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Heat treatment failed! Can't afford additional treatments.

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  1. BuggedInIowa

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Aug 6 2013 12:25:44
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    I am incredibly embarrassed, ashamed, and terrified of my current situation. Please bear with me while I try to explain my situation.

    I am currently living in a medium-sized one bedroom apartment. The apartment is on the second floor of a two-story brick building that is ~120 years old, located in the business district (Downtown) of the city. There are two other apartments on the second floor of this building, however they are unoccupied, have been unoccupied for many years, and are currently being used only for storage. Below the apartments are two stores, a jewelry/giftware store and a "Dollar Tree" type store. My apartment is above the jewelry store, the other two unoccupied/storage apartments are above the dollar store. A stairway and corridor runs down the center of the building, separating my apartment (On the "left") from the other two apartments (Both on the "right"). The stairway leads directly to outside with a non-weathertight swinging door at the bottom. Many years ago, a portion of the corridor had been closed off to serve as a mechanical room for the HVAC equipment (You actually need to walk through the mechanical room to get to the third apartment).

    I moved into this apartment in September 2012. Most of the furniture came from my old house, where to the best of my knowledge I did NOT have bed bugs. Of the furniture that did not come from the house, two came with the apartment (A bookshelf and microwave cart), two I bought new shortly after moving in (A second bookshelf and a telephone stand), and one was given to me by my brother right when I moved...

    ...it was the bed my brother had given me. Used, but in storage for an unknown amount of time before he gave it to me. Yes, I committed the absolute worst possible sin in regards to preventing bed bugs...I brought in a used bed, because I couldn't afford a new one.

    In December 2012, I began having trouble with severe itching, especially in two specific locations on my back. I've had a long history of severe dry skin, especially during the winter, so I didn't think too much of it at the time. As winter turned into spring and spring continued, the itching also continued. Still, through a combination of ignorance, denial and sheer stupidity, the thought of bed bugs never once crossed my mind. Instead, I kept coming up with the typical excuses to try to explain my itching...laundry detergent, the kind of soap I bathe with, my clothes. So, I just suffered through the itching, proclaiming every possible cause except bed bugs.

    Fast forward to two weeks ago (Late July 2013). In a matter of a few days, the itching exploded into an intolerable storm, to the point where I absolutely could not sleep at all. I finally, FINALLY broke through my stupidity and told myself "Dude, maybe I have bed bugs". Thus began an inspection of my bed. Almost immediately, I found them. Yep, I had bed bugs.

    Needless to say, I freaked out. I began doing all the research I could. I went out and bought several gallons of 91% isopropyl alchol and a spray bottle, literally ripped my bed apart (I removed and threw away the fabric bottom from the box spring) and began spraying every single bed bug I could see. I also thoroughly misted every single surface I could reach on/in the box spring and the mattress. I also took apart my nightstand and inspected it inside and out, but saw nothing. In the end, I only saw perhaps half a dozen bugs. But, knowing them, for every one I saw, there's likely ten more in hiding. I immediately went online and bought the most expensive mattress encasements I could find ($75 each x2) for both the mattress and box spring. I do not have a bed frame, my box spring rests directly on the floor and the mattress on top of it (Another point of shame...I am severely obese, and there are no affordable bed frames available that can hold my weight without eventually bending or breaking). In the meantime, I began sleeping in a recliner in the front room. During this time, I never once got bitten, nor have I seen any signs whatsoever of bed bugs beyond the bedroom.

    I must confess, afterwards I was afraid to tell anyone else for a couple days. I was terrified if my landlord found out, she would evict me. I also felt guilty...I was almost certainly the one who brought the bugs in. Even if by random luck the bugs HADN'T come from my used bed, then I could have brought them in after a vacation, or from work, or from the laundromat. It's impossible to know the ultimate source...just that I am most likely the one who brought them into the apartment. Thus, I felt it 100% my responsibility to do whatever I could to get rid of them...and potentially bankrupt myself in the process.

    A couple days after discovering the bed bugs, I finally found the courage to contact an exterminator. It's a company that was originally from North Carolina, but recently expanded into Iowa (I do not know if forum rules allow me to say company names or not, so I shall avoid it unless directly asked to say the name). I had heard about them from a news story the local ABC affiliate had done about bed bugs a few months ago. They specialize in heat treatment, and the research I had done suggested that was the most effective method. So, I set up an appointment with them.

