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MTL bedbug situation/cluttered apt+ some questions

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  1. lita

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Nov 8 2014 4:25:08
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    I live with three roommates, we share a pretty big, extremely cluttered and very old apartment. I've been living here for 3+ years now and we never had any bugs problems, until about a few weeks ago when I found a reddish brown, round-ish, flat apple seed sized bug crawling on my bed. My roommates had also been complaining about having bites, two of them had itchy welts on their legs and backs, but they thought it was flees, especially since the cats had been scratching an awful lot too. I live in Canada but I've moved here recently and I had no knowledge whatsoever about bed bugs (I had this misconception that they were too tiny to see), so I didn't think much of it. I googled it and came to the conclusion that it was a carpet beetle. Bought some boric acid that I sprayed on the mattress + some bug spray. I didn't see any other bugs for 2-3 weeks after that so I forgot all about it.

    3 weeks ago though I started putting the pieces together after my roommate complained of bites again and I found a bedbug crawling on my pillow as I was laying in bed at 4am, looking at my phone. I did some more googling that night and finally figured out it might be bed bugs. I went into frenzy mode, got a flash light and a magnifying glass and started looking - I didn't find much, but I did find one adult bug in the living room, plus brown specks on my roommate's sheets, blood spots as well, and what looked like some skin sheds. I proceeded to tell my roommates and we alerted our landlord, who was very uncooperative. He said it was nothing and to wait for more evidence before ruling (which is crazy imo, but I was one against three and there wasn't much I could do, besides checking my room, sweeping it thoroughly, washing/drying everything I own and bagging it). Later on, my roommate found a couple nymphs in her bed in the middle of the night, so she tore her bed apart and found what she believes to be eggs and larvae. We called the landlord back, and this time he was just as uncooperative but also sort of threatening - said that it was our fault and that we should deal with it ourselves. Our apartment only has one tenant on the lease, the rest of us are subletters, I guess, and there's been a fair amount of people rotation over the past 15 years, though, like I said, we didn't have any problems or signs of bugs for the three years that I lived here. The latest roommate to move in did so about a month and a half ago, though. The landlord also said that nobody in the building reported bedbugs and that he called them to check, although we don't believe he really did and we're hesitant to check ourselves because we don't wanna send the neighbors into a panic state.

    The rent here is really cheap, especially for such a nice location, which is why all of us live here - we're all pretty broke. We called several PCOs but all of them said they needed the landlord to call them directly/asked if the landlord was cooperative. The only one who would come regardless of the landlord's cooperation was ABC, but they gave me an estimate of 1100, which we clearly can't afford. We ended up hiring another PCO who's also known in Montreal and said the job could be done for cheaper if we're paying ourselves since it could be done off the books. Obviously we don't have much of a choice but I'm still feeling iffy about that part. It's supposed to be done in two days, and we spent the last two just getting rid of the incredible clutter that has landed here over the years (bagged and sealed) + bagging all fabrics and cleaning. We're all exhausted already and this hasn't even been a problem for that long. We're incredibly stressed out, can't get any sleep and keep fighting with one of the roommates who's just being incredibly lax about the whole thing (24h, things still not bagged, room still cluttered).

    I have a few questions

    1. In hindsight, I probably didn't have good instincts dealing with this, as I filled my room with DE and sort of deserted it after I found that bug on my pillow. I now know that I should've slept in my bed to keep the bugs active / not sure whether I sent them into a dormant state by starving them or just caused them to move back to my roommate's room ? Would bbs go dormant if their usual source of food has gone, but there are other warm CO2 exhaling bodies in the neighboring rooms?

    2. I don't have a mattress anymore, I got rid of it after the carpet beetle initial scare (it was an old gross mattress anyway). I slept on several blankets laid on a waterproof sleeping bag (before deserting the room for the last couple weeks, that is). It's not very comfortable nor very thick - could bed bugs be in there too /wouldn't they risk being squashed if I laid on the blankets ? I check the blankets regularly and saw nothing, no bugs, no flakes. Found a weird tiny brownish black /striped larvae once, but not much else.

