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Talking To My Parents About My (Their) Bugs

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  1. animosity

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2012 0:24:35
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    Hello Everybody.

    I have Bed Bugs. I hate that I do, but it is the truth. While I have done many things I consider 'right' concerning this infestation, there are also things I've done wrong. One of these things is, unfortunately, not telling my parents right away about my infestation.

    I ask you all for advice in talking to them and guiding them through the process of extermination now that I've come 'clean', so to speak. I'll try to be brief in relating my story.

    My background and the lead in is as follows: I was working and living on my own for 12 years before getting tossed. When my unemployment ran out before I could find a real job, I moved into a communal house on the cheap. I shared a room with a friend and there were lots of people moving in and out of all the other rooms while I was there...

    2 months in, I heard rumors of bed bugs. I knew there were fleas because my dog caught a mean case of them upon moving in. I had bombed about once a week for the first month and the fleas let up, but I still got occasional bites for the rest of my tenancy. I just assumed they were from remaining fleas and didn't think much about bed bugs because, duh, that's just a horror story and a vindictive rumor started by disgruntled ex-tenants - or so the current roommates said. I never saw anything, but I didn't know what to look for at the time.

    In any case, my stay there was short lived because, although the rent was cheap, I still ran broke. My folks offered that I come home and live with them on the condition that I go back to school. What a great opportunity! Of course, I didn't think at all about the possibility of bed bugs at the time. I was too excited to run home to the open arms of my loving parents.

    The story at home - It took about 3 months for me to realize I had a problem. The summer months hit and I began to be eaten alive. I looked it up the the incredible internuts and, as you all understand how I felt, I'll just say: Heart Sank. Not only am I crawling back to my mom at age 33, jobless, car-less and penniless, but I've brought with me the most horrid creatures known to man! I wen't into denial mode while simultaneously scouring the web for any info I could find... Then comes the dreaded email from one of my previous roommates: DID YOU KNOW WE HAD BED BUGS?

    In the meantime, my mom has busy helping me out in as may ways possible. She's advanced me for my books at school, bought me some new clothes and the ultimate show of love: I got a car (to be paid back when my financial aid kicks in...). She insisted, 'You have to have a car! You're not in the big city any more. No buses here!' All the while I'm thinking, 'But I want to use my financial aid to have an exterminator kill the bugsssss!!!' I just couldn't say it out loud.

    Now - During the last 3 weeks, I've been cleaning, vacuuming, bagging shit up and throwing away anything I don't care about anymore. I've been washing my clothes, extra drying, and living pretty much exclusively in my room, trying not to spread the disease. I've dusted the trundle (sans mattress) under my bed as well as along the walls with DE. I've also been on night watch - I'm a night owl anyways, so I sit on my empty bed watching a movie while browsing the net, late into the night and have caught many bugs... I felt like my measures were working a little, because I wake up with less bites and the ones I've been catching have been fewer and smaller in size.

    However! I decided to take it a step farther yesterday. My wooden bed frame has been a huge concern for me. Sooooooooooo many cracks in the wood. Add to that the trundle below the bed being used as storage and MY GOD! What a mess! I took to task clearing the trundle, dismantling the frame, dousing everything in OIL SOAP and then steam ironing the entire frame! If that didn't get my mom suspicious, my next action did...

    During the dismantling, I found maybe 3 bugs but I did find 2 small clusters of eggs where the mattress and frame come together and some fecal staining on the slats that support the mattress. I decided to wrap the slats in plastic wrap and packing tape - I intended to take them out to the desert and burn them! 5 minutes after putting these things out on the driveway, mom pulls up. Can you guess what her first question was? I broke down crying. 'I'm sooooooo *sob* sooooorry! I have Bed *sob* Bed *sob* Bed Bugssssssss and I *sob* was a-fff a-ff afraid to tell youuuuuu!' Maybe I did it subconsciously just to get caught and have it off my chest?

    She was nice and then not nice and then nice again. Understandably, she was really upset that I took so long to tell her about it. She assumes that they're now in every room of the house and this will add to the cost exponentially... Over all, she took it well. Mom and Dad both asked me not to tell anyone because they don't want people to be uncomfortable around us so I figure they empathize in some way with why I was hesitant to bring it up... It hurts me bad to hear mom hang up the phone with an exterminator and yell out the F-word. She hates that word!

