying the monitor is a cheap & simple way to address that anxiety, as well as giving your grandparents a rapid heads-up should BBs ever make it into their home. The earlier any BB infestation is found, the easier it is to eradicate.

    Putting a passive monitor in your own bed & sticking rigidly to the instructions on how often to inspect will help to manage your anxiety, & militate against you falling into the bottomless pit of perpetual manual inspection. Apart from its negative effects on your mental health, over-frequent & stressed inspections risk encouraging any BBs present in a dwelling to set up home away from the bed, where they may be harder to locate & treat.

    That blanket, though, really needs to come out of the car, be sealed into a plastic bag, & that bag opened inside a drier prior to a good dose of high heat.

    I'd also consider getting the car a nice, deep valeting. It sounds like you don't have a car - could you maybe pretend to have won a valet service you don't need? Again, this suggestion is as much, if not more, to do with managing your anxiety as with the actual material risk for your grandparents.

    Once you've read the relevant FAQs a couple of times, don't be shy to ask questions here, but as ever, when things are complicated by anxiety, understanding & contextualising the issue is a crucial step towards managing the both the anxiety & the presenting problem. Remember - you're doing all the right things so far. Stay calm, &, as they say; this too will pass.


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