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Living elsewhere while getting PCO treatments and moving

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  1. Bite me

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sat Aug 14 2010 19:50:20
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    Hello everyone, and thanks for all the info I've read so far.

    Like everyone here, I'm beside myself. I've never been more exhausted from all the prep and can't sleep because I constantly feel like I have things crawling on me. This will be a long post, and I have several questions at the end, but I've begun with my history. I would rather go overboard with the work now, and nip this in the bud, than have this become the nightmare it's become for some of you. I tried to highlight (with italics) the key points for a quicker read, but not sure if I was doing it right. The questions are also highlighted.

    Here's the chain of events the past couple of weeks leading up to my discovery and to where I am right now.

    Day 1: I came back from a business trip in London, England and slept in my bed (I have not slept in my bed since).
    Day 2: I went to a rented summer house. Packed in the same suitcase as I had in London.
    Day 3: Shortly after waking up, I noticed that my one arm was covered in red dots. None of us knew what they were, and they didn't itch much so I knew they weren't mosquito bites. I assumed they were hives or an allergic reaction of sorts.
    Day 4: No new bites noticed, but I wasn't looking for them either. I returned home, and saw a mouse in my apartment ( I live in a highrise-how likely is that??). I immediately packed up my things and went to stay at my parents' place because I'm afraid of mice. Yes, unfortunately with the same suitcase.

    Day 6: I returned to London again for a brief trip. Same hotel. Upon my return, I continued sleeping at my parents' place.

    Day 9: While I was removing my sheets from my bed to wash them, I noticed some black dots on some white chenille pillow shams. Upon closer inspection, I saw some of the larger dots moving, and also some white dots. I took the pillows to my tub and caught a bug with a paper towel (I should mention that I have a terrible bug phobia, especially for cockroaches). I assumed it was a baby roach, and threw it in the toilet. I removed the pillow cases and put them in a plastic bag and threw them down the garbage chute. I inspected the pillows. I saw nothing. I continued stripping my bed. As I stripped the sheets off my other pillows, I saw more of the same black and white dots along with some exoskeletons on the pillow I mainly sleep on. I put everything into garbage bags and onto the balcony. I did some research and realized I had bedbugs. I decided to toss 4 of the pillows (all pillows are feather and/or down) and tried washing the two most expensive ones. One is orhtopaedic and would cost me over $200 to replace. I dried it for 4 hours in a commercial drier. Is this enough?
    Day 10: I started washing everything. I removed my laundry from my apt in garbage bags, washed it in the building's laundromat on hot and then dried everything on hot, the more delicates for only 20 minutes, the rest till it was completely dry. I took everything straight to my parents place, and hung the wet clothes to dry on racks.
    Day 11: I informed my landlord who immediately booked a PCO to treat my apt as well as those on either side of me and above and below me.
    Days 11-14: I prepared further by vacuuming everything, removing clothes from all my drawers, and baking everything in the dryer for 20 minutes, then bagged everything in the XL Ziploc bags and took them straight to my parents' place. I tried to declutter, but I have a lot of paperwork, as I have a home office.
    Day 14: I met with the exterminator and he approved of my prep. He said that it looked like I caught it early and he was more concerned with my bedroom. He was ok with me leaving my clothes hanging in the closet, but I removed everything from the upper shelf and the floor. I had some rubbermaid (not vacuum sealed) bins under my bed, with mostly paperwork but also had some other items stored including picture frames and empty purses. I left these in the room, sealed and piled in the middle of the room, along with a couple of cardboard boxes with papers in them. I tidied up my living room ( more paperwork) and put things into unsealed plastic shopping bags, then left them on my desk. I read that it's better to leave these things unsealed so the bugs venture out and eat poison. I left my bookshelves in my living room untouched.

    Day 16: I returned to my apt to check out the situation. I see white powder in all my drawers, around the baseboards in my room and living room and on my couch ( the cushions were removed).
    My mattress and box spring are up against the wall and I presume also covered in the white powder. Is it just me or could I be reacting to the poison myself? Throat feels funny....

    I am scheduled for another treatment in 2 weeks.

