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Success story (moving with Vikane)

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  1. MyLandlordSux

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Tue Aug 30 2016 12:12:13
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    tl;dr version: Got bed bugs in our NYC apartment, dealt with them for several months. Management company largely non-compliant and uncommunicative despite HPD issuing a violation. We decided to move to a new place using Moving Right Along and Bed Bugs & Beyond to fumigate the moving truck with Vikane. They were great. It is now three months later in our new place and we are bed bug free.

    Detailed version:

    In late summer of 2015, I started to get bites when I was sleeping at night. I assumed that this was from mosquitoes. Nope. In October, I saw a bed bug crawling on my pants leg while I was in my arm chair in the living room. Had that moment of sinking realization. Captured and identified it by looking at photos on the web.

    We tried to get in touch with our landlord / management company, but discovered that their phone system was designed so that it was literally impossible to reach a human being. Left messages, no response. This went on for a while. All this time I was getting daily bites and even seeing live bugs in the living room. Boyfriend did not react to bites.

    In November, we discovered that our downstairs neighbor had filed a complaint with HPD in July about bed bugs, but the complaint had been investigated and dismissed for lack of evidence. (HPD was pretty useless throughout all of this.) So we filed a complaint. They scheduled to have a bed bug sniffing dog come, and I noticed online that they had reactivated our downstairs neighbor's complaint.

    So a guy from HPD came with the dog. Absolutely adorable, but pretty much useless. We had our cats in the bathroom so he wouldn't be distracted, but he seemed to amble around getting distracted by the cat toys. I showed the HPD inspector dead bugs in tape and live ones in a plastic bag, though I knew that wasn't considered evidence by HPD (he did confirm that they were definitely bed bugs). As far as I know, the dog didn't alert at all, despite our having a major problem by then. The HPD inspector just said he was "pretty sure" that we had bed bugs, and they ended up issuing a violation for our apartment and our downstairs neighbors.

    We used that to pressure our management company and also did some research to find e-mail addresses of people at the company. We also sent a certified letter, of course. They finally responded in December. They said that a company (Broadway Exterminating) was going to inspect and then do two treatments, and that we would need to pay, because there's a clause in our lease that says that we must pay for bed bug treatments.

    Of course when this all began, I had done some research and discovered that they should have given us the bed bug history rider when we signed the lease (they didn't), and that the clause in the lease wouldn't hold up in NYC. So I argued back and forth with them, citing the housing code. Their response was, yes, it says that the landlord is "responsible" for treatment, but it doesn't say that they have to pay. I found an NYC HPD page that has the sentence "the landlord must pay for treatment." Sent them the link and they shut up. When Broadway Exterminating called, the nice lady on the phone said, "It says here that you are paying for treatment...?" I said, no, we're not. She sounded relieved and responded, ok, great, we'll bill the landlord.

    The inspection consisted of me showing them a bag of bugs and them saying "ok, you definitely have bed bugs." Our prep was insane due largely to our thousands of books (each one individually inspected, fanned out, and spines vacuumed). The apartment was barely navigable with the giant Ziploc bags of books and all.

    The Broadway Exterminating guys were nice but not knowledgeable about bed bugs. (One commented that our prep was amazing, and that it was great that we used the Ziploc bags, because the bed bugs would suffocate in there.) The treatments were standard spray and pray. Bugs still sighted between first and second treatment. Things were somewhat better after the second treatment, but they were by no means eradicated. Called up Broadway Exterminating, and they recommended that we keep our stuff bagged up and get the mgmt company to schedule another treatment.

    Our mgmt company went incommunicado again at this point.

    I made a flyer in English and Spanish and slipped it under every apartment door in the building, saying that at least two apartments had bed bugs, recommending that people call HPD if they suspect any issues, and advising them that no matter what their leases said, the landlord must pay for treatment. (We witnessed lots of shady stuff going down in our building, so we did not want to talk to anyone directly.) Watched the HPD site, and no action. There was obviously a larger problem in the building that the residents just lived with.

