Got Bed Bugs? Bedbugger Forums » Bed bug bites, skin, etc.

What else can cause the breakfast-lunch-dinner pattern bites?

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  1. klopi

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed May 23 2012 20:54:07
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    I had bedbugs last year around Aug/Sept, did treatment and everything seemed to be fine. Moved across the country to rural NY state. The weather has warmed up, and about a week ago I started noticing itchy little bites. They weren't nearly as bad as the bites I had last time (horrible puffy hives), but they were all on my arms, and seemed to pop up in the mornings. Then one morning I found three in a line and flipped my s__t; got a new bed and burned the old one (it was asking for it anyway, piece of crap with a billion potential bb hiding places) and set up climb-ups. I've inspected everything closely but have not found any evidence of anything, typical. We live in a house with other people and turnover is fairly high, so there are tons of possible vectors if it is, in fact, bedbugs. So, two questions:

    1) Anything else out there cause patterns of three bites in a line? In a cluster? I have seen people mention that fleas can do this, too, and we do have two indoor/outdoor cats, but they both have Frontline on them, and I haven't seen any fleas about. (On a side note, last time I had bedbugs, I would occasionally get lines of far more than three; one time I had sixteen bites spaced close together running all the way down my thumb. The itching was unbelievable.)

    2) Are there differences in east coast / west coast bedbug populations? These bites are suspicious, but they're soooo much milder. I know that desensitization is possible, but does anybody have anecdotes relating severity of bedbug bite reactions as varying by geographical area? If these are bedbugs, this effort is pretty wimpy compared to their west coast cousins. Of course it's all theory, but I'd be interested.

    Meanwhile, I've gotten philosophical and a little fatalistic on the subject of bed bugs, and am thinking of starting a thread of non-hysterical observations, because while I love this site to death, it is full of people tearing their hair out and it tends to work me into perhaps more of a panic than is strictly necessary to deal with bedbugs. Where is the joke thread, anyway? We need more satire and dark humor to deal with this crap.

  2. HateBugs4everever

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed May 23 2012 21:34:48
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    Good question!! Look forward to seeing what one has to say about this?!?

  3. mindoverbbs

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed May 23 2012 23:10:44
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    Hi guys,

    All I have to report is personal experience, but on multiple occasions I have had bug bites in the breakfast/lunch/dinner pattern that were not from bedbugs. I only started noticing patterns to my bug bites after I developed a fear of bedbugs and after reading about "breakfast/lunch/dinner" bite patterns from multiple sources both online and in magazine articles.

    In summer 2010, I had several bites on my ankles, calves, shins. I had them in groups of two, and in groups of three. These came about over a period of a couple weeks. I had just read about bedbugs for the first time and knew nothing about them, so naturally I feared the worst.

    In reality I believe fleas were the culprit, as I had a multiple animal household and used to spend a lot of time outdoors barefoot. I did not feel any of the bites, but on the other hand I was outdoors several times during this period whilst drinking, so wasn't entirely mindful of my skin or reactions. Bites were extremely itchy, red, and were not raised.

    Later that summer, I awoke with a cluster of three bites on my hand which I immediately attributed to bedbugs based on my newfound bedbug anxiety, the bite pattern, and confirmation bias. My husband later texted me that he caught a mosquito in the house with fresh blood in it.

    In summer 2011, I was at a party outdoors at dusk at received several bites from a *very* tiny flying insect. I felt the bites, and was able to catch one in the act. I believe this to be a noseeum, but can't be sure. I had groups of itchy bites on my arms in threes and in twos, along with individual bites on my legs. These were raised, itchy, and scabbed over after scratching. Some left scars. If I hadn't witnessed the biting, I would have assumed they were from bedbugs because at this point the fear of bedbugs had rooted in my psyche. : ]

    Later in summer 2011, I was camping in a different part of the state and got some bites from some flying or jumping insect in tall grass, and those bites also manifested in a pair of two, as bright red, raised welts. These were only mildly itchy. They could have been mosquitoes, but I didn't see the bug up close. However, I remember thinking that if I hadn't witnessed and felt the bites, I would have easily worried they were from bed bugs just based on the bite pattern.

    Before I became hyperaware of bug bites and my skin, I never would have remembered if I felt a bug biting me or where the bites were located on my body, etc.

    So the answer, based on my own personal experience is yes bites from other insects can be grouped in threes.

    Also, FWIW, this past summer I found a dead flea in my bathroom sink, and my animals were all on flea medication (Trifexis) at the time. I know for sure it was a flea because I bagged it and took it to work and had a friend ID it under magnification. I used to pile up dirty clothes on the bathroom counter, which is how I suspect it ended up there.