    Saturday, July 27th, they sent out a tech to do a walkthrough inspection of my apartment and tell me what all I needed to do to prepare. During the inspection, they found signs that suggest my infestation was relatively minor...no blood stains around the electrical outlets or baseboards, no castings anywhere else. According to the tech, my apartment was just barely small enough to qualify for their lowest rate ($1,200 including fees and surcharges). I agreed, and we set a time for treatment, which would be the following Monday morning.

    All day Sunday, I went through my apartment and did what the checklist told me to do to prepare. Anything that couldn't tolerate the heat either went directly into the freezer (Where they shall remain for at least a month), or got doused with alcohol, placed in a crate, and removed from the apartment (The crate also got doused with alcohol). I did everything on the list, including some of the things the tech told me I really didn't have to do (Such as remove the plate covers from electrical outlets and switches). I did everything I was asked of to prepare, and then some.

    Monday morning, they came and treated my apartment. They also treated the mechanical room where the HVAC equipment is, since the return air vent is right outside my bedroom door (They couldn't treat the stairwell though, and there were no plans to treat the unoccupied apartments). I don't know the details of their equipment or methods, but from what I could ascertain, they didn't use propane to do the heating. Instead, they parked a large generator out front and ran some very heavy duty electrical cables up to the apartment, and used presumably electric heaters with fans. The tech told me that they did the "140 for 4 hours" method.

    After the treatment was complete, the tech told me that they didn't see any additional bed bugs or signs of bed bugs while working around my bed, which further backed up their initial assessment that the infestation I had was relatively minor and localized. I paid them, thanked them for their work, and they went on their way.

    For a week after, I kept sleeping in the recliner...partially out of laziness from not feeling like putting the bed back together, but also out of a slight paranoia that the treatment may not have fully worked. Finally, this past Sunday night (August 4th), I put my bed back together with brand new pillows, new bedding and both encasements in place, and slept in it...

    ...later that night, I woke up itching. Not as bad as before, but enough to get my attention. The next morning, I found a couple small blood stains on the new bedding. I was terrified...but aso figured that perhaps it was just a fluke. Maybe the itching was coincidental, and the blood was caused by me scratching too much. Still, I searched on and around the bed for bed bugs...but found none.

    Last night (Monday night August 5th), I slept in my bed again. Once more, I woke up itching, yet it was even more slight than the night before. I was feeling better...perhaps my excuse was correct, that the blood I saw was just from me scratching at a mosquito bite or something...

    ...it wasn't. This morning, I found yet more new blood stains on the bedding...and a dead bed bug lying right on the bedsheet. I had apparently rolled over in the night and squished it.

    FOXTROT UNIFORM CHARLIE KILO!

    The heat treatment failed. Utterly, totally, completely failed. Not only am I out $1,200 from this failed treatment, but I also cannot afford any additonal treatments, either heat or chemical.

    Once again, I find myself terrified to tell the landlord, out of fear of her going off on a rant "YOU SAID IT WOULD WORK YOU LIED GET OUT NOW" or some stuff like that. As I mentioned before, there are three apartments in this building, but two are unoccupied and used for storage. As it stands, the other two actually cannot be occupied due to required upgrades, thus the reason why they are only being used for storage. Because of that, though, the building is legally recognized has only one apartment in it, which thus means that any pest control falls to the responsibility of the tenant, NOT the landlord. She won't do anything to help me because the law is actually on her side in this case, not mine. The lease agreement says absolutely nothing about pest control for that specific reason...if any potential tenants knew that they were responsible for 100% of the pest control, they wouldn't rent it.

    The ultimate irony is...this apartment has the cheapest rent of any apartment in town, aside from the low-income housing units which, from what I've been told, also has a severe bed bug infestation. Yet, it is a very nice apartment. Recently updated/renovated, new carpeting, new paint, new HVAC, new windows. Aside from the limitations presented merely by the age of the building, this apartment is the polar opposite of low-income housing. I simply cannot afford to move anywhere else. I am trapped in this hell. Either live with the bed bugs at my current apartment, bankrupt myself to the point where the only option left is to kill myself, or move to a dumpier apartment that is guaranteed to also have bed bugs (Either through prior infestation or by bringing them with me from my current apartment).