    3. At first, I had just put a whole bunch of DE everywhere, liberally throwing it on the floor (which i since then learned was a remarkably dumb idea for many reasons, including health ones). I swept it and got rid of it a few days later, and it left a thin layer on the floor since I didn't mop. I added more DE around the isolated blankets area, surrounding it completely after I washed everything and dried it for 1h. I still do inspections but I haven't seen any dead bugs in my room at all, and I moved furniture and everything to look under and behind. I did sleep in there several nights after I surrounded the blankets with DE (another spectacularly bad decision) so they can't have gone dormant, the ones out to get me must've crawled on the powder at some point. Where are the bodies ? Could they have migrated in other rooms after i stopped sleeping there, and died over there ?

    4. We have a ton of books, huge bookcase in the living room along with a bookcase full of VCR tapes and vinyls. What are we supposed to do about those ? The PCO said not to bother moving or bagging anything but the linens/clothes, but would the product really go inside ? Could we store the books in boxes wrapped in bags and put them out on the balcony and leave them there for the winter ? It gets very cold here, down to -30C/-22F for the whole period of late dec until march. Would that help in killing any eggs that could be in there ?

    5. PCO said not to touch anything but the linens, but what about the kitchenware ? Do PCOs spray the kitchen ? Do we let the dishes be and wash everything thoroughly once it's done ?

    6. I've read on some threads here that bedbugs can live in cats with thick fur/hide in there (several people reported bed bugs floating in the water when they bathed their cats). We have a kitty and an old cat, both with very thick/dense fur, especially the old cat (who also gave up on cleaning herself years ago). We plan on putting them in a pet daycare for the treatment, could they transport bugs with them there ? We wouldn't want to infest it.

    7. If I can't take my laptop apart, does it mean I have to keep it bagged ? I work on it daily, I can't do my work without it. I don't suppose I can take it to a professional and ask him to check for bedbugs, either.

    I'm sorry in advance if some of these questions are downright dumb. I spent the last two nights reading everything in this forum, the FAQs, a bunch of threads, everything, but I've been sleeping very little and only got 4h sleep over the last 72h, so my brain is foggy and mixing up all the info it ingested. I'm just so stressed out because none of us have the means to finance all the things it takes to get rid of bedbugs - I'm thinking of giving up on a brand new free mattress that was offered to me just because I can't afford to buy a reliable encasement. I'm having a really hard time being positive about this whole thing.

  2. tryingalso

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Nov 8 2014 21:26:05
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    Cimexa is better than DE. What bug spray did you use that got rid of whatever was biting you initially for 2 to 3 weeks? It probably worked, but was not killing eggs, which hatched around the time bites starting coming again.

    This is what I've done to reduce frequency of bites.

    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/thoughts-ecoraider-cimexa-sterifab-co2-traps-climbups-tent-carpeting-fan

    And I hope I'm on my way to full eradication (or the new technologies like FiberTrap, a pesticide from fungal spores, etc will be the magic bullet the world needs that DDT once was, and are coming to a store near us today).

  3. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Nov 8 2014 22:15:17
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    The experts/professionals will be back on Monday. Why don't you check back and read the FAQs in the meantime. It's best to listen to a professional or the FAQs.

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  4. tryingalso

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sat Nov 8 2014 22:47:25
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    It may also be best to listen to a few high schoolers who are not trained pest control professionals.

    https://student.societyforscience.org/article/don%E2%80%99t-let-bedbugs-bite-fibers-trap-kill-bugs

    They invented FiberTrap, which is a synthetic spider web which traps bed bugs, like kidney bean leaves used to. It uses no chemicals, is inexpensive, and is easy to apply. I think our woes will soon be over.

    Sometimes a new, fresh set of eyes goes a long way. I can envision pillow cases and bed sheets incorporating the FiberTrap material. I hope those high schoolers go far.

  5. lita

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Nov 9 2014 2:56:34
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    Tryingalso> Your method sounds very creative and from what you're saying, seems to be having an effect. I'm glad you found a way to get some peaceful sleep. However, I doubt I could pull that off - I looked CimeXa up and I don't think it's sold in Canadian stores. I also can't buy things off the internet (no credit card and impossible to get a paypal account), so that doesn't help. Plus, I'm sure I couldn't finance it all in the long run. I did hear Cimexa is more effective than DE though, wish I could get it at a local store.

    theyareoutthere> I read the faqs. I guess my brain is either working slower than usual or I can't find specific answers because I'm just overall confused, I haven't slept for over 48 hours now and even though I slept in the room with the bedbugs before, for some reason I'm just petrified tonight and am still sitting in the kitchen. Also, the professional was supposed to come for the first time, but that's not happening anymore. My roommates bailed, two of them said they can't afford their share at the present time, so for now, we virtually have no bed bug plan at all.

