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New to Baltimore and Bedbugs

(7 posts)
  1. MtVBaltimore

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Nov 25 2011 20:19:12
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    Hey everyone. I am unfortunately a newbie to bedbugs... Rather not have been a member of this club but anyways here's my little blog so you can get acquainted and possibly help me out because I have just about had it with these little pests.

    I moved to Baltimore, MD (city) almost a year ago. Was living with an ex and that obviously didn't work out. I then had to find a place to move into ASAP and found a very cheap room for rent in a row house. The landlord rents each bedroom individually on the top floor (fourth floor w/ four bedrooms) when I first moved in I only had an air matress for the first 2-3 months I found what I thought was a tick on the air mattress (purchased new from walmart) after three months. Had a bite on my hand but again thought it was from the "tick". At this time within the 3 months 3 people had moved in and out.

    I eventually was able to move my bed from out of state into the apt. That week the tenant from the third floor came and asked if we were having bed bug problems. I really hadn't had any bites but apparently the new tenant in my apt was getting bitten frequently. She moved out that week. The land lord FOGGED both her bedroom and the third floor apt. Now over the next few moths I am getting bit more frequently and so were new tenants who kept moving in and out. I have told my landlord and all he did was use some chemicals in my room and yet again FOG it. (I was unaware how bad that was until researching) I even went to spend a month at a families house in hope that they wouldn't survive without food, but again this was prior to knowing that they can live for a year without a host and I just made them angrier :/

    It has been 11 months since I have moved in. I am now living out of plastic bags. I am COVERED IN BITES! I react very quickly and badly to them. I was initially going to bed in long sleeve tees, sweat pants and socks but they started biting my face so I figured I rather have them bite my legs so I now wear shorts to bed in hope that they bite there as opposed to my face.

    I am currently unemployed and can't afford to do much. It would cost me too much to move out and thoroughly clean all of my clothes and am worried that they would be in my books and television. I even seen one in my keyboard! I clearly can not take this mattress or box spring anywhere after this. I am so unsure what to do. I am worried he will retaliate and kick me out or jack up the rent. I know legally he can't but he could find reasons around it I'm sure. Does anyone have any advice on what to do? Clearly I am having the worst year ever and would love to turn that around by 2012. Thanks for any comments or advice! Hopefully everyone enjoys their Thanksgiving Weekend!

  2. VictoryIsMine

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sun Nov 27 2011 4:03:47
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    Hi MtVBaltimore,

    I am very sorry to hear about your situation. I think the first thing to do is to find out about the laws in your state, then try to sit down with your landlord. S/he might be understanding. Bring facts as to what does/does not work--in the end, as the property owner they should be interested in getting rid of them as well, if nothing else, so they can hold a tenant.

    What can you afford to do? Can you get encasements? I am about to move out (tomorrow, yay!), but I've had to deal with them for the past few months, mainly because I didn't want to move out sooner due to a concern of bringing the infestation with me. While my apartment is still infested, I was once covered in bites which occurred daily in numbers I didn't even bother counting because they were so many, and now I've been keeping them at 1&1/2 dz at most (average 7). I know control isn't ideal, but if you can't get rid of them completely for now, at least it should bring you some relief.

    I did do my whole laundry and got rid of a lot of stuff. I also live out of plastic/contractor bags/ziplocs. But I think the main contributing factor to the decrease of bites was constant steaming. My landlord let me borrow his steamer, and I steam everything, carefully, methodically (you get the idea), EVERY night when I get home. It's not what you want to do when you come home tired, but it does help you get better sleep.

    Edited to add: I know throwing stuff away isn't ideal. However, when you don't know how, if, or when you'll afford treatment and continue to get an indecent number of bites, your first instinct is to at least get rid of them in numbers, which meant getting rid of their identified places of harborage.

    I've also treated all my little stuff in the freezer. Hair clipper, small charger/electronics, etc, everything that is small and can be frozen has been in the freezer's lowest settings for the last 7 weeks. Some people say 2 weeks; I wouldn't leave anything for bbs in the freezer for any less than 5 weeks due to the fluctuations in freezer temperatures which depend on a number of things. I took out my hair clipper the other day and it worked. I wouldn't do risk it with expensive items (aka laptop), though. Just in case.