    I have seen no signs since my original discovery on Day 9, even while vacuuming. I presume I either got them from London, or the summer cottage rental or they just made their way here from another apt. They may have gone from my clothes I had in my suitcase (I temporarily put some of the clean clothes I'd brought with me to the cottage on my bed when unpacking...perhaps they made it to my pillows?)

    I am traumatized. My bug phobia has gotten so much worse, and I'm not even worried about the damn mouse anymore! Psychological issues aside, I have a few questions:

    -Should I open my rubbermaid bins to allow any possible bbugs inside to come out and eat poison?
    -Should I open my suitcase and other bag I had in London to allow them to do the same? Can I then be sure these items are bug free? Or should I just throw them out?
    -My workbag contains books, toiletries, paperwork and other personal items. Can the bbugs live in these things, even if I remove them and throw out the bag?
    -One tote I had at the cottage would cost $600 to replace. I'd prefer not to throw it out! It's canvas and leather. How can I ensure it's safe?
    -I've read about the packtite, and would consider buying it, if only for the reason I'm now paranoid about all the travel I do, and potentially bringing them home with me. At what point should I consider buying it?
    -I've spent a few hundred dollars already and that's not a terrible hardship, but buying all new furniture would be. Especially since I've had to take time off work and will lose future income as a result. What tools do you recommend? If the exterminator thinks my furniture is clear, at what point can I be confident enough to put my clothes back in the drawers and sleep in my bed?
    -Can I feel confident that I killed them all in my expensive pillow? Would an encasement be a good way to ensure I don't re-infect my home in case I didn't?
    -I've read that you should continue to sleep in your bed to act as bait. THERE'S NO WAY I COULD POSSIBLY ENTERTAIN THIS IDEA!!!! I told this to the exterminator and he didn't argue with me. But does this mean they've gone into hiding since there's no food around? I'm spending time at my desk (in my bedroom) for at least a couple of hours a day to create a presence.
    -Of course I'm worried I may have brought them to my parents' place in the week before I realized I had them, as I carried the same suitcase around. I have so far seen no signs of them there, and have had no bites. I have kept all my clothes sealed in the ziploc bags there, and only open them to wear something. However, the first round of clothes I washed and brought over, were kept in unsealed garbage bags. The clothes themselves should be clean and bbug free, but if I brought the bugs to my parents before bringing the laundry, could the bbugs could have gotten into the unsealed garbage bags? Should I rewash them and seal them?
    -I have a 3 week vacation planned, departing just prior to the second treatment. I plan to buy a new suitcase, and pack my ziplock bags right into it to keep from bringing the bbugs with me. Is it a good idea? Any other way to protect myself? I figure the timing of this trip couldn't be better...
    -My last question is this: I no longer feel I can live here, and am planning to move. I don't know if I'll be moving into another rental or if I'm able to buy a condo. At what point can I feel safe that I'm just not bringing the problem with me? I have to give 60 days notice, and will likely do so on September 1st-am I jumping the gun? I just can't live here anymore, and will only be able to stay at my parents' place until the end of September when they return from their travels. But I couldn't bear it if I brought them with me!

    Thank you all for taking the time to read my lenghty post and for any and all advice.
    Best of luck to you all.

  2. bugbuffet

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sat Aug 14 2010 21:11:14
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    Hi,

    I'm newly infested myself, but I have been researching and I just wanted to comment on your question about leaving bags open to let the bugs come out. Bed Bugs cannot be baited because their diet consists of only one thing, blood. They can die if they travel across the poison, but they will not eat it. If they are on their way to you, all they have to do is walk around the poison to avoid it. Since poison cannot be used on or near the sleeping area, it is hard to cover all surfaces. Look into Food Grade DE...it is how I created an environment that was toxic to them but not me.

    I think it is best to leave the bags sealed, as this is the only way to keep them from getting food. Unfortunately, it can take up to a year for them to starve, so they must remain sealed for at least a year. If this is not feasible, consider throwing away the contents or examining them for bugs over a white sheet.

