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Help - First Bed Bug Encounter - Advice Needed

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  1. traveller76

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sun Aug 5 2012 14:33:28
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    Sadly, my wife and I had our first encounter with bedbugs just 36 hours ago. We've been doing everything we can to make sure we aren't harboring any, but we'd like some advice/reassurance we're doing everything we can. Here's our story (the main question is in the last few paragraphs):

    We checked into a well rated motel/cabin around 8:30 PM. We did a typical room inspection looking for signs, but obviously didn't look well enough. I did notice an odd musty smell, but thought it was just an older cabin. We moved our luggage into the room - mostly off the carpet, and left to get a bite to eat.

    We returned around 11. I started to work, while my wife was laying on (not in) the bed watching a movie. I joined her for a few minutes about 11:30 or so. I got after maybe 20 minutes, and that's when my wife spotted the first bug, on the comforter. We immediately got up, moved our stuff out of the room (but we did not bag it then - our big mistake). We found a few more bugs in the room, including one small nymph that had recently fed.

    We got our money back, changed motels, and immediately began looking for bugs on each other and on anything we had brought into the room. Overall, I'd say we found about 10-12 hiding in various places. We hadn't unzipped our bags in the last room and consequently we only found things on the exterior of bags - and one in the hoody I was wearing (shudder). We did all this on a tile floor in an attempt to isolate the bugs. I can't say enough that we carefully examined each and every piece of luggage and non-launderable material for the next 4 hours. We bagged everything then, and slept for a couple of hours.

    We got up early the next morning, and everything that could be washed was. We used laundromat grade washers and dryers and dried on high heat for 2 hours. We actually ruined some of our bags (we were compensated by the owner of the original hotel). I went through all non-launderables again, including paging through books/papers.

    While I was working on the laundry, my wife then proceeded to tear apart the car. She used a carwash vacuum and looked in every nook and cranny she could find. I did find one more bedbug last night in the car, after all this. It was an adult, I believe and had just fed (on me).

    We've continued to thoroughly inspect our luggage and our car before removing or entering. Because we're on the road for another 10 days, we're taking steps to make sure we don't bring any bugs into other rooms we are staying in - in essence, living out of our car and carefully inspecting each and everything we bring in with us.

    Today we are letting the car bake in the sun, and plan to continue doing this every day. We also are not driving at night in an attempt to reduce possible bites.

    Finally, after we get home, we plan to remove anything and everything we can from the car, bag it, and freeze it, including all our luggage, clothes, etc... we have access to a deep freeze and from what I can tell, 24 hours at around 10 degrees will kill anything that's managed to survive.

    Other than general advice and other things I need to be doing to limit this, my main concern is about the car. We obviously can't freeze it. We will be driving through some 95 degree heat. I considered leaving it idling in the sun with the heater on full blast for 2 hours. I've read about various pesticides that are effective, but I don't want to poison myself or my wife. I'm wondering if there is something safe enough to treat the cracks and crevices of the car that's not going to hurt us? Should I be doing anything else?

    If worse comes to worse, I believe we can just avoid driving the car, especially at night, until winter comes and we have a good solid freeze. I live in Michigan, so that could come as early as late October, early November. That's of course, not ideal.

    Thank you for your help. My wife and I were really upset at first, but we now feel like this is something we can manage as long as we stay diligent.

  2. traveller76

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2012 13:08:14
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    Some small updates:

    We've now gone 36 hours without another bug sighting or any signs. We've been obsessively checking out car before we get in and after we get out - often times it's a quick 10 minute check, but in the morning and at night we are removing everything from the car and looking in every crack, crevice and opening we can with a flashlight. We're checking out bags, clothing and other items and keeping our luggage isolated. We're hopeful that we've got this beat, but are going to remain diligent. We plan on continuing to vacuum the car completely every 2-3 days and continue with our 2-3 times daily inspections of the car and our luggage. Also, we will be examining all clothing as well, both before we put it on and when we take it off.

    We still plan to launder anything that can be laundered the high heat setting on the dryer to kill any that still might be around. As I said, we also have access to a deep freeze. I am having someone check how cold it gets tonight - I am thinking it'll be close to 0. Anything that can't be laundered, except for electronics, is going in the deep freeze for 3-4 months. I will be taking apart any electronics we have that can be taken apart and doing a inspection. Most electronics we own don't have large enough openings for me to be seriously worried. Also, our laptops are not hospitable environments for bedbugs from what I've read (newer MacBook Pros). I've got a acoustic guitar I am a bit concerned about - but I've been checking the inside with a flexible light and keeping it in the case or isolated. I have my doubts there is a significant problem in the guitar, but I am not sure how to treat it just in case. Because of the polished surface, I have my doubts a bug could have crawled in - nor was it every open/out in the infested room.

    That leaves the car. I now know that even the freezing temperatures of michigan may not be enough. My initial plan is to continue leaving the car in the hot sun whenever I can before I return home - I'm hoping that a couple of 95 degree days will help kill any stragglers off. When we return home, we are going to quarantine the car. I'm going empty everything out of it. Then I'm going to attempt to use the sun and engine heat (idling, heater running) to get the interior very warm. I'm going to buy some ThermaSpot Temperature Sensors and place them all over the car and see if I can get the car up to 120 degrees for an extended period of time. On top of all this, we won't be driving the car for a period of 3-4 months, maybe longer - during which there will be some pretty serious temperature swings - but I'm still somewhat concerned.

    Is there anything else I should be doing? I'm also thinking about contacting professionals in my area (Lansing, MI) about the car. Should I consider attempting to use an active monitor in the car to draw them out? Are there any sprays or pesticides that would be safe to use in the car?

    Thanks in advance for your replies.

  3. mindoverbbs

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2012 20:10:31
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    Hi treveller 76,

    Ugh. What a huge bummer for you guys. I'm so sorry you're going through this. I wonder if Vikane might be an option for your car. I have no idea how much it costs or whether it's available in Michigan, but if you end up doing it, you might also be able to leave your guitar and other items such as electronics and the other stuff you were planning to freeze in the vehicle and get it all taken care of in one fell swoop. Just an idea.

    A packtite is another option for you, but that doesn't really help solve your car, electronic, or guitar problem.

    Good luck. It sounds like you guys are doing everything you can.

    -Mindoverbbs

  4. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Mon Aug 6 2012 21:28:50
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    I am sorry for you, too. You may find vikane effective if you can put other items, like the guitar in the car. I think it's fairly expensive $500 on up, but I may be wrong.

    The thing that surprised me was 10-12 on your suitcases and your clothes in not that much time. That must have been a large infestation. Your story will remind me to bag up suitcases before putting them in my car from trips (I have a packtite).

    There was another thread where they discussed the bedbug beacon, but I don't think it's intended to get every bedbug...just draw a few out so you know if there is an issue..you know there is an issue.

    They
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    = TAOT

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