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The Art of War (on Bed Bugs) - Our Story

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  1. BedBugsInBrooklyn

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Sep 24 2017 17:58:08
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    <h2>
    A History of Our Bed Bugs</h2>
    <h4>
    07/15/17 - The First Signs</h4>


    My wife "Z" as she will be known, woke up this morning covered in bites. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. She had 21 bites in total, most of them were in the 1-2-3 pattern on her legs. Was it mosquitoes? Fleas? Dust Mites? Lice? BED BUGS!? At this point we were uneducated to say the least.





    We searched high and low on the bed, in the sheets, on the mattress. Nothing. I was skeptical that we could have such a problem as bed bugs without obvious signs. There had been flying bugs around the apartment since purchasing some tropical plants from Home Depot earlier in the spring, maybe these flying creatures could have feasted on her.





    We had just returned from our wedding and honeymoon earlier in the month. We checked the luggage for signs of hitch hikers, but found nothing.

    <h4>
    07/16/17 - Our First Mistake</h4>

    Z refused to sleep in the bed so she moved to the couch. We didn't know any better, so she went and I stayed. I hadn't had any bites after all. Or so I thought.





    Had we know the following, we would have acted differently:

    1. Don't move out of the bedroom! - BBs will follow you and infest your living room.
    2. 30% of people do not show signs of bites. I am one of them.


    We began a 4:00am bed bug search routine. I wanted my wife next to me at night, and I thought if we didn't see them for several nights and if I didn't get bit, then it was safe.


    <h4>
    <u style="font-weight: bold;">08/01/17 - All Clear?</h4>

    Two weeks had elapsed and no bites. I had purchased some FabriClear from Bed Bath & Beyond and sprayed down the mattress and couch. Z agreed to move back into the bedroom. We did find a tiny tiny little bug while changing the sheets one morning, but I wasn't convinced it was a bed bug. I was in denial. I tried to collect it into a jar, but it easily smashed when I tried to move it. Another search of the bedroom ensued.

    <h4>
    08/02/17 - Know Thy Enemy</h4>

    At this point I started to come around to the fact that the little bug had the potential to be a bed bug. I started my research. I read articles, watched videos, read blogs and forums. I looked up Pest Control Operators (PCOs) and bed bug sniffing dog owners. I looked up the costs for these services and didn't want to spend the money. Plus when looking at the Pre-Treatment Checklists it seemed impossible. How am I going to expose the base boards of my apartment with all this stuff??





    Lets get something clear about my bedroom. I live in Brooklyn, NYC. Our apartment consists of two rooms plus a bathroom. The bedroom is roughly 8' x 12'. The living area includes a small kitchen and is roughly 12' x 20'. The bathroom is about 6' x 8'. Total area is less than 400 sf. Our queen bed is lofted onto 54" tall metal shelving units with a custom wooden platform on top. The shelving units contain all of our possession; shoes, winter clothes, sporting goods, music equipment, luggage, etc. This allows us to enjoy a living area with some semblance of minimalism. This also creates a nightmare when looking for bed bugs. On top of that, this is a 100 year old brownstone. An old poorly maintained brownstone. There are cracks in the walls, ceilings, and floors. There are window boxes, layers and layers of crown molding, intricate base boards. Prime habitat.





    At this point I think professional treatment is out of the question. They aren't going to spend 8 hours moving my stuff around to spray down this enormous bed frame I constructed and the base boards behind it. The dog can't even reach the bed or fit under it. We will have to make some changes.

    <h4>
    08/15/17 - We meet Sam</h4>

    Over the last couple of weeks Z got a couple more bites. This time they were isolated, one at a time, and not in the three-in-a-row pattern from before. Maybe mosquito I thought. The girl gets a mean welt from a mosquito bite, this looked similar.





    The routine mattress inspection turned up another small bug. This time we were able to place him into a jar. We named him Sam. This tiny tiny bug is so small it is barely visible, and it was somewhat see-through. It was clearly the same type of bug we had seen earlier in the month, but I still wasn't convinced it was a bed bug.