    You can also buy organic Diatomaceous Earth (food grade), and lightly dust areas that will remain undisturbed, after thoroughly decluttering/vacuuming (and disposing of vacuum bag in sealed bag, immediately, outside). Make sure to use a respirator, as DE is dangerous if breathed. Also take out electric outlets (with power off), vacuum, and apply DE. Buy silicone and caulk everything. DE is usually inexpensive, and so is a caulking gun. REMEMBER YOUR RESPIRATOR. The silicone also smells nasty; that can't be good for you.

    Besides encasing/washing-drying/steaming/light DE and caulking, I don't recommend you do anything. If you use pesticides (even those the Pros use), you can be misapplying them and just contributing to the development of resistance. They can't develop resistance to DE. That said, they might develop a behavioral avoidance (go around it instead), so make sure to apply very lightly. You don't want to be breathing that, anyway.

    Also, can you afford climb ups? You should be able to catch some that way too. If/when you do, save them in a closed glass jar. You might need them to prove your case with your landlord, or whomever it may be, depending on how you case unfolds.

    Again, sorry you're going through this.

    Hope this helps.

  3. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sun Nov 27 2011 10:46:08
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    MtVBaltimore,

    I'm sorry to hear you're going through this. I'm *really* sorry that your landlord is "handling" the situation this way.

    A couple of points.

    It's important to understand that laws about pests (and particularly bed bugs) often vary not by state but by city. In other words, the laws for Baltimore are likely the ones most relevant to your problem. Often the laws vary city by city rather than state by state.

    I would start by contacting your local tenants rights organization. I haven't been able to find anything about what the name for that organization may be in your area (every state seems to call the group something different), but I did find this page which seems to suggest that landlords must get rid of insect pests unless there's more than one building involved. (I'm not a lawyer, which is why it's important to contact your local organization that is structured to give tenants legal advice, since I can't give useful legal advice.)

    That group not only knows the local laws in terms of what they say on the books, but they'll also be familiar with the day to day realities of trying to get such things enforced.

    The problem that you're describing seems to be that the landlord--whether through ignorance, through cheapness, or through something else--isn't providing effective treatment of the whole residence. Until the landlord does that, as you've unfortunately found out the hard way, you're not going to get relief.

    In addition, the problem is that you're in a precarious financial situation as you describe it. In order to get the place treated, you may have to do battle with the landlord. That may require organizing the people in the residence you're in to go up against the landlord, so I just want to validate the idea that you need to figure out whether it's safe for you and the other tenants to go to battle with the landlord over getting proper treatment. When people are afraid of being evicted because they can't afford to live anywhere else or for any other reason, the situation gets more complicated. And we're not there to read the situation--to figure out whether the landlord is the sort who would try to evict people for demanding what should be their rights. So, you know, trust your instincts and your reading of the situation.

    That said, you do likely have a better sense than we do--since you've met your landlord and see his or her affect while treating the place--of whether the landlord is simply badly informed about bed bugs. A lot of people think that there's no harm in trying to self-treat first. After all, that's largely true with other common household pests like roaches and ants. So it makes a certain kind of logic to try self-treating before calling in a professional--except for the part where bed bugs are totally different. The problem is that if you don't already know about bed bugs, there's no way to magically know that bed bugs are different.

    Steaming can be effective. However, most inexpensive steamers (i.e. the ones regular human beings can afford), don't get hot enough, don't treat enough surface area, and produce too much vapor to be really helpful. In the fight against bed bugs, you need a dry vapor steamer--not the kind you find at your local Target or Bed Bath and Beyond. Dry vapor steamers start at about $300 to $400 bucks. While they can be a useful tool, I don't see a way that even if you could afford that, it would be a wise use of your limited resources. (NOTE: I bought one on the advice of people here when I began battling my problem, and I barely used it. )

    Freezing your items isn't really going to be much help either unless your home has a chest-style deep freezer. The freezer on most standard refrigerators simply doesn't get cold enough. In addition, from your description, the fridge where you live is used by many people, right? Even with a deep freezer type freezer, the unit has to remain closed the whole time you're treating items. Cold is, in general, a much less effective way to treat bed bugs than heat.

    DE can be a useful tool, but you do need to follow safety precautions as outlined in the FAQ on DE. However, you should also be aware that because of the inhalation hazard factor, some professionals won't treat until DE is cleaned up.

    Also, the experts all agree that caulking should not be done until *after* the bed bug infestation has been eliminated. Caulking can be very useful in keeping bed bugs out of a unit in a multi-unit building (like a row house) if they bugs aren't in the home. But caulking *before* the bugs are gone can actually make the infestation much harder to get rid of.