    Note: If I wasn't neurotically inspecting every single dark speck due to my growing fear of bedbugs (fueled by unexplained skin reactions which I started noticing after I started hyper-focusing on my skin) I would have never noticed it.

    So I'd keep an open mind about what could be causing the skin reactions. : ]

    -m

  4. edtt

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Wed May 23 2012 23:16:54
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    Mind over, thank you, bites can be so disturbing, especially when we think they may be caused by bb's.
    Such an emotional roller coaster.
    Please know that you are not alone.

  5. brooklyn_bites

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu May 24 2012 0:30:08
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    My theory is that, when you are looking for clusters of 3, you will find them! Doesn't mean that a bedbug is causing it, though. I know that my bb bites were just a big crazy rash, no real presence of any "meals". And the things I am getting bit by on the regular, which I believe may be mites, have bitten me in "patterns" of 3 (near each other and also far apart). In short, most creatures that bite people bite in clusters (except for maybe mosquitos) and just because you have 3 somewhere doesn't mean it was caused by a bb.

    Fleas bite in clusters as do chiggers and mite bites are often close together as well. Many rashes probably exhibit these attributes, too. I doubt you'd have such a different reaction from a different strain of bedbugs on a different coast. Desensitization happens slowly over time, not between infestations. IMHO, I would consider other possible causes. A few questions to consider: Can you feel the bites as they are happening? (If so, what do they feel like?) What do the bites themselves look/feel like?

  6. Koebner

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu May 24 2012 6:34:05
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    Don't know where the first reference was to "breakfast, lunch & supper" bites but it's grown into a monster canard.

    My user name refers to one possible explanation for how the BLS myth persists & perhaps, even how it originated - in people prone to psoriasis, any skin trauma can lead to a line of psoriatic lesions moving away from the original injury; this is known as the "Koebner response".

  7. klopi

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Thu May 24 2012 8:20:25
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    You think the pattern is a myth? I'm confused, since I have had bedbugs, and the pattern was obvious; many of my bites were just bites, but some were very obviously in a straight line spaced close together. I've never heard anybody refer to this as a "myth". I definitely don't have psoriasis, and these are definitely bites.

    I can't feel these latest bites happening; I'll feel itching and they'll come up if I start scratching the area. I have a new series on my ankle and one bite on my toe knuckle this morning. Back when I had my captive bedbug (don't rest in peace, Sue) and would let it bite me, I did feel a very slight pinch during penetration that would quickly disappear, and a very slight pinch upon withdrawal; too slight to notice if I hadn't been watching it as it happened, similar to a mosquito (I've also allowed mosquitoes to bite me as I watched. For science!) My reactions to bed bug bites back then were dramatic; the itchiest hives imaginable, I was slathering on anti-histamine like there was no tomorrow. However, they did get milder over time, though not as mild as these new bites. Also, my boyfriend reacted to the bed bug bites last time too, and he has no bites at all right now. However, I do spend far more time at home than he does. I have no idea. I guess I'll just remain vigilant.

    The bedbugs; they're with you even if you don't have them.

    Thanks for your replies, especially mindover. I want to believe!

  8. Koebner

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri May 25 2012 6:46:51
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    klopi - I can appreciate your apprehension, especially in a high-turnover, multiple-occupancy building. If you're finding nothing with methodical searches but you're still concerned, then perhaps you might try a passive monitor? If there's anything to find, the passive should give you a rapid heads-up. If there's nothing to find, those monitor checks are very calming.

    That said, on to bites;

    klopi - 21 hours ago  » 
    You think the pattern is a myth? I'm confused, since I have had bedbugs, and the pattern was obvious; many of my bites were just bites, but some were very obviously in a straight line spaced close together. I've never heard anybody refer to this as a "myth". I definitely don't have psoriasis, and these are definitely bites.

    Yep, it's a myth. It's not born out by actual observations of the little blighters feeding. If it happens at all it seems to be because they're not actually on the host but are feeding whilst standing on something else. Obviously this can mean poor contact, loss of contact, & subsequent reinsertion of feeding parts but it's atypical. More likely is multiple bites from multiple bugs. I'm pretty sure that Dr Richard Naylor, a specialist entomologist, has posted some specific references to the "breakfast lunch dinner" theory here, but I'm darned if I can find them at the moment.

    The rest, I reckon is cognitive bias. What could be easier than to discern a straight-line relationship between a number of bites? Where it's hard to find straight-line relationships in a group of bites, that group somehow gets recruited as supporting evidence for the BLD theory, despite the fact that it in no way resembles the allegedly diagnostic BLD lines - that's a classic cognitive bias shuffle.