    <h4>
    08/26/17 - Mistake #2</h4>

    We decided after meeting Sam that the possibility of bed bugs are real. But how will we get an inspection complete? Should we get a storage unit? I had read about people bagging up all of their stuff and sticking it in a storage unit. Seemed logical, but storage units cost money and I like money, and try not to spend it. I decided that my couch could be moved away from the wall 2' to accommodate a large number of storage boxes. I already owned several HDX 17 gallon black and yellow totes that I had bought at Home Depot. So we purchased four more totes and started unpacking the bed frame and stacking things in the living room. We stuffed any clothes we didn't use into plastic bags, tied them and put them into totes. Anything that could fit in went.





    Looking back we didn't take the proper precautions in packing the bins. They are not air tight, and we didn't thoroughly inspect each item as they went in. The bagged clothes were not ran through a dryer to kill any bugs / eggs inside. We had potentially infested the living room.





    Now, perhaps this was inevitable anyways. The couch in the living room is approximately 3 ft from the bed in the bedroom. So maybe it would have happened anyways. Plus I have a tendency to fall onto the couch after I get out of bed in the morning, and I the time didn't know any better.

    <h4>
    09/05/17 - Stick to Your Strategy</h4>

    We had packed the four HDX bins we bought and re-packed the four I already owned. We started getting rid of unnecessary things. Turns out we are a bit of hoarders. We through away empty boxes, papers, and expired medications. Anything that was being stored under the bed, but we didn't go crazy. After all we hadn't had bites in several weeks now. But there was Sam, sitting there in the jar not dying, reminding us of the potential.





    We purchased another 6-pack of 17 gallon bins and packed them full. The bedroom was starting to get into shape for an inspection & treatment if necessary. If nothing else we would be more organized.

    <h3>
    </h3>
    <h4>
    09/13/17 - Round 2,  BITE!</h4>

    Z woke up with 14 new bites. These were in the same 1-2-3 pattern from before. Huge red welts. I still hadn't had any signs of bites, but knew from my research that I likely was getting bitten.





    Leaving for work that morning I noticed my upstairs neighbor had thrown away her mattress on the curb. Not a good sign. I saw her leaving the day before with two suitcases and assumed she was going on a trip.





    I started to accept that we had bed bugs, but I still didn't have any proof. Just tiny Sam and Z's bites. Z refused to sleep in the bed that night and moved back onto the couch. She started sleeping fully clothed with pajamas and socks.

    <h4>
    09/16/17 - Prepare for WAR</h4>

    I spent the last couple of days reading and reading and reading. I felt I had a good grasp on what I needed to do, and what mistakes I had made. I put in a $300 order from Amazon. I purchased the following items:


    <h4>
    09/20/17 - Supplies Arrive</h4>

    The Amazon order arrived. We placed the interceptors under the 5 of the 8 bed legs which I could access. I could not get to the legs against the wall because there was too much stuff in the bedroom still. We also went to town steaming the bed, couch, and office chair. This will happen regularly along with frequent vacuuming. 

    <h4>
    09/21/17 - We meet Pete</h4>

    We found a shell in the interceptor the very next morning. GROSS! we put it in the jar with Sam. I knew I had to treat soon. I put in an order for 6 more HDX totes. That should be enough to fully box all of our belongings, 20 in total.





    I left for work and get a frantic phone call from X around 11am. "THERE WAS ONE ON ME!!" She was sitting on the couch working on her laptop when Pete, an adult bed bug, climbed up here pajamas and was spotted. She kept her cool and get Pete into the jar, despite having dropped her glasses in the process.





    When I got home I took a good look. There was not mistaking it, Pete was a bed bug. My worst fears were confirmed. Treatment was now a top priority. Z agreed to move back into the bedroom.

    <h4>
    09/22/17 - We Created an Island - First Treatment</h4>

    Z had 10 more bug bits this morning. More three-in-a-row pattern welts. this time on her legs, shoulders, and neck. At this point I am in a fury.





    I stopped by Home Depot on my way home from work to purchase the following items:

    1. HDX Heavy Duty Coverall w/ Hood
    2. Sheet Plastic
    3. Grease Monkey Cleaning Gloves
    4. DAP Alex Plus Latex Caulk
    5. HDX Caulking Gun
    6. Cat litter (from the grocery store, not at home depot)


    I removed all of the remaining items from the bedroom. I used the bulb duster to spray DE into the many cracks and crevices in the walls and baseboards. I then spend a few hours using the caulking gun to seal all of the cracks. If all of this doesn't work, at least the drafty window is taken care of. I sealed up the room with sheet plastic and duct taped it into place. This way Z wouldn't be getting all of the fumes.