    I finally called and e-mailed and stated that I was going to start a Housing Part action in Housing Court on x date if they didn't call back by then. They called the day before and said they had hired a different company to come do an inspection. I think this was in February or March. Eventually a guy came with nothing but a spray canister in hand. We told him that we were supposed to have an inspection, not a treatment, and that we couldn't have a treatment right then because of our cats. (One of our cats has kidney disease, so both times the apartment was treated, we had to go to a hotel for a night, to keep him/them out of the apartment for 24 hours after the treatment, the company's recommendation.) He came in, I showed him several dozen dead bugs in tape, he said that's a lot of bugs, and had us sign a form about prepping.

    Prep work was already done anyway, as we lived with virtually all of our belongings in giant Ziploc bags (and also those weathertight storage bins from the Container Store that I saw recommended here-- expensive but great for easy access to "sterile" laundry, stuff we used often, etc). We lived this way from December to May. Doing laundry according to proper bed bug protocol, being careful not to take any bugs out into the world with us. Everything was a giant pain, to put it mildly.

    Then we didn't hear back from anybody regarding treatment. At this point I got fed up and stopped trying to get them to treat, and focused our time & money on keeping the problem at bay until we could get out of there. After the initial 2 treatments happened, the problem seemed to be pretty much confined to the living room-- we would see bugs along the two walls bordering our next door neighbor. So I used a paintbrush to apply the very lightest bit of Cimexa along the baseboards on those walls (wore a respirator, gloves, did everything properly). Also a bit on the floor under my recliner.

    This actually worked wonders. Bites and sightings went way way way down, with short periods of none at all. Toward the end of our time there, I started to get night bites again, so I inspected the mattress daily and grabbed the odd bug or two with tape.

    For what it's worth, I had read that you can't feel the bugs biting you. But I generally could if I was awake in the living room and they were biting my arms or feet. I caught them in the act many, many times because of that very particular stinging sensation that I got when they were biting. After the bites, I reacted almost immediately. Would look like a proper bite within an hour or less.

    At some point, HPD came back to see whether they had fixed the problem. I missed their first visit but took the day off work when they left a notice saying they'd be back the next week. There happened to be a live bug just chilling on the wall that day, so I left it alone until HPD got there, then captured it in front of him onto a piece of tape, live. So they updated the violation to say that the landlord had not complied. Our downstairs neighbor must not have been home for either visit, because their violation said that they had no access, and it ended up being removed. Not long after the visit, our other next door neighbor (not the one that had bugs crawling all over our walls) made a complaint to HPD. I saw later that HPD had inspected it and dismissed it for lack of evidence. Riiiiight. So I have pretty much zero faith in HPD's ability to do anything useful.

    We finally got a new apartment and called Bed Bugs and Beyond with only a week and a half notice about hiring movers and getting the moving truck fumigated. (I am normally more on the ball with things like this, but we were really coming down to the wire getting enough money to move to a new place, after all the expenses we'd already incurred with the bed bugs.) No problem. They put Moving Right Along in touch with us, and everything was scheduled easily.

    We did our own packing, following the instructions carefully (only natural fibers for packing, no plastic, etc). The Moving Right Along guys (four man crew, because we were moving out of a walk up and had a ton of stuff, most notably the books) were super nice and efficient.

    Once everything was packed, we loaded up our cats in brand new carriers that had been kept in giant Ziploc bags as soon as they came from Amazon, and changed into "sterile" clothes that we had ready in bags as we were leaving the apartment. Had air mattresses delivered from Amazon to our new apartment and slept on those for the evening until Moving Right Along delivered our stuff the next day, having been fumigated overnight.

    It has been three months since then, and no bugs. Nothing at all. I was very anxious about whether or not the moving / fumigation would work, especially since it cost about $5000, and we are tapped out financially at this point. But it worked, hallelujah.

    I never thought anything could make a Manhattan apartment seem big, but living with your stuff in Ziploc bags all over your floor for several months does it. Our new place feels like a palace.