    My mom obsesses on something and then tends to move forward without consulting the rest of us... Case in point - my laptop, my car - I had no say in these things! In this case, I feel it's important for her to include me because I've been doing the obsess thing for a couple of months now!

    I've been thinking about what to do to help them. Obviously, I will be paying for the extermination with my school money, but mentally, what can I do? Mom seemed to calm down a bit when I told her that they stay mostly around the bed and since I stay in my room so much, chances are, they do too. It was also good for her to hear that they have a mechanism that gets them running fast when they detect movement and don't often hang out on people or pets.

    One thing I brought up is using K9 detection for piece of mind. If the dog goes through the house and points out specific areas, it might be a comfort for her to know that the infestation isn't in all rooms, or to know exactly where it's best to target.

    I have several questions about the K9 detection and extermination processes:

    1 - Is it better to go with a K9 team that also offers treatment, or one that does detection only and then 'works with your exterminator'. The 1st way it seems kind of like the old test and repair smog stations. In the second, you could be the victim of the old kick-back scam.

    2 - What's the word on K9 inspections? I've looked at Isotech, Round The Clock and Fido Nose for K9 services. It seems like Fido Nose is the only one that is not accredited on those SPCB/NESDCA websites. But the guy seems really nice, has a great website and is less expensive than RTC for detection.

    3 - Can anyone direct me to a list of questions to ask exterminators on the phone before scheduling an inspection? All the people we call are $100 or more just to look around your home, even though I have several specimen in a bottle already.

    Thanks for your help and thanks for all the comfort everybody here has offered over the last few months!

    TL;DR

  2. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2012 1:35:19
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    Sorry you have bed bugs, but don't be hard on yourself. Your parents could have gotten them without you. Bed bugs are quite common even in single family homes, and every socio-economic sector.

    We have a FAQ on what to ask a PCO (in the pest control section of the FAQs).

    We have another on canine scent detection (in the section on identifying the problem). This is especially important. The key is choosing a handler who confirms dog alerts by visually inspecting and finding evidence following an alert. No visual evidence= no proof of bed bugs.

    You should be able to find them via the FAQs page, but if not, let me know and I will paste in the direct links tomorrow.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  3. animosity

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2012 22:36:47
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    I spoke with an exterminator today who does k9 inspections and treatment... he said the costs break down as follows:

    Initial inspection: $300
    Treatment (includes HEAT/CHEMICAL APPLICATION/DUSTING): $2,400
    1 week follow up inspection included with on the spot re-treatment only if needed.

    Does this sound excessive for the price and/or the treatment?

  4. animosity

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2012 22:38:15
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    BTW: Thanks for your response!

  5. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2012 23:49:56
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    I'm not an expert (bumping):

    1. Do they visually confirm what the dog alerts to? (sounds like you have evidence already)?
    2. I've heard $1.00/SF (the size of the house) and up in my area.
    3. How does the contract define as needed? If the dog alerts? If you find a live bug? etc.

    Good luck!

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  6. ae94

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2012 23:56:15
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    As I dont know the severity of the situation or your location, i can only quote my PCO prices. Im renting in NYC (ll is paying) and our PCO is charging him about 900-1,000 for our small 2bed apartment. three treatments. while youre looking for a PCO, make sure he/she does more than one treatment!! thats super super super important. usually 1-3 is your best bet. Theres actually an FAQ on this somewhere on this site.

    Also, if you know you have them, your PCO should be able to locate where they are. You need physical samples, though. save any bbs you find, if you havent already.

  7. ae94

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Sun Aug 26 2012 23:57:45
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    also, i dont like the idea of the 1wk follow up. usually follow ups are most effective around the 2 week mark.

    im not an expert, just relaying what i have learned throughout my personal disaster..

  8. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 27 2012 0:53:47
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    Ae94, I think he's talking about heat treatment, which would be one time with followup with a dog to make sure there aren't any remaining.

    The only cons about heat treatment that I've READ about (vs. know) are
    1) they have to hit all cool spots in the house..and many do it but there are cases where people come back and all of the bugs aren't dead and 2) if there is a chance you or your parents would reinfest.

    I'm not an expert so let's see what they say about the two items above.