    I suited up in a long sleeve shirt, pants, and boots. Then put on the coveralls. I had some lab goggles laying around from college and put those on, then the long gloves, and a respirator. I tested out the sprayer with 1/2 gallon of water until I was comfortable with the nozzle settings and set it to a gentle spray for the duration. I opened up the Temprid SC and mixed a half batch at the recommended potency (4oz. for 1/2 gallon). The room was only 100 sf, and a half gallon should be enough for 500 sf, though I would be spraying the many surfaces of the bed frame, shelves, closets, etc. as well. You will note that I did not end up using the Gentrol IGR. After reading the MSDS and the warnings on the label it was clear that it wasn't supposed to be used on a mattress and I didn't want to chance it. By now all of the caulk was dry and the spraying began. 





    The window was left wide open with a fan moving air outward. I sprayed two sides of the room & window box with the furniture pushed to the other side.  Then moved the furniture and sprayed the remaining two sides, the closet and behind, inside, and under the shelves. I dropped the mattress onto the floor (encased from the day I bought it) from off the bed frame. I had completed a dry run a couple days prior and removed all of the screws so I didn't have to do this while I was spraying. The wood platform was moved off of the metal frame. The metal frame was then sprayed down thoroughly. Then each piece of wood was sprayed then re-assembled. The underside of the mattress was sprayed along the zipper line, I was careful not to get anything onto the surface of the mattress where we would sleep. I then placed interceptors under all 8 bed legs, and the mattress was placed back into position.





    In all I sprayed the baseboards, crown molding, the corners of the room from ceiling to floor, window boxes, closet, shelves, bed frame, mattress platform, & underside of mattress along the edges. 





    I used 90% of the mix I had made. I diluted the remaining 10% by filling the sprayer with water, then poured the mixture into large contractors bag with cat litter inside. The cat litter bag was then disposed of in the garbage. As a renter it is illegal to spray pesticides outside of your own apartment, and Temprid SC is not allowed to be used outside in NY. In most places you can simply go outside and use up the extra along your foundation.





    I carefully removed the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and  took a long shower. After an hour the Temprid was dry. I took out a set of clean sheets from a sealed bag and placed them on the bed. We waited another hour to let the fumes die down, then removed the plastic sheeting from the doorway. Z took a shower and we changed into fresh clothes from a sealed bag and got some much needed rest.





    Total elapsed time was 8 hours, 6pm - 2am.

    <h4>
    09/23/17 - We Won The Battle but Not The War</h4>

    Another run to Home Depot to prepare for the living room battle. We purchased 5 3" pieces of PVC to place the oversized couch legs on top of in order to place them into interceptors. We also purchased two more 10oz. tubes of silicone caulk. The rest of the day was spent sorting through boxes and throwing things away. We watched a movie, and went out to see the Book of Mormon on Broadway (we won the ticket lottery!). Was good to feel normal for an evening.





    09/24/17 - Prepare for Battle #2! 




    I had hoped to have the rest of the caulking and dusting in the living room done today, but have been less productive that I would have liked. Friday really took the wind out of me, and the show last night kept us out late again. I will work in the evening this week to finish up and hopefully treat by next weekend. Tonight I will order some airtight clear storage boxes for our clothes, living out of bags is getting old quick. I am considering the 60Qt. Ziplock WeatherShield Storage Boxes from Target.





    While sorting through boxes today I found another Nymph, Frank hanging out on a piece of paper in a wooden wine box in the living room. He was reddish brown in color, not clear like Sam, but only slightly larger. If he wasn't moving on the white paper I wouldn't have spotted him. The box contained all of the medical supplies and was stored under the bed on the metal shelves until a couple of days ago. I placed Frank in the jar with Sam and Pete. I fear Pete is dead now. I had left the jar on the window in the sun as a sort of punishment for them having bitten my wife. Looks like I killed them on accident. Sorry Pete. Sam might be dead too, usually I can spot him if he is moving, but no signs of life in the bug jar.