    By the way, lesson learned: checked HPD and the Bed Bug Registry for any issues with our new place before we signed the lease (nothing, in fact, not a single violation for anything on HPD-- our super here is amazing at getting things fixed immediately). When we signed the lease, we watched for the bed bug history rider. There it was, and no history of bugs in the last year. So we moved in feeling good and praying that we wouldn't be the jerks who moved in and brought bed bugs, and we weren't, thankfully.

    I am indebted to this site for prep recommendations, resources on dealing with HPD and landlords, for finding out about Cimexa and how to use it as safely as possible, and for the good reviews of BB&B and MRA that helped me feel at ease with that plan. I give BB&B and MRA my heartiest recommendation. It is expensive, but it finally ended our nightmare. They made everything super easy, and most importantly, it worked.

    Thanks very much from a Bedbugger success story.

  2. Tuper

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Tue Aug 30 2016 13:43:04
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    Glad to hear it!!!!

  3. Bugolette

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Tue Aug 30 2016 14:25:30
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    Yaay!! Great news! Thank you for posting this.

  4. MyLandlordSux

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Tue Aug 30 2016 23:45:52
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    Happy to post a success story! I read all the success stories here that I could, for reassurance...

    Oh, and I forgot one of my favorite parts of the whole saga, which was how we finally got them to schedule those two treatments in Dec / Jan.

    Even contacting them and citing the violation wasn't causing them to get back with us. Then one day, our 80-year-old super shows up at the door with a spray bottle of stuff (the kind of thing you'd buy on Amazon for $10) and a squeeze bottle of diatomaceous earth. He tells me that the management company told him to "take care of the problem," adding that he was worried that he might poison my cats. I responded that I was also worried about the cat poisoning, and that oh by the way, it's illegal for someone who isn't licensed to do so to come and spray chemicals in my apartment, and that they needed to hire a professional.

    I contacted the management company, telling them what had just occurred and informing them that it would be illegal for the super to treat the apartment. That was what finally spurred them to get in touch with us. Eventually I came to realize that the only words that caused them to respond were "illegal" and "Housing Court."

  5. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Wed Aug 31 2016 0:06:10
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    Wow-- what a saga. Congratulations!

    I am so grateful that you came back to post a success story. It know means a lot to so many people who will come later. In particular, it's great to get feedback on the companies you used, and on your HPD inspection.

    "For what it's worth, I had read that you can't feel the bugs biting you. But I generally could if I was awake in the living room and they were biting my arms or feet. I caught them in the act many, many times because of that very particular stinging sensation that I got when they were biting. After the bites, I reacted almost immediately. Would look like a proper bite within an hour or less."

    Feeling the bites when they happen seems to be quite unusual-- when people say they "feel them crawling on me and biting", the test is to look and see if they see a bed bug then. From what I gather, most people don't. It does happen (at least one other person has reported this to us) but is very uncommon.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  6. mp7ski

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Jan 19 2017 14:20:19
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    Nobugsonme - 4 months ago  » 
    Wow-- what a saga. Congratulations!
    I am so grateful that you came back to post a success story. It know means a lot to so many people who will come later. In particular, it's great to get feedback on the companies you used, and on your HPD inspection.

    "For what it's worth, I had read that you can't feel the bugs biting you. But I generally could if I was awake in the living room and they were biting my arms or feet. I caught them in the act many, many times because of that very particular stinging sensation that I got when they were biting. After the bites, I reacted almost immediately. Would look like a proper bite within an hour or less."

    Feeling the bites when they happen seems to be quite unusual-- when people say they "feel them crawling on me and biting", the test is to look and see if they see a bed bug then. From what I gather, most people don't. It does happen (at least one other person has reported this to us) but is very uncommon.

    I know this is a older thread but I'm just reading up on success stories to ease my mind a bit. I do want to point out that while I can't say I've ever felt one biting me, I have definitely felt a late instar nymph crawling rather quickly up my arm, that is how I found out my problem to begin with.