    Thanks for answering, guys. Sorry about the long row of questions above, I didn't mean to overdo it. I guess I just thought someone might have some situation-specific answers - again, I'm exhausted and extremely sleep deprived.

  6. bbcomox

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Nov 9 2014 3:25:48
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    Hi,

    I am not an expert, but here are my comments on some of the questions. I had to skip some of the questions, as I could not provide any comments.

    1. Would bbs go dormant if their usual source of food has gone, but there are other warm CO2 exhaling bodies in the neighboring rooms?

    The moment you sleep in your own room again, bedbugs would come out from hiding to feed on you. So, it is not too late for you to return to your room in order to avoid spreading them into other rooms. I know it is uncomfortable that you are going to be the bait.

    2. I don't have a mattress anymore, I got rid of it after the carpet beetle initial scare (it was an old gross mattress anyway). I slept on several blankets laid on a waterproof sleeping bag (before deserting the room for the last couple weeks, that is). It's not very comfortable nor very thick - could bed bugs be in there too /wouldn't they risk being squashed if I laid on the blankets ? I check the blankets regularly and saw nothing, no bugs, no flakes. Found a weird tiny brownish black /striped larvae once, but not much else.

    I found that bedbugs could hide in nearby cracks and crevices and at night, they will search out to find food source, so while you might not see any bedbugs on or in you sleeping bag, they could be hiding near where you sleep or sit for a long period of time.

    4. We have a ton of books, huge bookcase in the living room along with a bookcase full of VCR tapes and vinyls. What are we supposed to do about those ?

    For books, you could use heat treatment, such as a PackTite machine. For VCR and vinyls and even books, you could bag them with pest strips. This site has FAQs on these tools.

    The PCO said not to bother moving or bagging anything but the linens/clothes, but would the product really go inside ?

    I would follow the PCO's advice, as different PCOs have different approaches.

    Could we store the books in boxes wrapped in bags and put them out on the balcony and leave them there for the winter ? It gets very cold here, down to -30C/-22F for the whole period of late dec until march. Would that help in killing any eggs that could be in there ?

    This is not a good enough approach because books, made out of paper, are great insulator. Please refer to heat treatment or pest strips.

    5. PCO said not to touch anything but the linens, but what about the kitchenware ? Do PCOs spray the kitchen ? Do we let the dishes be and wash everything thoroughly once it's done ?

    These are questions that you could ask PCOs.

    7. If I can't take my laptop apart, does it mean I have to keep it bagged ? I work on it daily, I can't do my work without it. I don't suppose I can take it to a professional and ask him to check for bedbugs, either.

    The chance of bedbugs in your laptop is low, as you use it every day. You could use the pest strip method.

    I wish you the best of luck.

  7. tryingalso

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Nov 9 2014 11:37:41
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    Thanks for the compliment, lita. My set-up is based on lots of research, which it seems most anyone with bed bugs does. Isolating my bed this way is based on advice found from different sources online, and some trial and error. It isn't 100%, but at least I've regained my sanity (at least for now). I believe it isn't 100% yet because 1. I may be bringing bed bugs into the tent with me (must take thorough shower with lice combing through hair and wash feet w soapy water via tupperware square in front of tent before entering tent), 2. they get through the zipper because it isn't a bed-bug proof zipper, which would be nice if the inventor added, like is done with the mattress encasements, and 3. they are dropping down from the ceiling even though I have it barrier'd with shipping tape.

    The masking tape I put under the shipping tape on the ceiling to protect the paint is dark blue - bed bugs like dark colors. I have to replace it with light beige masking tape and reapply shipping take. I also read recently that putting scotch tape on wall horizontally and then coating it with talcum powder is a good barrier. I just tested talcum powder on shipping tape, and the talcum powder does adhere nicely to the shipping tape. In fact, it seems to adhere to lots of materials made of plastic, which is nice, as it can then be made more slippery.