  3. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Sat Aug 14 2010 21:27:08
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    Using even food grade DE in the way that bugbuffet describes is not safe. If properly applied, bed bugs will walk over residual chemical pesticides, but they far more often avoid DE that has been improperly applied.

    Many stressed and sleep deprived people who haven't done enough research incorrectly apply DE, and many pest control professionals will not treat places that have had DE applied (for their own safety).

    DE is an important tool, and when used safely can be a valuable part of a treatment plan, but contact the PCO treating your place and read the FAQ on DE on the website. There is one chemical pesticide that is labeled for use on things like beds and upholstered furniture in the US. I'm not sure if it is so labeled in the UK, but asking David Cain might be a good way to find out since he is a UK-based bed bug specialist.

  4. Bite me

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 17 2010 12:10:38
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    Hello and thanks for your input. I'm currently keeping my washed and bagged clothes at my parents house and don't plan on bringing them back to my home. I'm more concerned about the things I had in boxes-non paper items in rubbermaid boxes under my bed and cardboard boxes with papers in them. Many of these items cannot be thrown...I still refuse to allow myself to be used as bait.

    Does encasing your mattress and sleeping on it allow you to draw them out of hiding places in your mattress without being bitten? My pillows are the only place that I've seen them, but as I said, I haven't slept in my bed since I saw them.

    If they were in my pillows, does that mean they're definitely in the mattress/box spring, even if the PCO saw no evidence?

  5. PANewBugger

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 17 2010 15:00:45
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    We have our mattress and box springs encased. According to our PCO and from what I've read, the encasings, as long as they don't tear and the zipper is secured, will prevent any bed bugs in your mattress and box springs from getting out and biting you. We have a pretty heavy mattress covering over the encasing - when we were at our place (we had to leave due to reasons other than bed bugs), the mattress cover helped us get over the ewww factor of sleeping on top of bed bugs, and I would wash it every other day. Since we had to leave our place for a few weeks (after 3rd PCO treatment), we installed bed bug beacons that emits CO2. Maybe look into getting something like that to draw out the bed bugs since it's too traumatizing for you to sleep in your bed?

  6. Bite me

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Tue Aug 17 2010 21:54:54
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    Thanks for the suggestion PANew Bugger. I too was chased out of my apt for other reasons (the mouse). That's when I stopped sleeping here over 2 weeks ago. When I came by to do laundry, I saw them on my pillow cases then on my pillows. The mattress shows no signs (even the exterminator didn't find any evidence). I have not slept here in over 2 weeks, and won't. I can't. Next week, they'll be coming for a second treatment and I'll be leaving for a month-a trip that's been planned for a while. My thought was to buy a mattress encasement and mattress pad (to help with the eww factor) for when I come home, and sleep on my old mattress. I don't want to throw it out now, because I don't want to buy a new one and bring it here when I don't know if I still have them. Will this help draw them out and into the poison if they're still living here in a month and after 2 treatments? I plan to move as I don't think I can ever feel comfortable living here again with both a mouse and bed bug infestation. Just waiting for the locusts....

  7. PANewBugger

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Aug 18 2010 9:51:38
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    Oh ugh - mice and bed bugs, how miserable!

    My understanding about encasing your bed is that the bed bugs are basically trapped in there, and you need to keep the mattress in there for as long as it takes for the bed bugs to die off, which I believe is at least 18 months. So, by sleeping on your encased bed, you won't draw out any bed bugs that are in the bed since they're trapped (make sure that you don't rip it and the zipper is secured). You will, however, draw out bed bugs that are hidden elsewhere in your home. If you're not in your place, I would get something like the bed bug beacon to draw them out from their hiding places so that they cross the poisons and die.

    I posted on a different thread a bed bug beacon question. We did stay at our place until soon after the 3rd treatment so I'm pretty confidant that we drew out as many leftover bed bugs as we could. We had to leave shortly after the 3rd treatment so I bought a bed bug beacon, which 10 days after installing, has remained empty. Comments I received said that this is a good sign, and even if bed bugs aren't in the trap, the CO2 should draw out any remaining stragglers who will cross the poisons and eventually die.

