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Poor and cluttered

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  1. oceanofbugs7

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Tue Apr 25 2017 23:53:38
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    There are 2 of us in the apartment I live in and the landowners live upstairs. I heard my wife mention they were going around and the next thing you know, my wife was discovering little bugs on the arm of her loveseat (we have both a loveseat and and standard sized couch).
    For a couple of weeks, neither of us was sure they were bed bugs (I'm a total novice at this). No specimens were kept until 2 small specimens about 3 weeks ago. Since then, I have been doing a lot of researching. I started identifying them about 2 weeks ago. In the past week, I have killed about 10 adults and 1 nymph in the living room area and one on the outside of the bedroom door. My wife has a habit of napping on the couch and we caught a gorged one on her the other day. I just woke up in bed and went to scratch my leg and discovered a possible specimen feeding on me, but I was silly enough to grab it and, in the dark dropped it.
    We have 1 income. We're behind on rent and, even though we live in one of those states that says the tenant isn't liable, they flat out refused to help. I'm afraid to push the issue, because we are sure to see eviction due to the back rent alone. It doesn't matter if we won a court case we could never afford if we're on the streets during the process.
    Most likely, public transportation was the culprit that brought them in, but with the epidemic going on in this country, who knows?
    At any rate. My wife has been a bit of a hoarder and we have clutter and clothes scattered about the apartment. I finally got her to get a small shop vac, some DE, a spray and a few traps yesterday. Until then, all I could do is kill live bugs and spray rubbing alcohol all over the place (we don't smoke, so the fire hazard is slightly reduced).
    We simply can't afford an inspection, never mind a treatment and I know it's been a good 8 weeks at least, so guaranteed a good infestation has already taken hold.
    We don't have them yet, but I will look into covers for the couches and the bedding. We need to replace the mattress bugs or not. It's a broken spring mattress.
    The concern I have is, we have a lot of books and electronics. My wife has knitting material, among other things that we would like to keep. We can't afford new dishes. Simply put, we can't afford to replace anything. We don't have the money, time or patience to cook every single thing individually in special ovens.
    Plus, there's the fear that the bugs will head upstairs. If that happens, we're basically out on the streets.
    I'm still very new to this whole thing (we won a battle with cockroaches in another state, thanks to a filthy neighbor, and that seemed so much easier to deal with).
    Is there any chance we can DIY and come out of this with both our sanity and our stuff, without professional help or are we just rowing up a creek without a paddle?

  2. BattleoftheBug

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Wed Apr 26 2017 12:42:42
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    [url=http://www.wikihow.com/Evict-a-Tenant-in-California]nullSir, as I veteran of the bed bug wars I can promise you that "keeping stuff" and getting rid of bed bugs are two things in opposition. Your situation comes across as very unfortunate and I feel for you but you are already at a disadvantage trying to treat this infestation without professional help or advice. I can't understand why the "landowners" refuse to assist you if they live upstairs! Don't they worry about themselves getting the bugs, at least?

    Few people in the US realize that the only person who can legally evict you is a judge. Do a Google on Unlawful Detainer plus the name of your state and some site will explain the process to you. Anyway, an Unlawful Detainer is what a landlord files with a court, in effect saying that a tenant refuses to move. Then the landlord goes to court for an order but the tenant must also be given notice to appear. See the process in California, for example:

    http://www.wikihow.com/Evict-a-Tenant-in-California

    You can always represent yourself in any court and tell your side of the story or go to legal aid. However, people do themselves a disservice in getting behind in the rent because that is normally grounds for eviction. So, if you can, find the money to get caught up with the rent and then you will be in a much better position if you are correct in believing that you live in a state where you cannot be held liable for infestation. At least you won't be able to be evicted for having the bugs and become homeless.

    On the other hand, you may soon feel like running away if you don't do something about the clutter in your place. When it comes to fighting bed bugs you can't have everything. Occam's Razor cuts this way--the more hiding places the more scattered the bug population becomes. You could put some stuff in plastic bins with tightly-fitting covers but that is another expense. Plastic bags are the least expensive. But getting rid of stuff you really never use is sensible because, if you do move, you will have to take it all with you and increase your chances of taking along bugs, too. When I had the bugs, I didn't have a lot of stuff, was certainly not a hoarder, but still got rid of quite a bit. The bugs made me unsentimental. A PCO will tell you the same--unclutter. You think you will miss the stuff but you probably won't. I never have.

  3. BattleoftheBug

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Wed Apr 26 2017 13:12:13
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    I forgot to stress one of your chief concerns. While the Unlawful Detainer process is in motion, your landlord cannot do anything to put you out. He has to have the order to evict you, signed by a judge. If the landlord takes you to court, your argument could be "landlord retaliation"--also something illegal in many states. In other words, you are being evicted for having bugs, which you acquired through no fault of your own. But, if you are behind in your rent, you'll probably lose no matter what. Do a Google on how far a tenant can be behind in your state in order to be evicted. You might find something helpful there. The law is not the same in every state.

