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Rationalizing These Weird Bites...LONG post (sorry)

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  1. HugginBuggin

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Wed Jul 4 2018 10:06:10
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    Thought I'd never be back here after the Bed Bug Apocalypse of 2010 in the crappy apartment we lived in (and won that war, I'm proud to say). I am no stranger to bed bugs. I'm writing this mostly for stress relief and looking for an outside perspective as I'm trying VERY HARD not to panic. I have diagnosed PTSD from the bed bug war before and I don't want to go back down that road.

    So three weeks ago I was on an archaeology dig and staying in a hotel. Hit a deer, broke my wrist from the airbag, so husband came and stayed with me while I finished the dig. We were in the hotel for 3 days. I ALWAYS check hotels thoroughly because of aforementioned PTSD I am terrified of bringing those little buggers back into my life. 8 years of travel and never once seen a bug. This hotel looked clean, even the mattress and boxsprings were encased and I figure that's always a good sign of no bed bugs.

    Wrong.

    After the first and second nights, husband was covered in bites. Big, dark, nasty welts. I had one on my back. He said, "BEDBUGS!" We searched the room again.No signs. No casts, no fecal spots. Place was pristine. We had been outside a lot in the country, so I told him maybe it was mosquitoes or ticks or something. That night we were chilling before bed and my daughter (never got bitten) said, "Mom, what's this weird bug on my pillow?" I looked and saw a tiny brown bug about the size of a pinhead and my first reaction was, "Meh, little beetle," but I touched it and it burst. Blood everywhere. I went, "OH CRAP!"

    We moved rooms that night to one at the other end of the hotel, same floor. We were super insanely careful when we came home the next day. EVERYTHING stayed downstairs in the garage and did not come into the house until it had been either washed and dried on the highest setting. We even took turns stripping in the garage of the clothes we were wearing. Suitcases never entered the house. They were vacuumed and treated with Pronto. All electronics and bags were treated.

    We live in an 1800 sq. ft. 2 story house, 4 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bath. All bedrooms/offices are upstairs. Garage is accessed through the kitchen. There is no ventilation in the garage. I was pretty sure in the remote chance we did bring bugs home, our insane isolation and sterilization efforts would have prevented them from coming inside. It's possible they were inside the rental car. The car was a black Jeep Renegade with black leather interior. I live in Texas and that bugger was parked outside in the sun for 2 weeks. An infrared thermometer one day read at more than 140 degrees inside. I don't think bugs could survive that!

    Fast forward to this week, 2 1/2-3 weeks later. I've been sleeping in my office (built partially above the garage) because I have more room to elevate my broken wrist. Monday I woke up with a single bite on my upper right arm. I was at the park with my kiddo when I found it and dismissed it as a mosquito bite because there's a lot of standing water in that area. Tuesday morning woke up with a bite on the inside of my forearm, about 3 inches above my cast. It looks a lot like the other one. At this point, my husband and I started to go, "Hmmm."

    I pulled my bed apart as much as possible (which is hard as it's a solid framed trundle from IKEA, HEMNES daybed with 3 drawers) and searched both mattresses for casts and fecal spots. Nada. Nothing. Zippo. Yeah, well...we've seen how accurate that can be. I washed all the sheets and blankets and pillow more for peace of mind than anything else.

    This morning, I woke up with another single bite on my left hand between my ring and middle fingers. It looks like the other 2. I kind of broke down at this point and started sobbing. Husband and I agreed we need to get a bedbug sniffer K9 in here ASAP because if we do have an infestation, it's in the beginning stages and we need to nip this in the bud as soon as possible.

    At this point, I am trying not to panic. I am also trying to rationalize that:

    1. I don't see HOW they could have survived the insane isolation and sterilization we did. We made everything deadly to bed bugs. Heat, poisons, you name it. Also, we have a healthy non-venomous spider population in our garage that we leave alone because they cut down on other bugs and don't bother us much. I mean, maybe one bug could have survived, but I'm getting bitten every night so that's at least 3! How many of those little buggers could have hitchhiked home AND survived the sterilization AND the hostile garage environment?