    If you want my advice about what to do, start by contacting your local tenants rights group. Given the situation you've described, the residence is in need of professional treatment. Your best option is to see if collectively you all can convince the landlord to bring a professional in, and your local tenants rights group is best equipped to do that.

    Please do let us know how things go. It's useful for others to get more information (if you find out what the laws in Baltimore are), and when people have success stories, it helps newbies be more sure that a solution does, in fact, exist.

    Hang in there.

  4. MtVBaltimore

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Wed Dec 7 2011 3:19:03
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    Thank you both for responding. I have been so out of it I haven't even really checked back on this site. Just seeing bed bugs online makes my skin crawl so I try to avoid bed bug site now.

    So here's an update on how I am handling it with a few questions that I would greatly appreciate answered.

    Since my post I've looked up the laws in my city. (Baltimore) Apparently land lords are supposed to take care of infestations if more than one apartment is infested. A few months ago there were 3 and he handled them 1 per month. Now it seems, to my knowledge, this apartment is e only one at got reinvested.

    As mentioned in my original post the bites and swarms have gotten extremely bad. It's to the point that I just don't want to go out and socialize. As I said I'm still fairly new to this city and it's making it hard to meet people when I'm self-conscious of the bites on my body. I woke up Sunday with my upper arm having over 50 bites. And my lower arm covered in hives and a few more bites. That same day I did a ton of laundry and cleaned the sheets I sprayed what my land lord has given us (Orson bed bug spray) in the box spring and around the bed. Unfortunately that didn't even work for a single night.

    I can't really afford to pay the few hundred $ for the mattress and box spring covers since I am out of work (although I sent a bunch of resumes out this week out of sheer anger and dedication to get out of tuis place, willing to take the first thing thrown at me just so I can move out!) Anyways I purchased double sided tape and am trying to be crafty. I taped up all around my mattress and pulled my bed away from the walls. Now I have a ring of tape that all the bed bugs are sticking to and have only seen one bed bug on the bed since which just might have been hiding there from earlier. Is this a good idea? Will this work temporarily?

    Lastly. I have looked into several apartments and found one that is cheaper and larger! Going to check it out this week. It's in a nice known building so hopefully it isn't too good to be true! I have decided as was mentioned to just get rid of all of the things. Makes me sad that imvgoing to have to get rid of my books and what not. I know there is an FAQ on moving and I will reread it but I would like anyone's input on what to do. I can not afford treatment of any sort so that is out of the question. I know the day I move I'll be washing all of my clothes in-between apartments. What about my tv? Are DVDs safe? Those are my main concerns. I am not going to take the chance on books, and luggage. Oh and I also have a mini fridge but willing to leave that behind unless here's a way to save it. I read that I could tie my tv in a air tight bag with a fogger/bomb which would let them die. I know it's not something I should do to a bedroom/apartment but what about to a single item tied in a airtight bag?

    Thanks guys for taking the time to read. Hopefully I can get some sleep tonight. (6hours in 72hours is not healthy)

  5. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Wed Dec 7 2011 3:52:00
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    Dear Baltimore:

    I'm a newbie so not much help here....haven't gone through what you are going through. If you search by the item you are interested in (tv, DVDs), you may get some ideas on how to treat them. DDVP is often mentioned but it is also very dangerous and you couldn't do it physically at either apartment (you need a place away from people).

    Good luck!

    TAOT

    They
    Are
    Out
    There
    = TAOT
  6. punaisedelit

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Wed Dec 7 2011 11:03:48
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    Recent research suggests that DDVP strips are not as efficient as previously thought. See: Mike Merchant about Dini Miller's experiment

    via: bedbuggerblog

  7. MtVBaltimore

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Dec 9 2011 19:57:58
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    Hey everyone. No real update but I did want to let everyone know that I have been able to sleep much more comfortably that to my crafty self. Taping the four sides of my bed has kept 98% of the bbs off of me I stil get a bite or two but that is nothing compared to 50+! It is rather disgusting tho to see the tape in the morning filled with dead bedbugs but I do enjoy it when a see the occasional live one taped upside down with his legs moving trying to escape

    Also I was going for a part time job I found available two blocks away as a front desk for an apartment building, but turns out the building is infested with bedbugs! So I decided not to. I don't want to deal with them at yet another location! My God is this entire city infested?!? There are 4 building I know within 2 blocks that have bedbugs! I'm sure there are more too!


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