    Here's some inexpensive ideas for you to get some relief:
    - Spray SteriFab using the instructions for bed bugs. Alternatively, 91% rubbing alcohol on bed frame and other areas where bed bugs hide, daily before bed time and upon first waking up. The rubbing alcohol I do not believe is as effective as SteriFab (that's my belief, but can't say for sure, just based on experience), but it may be less expensive for you. Must take interceptors described in step below out from under bed before spraying liquid, otherwise your talcum powder will become wet and ineffective.
    - Buy an inexpensive comfortable cot, preferably with interceptors (homemade or purchased) under each of the four legs. Get a cot that has four legs rather than the ones where the legs are connected with beams. You can buy 8 round tupperware containers - 4 large ones and 4 smaller ones that can fit inside the larger ones with at least one inch gap between the rims. Coat the large tupperwares with talcum powder only on the insides using a cotton ball or tissue dipped in talcum powder. Coat the smaller tupperwares with talcum powder on the insides and outsides. This is cheaper than buying the ClimbUps and can be made easily. Get fabric self-adhesive sports tape or paper towel or fabric (preferably dark colored, or paint it dark using black shoe polish) and put it around the outside of the larger tupperwares so that the bed bugs have something non-smooth to climb on when they try to climb the legs of the cot.
    - Buy a plastic sheet (can get at painting supply or hardware store in painting section - it's a plastic tarp to protect floors from dripping paint) and drape it over your cot (or where ever you are sleeping) so that it drapes over but does not touch the floor. Leave enough space between the plastic and floor so it doesn't touch - 3 inches or more, but that the plastic is long enough to drape. Keep the plastic from moving by using double-sided tape or duct tape doubled-over so you don't accidentally move the plastic out of position while you sleep
    - Put light colored masking tape on your ceiling in the perimeters of your room, cover the masking tape with shipping tape. Try not to get the shipping tape on the wall or ceiling unless masking tape is under it - or it'll destroy the tape when you pull it up
    - Keep your bed at least a foot away from the walls, and pull other furniture away from the walls.
    - If you can't buy cimexa, buy DE that you feel is best and puff it into wall voids (inside light switches, around electrical sockets - not inside electrical sockets though as it'll dry out the wiring over time), under baseboards, under carpeting at perimeter of rooms, under area rugs, etc using an empty ketchup squeezee bottle.
    - Launder often. Make sure whatever dryer you use gets HOT (must be over 140 degrees F, and preferably hotter than 170 degrees F). I found that using a dryer at 120 degrees F for 45 minutes DID NOT WORK.
    - Keep clean clothes and dirty clothes separated in sealed containers or bags. Best to keep dirty clothes outside, if no one will steal them outside, or maybe in a garage. At the least, away from where you sit and sleep, in a different room.
    - If you can afford a bed-bug tent to sleep in, get one. Put masking tape over zipper at night before you sleep from the inside of tent to make it harder for bed bugs to get in through zipper
    - Make a monitor via a CO2 trap. You can find instructions online for that.
    - Buy fan to place on desk or other furniture near where you sleep, and have fan blowing toward your face while you sleep. Don't run it all day, for sake of electric bill, just when you sleep. If it's not too cold, open a window slightly on opposite side of where your face and fan are to blow your CO2 out of the room. It's your CO2 and heat that the bed bugs find you by. It's harder for them to locate you if they can't find your CO2 easily.
    - I saw advice online that said to place plastic tarp under bed and bed legs (large enough to later encapsulate the entire bed in the plastic), drape plastic tarp

    While I do not know if my above suggestions will eradicate the bed bugs, I do believe you will at least be reducing their numbers. As far as powders like DE, experts show they work better on fabric and carpeting than smooth surfaces, like wood floors.

    A cousin's acquaintance of mine said she got rid of bed bugs in 10 weeks after battling them for 2 years. She used DE and 91% rubbing alcohol. She said she kept rings of DE (food grade purchased from http://www.earthworkshealth.com/) around the bed legs and in perimeters of rooms, and sprayed her bed frame down with 91% rubbing alcohol every night and morning. She kept dirty clothes sealed outside on her balcony and clean clothes sealed (not sure if they kept them outside or inside). She laundered her bedding once a week in hot water and hot dryer.
    She also said multiple visits from an exterminator failed, and her husband is the superintendent of the building where she lives.

    I agree with bbcomox that the moment you go back to your bedroom to sleep from being elsewhere, if bed bugs are there, they will bite you if they can (if you isolate your bed and make it impossible for them to do so, they might bite you while you are not in the bed, those bastards).

    Please let us know how you're doing - what's working for you?


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