  9. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Mon Aug 27 2012 2:08:02
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    I would definitely get quotes from a few firms to compare prices and services and I would also make sure the dog handler verifies alerts (see my post above).

    A provider which has a dog and does treatment can work, but you're trusting they're honest.

    If they DON'T visually verify alerts, then you could have treatment based on a false alert. And the fact that they're doing the treatment could be an incentive for them to "take the dog's word for it" rather than confirming visual evidence is present.

  10. animosity

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 28 2012 2:51:57
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    Thanks again for the wonderful advice. I've spoken to another company who does the dogs, a visual and offered fumigation for $1,800 or chemical application for $1,100. They also do a follow up with the dogs and re-apply if needed. This sounds much more reasonable!

    Both these companies I found reading these forums. I didn't mention their names because I wasn't sure if this is allowed and/or if I should disclose the company names since I have not accessed their services yet. I've passed the info on to my mom. Mom believes me, dad doesn't... He thinks I'm probably mistaken.

    Good thing mom's taking it seriously! She is hesitant to call in an exterminator though, because she is sooooooooo anti-chemical. Instead, she's built a trap from 4 water bottles, a packet of yeast and some sugar. I guess she wants to both verify that there are bugs in the room and to see how successful my 24 hour purge of bed bugs went, what with ironing my bed frame and all before calling them. For the next few day/weeks, it looks like I'll be sleeping with a brewery by my feet...

    She's also begun to wash, dry and bag the clothing and put them into a room that's very rarely used. Since I've only been home for about 4 months, I feel it's pretty safe to assume that the infestation is most likely confined to my room at this point. I didn't unpack things all over the house and everything I own goes directly back in there when I enter the house. Of course, our two dogs do sleep with me. What are the chances that they spread them everywhere?

    I did, however, advise her that until we have an inspection, we should go easy on the packing, cleaning and moving things around. I fear that we may inadvertently spread them, destroy the evidence or do unnecessary work in preparation before settling on the type of treatment. Was this advice sound?

  11. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 28 2012 10:53:24
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    re: moving stuff: Yes, per the FAQs, you don't want to move things around.

    re: dogs: My understanding is that dogs can be bitten (though we're the most attractive dinner choice), they aren't likely to have bed bugs on them. It may also depend on their fur (some dogs have the canine equivalent of dreadlocks and, well, things can get lost in there).

    I'm glad you found a good deal. Do the k9 handlers visually verify alerts per the FAQ?

    And yes, it's fine to mention company names here.

    Once it's all over, you can also come back and do a review of the company you used. It can help when someone else in your area comes along.

    I would not hold my breath on your mom's DIY trap. If she catches nothing, it may be because the trap doesn't work, rather than demonstrating there are no bed bugs present.

  12. animosity

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 28 2012 20:09:01
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    Nobugsonme - 9 hours ago  » 
    re: moving stuff: Yes, per the FAQs, you don't want to move things around.
    re: dogs: My understanding is that dogs can be bitten (though we're the most attractive dinner choice), they aren't likely to have bed bugs on them. It may also depend on their fur (some dogs have the canine equivalent of dreadlocks and, well, things can get lost in there).
    I'm glad you found a good deal. Do the k9 handlers visually verify alerts per the FAQ?
    And yes, it's fine to mention company names here.
    Once it's all over, you can also come back and do a review of the company you used. It can help when someone else in your area comes along.
    I would not hold my breath on your mom's DIY trap. If she catches nothing, it may be because the trap doesn't work, rather than demonstrating there are no bed bugs present.

    Well, anyway - she's cute for trying. I spend so much time in my room, I'm probably foiling the trap just with my presence!

    The first company that I thought was really expensive was Round The Clock, the one with the more reasonable price was ISOtech.

  13. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Tue Aug 28 2012 21:46:28
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    Isotech has a good reputation, and you can click the Isotech tag at top right to read more discussions about them. The search box will work too and I think Round the Clock has been mentioned so you can search for them too (even though those conversations have not been tagged).

  14. animosity

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed Aug 29 2012 3:11:13
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    I read that ISOtech was awarded a $5,000,000 contract through LA County in 2011 for their METRO (bus and rail system) pest control. That's an incredible endorsement, if you ask me!

    http://www.pctonline.com/Article.aspx?article_id=111948


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