    Remember how I said I kept sleeping in the recliner for a week after treatment? This is how I know that the bugs survived the treatment, and weren't ones I brought back in with me from outside. If they were bugs I had reintroduced, then they would be in the front room since that is where I had spent most of my time sleeping since treatment, not the bedroom.

    I can't afford additional treatment...but the apartment NEEDS treatment. If I don't treat, they could spread to the store below if they haven't already, and then I'd be in SERIOUS something-brown-that-starts-with-S. Estimates to have the entire building heat treated started at about $10,000, which I could never afford even if I robbed a bank.

    I'm in trouble. Serious trouble. What do I do?

    Help...please, help...

  2. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Aug 6 2013 12:49:46
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    Hi,

    First you start wit the FAQ's to understand bedbugs and the approaches.

    The feelings you are experiencing are not uncommon but they are also unfounded and you need to read and understand why that is the case.

    Once you have your knowledge up to speed you need to collect some samples of bedbugs by sticking them onto tape and post some pictures here.

    Once its confirmed you can ask the pest control company to explain why you still have bedbugs and ask them how they play on rectifying the situation. If they are professional they will come back and resolve things.

    Now for some uplifting but not all good news.

    From what you have described I would say its unlikely you have an adjoining infestation, its unlikely to have been there when you moved in but it is likley that the source of the bedbugs is something you come into contact with such as work, the commute or social. It is in essence what i would call a "local" source issue (loads more on that subject if you search the forum).

    Once you work out the dynamics and the source you can be certain you are not "topping up" and a single application treatment such as heat should work so long as the sensors are int he right place and they use convective heat rather than conductive heat.

    Hope that helps.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

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    In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about products.
  3. BuggedInIowa

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Aug 6 2013 13:24:18
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    This is the bug I found in my bed this morning:

    Before the treatment, I caught two other bugs, one adult and one nymph and taped them to paper. When I showed them to the tech who came to inspect my apartment prior to treatment, the very first words out of his mouth were "Yep, those are bed bugs".

    As I said before though, I continued sleeping in the recliner for a week after treatment was completed, only finally sleeping in the bed for the first time this past Sunday night, and being bitten immediately that night. Even when I'm not sleeping, most of my time is spent in the recliner. If I were "topping up" as you describe it, shouldn't these new bugs be in/near the recliner where I had been sleeping and not the bedroom? Even to this day, I'm still not being bitten in the recliner.

    I'll check the links you posted later, I'm currently on my lunch break and won't have an opportunity to look these things up until after work.

    Thank you for your input.

  4. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Aug 6 2013 13:45:42
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    Hi,

    The "topping up" is not to say that you have done this since treatment, but it is the overall dynamic of your infestation rather than for example them being there from when you moved in.

    I would agree its clearly a treatment failure and having the samples can really help illustrate that.

    If the issue is not wanting to be in the room you may want to look at using an Active monitor to lure them while you work out the next steps with the company.

    David

  5. BuggedInIowa

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Aug 6 2013 20:21:00
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    I contacted the PCO that performed the heat treatment and told them about the failure. They said they will being me an active monitor to set up. I also have the bug I found this morning to show them. Where things will go from there, I cannot say, because as I said before, I cannot afford any further treatments whatsoever short of DIY stuff, which I know never works properly.

    I also swallowed my fear and finally told the landlord. She didn't get angry...but also didn't seem all that supportive beyond sharing my desire to have them gone. As I mentioned in my original post, since this building is legally recognized as having only one apartment (Because the other two apartments are currently uninhabitable), the law is actually on the landlord's side in this case. Thus, I bear 100% of the responsibility and cost for pest control and treatment in my apartment. The only way the landlord would have to pay is if the bed bugs were determined to have been here prior to my moving in (Which we have already determined isn't the case).

    In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if she waits until the bugs are finally gone (At my expense of course), then serves me with an eviction notice afterwards...

  6. BuggedInIowa

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Aug 6 2013 20:41:50
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    Also, a brief comment about the "How to say or write bed bug in 30 or more languages" FAQ...

    It is mentioned NOT to use the "Skull & Crossbones" symbol. Here's another symbol to add to the list of symbols not to use...the Biohazard symbol.