    You've moved house ( a stressful experience) you're in a new environment with different creepy-crawlies, different environmental allergens in different proportions - don't make it harder to find the cause of your skin reaction by narrowing the range of possibilities you'll consider. I did it myself after moving & wound up being bit far longer than was forgiveable - in my determination to find BB evidence, I'd looked straight past the flea evidence.

    You're almost certainly right & you don't have psoriasis, but you do have allergic reactions; that puts you in a slightly higher risk-group for psoriasis & adult onset is far from unknown. I'm not trying to convince you that you have psoriasis, only that at this stage, you should keep an open mind as to the source of your troubles. The reaction you describe is typical not of BBs, nor even of insect bites, but of an allergic response - you need to keep looking for the cause, not just for BBs.

  9. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri May 25 2012 7:28:03
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    Regarding the questions posted above:

    Bed bugs biting in a pattern of three is a myth.

    When feeding BBs my consistent observation, and that of my colleagues, is that they find a suitable place to bite, insert their moutparts and continue to feed until point of engorgement. Rarely do I ever see a BB stop feeding and move to another spot unless it is purposely disturbed. And, it usually takes some significant "poking & prodding" to get it to move.

    Bed bugs bite in a line? Generally, there are references and researchers who have presented that BBs prefer not to crawl or walk upon the host's body as doing so may disturb the host and cause wakening which would result in the demise of the BB. While this may make logical sense, I've asked several BBs about this and have yet to get a satisfactory reply. However, when BBs rest along the bedding while biting places them in a line as they feed which will result in the bites appearing to be in a line.

    Difference between east coast & west coast BBs? Hmmm. The east coasters are way too tense and easily agitated while the west coasters are relaxed and easy to get along with.

    Caution: By definition bed bugs are animals however, they are "just bugs" and not capable of higher learning or problem solving. They act/behave based upon instinct, do not have a "master plan" to defeat humans nor do they post/participate on a humanbiter.com website to learn about more ways to successfully feed on humans or defeat control methodologies. They are what they are and it is what it is. We need not imprint human characteristics or thought patterns upon them At day's end they're just bugs !

    Hope this helps ! paul b.

  10. klopi

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri May 25 2012 10:29:31
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    This is very interesting to me. I'm a scientist, so I'm well familiar with cognitive bias etc, but when I see three+ bites in a straight line over the distance of one inch and nothing else in a five-inch radius, repeatedly, it certainly seems like more than a coincidence. But I know that people are wired for pattern-finding, so I'll try to maintain skepticism.

    I have climb-up interceptors in place, nothing caught so far. I'm keeping it relaxed. Bed bugs can be a serious nuisance, but it's not the end of the world. I've done it once, I can do it again, in the grand scheme of things it's a blip. I'm not really stressing about it.

    (Having lived in CA for over a decade, my verdict is that there is an unacceptably high incidence of "relax man, I'm just being a total a-hole". I'll take tense and easily agitated over that any day, and it's part of the reason I wanted to move east. At least nobody here tells me I should just light up the sweet leaf and forget about it when I mention that they ruined my sewing machine making their day-glo faux-fur legwarmers for Burning Man.)

  11. mindoverbbs

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri May 25 2012 11:35:23
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    klopi - 1 hour ago  » 
    At least nobody here tells me I should just light up the sweet leaf and forget about it when I mention that they ruined my sewing machine making their day-glo faux-fur legwarmers for Burning Man.)

    This cracks me up.

  12. P Bello

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri May 25 2012 18:08:04
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    All I can say to that is: Duuuuude !

    If there are no BBs in your climbups and you're getting bit it is likely that the BBs are located between you and the climbups and, as such, never had to negotiate the climbups to get at you.

    Dude, the call is coming from inside the house, get out ! (sorry, horror movie flashback there.)

    Also, let's not discount the fact that there can be multiple BBs feeding so you can have multiple bites that appear in a line as the BBs rest on the sheet, mattress, whatever as they feed making it appear as if they were in a line.

    Hope this helps ! paul b.

  13. klopi

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri May 25 2012 18:34:13
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    Thanks. Since I had them before, I know what to look for, and I inspect the sheets daily and the bed frame etc every few days. So far, nada. The (brand new) bed frame is metal and I put a careful dusting of DE over all seams on it. If they're going to enjoy nest anywhere it's on those nice (also brand new) pine slats that unfortunately have lots of knots. I think I'll seal them up and paint them white one of these weekends. The mattress was thoroughly inspected (also nothing) and encased. Fingers crossed.