    I should also note that the upstairs neighbor had a new bed frame delivered and disposed of the old frame. I also noticed another smaller twin mattress on the curb, though I am not sure what unit it came from, there are 6 or so units in this building. Now that I think of it, one of the neighbors threw out two mattresses earlier this spring in May. The neighboring building threw away 3 or 4 mattresses in March. Perhaps the problem is worse than I thought.





    I will notify the landlord tonight and will keep you posted on how things turn out with him. I expect he will have a PCO over to inspect at his cost. Now that the place is a little more in order I think it will be possible, and since we have Pete, Sam, and Frank, he should be able to confirm. I hope the LL will do the right thing and notify the neighbors, and inspect all of the units in the building. 





    All in all, regardless of the cost and what turns out with the PCO, I have learned a ton. The word bed bug used to conjure up all sorts of judgmental thoughts. Now that I have been going through it I will have a more sympathetic response. Also, as far as costs, I have spent around $450 and will spend another $80 on the clear air tight storage bins. The only bed-bug specific products I purchased were the Temprid SC, Gentrol IGR, Interceptors, DE & bulb pump, and the gallon sprayer at a cost of about $150 total. The steamer is just good to have, my couch looks cleaner than ever, and the storage totes are strong and can be used for a long long long time. I think the investment is sound, bed bugs or not. All of the products are solid and will last several years. When I finally move out of this apartment and into my own home I will have some solid tools and knowledge to keep my family safe.





    Cheers All!








  2. bugged-cdn

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Sep 24 2017 18:38:10
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    Sorry you had to join our sad little club. Best of luck and let us know how you make out.

  3. BedBugsInBrooklyn

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sun Sep 24 2017 21:05:15
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    Thanks , but its not all bad. I am learning a ton, and am sure to be better for it. Glad to be part of the conversation for now, and hope I can put this behind me in the next month or so.

  4. psychologically_messed_up

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Mon Sep 25 2017 7:03:45
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    Read the whole thing.... not a pro, so not much to say aside from I have the ziploc weathershield bins- they’re GREAT! Allows for clothing to be washed/dried, then folded and put away safely, you can see what is in each bin saving time searching through black bins/bags, and they really do work! The clips on the sides break easily- one of ours was broken upon delivery- but as long as you’re gentle with them, they should be fine. Ours have been able to withstand repeated daily opening and closing for going on 2 months now. They also stack very nicely as they are perfect rectangles. They don’t have angled sides that weaken, and the lids are reinforced.

    You’ll be happy with the purchase.

    "When you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras" Theodore Woodward

    I am, by no means, a pro. I'm simply a person that has had unfortunate luck, and somehow acquired the little guys.
    Any/all 'advice' I have to share is based on my own personal history and/or things I've read from the professionals on this site.
    My profession is medical, which is where I am confident in any advice I give, however rare it may be.
  5. mp7ski

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Mon Sep 25 2017 7:28:42
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    Just a word of advice, consider doing another round of spraying in 2 weeks. This is to get any stragglers and eggs that hatch. All good quality pcos do at least 2 treatments spaced 2 weeks apart.

    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/
  6. BedBugsInBrooklyn

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Mon Sep 25 2017 21:43:35
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    Thanks for the advice on re-treatment. If I have reason to believe that the problem persists, I will consider re-treatment after a minimum of 2-weeks. However, my understanding is that the residuals placed in low or no traffic areas not exposed to weather or sun should last for several weeks. I do not see any reason to place additional pesticides in areas that already have pesticides on them. I am confident that the residuals from the Temprid SC will be adequate to treat any new cycles of bugs should they have survived the initial treatment.

    The mattress itself is a memory foam type in an encasement. We have been steaming the mattress every other day for good measure, along with the couch and computer chair. Between the regular steaming, vacuuming, residuals, and dusted cracks and crevices, I think we will have this beat in no time. We have the monitors under the couch and bed legs, and check them daily for activity.

    We will treat a second time, but it will be in the living room along the baseboards, crown molding, and behind, under, and inside the couch (not on the couch!). First I have my work cut out for me slowly dusting and caulking any cracks and voids in the floors, walls, and ceiling. The prep work is the hardest, but I think it is worthwhile. I have the approach that you only get one chance in life to do things right the first time. Plus, the place is looking nicer!

