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Starter infestation, survivor reinfestation, or neighboring apartments?

(11 posts)
  1. mmuldoor

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Feb 1 2015 7:15:31
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    Ok so we just moved about 2 months ago (lease started November, but we had a month overlap, didn't start really living here until very end of Nov. 2014) from a small house in the suburbs to an apartment complex in Norristown PA. We've had a lot going on in our lives recently, and I have a lot of junk/clutter from an online bookselling business that had been taking a long time to unclutter due to aforementioned level of outside activity in our lives. Our new apartment is in a renovated cigar factory building, it is a loft with 14-ft ceilings, an elevated semi-separated carpeted bedroom "area" and the rest of the space being wooden-floored. Our lives being so disheveled, we had our memory foam mattress on the floor (ugh! I know, I know, I cringe now thinking about it!), and even with its cover off as it was being washed and then I was removing the lint (even worse!).

    So anyway, our nightmare began about 6 days ago, when my wife was in the bathroom and said "some bug was on me and crawled off and ran into the crack between the wall and floor". I said "oh it's probably some random bug, no big deal." Later that night at work, where I wear all white (which white clothes I kept in a separate basket on the floor, next to the bedroom wall! UGGGGH!) noticed a bug on my collar, squeezed it to death, then went into a stall and wrapped it up in tissue and put it in my back pocket to save for later. I did about 5 minutes of research on my phone, but still overly calm, I did not rush to conclusions and did not tell my wife. About 2 days later, we saw one climbing up the wall next to the head of our mattress, I also promptly killed and kept. After about 25-30 minutes of discussing, arguing and researching, we both accepted the conclusion: BEDBUGS! Now the rest of our apartment being still a cluttered mess from moving, I had to declutter as fast as possible in order to make space for the bed I still had to put together, and in the meantime we still had to sleep on a mattress ON THE FLOOR! We slept with the lights on, we were vigilant. About 1-2 days later, I let my guard down because of exhaustion, and after I got off third shift in the morning I slept well into the evening in complete darkness. Still, no additional bedbug sightings until about a half hour later while I was in the bathroom, my wife still in the bedroom, freaks out--she catches a live one on a pillow. Full freak out mode!

    We get some tools-- DE, a steamer, Vaseline, baby oil, alcohol, yeast and sugar for a homemade trap, etc.-- start bagging laundry, and start inspecting and theorizing about where, how, how long etc. We've only been here just shy of 2 months, and the first signs we notice are random, wandering full-sized adults? No blood stains on the mattress or sheets, no signs of any bugs anywhere near the bed upon thorough examination-- luckily we have the memory foam mattress and no box spring. I checked cracks between walls and carpet, ridges, pillows, blankets, clothes, etc. etc.--nothing! It quickly became obvious that it was these very old wooden support beams that were part of the old cigar factory. Three beams stand vertically, and three run lengthwise across the ceiling. I don't know if they are integral support, or just there because they were too hard to remove, but the 2 horizontal and 2 vertical beams along the walls of either side of the apartment halfway stick out into our apartment, and I suppose halfway stick out on the other side into the adjacent apartments on either side of our apartment. The wood is very, very unfinished-- it looks like it was just chopped down and shaped and varnished. There are many enormous cracks, small cracks, natural holes and holes put there by people for hanging up pictures and whatnot. I thoroughly examined them, especially the two beams that are in our bedroom, and voila, I find a shed skin which I excavate with a sewing needle. I also find a couple of what maybe living or dead nymphs in the middle stages, or more skins. Not wanting to risk disturbing living ones and then losing them, I just bust out the steamer and blast them with 270 degree steam for a few minutes. Then I excavate them with the needle and they disintegrate onto the floor. Oh well, vacuum!