    Last time I had bedbugs I bought a cheapo bedframe, inflatable mattress, and set it up in the climbups immediately. And somehow, I STILL found bedbugs in it later, despite taking all precautions. It was nuts! Did catch bedbugs in the climbups as well, though, as well as a nice fat house centipede. I thought the weirdest thing was catching the bedbugs in the interior well; why would they just keep hanging out there instead of heading back up into the bed to hide and digest?

    Anyway, best of luck to all dealing with bed bugs as well as mystery bites. And to all the PCOs and researchers out there, thanks for sharing what you know so generously.

  14. brooklyn_bites

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    Posted 7 years ago
    Fri May 25 2012 18:39:52
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    If you're getting bit on your ankles and they are different from your bb bites, I would consider fleas. My two cents.

  15. battlinbugz

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Fri Sep 5 2014 11:25:41
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    I am bumping this up because this reminder gave me some peace of mind based on an experience this weekend with the 3-bites-in-a-row thing while staying at a friend's place. Did I take them there or does he have them? Likely answer is neither, based on all the precautions either or both of us take (many of which are from this site). Passive monitors, forum-approved encasements, remaining clutter-free, etc.

    There are still SO many official, respectable-looking and well-meaning sites out there that perpetuate this breakfast, lunch and dinner myth. This needlessly freaks people out whether they have had bed bugs or not! I am 99.9% certain I am bed bug free yet I live in a multi-unit dwelling so there's always a risk regardless of how educated people are about them. It's a reality we have to deal with in 2014 but prevention and awareness go a LONG way. Knowing that there is no need to panic because of 3 bites with no other confirming signs is very helpful.

    Many thanks to David, PJB, Cilecto and countless other pros here who share their research with us. Hopefully the truth continues to spread. Long way to go but I believe one day we will get there.

    [not a pro]

    Not a pro. I have some knowledge and a success story, both thanks to this site.
  16. JustChecking

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Fri Sep 5 2014 17:22:51
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    battlinbugz wrote,

    I am 99.9% certain I am bed bug free yet I live in a multi-unit dwelling so there's always a risk regardless of how educated people are about them.

    Congrats, battlinbugz! So happy for you. Don't think so much. Enjoy this moment...

  17. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Fri Sep 5 2014 23:44:03
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    HI battlinbugz,
    Have you posted your success story? If not, it would mean a lot to people who are stressing out.
    I can't tag this thread as your success story because someone else started it.
    Thanks

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  18. battlinbugz

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Sep 6 2014 8:11:06
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    JustChecking - you're right, I do think too much. I think it's because I know there are other tenants who have confirmed bed bugs (seen 'em!). Awareness of proper handling is still in process. The landlords are REACTING properly to the situations. I am trying to work with the PCO to in turn work with the landlord to help educate everyone in a real but non-freaking-out way so people can be PROACTIVE and maybe reduce the risk of occurrences. Wish us the best and yep, prayers are always welcome.

    NoBugs - yep, I have posted mini-success stories along the way depending on the topic.

  19. JustChecking

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Sep 6 2014 16:08:44
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    battlinbugz, you're blessed with a great landlord.

    battlinbugz wrote,

    I am trying to work with the PCO to in turn work with the landlord to help educate everyone in a real but non-freaking-out way so people can be PROACTIVE and maybe reduce the risk of occurrences.

    Awesome!! You are in my prayers although I know you will do a wonderful job.

  20. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Sep 6 2014 23:34:26
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    battlinbugz - 15 hours ago  » 

    NoBugs - yep, I have posted mini-success stories along the way depending on the topic.

    Hi battlinbugz,

    Thanks. However, I am not sure you have one which is in the SUCCESS STORIES category, which means users may not see your post when they read success stories. I looked in your profile and don't see anything which is obviously a success story listed (going by just the thread titles).

    Please consider writing something brief (or copying an earlier post) to a new thread so we can include it there. Your last post would have worked well as a success story, but since it was posted as a reply to someone else's thread, I can't change the whole thread to "success stories"-- and it won't get listed there.

    I also encourage people to add their success story as the URL in their profile (view your profile and click the edit button to add it). That way people can find it quickly if they read your old posts and wonder how you got on.

    Thanks for considering these ideas! All the best to you.

  21. battlinbugz

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Sep 7 2014 4:15:46
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    Hi, Nobugs -

    I thought about it when you asked earlier, and posted in the Success Stories yesterday.

    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/apartment-dwellers-theres-hope-for-us-too

  22. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Sep 8 2014 1:13:12
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    Battlinbugz,
    I responded in the other thread! Thank you!!!


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