    2. Except for coming in through the electrics (no ventilation ducts in garage), I don't see how they could have made it upstairs to my bed. I normally don't even sleep in there at all. It seems more logical that they would have crossed over to my daughter's room or the master bedroom and snacked on us there (and who knows, maybe they did). My husband reported two bites on Monday morning, but he had also been outside working on his truck and we do have lots of mosquitos around here. I've been bitten just walking to my car.

    3. These bites aren't acting like "typical" bed bug bites and they don't look anything like the ones we both got in the hotel. Those were enormous, dark, itchy welts. These look more like mosquito bites, smaller reddish bumps that flare up and die down. Also, they're all singles. No "breakfast-lunch-dinner" although I know from experience that bed bugs don't always bite in groups. The majority of my bites from 2010 were in that pattern, though. My husband's bites are also singles and far apart (one on his back, one on his arm). He hasn't received any more bites since Monday and he's been sleeping alone in our bed across the hall from my office. Daughter has received no bites.

    So...am I insane? Is this something else? It doesn't seem like a bed bug infestation based on bites, but I know bites alone aren't evidence of an infestation. I haven't found proof yet and if this is a light infestation, then I probably won't. I'm just trying to make myself feel better. I wouldn't be so concerned if we hadn't been exposed 3 weeks ago. I'm just so angry and frustrated because we worked so hard to prevent an infestation, did EVERYTHING you are supposed to do when coming home from traveling (which we've done for years, but we were extra diligent this time). I'm frustrated because I don't know what's biting me and we've already been through so much this month with the wreck, my broken wrist, breaking a cell phone, having to buy a new car, and then both of our debit cards getting skimmed. It's been a crappy month and things were just starting to get better. The very last thing I need is a bed bug infestation!

    It's a holiday, so I cannot call a PCO today. There are several companies in my area (Austin) that offer K9 services. I will call first thing tomorrow because I will not have peace of mind unless we know we're clear and, if by some curse those little buggers have infested our house despite our best efforts, we can immediately begin treatment to keep this from becoming a huge problem.

    Thanks for listening to me. I feel a little better and calmer after typing all this out.

  2. HugginBuggin

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    Posted 1 year ago
    Thu Jul 5 2018 17:29:45
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    Update: woke up this morning and no new bites. The other three I've received were very much faded compared to yesterday, including the latest one between my finger. They look like 2 week old healing bed bug bites, not recent ones. The ones we both got 3 weeks ago were enormous, silver dollar sized welts, deep angry red and almost purple. You can still the one on my back.

    I remembered yesterday that we do have carpet beetles here. I found one on my laptop about 2 months back while I was sitting on my office bed. Not sure why he was there, but it was definitely a carpet beetle and not a bed bug. He had a mottled black-tan-white shell. I've seen them from time to time, including the nymphs.

    Now I'm wondering if it's carpet beetles that have been scooting across me while I sleep. That would explain the uncharacteristic bites. I have a huge striped afghan on my office bed that has a mix of natural and synthetic fibers. I've read that the larvae like to nom on wool, so maybe that's why they've been hanging out there.

    I've held off on calling for a K9 inspection for now and inspecting regularly for signs of bed bugs, but my gut instinct is telling me it's not them and it's carpet beetles or just something else entirely. It just doesn't seem right. The bites are all wrong for BB, there's no signs of them, and we were super detailed in isolating and sterilizing everything to the point of obsession when we came back after being exposed. I probably wouldn't have panicked if I hadn't been exposed, lols! I'm also going to vacuum my office deeply once I'm able to. This broken wrist has kept me from my usual cleaning schedule and that may have contributed to the bites.

    Thanks for letting me ramble. I'll update if anything changes.


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