    So, what exactly am I dealing with here? The building manager mentioned just before we started moving that he had "just finished spraying". Spraying for what? In retrospect, seems highly likely it was the BB beasts. Are these adults just survivors? Seems that if we had raised a whole new generation up in the short time we've been here, and had a native infestation or reinfestation, we certainly would have noticed them sooner in perhaps the 3rd 4th or 5th stages? Or we would have noticed any bites--we don't have any, as far as I can tell, unless we are BOTH completely unaffected by them. And while I'm pretty much not allergic to any bugs, my wife welts up when anything bites her (and sometimes even when nothing is biting her). Still I suppose it's at least POSSIBLE that they were biting us and we are both not allergic, and are only JUST NOW noticing them without noticing any of their signs--blood stains, fecal matter, skins, etc. Or that that stuff is there but they prefer to live in the old wooden beams rather far away from the bed as opposed to around the bed, perhaps because there was nowhere suitable near our heads?

    My theory is that these adults are either survivors from a previous infestation--the skins were found in the beam in the middle of the apartment, not on the edges-- and/or coming from nearby aparments, and/or they live in this creaky old wood in the entire building and just have free rein to travel the entire building using these beams as their network.

    Just tonight we saw a bug on the ceiling near the wall where we saw the other bed bug that I squashed, and its the same wall that the pillows were near when we captured the live bug. It was too far to positively identify, and it toyed with us as it started to come down the wall, but then just went back up and crawled into a crack between the real wall and the old wood beam. And that just made us despair even more after we thought we might be able to fight back reasonably on our own before we are prepared enough to call a PCO. We have 14 ft high ceilings! And the beams run up to those 14ft ceilings, and then along the ceilings lengthwise across the entire apartment. Could there be a lot up there? I mean, it seems an incredibly difference for hatchling BBs to travel, but maybe not? If they crawl down the wall, and try to get to our bed we can manage, because I put the bed together in the middle of the wooden floor living room, and am putting up defenses around the perimeter of the bed--vaseline, carpet tape, etc. But our bed doesn't have legs--it is a solid box but with a about an 8 inch ledge hanging off of each side. I greased the sides with vaseline--though maybe I should use baby oil?-- and the BBs would have to crawl up vertically, then upside down, then vertically again, then over a hump etc. I don't know if that's better or worse than a bed with legs and some climb up interceptors--we shall see. But I'm really worried about the ceiling--really hoping we don't starve them out so well that they start kamikaze style diving from the ceiling! This war feels like a real version of Plants vs. Zombies! Instead of Brains! Brains! it's BLOOD! BLOOD!

  2. robinsmom

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Feb 1 2015 7:29:02
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    Your best bet is to post clear pictures of everything you have found. If it's bed bugs, you need to find out if your landlord is responsible for spraying. If so, let him know right away.

    Yes, if it's bb then sure could be a neighbor infested. I'm curious if in your jurisdiction whether or not landlords have to tell renters if the place had/has bb.

    Do post pics and let a pro weigh in.

    I'm not an expert just a dumb struggling bed bugger like every body else.
  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Sun Feb 1 2015 15:35:28
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    I read that fairly quickly so I may have missed something, but this is what I am getting from what you wrote:

    • You moved in Nov. to an apartment where the manager claimed to have "just been spraying" for something unnamed.
    • You started seeing adult bed bugs 6 days ago, but are not seeing fecal stains or other evidence besides possible shed skins.
    • You and your spouse have not had any skin reactions.

    Is that right?

    Let's go through those one by one.

    • You moved in Nov. to an apartment where the manager claimed to have "just been spraying" for something unnamed.

    This makes it seem likely that the unit had a problem, quite possibly bed bugs or another biting pest. Can you ask?

    • You started seeing adult bed bugs 6 days ago, but are not seeing fecal stains or other evidence besides possible shed skins.


    It's quite possible not to see bed bugs until the problem becomes more advanced. They could have been there all along but you'd expect to see fecal stains near where you were bitten, which is where bed bugs normally harbor.*

    Of course, it could mean a neighbor did something such that bed bugs were suddenly "sent over" (e.g. they moved out a while ago and bed bugs got hungry, or they used a fogger or other treatments which cause spreading).

    If your landlord treated for bed bugs with sprays/dusts just before you moved in, it's likely they would survive and you'd need more treatments. This is because (a) most treatments with sprays/dusts require more than one visit from the PCO, and (b) bed bugs in an unoccupied unit aren't likely to come out, cross poison and die. They're likely to hang out until a human comes and tempts them out.

    • You and your spouse have not had any skin reactions.