  4. BigDummy

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Wed Apr 26 2017 13:34:56
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    oceanofbugs7 - 13 hours ago  » 

    At any rate. My wife has been a bit of a hoarder and we have clutter and clothes scattered about the apartment. I finally got her to get a small shop vac, some DE, a spray and a few traps yesterday. Until then, all I could do is kill live bugs and spray rubbing alcohol all over the place (we don't smoke, so the fire hazard is slightly reduced).
    We simply can't afford an inspection, never mind a treatment and I know it's been a good 8 weeks at least, so guaranteed a good infestation has already taken hold.
    We don't have them yet, but I will look into covers for the couches and the bedding. We need to replace the mattress bugs or not. It's a broken spring mattress.
    The concern I have is, we have a lot of books and electronics. My wife has knitting material, among other things that we would like to keep. We can't afford new dishes. Simply put, we can't afford to replace anything. We don't have the money, time or patience to cook every single thing individually in special ovens.
    Plus, there's the fear that the bugs will head upstairs. If that happens, we're basically out on the streets.
    I'm still very new to this whole thing (we won a battle with cockroaches in another state, thanks to a filthy neighbor, and that seemed so much easier to deal with).
    Is there any chance we can DIY and come out of this with both our sanity and our stuff, without professional help or are we just rowing up a creek without a paddle?

    Things like dishes shouldn't be a concern, not a great environment for bed bugs except for the most hardcore of cases, something measured in years not weeks.
    You may want to search for threads from member pbello , Paul has quite a few instructional posts for the DIYer that are labor intensive but completely doable if you devote the time.
    Please post images of the bed bugs so that they can be identified clearly, sometimes bat bugs or bird bugs are misdiagnosed as they appear very similar in structure to a bed bug.

  5. Livingagain

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Wed Apr 26 2017 14:02:43
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    And, in addition to pbello's good advice don't use DE, use Cimexa, it's much more effective.

  6. oceanofbugs7

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Wed Apr 26 2017 16:42:41
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    I'm slightly of out panic mode.
    We have been overdue for a purge for a long time. I had to fight tooth and nail to get to where we're at (we did purge twice). It really does seem like we're working against each other here, though. I'm basically the Felix to her Oscar.
    For example: the aforementioned loveseat must have been a haven for bugs, because she littered it with tons of junk (I got her to throw it all in a plastic bin yesterday).
    I told her to start getting plastic bins and containers, so things like books and dvd's can go in there and the bookcases we keep can be used for stuff in small containers and whatever knick knacks we keep out.
    This won't happen right away, though, so a good deal of contamination is in order.
    We also have a lot of stuff, in boxes, in another room. I told her I wanted to get rid of all the cardboard boxes and put everything in plastic.
    This is all going to cost a deal of money, but not as much as replacing everything (hopefully that everything will get a lot smaller, but that's not entirely up to me).
    I feel like I'm dealing with an addiction: one day and one step at a time. Tomorrow we can start inspecting and cleaning the 2 rooms we have most of the problems with right now and eventually work our way to the rest of the house, while maintaining those.
    As far as an infestation upstairs, they go out in public and have visitors, from time to time, so it may not even be from us. However, if we went unchecked for a year or don't get enough for a professional soon, bugs moving upstairs is probably a guarantee.
    I'm dealing with health issues not associated with the bugs. If I ever get to where I need to be, then we can go back to 2 incomes and that will change the dynamic.
    For now... time to read the serenity prayer.

  7. BattleoftheBug

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Wed Apr 26 2017 17:24:55
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    It's not necessary to get rid of all the cardboard boxes as long as you put a band of duct tape over all the openings. Just make sure everything that's in won't be able to get out and vice versa. I'm glad to read you're a little calmer and are planning to make things easier. Just doing something about your problem can make you feel better.

  8. oceanofbugs7

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Apr 27 2017 14:22:04
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    Spent all day working on the living room.
    DVD's are all safe (cardboard boxes, but all corners are sealed) except a handful we kept out for use. They're arranged in a couple of little piles, so you can see around them and only the 2 top shelves.
    Still working on boxing the books we had on the shelves (we had 6 full ones). What's left out is rearranged the same way as the DVD's.
    Everything is off the walls and there is ample space between the furnishings and the walls, so it's easier to see what's going on.
    We're still in the early stages, so (at least in this room) we didn't notice too much activity. A couple of dead bugs that had managed to get into the DVD shelves.
    We decided to do some cleaning: sweeping, mopping behind everything with bleach, washing walls and window sills. How effective this is for bugs doesn't matter. It needed doing and it's been a while.
    We sprayed just a tiny bit in the cracks of the baseboards and treated the couches with some DE (that's all we've got at the moment). We noticed 2 live bugs, so far.
    It may not seem like much, but it's a start. We'll tackle the bedroom clutter nightmare in a day or 2 and sweep through the whole house, getting rid of what we can as we go along. Eventually, we can do another purge in the spare room.
    In the meantime, 1 room is easier to navigate in.