    I am not an expert, any advice I give should be considered as amateur advice and not taken as fact. I mean well with all my posts and try to give back. If you plan on using any of my advice, I suggest doing research into said advice to make sure it is in your best interest.
    Study on Thermal Death Points(pages 18-29 of pdf) : http://www.propanecouncil.org/uploadedFiles/Council/Research_and_Development/REP_12221%20Efficacy%20of%20Heat%20on%20Bed%20Bugs.pdf
    Study on Cimexa: http://www.pctonline.com/article/pct0814-silica-gel-research-bed-bugs/
  7. bedbugsbugme

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Jan 19 2017 15:22:11
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    I dont feel them crawling on me but I definitely feel them biting me. That's how I discovered them in my couch. I was looking up bed bug videos on youtube one night after finding out my father in law had them (which is where I got them) and felt little stinging sensations while sitting there. I thought it was all in my head until I went to lay down and saw a full bedbug running towards the end of the cushion..... then I saw another further away.....then another looking at me on the backrest! (I was 9 months pregnant) and I had those 2 couches out of my house faster than you can say bed bug!!!! Haha

    I'm not an expert. Just sharing what I learned from my experience.
  8. Innocence Stolen

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Jan 19 2017 19:50:09
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    It's relieving to read of success stories. We are only a month into our 'clean up' and I go through so many emotions! One day I'm optimistic. The next, completely depressed again. Up and down, every day is different. Most of the time, I fell like this will never end. So reading about people who actually made it through makes me feel hopeful.

    I do not feel them on me, nor do I feel the bites. My reaction time, (the mosquito type bump), is about 6-9 hours after being bitten and then it is nearly a month before it goes away, leaving purple scars where they were. My son, however, could feel them as they bit him. His reaction was tiny little red dots. No swelling and they only itched as he was bit. And they all healed really, really fast, leaving no marks what so ever.

    So this tells me that everyone reacts so differently to bed bug bites.

  9. mp7ski

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Jan 26 2017 2:02:44
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    Innocence Stolen - 6 days ago  » 
    I go through so many emotions! One day I'm optimistic. The next, completely depressed again. Up and down, every day is different. Most of the time, I fell like this will never end. So reading about people who actually made it through makes me feel hopeful.

    This discribes me so well, I was a wreck about an hour ago and I'm at work. My supervisor has been my saving grace, he literally talked to me for 40 minutes and calmed me down, made me think more positive about the situation.

    Innocence Stolen - 6 days ago  » 
    My reaction time, (the mosquito type bump), is about 6-9 hours after being bitten and then it is nearly a month before it goes away, leaving purple scars where they were. My son, however, could feel them as they bit him. His reaction was tiny little red dots. No swelling and they only itched as he was bit. And they all healed really, really fast, leaving no marks what so ever.
    So this tells me that everyone reacts so differently to bed bug bites.

    My reactions vary. When I first realized we had them, I had bites all over and they would swell up and go away after a few days or so. After we got treated the first time, I got several bites that were much worse, I swear it looked like they sat in the same spot suckling on my blood for half an hour. The swelling went down after a couple days but here, over a month later, they are purple scars that are still very obvious. Glad all my bites arent like that.

  10. FayeState

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Jan 26 2017 2:09:19
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    mp7ski,
    I think flamom said her mom was getting a Vikane treatment of her house. You might ask her. Also, you have a great boss. I take it you will have to get a new job when you move.

  11. mp7ski

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Thu Jan 26 2017 3:49:25
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    FayeState - 1 hour ago  » 
    mp7ski,
    I think flamom said her mom was getting a Vikane treatment of her house. You might ask her. Also, you have a great boss. I take it you will have to get a new job when you move.

    I won't have to get a new job, I'd be moving to somewhere in the area and where I work is highly unlikely to be a source of reinfestation since it's a machine shop, people are always moving and its all concrete, less than ideal for a bed bug. I love my job and they pay very well so I'd definitely be staying.


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