    It's fully possible not to react to bed bugs. Both of you may not ever react. Perhaps one of you will start reacting after being bitten for a while. People don't always react immediately.

    *It's also possible these are not bed bugs but a closely related species (bat or bird bugs). Are bats or birds harboring in or on the building? I mention this because they look very much like bed bugs, but if it's bat or bird bugs, you may not be finding fecal traces in the usual locations (e.g. beds and near beds).

    Bat and bird bugs require different treatments, so it's important to figure this out.

    A close photo (or high res flatbed scan) can be posted and may allow experts here to weigh in on if you have a bed bug or closely related species. You may need to bring or send a sample to an expert if you can't get a detailed image, but try that first.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  4. mmuldoor

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Mon Feb 2 2015 9:48:56
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    Thanks yall. Yes our lease started in november, but the lease at our old place didn't end until november 31st. Thus we didn't start sleeping in this new place till about November27th, 28th--the very end of November. Being that the problem started at the very end of January, that's about 2 months of sleeping here. We are in Norristown Pennsylvania, so it is quite cold now, and we are on the 3rd floor of a multi-unit apt. building. So I highly doubt there are any bats or birds, at least inside the building.

    Now, I know it takes about that long for BBs to grow up, but they need a blood meal at every stage. We've only noticed full-fledged adults. While its entirely possible they're living and breeding and growing to adult stage without us noticing anything whatsoever until adults start crawling up our walls, my hunch--hunch, that is-- is that they are either survivors from the previous tenant and/or they are coming from a neighbor with a more pernicious problem, and that they travel along the network of old wooden beams that run through this place. Especially if that bug I saw on the ceiling was a bed bug, they may be descending from a fourth floor apt that has a lot of bugs, or have cut off their food supply. Or they simply live that high up (14ft. high loft ceilings) in the wooden beams of this apt. Pics will be forthcoming! I'll post them here, but should they also go in another section?

  5. mmuldoor

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Feb 4 2015 13:36:43
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    UGh.. Just caught bug #4 last night... Another unfed adult crawling around far far away from our bed, on a cardboard box for a filing cabinet from IKEA! Still no bites, our bed is isolated, and easily isolated because its a wooden box with slats and overhangs, and a foam mattress, Surrounded the entire bed with carpet tape on the frame. Just praying to God I don't get any crazy suicidal kamikaze's from the 14ft high ceiling.Seems a bit too high for them to just "let go" but you never know! Also have all the edges of teh floors coated with a thin layer of DE. Need to steam, clear clutter, and spread DE, and protect and isolate the bed, and finally call the landlord when this apt is presentable again. But truthfully, if all he's going to do is spray old school pesticides and just force them to retreat for a month or two, while actually making the long-term problem worse, I'd prefer to just go it alone and have some $ knocked off my rent for the effort!

  6. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Feb 4 2015 14:07:54
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    That sounds like a neighbor may have treated and sent them over. This happens eg with foggers (which should not be used for bed bugs).

    However, if you could post a close photo, it's a good idea-- let an expert confirm it's a bed bug. Bats or birds nesting on or near a building are not ruled out by it being winter in PA. They do act differently, which is why I am suggesting it's possible.

  7. Richard56

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Wed Feb 4 2015 14:10:26
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    Where are the pictures you said you would post a couple of days ago? You could be wasting an awful lot of your time (and our time) if the problem isn't bed bugs.

    Richard

  8. mmuldoor

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Mar 6 2015 5:12:40
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    Sorry man, I got crazy busy at work and I've been struggling to find an appropriate place to upload the pictures! I don't really wanna out myself anywhere public (well not me so much, but my wife would flip). Just tried my dropbox, but its full! Anyway I'm fairly sure they're bedbugs, man. I tried to convince myself they might be something else, but it just doesn't add up. I don't live near the roof. I looked at the comparisons. But I'm going to try to clean out my dropbox account now !

  9. mmuldoor

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Mar 6 2015 5:59:37
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  10. mmuldoor

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Mar 6 2015 6:58:51
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  11. mmuldoor

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    Posted 4 years ago
    Fri Mar 6 2015 6:59:26
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    will get new pics up with better resolution!


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