  9. BigDummy

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Apr 27 2017 14:47:36
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    BattleoftheBug - 21 hours ago  » 
    It's not necessary to get rid of all the cardboard boxes as long as you put a band of duct tape over all the openings. Just make sure everything that's in won't be able to get out and vice versa.

    I don't think that's very solid advice. Bed bugs are perfectly happy under a flap or crease in cardboard boxes, they don't necessarily enter the corrugated inner bits.

  10. BattleoftheBug

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Apr 27 2017 15:44:04
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    I brought a couple of sealed up cardboard boxes with me when I moved last time and they worked out fine. You just can't open them up for a long time. You have to seal all the cracks with tape on the outside so nothing can get in or out. What's inside will die in a year. It doesn't matter if the bugs are under a flap as long as they can't escape. I don't know what you mean by crease, but there are only so many openings in a normal cardboard box.

  11. oceanofbugs7

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Apr 28 2017 2:03:24
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    Sound advice or not, it's all we have right now. Remember the initial keywords? Poor is one of them. Maybe I need to clarify. By poor, I don't mean paycheck to paycheck. I literally mean poverty. A 10 dollar purchase for us is like a 200 dollar purchase for most people.
    Another thing I find is that you have to tape the lids on the plastic containers as well. People hear a click on the ends and think it's sealed, only to realize it's wide open except for the 2 ends.
    I know we don't have cockroaches. We might have carpet beetles, but we have all hard wood or linoleum floors.
    I suppose like many before me, I take a breath and pat myself on the back for a small amount of progress only to freak out after hearing that everything I did is wrong and I'm making the problem worse.
    In addition, there's the poor health. With my wife being the only source of income and the constant battles over "stuff", I'm not 100% sure my marriage will survive this. The only good news is, if we split, I have basically nothing, so stuff management would become easy.

  12. BattleoftheBug

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Fri Apr 28 2017 11:31:28
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    You did fine. You seem to understand very well that confinement is the key. Yes, some plastic bins should be taped for good measure, too. When I had BBs four years ago, I wore only the clean clothes that I kept inside a very large plastic storage bin I bought at Home Depot. Inside that was one of those plastic BB-proof zippered bags you buy for large suitcases. So at least I felt the clothes I put on each day were bug free. For anyone else reading this and if you are a traveler, I strongly suggest you purchase these for your suitcases. I keep mine in there all the time when I am at home and put them back in as soon as I come back from a trip. A little more peace of mind.

    Of course it is much harder for people living on the poverty level to deal with the bugs, especially if the landlord will not cooperate. At least you can find tips for handling things on your own here. At very least you might be able to keep the population down. Doing nothing is not an option if you stay there. At the rate those creatures multiply, you will be overwhelmed. I can't recall now--did you put tape over any wall openings where the bugs might hide--like the wall sockets you aren't using? Those things people use for the sockets to keep their little kids from sticking their fingers in are good, too, I suppose. Today I plan to put double-sided carpet tape in various places. Around the feet of my bed, even though I have the climb ups there--it can't hurt. On the floor of my closets behind the doors and up the frames. Around the legs of some of my furniture.

  13. oceanofbugs7

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Apr 29 2017 5:54:37
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    I shouldn't have to ask this, but what if electricity is shut off for several months? How long before they spread upstairs?

  14. BattleoftheBug

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Apr 29 2017 10:54:37
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    oceanofbugs7 - 4 hours ago  » 
    I shouldn't have to ask this, but what if electricity is shut off for several months? How long before they spread upstairs?

    I'm not sure of your meaning. If the electricity is off, why do you think that affects the migration to an attached unit? Have you asked your local county department of human or workforce service if there is any help available for you since you are unable to work? That might even be help with the electric bill. I take it you are not receiving disability benefits.

  15. oceanofbugs7

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Apr 29 2017 12:08:22
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    That is a work in progress. It may or may not get resolved. In the meantime (I don't have a camera phone, so I can't take pictures), in addition to the bed bugs, there is a huge explosion in the population of carpet beetles. I spent enough time studying pictures of both: the flat reddish brown bed bug, the elongated gorged adult, the bright red fed nymph (I found one on my clothes early on) and a second species of carpet beetle or "fur beetle". We would see the little grey ones (the ones that look like little grey ladybugs) dead on the window from time to time. But now, in the past 2 days I've killed 3 of the larger black ones (1 or both has been eating all my t-shirts). I woke up this morning with my first noticeable welt on my neck, so I can start getting medical treatment. But wait, that's not all: In addition to all these, there's the seasonal carpenter ants in the kitchen and bathroom.
    This is beginning to sound like a joke. No matter where I turn, I just can't seem to get ahead. On top of everything else, instead of teamwork, there's nothing but opposition within the home.
    Walking out with the clothes on my back is getting more and more tempting by the day.


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