  8. Bite me

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Aug 19 2010 11:49:37
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    Thanks again.
    I just found out the PCO is coming back next week, the exact day I'm leaving for a month! Still not sure if there's anything I should do before leaving... the PCO told me not to bother with the clothes in my closet (bedroom and hallway), but he also put the white powder along the baseboards in the bedroom closet. He only had me treat the clothes in my drawers in my bedroom. I don't know if I can get a beacon before I go. Are they available anywhere other than online? I'm willing to drive to the US before I leave for my trip to pick things up to bug proof my home. I'm really happy that I'm leaving this nightmare for a month, but I'm also concerned that it might be a bigger problem when I get back. I know I still won't be ok sleeping in there.
    So, a beacon in my absence if possible, then encasements on my return? Should I still treat my closet clothes before leaving? A reminder, the only bugs I saw were infested in my pillow, and even the PCO saw no evidence in my mattress/box spring.

  9. PANewBugger

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Thu Aug 19 2010 13:49:56
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    I ordered our beacon online and had it expressed shipped - don't know where they are sold in stores, if at all. Hopefully, you got all the bed bugs, but just an FYI based upon our experience, our PCO confirmed bed bugs when he found 1 dead bed bug on the edge of our box spring. He searched our entire place and didn't find evidence anywhere else and informed us that ours was mild and caught early. But, he said, that doesn't mean they're hiding somewhere else. With our first PCO treatment, we encased our mattress and box spring. Up to our 3rd treatment, we still experienced bites. They were much less, but we still got bit. With each treatment, our PCO searched furniture, floors, etc. and still never found any more live bed bugs. After treatments, I found a few dead ones - we still have no idea where they were hiding, but I believe they were drawn out from walls and crossed the poisons to die. We did sleep in our bed to draw them out - quite unpleasant, but now that we're progressing through this, I'm glad we did it.

    To get ready for our first PCO treatment, our PCO advised us to wash, bag and seal EVERYTHING so that they could have complete access to every corner in our place. I guess listen to what your PCO tells you if he/she is competent.

    We're nearing 14 days with our bed bug beacon, and it's been empty so far. We're off to vacation soon - I'll refill the bed bug beacon's CO2 before we leave, and I'm pretty hopeful that we'll be in the clear when we return.

    Don't know if any of this helps you...can only share my experience.

    Good luck!!

  10. Bite me

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Oct 11 2010 11:46:31
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    It's now 6 weeks after my second treatment and I've been sleeping back at home for a week. No signs of bbugs anywhere!

    Fingers crossed that it stays that way!

    How are things with you, PANewBugger?

  11. PANewBugger

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Oct 11 2010 12:28:29
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    Congrats!!! Hope that you got them all and are fee of bed bugs!!! Are you still going to move?

    We wound up having 7 PCO treatments! Several times, I thought I was going to have a breakdown - we'd go a week with no bites, and then we'd wake up with bites and blood on the sheets. It was so incredibly disheartening. After the 7th treatment, we're now around day 19/20 of no bites. I installed Climbups a couple of weeks ago, and so far, nothing in them. I'm really hoping that we finally got rid of these horrible creatures. For the last treatment, the branch manager came and did the treatment himself - our bites were confined only to the master bedroom so he spent at least 2 hours in there, re-dusting, spraying chemicals, etc. This time, 2 holes where the cable went into the walls were caulked. Maybe that's what made the difference??

  12. Bite me

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Oct 11 2010 16:13:30
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    My god, I can't imagine what you've gone through....are you in a single family home or a multi unit building? I'm in a 25 story highrise. I'll keep my fingers crossed for you.

  13. PANewBugger

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Mon Oct 11 2010 20:17:21
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    I recently posted a question about Packtites and alive bed bugs - I think our Packtite might have failed or I used it incorrectly b/c today my husband found a bed bug that was alive and moving after we Packtited. ERGH. So, of course, now I'm freaked out that we have a straggler around here somewhere...sigh.

    We live in a high rise of 30 plus floors with 10 apartments / floor. Thankfully, no reports of these things spreading to other units.

    Thanks for the crossed fingers!!!! I'll do the same for you!!!!


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