    In the process of preparing my apartment for heat treatment, I decided to dispose of some bedding, not only because it was potentially infested, but also because it was simply old and beginning to fall apart. I already knew that any infested items discarded need to be clearly marked with a warning to help discourage others from picking them up and spreading the bugs to their home. However, through my research I'd also read some comments about some people who would pick up infested items anyway even if they were marked with a warning. So, I decided to make my warning sign a bit more notable, by including the biohazard symbol as large as I could print it on the paper, along with the words "DANGER: BED BUGS".

    The problem is, the company that picks up trash in my city has a regulation that outright forbids them from picking up any trash bag or container that is marked with a biohazard symbol, regardless of the actual contents. They left the bag on the back dock and stuck a notice to my door informing me of the policy. Thus, I had to remove the sign and then leave the bag for them to pick up later in the week (Business districts get trash pickup twice a week).

    So, don't use skull & crossbones, and don't use the biohazard symbol.

  7. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Aug 7 2013 4:56:10
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    BuggedInIowa - 8 hours ago  » 
    In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if she waits until the bugs are finally gone (At my expense of course), then serves me with an eviction notice afterwards...

    Or she could think herself lucky for having a responsive and responsible tenant and that its better to have one of the those than the risk of the next one not being so good.

    I have seen a lot of landlord take that stance when the issue is detected early because they know what it could have cost had it gotten out of control.

    David

  8. cilecto

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Aug 7 2013 14:38:43
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    Hi. There's a lot to cover in these posts, but here are a few non-expert thoughts and concerns:

    If you brought in BB in September and started noticing reactions in December, you would not have a minor infestation now…you'd have a raging one. I'm wondering if you're not overlooking a source, such as an infestation in some part of the retail properties.

    Could this be a bat bug/swallow bug situation, with the main infestation in an attic, or similar?

    Heat should never be done without consultation and agreement of a landlord.

    Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night...
    - Psalms 91:5-7

    (Not an pro)
  9. endless_nightmare

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Aug 7 2013 23:22:40
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    [ I am trapped in this hell. Either live with the bed bugs at my current apartment, bankrupt myself to the point where the only option left is to kill myself, or move to a dumpier apartment that is guaranteed to also have bed bugs (Either through prior infestation or by bringing them with me from my current apartment).]

    kill oneself is never an option, no matter what.

    another way to view this is following the advice of David, in a calm manner, and then reducing the importance that you let this have in your life while still dealing with it.

    Andrea
    not a PCO
    Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy/Volunteer
  10. Alicew234

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 9 2013 12:26:22
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    I just wanted to agree with the posters who are telling you that while your feelings are very understandable and common

    they are unfounded and you need to read and understand why this is the case

    You can get bedbugs from a library book. A fancy store in New York City that sells upscale ladies' underwear (let's keep the name a Secret) had to close for heat treatments for bedbugs. You didn't get bedbugs because YOU did something wrong. It happens.

    I try to reframe them as "ants" or "mosquitoes" in my mind. They exist. They've existed for a long, long time. I don't want them swarming in my house and I don't want them to bite me but if I happened to find a bunch of ants in my house I wouldn't feel like I was going to be evicted. I wouldn't think I was dirty. I wouldn't need to eradicate every ant from every corner of the home. I would just deal with the swarm of ants and make sure they weren't encouraged to swarm in my home.

    Good luck with it. Don't be so hard on yourself!

  11. BuggedInIowa

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Tue Aug 13 2013 19:14:56
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    Now that I've kinda calmed down a little...some updates.

    The company came back out yesterday and set up a BioSensory NightWatch trap. It has yet to catch any bed bugs, but I know for a fact I have them because I have the dead one I found in my bed post-treatment, and I saw another one running laps around the trap last night (I'm guessing it didn't go in because I scared it off by checking the trap). They'll let the trap run for a few days, then we'll go from there. In the meantime, I'm sleeping in the recliner in the front room again, where I still have not been bitten even once since this entire thing started.

    Still concerned about being evicted, but if it happens, it happens. I hope and pray that I can finally be done with this hell, and that I never catch them again...

  12. BugsOnThePitch

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Sep 11 2013 6:07:51
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    BuggedInIowa - just wanted to give you a cyber hug and I'll keep you in my prayers (and my kids love praying for people, I'm sure they'll like "praying for BuggedInIowa to have all her bugs gone!" )

    Thank you for being so responsible and 'on it' - I understand the embarrassment about having BB, but it's not our fault, these pests are a force, for sure.

    I know it's been a couple of weeks, but I hope your situation has improved.


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