    If after two weeks elapse my wife is still getting bitten we will consider reapplication, but I am hoping that it isn't necessary. The real test will be when we start to unpack the storage bins in a few weeks. I expect a temporary surge in activity at that point. We will unpack slowly, one tote at a time. Steaming things that can be steamed, vacuuming others, and washing & drying what is left. Anything that survives the unpacking will be met with residuals and DE everywhere they go.

    These little buggers are smart, but we can beat them with knowledge, strategy, and careful procedure. Stay calm, be thoughtful and methodical. Plan ahead and learn from your mistakes.

    Thanks to all for the knowledge and support on the blog and forum here. This site is an incredible resource for any one trying to research.

    Cheers!

  7. BedBugsInBrooklyn

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Tue Sep 26 2017 21:31:30
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  8. BedBugsInBrooklyn

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    Posted 2 years ago
    Sat Sep 30 2017 18:10:49
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    09/25/17 - Land Lord Takes Notice

    We continued dusting & caulking floor boards and crown molding in the living room today. The room is nearly sealed. We also continued to sort through the clutter, throwing things away such as old papers, magazines, and shoe boxes. All shoes were steamed if possible and then put into a storage tote.

    The landlord was notified and reached out to me as well. He will be contacting a pest control company to do a treatment of the bedroom and living room. We also mentioned to him that we believed the upstairs neighbor may be infested due to her throwing away so much furniture.

    09/26/17 - Bill Nye Would Be Ashamed

    A dead instar nymph was found in the interceptor today, I was unsuccessful in retrieving him and accidentally squashed the little guy trying to get him out. I was hoping for a photo opt. Why are all my specimens dying! So much for my science project.

    09/28/17 - Organization is a Bonus Side Effect of Bed Bugs!!

    The Ziploc storage bins arrived today. They look great! can't wait to start filling them after we do this week's laundry. Don't want to risk putting the old bagged clothes in there. I accidentally added a non-dried bag of "clean" clothes to my washed/dried/bagged clothes. Rookie move. They will stay in the bag until used and properly washed/dried/bagged then into totes.

    09/29/17 - The Not-So-Friendly PCO

    The PCO reached out to me today while I was at work. The receptionist was quite rude, repeatedly stating that she was busy and that other people were waiting to schedule an appointment with her company if I couldn't quickly confirm an appointment for less than 24 hours later, and complete their protocol (which I had never seen before at the time). After some negotiation I convinced her to email me the protocol instead of me going to their office to pick it up. They emailed me a list of requirements such as washing, drying, bagging all of our clothes & bedding, moving all of our furniture away from the walls 2 feet, and reducing the clutter on the floor. Most of this was already done from our own treatment. However, she wanted to schedule a treatment for tomorrow morning and both my wife and I will not be home. I told her I would not be available, she said "some one will call you Monday, were closed Sunday," then hung up on me. Perhaps this is for the best, as their treatment will include the bedroom which we have already treated. Staggering the treatments by 10-14 days should work out nicely. Too bad I do not have a choice in the matter, I wouldn't spend my money on these people. That woman should be fired. Luckily it isn't my money being spent, so I have no place to be fussy.

    Should note that the landlord opted to forego the inspection and opted to treat instead. He said it is the policy of his property management company to skip the expense of an inspection and go straight for treatment if it is the wishes of the tenant. Likewise, the PCO said they do not consider any prior treatment done by the tenant in these situations. They want their protocol completed, and they will treat using their established methods. A true "one-size-fits-all" approach.

    09/30/17 - The Hunters Become the Hunted!!

    Today when my wife returned home she ran into the landlord leaving the building with two exterminators. Turns out they had just treated the apartment of the upstairs neighbor. Guess she was having issues after all. She has also thrown out more furniture including a futon, coffee table, night stands, and plastic drawers. She also threw out her luggage today. I am thinking the 5-6 bugs we have seen over the last month may have traveled down from her place as it appears she is struggling much more than us. Hope she is able to destroy them quickly.

    At least I can sleep well knowing we have done everything possible to create a hostile environment for the bugs. I now feel like the hunter instead of the hunted! Die Bed Bugs!!!

    Happy Hunting All !!


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