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What works best in NYC

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  1. nptdear

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Jul 14 2012 15:50:40
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    A friend just discovered her apartment has become host to bedbugs, and I made this to-do list for her from my own experiences. I’ve had the misfortune of living in two NYC apartments with bugs, and I’m the only person I know to have successfully rid myself of them. Twice. I’m not an entomologist, I’m not an expert: this is just what worked for me and I haven't seen a bedbug in my apartment for years. There’s a lot of crap information out there, and this is the best of what I’ve learned from exterminators, experience, and this forum.

    First of all: if you suspect you have bedbugs, you have bedbugs. Don’t lie to yourself. The longer you wait, the worse your situation. If your entire building is infested, move out after you’ve professionally treated and hermetically sealed off your belongings. Don’t waste time.

    You’ll need:
    Good vacuum with a suction attachment and lots of removable, disposable bags
    Rubber gloves
    Kill spray, Bedlam works best
    A poison sold as “Nuvan Prostrips”
    Heavy duty contractor bags at least 3ml thick and packaging tape
    Mattress cover
    Ammonia

    Step 1: Find evidence. Inspect every single corner of your apartment, on a microscopic level. Spend hours doing this. Take the day off work if you have to. Look in obvious places like your mattress and sofa, but also look inside the screw holes of your Ikea furniture with a flashlight, look behind posters and within picture frames. If you have a pet, search the areas where they sleep. Get those “interceptor” discs and place them under your bed. Schedule an appointment with a licensed exterminator for an official inspection. Most importantly: don’t move anything and don’t freak out. If you start to clean and move around furniture, the bugs will go into hiding and you’ll lose your best chance to kill them. Don’t be a baby: keep sleeping in your own bed, keep your routine and plan ahead. Collect and save any evidence of bugs to show the exterminator, keeping track of where you found each item.

    *Tell people in your life what’s going on. Tell your boss, tell your girlfriend/boyfriend, your family, tell your closest friends. Be sure to tell your neighbors and landlord. You will not be a social pariah. Talking about it prepares everyone for the disruptions that will happen to your schedule in the next few weeks, it removes the stigma associated with the problem, and you’ll gain the moral support you need. If you live in NYC, most people will regale you with their own bedbug stories.

    Step 2: Your exterminator’s inspection. Show your exterminator any evidence you’ve collected, and accompany them into every room. They usually don’t spray insecticide on the first visit, but they’ll review with you the steps needed to eradicate the bugs. Don’t waste your money on the beagle. Important: your exterminator does not care about your apartment as much as you do. It is your job to make them care, to have them treat the issue aggressively as possible, and to answer every single one of your questions. An exterminator is just another tool. Tip them generously. Get a receipt for the treatment plan to send your landlord (the exterminator should schedule three different treatments with you, at two-week intervals). It’s the responsibility of your landlord to pay for this, and make sure the exterminator inspects other apartments in the building.

    Step 3: Prepare for first extermination treatment. Take an inventory of the things in your apartment, and throw away anything you don’t really need anymore. This doesn’t mean throw away your entire life’s possessions: just take this as an opportunity to toss old magazines, newspapers, and crap that’s accumulated to make your task easier. Move things off the floor and away from the baseboards. The exterminator should spray down every single thing that can possibly treated, every nook and cranny. Their first visit should last about three hours. They should treat furniture, your bed, your baseboards, closets, bookshelves, behind radiators, everything that can’t be placed within a contractor bag. Ask every question that comes into your head. If you have a pet, make sure they’re out of the apartment or sequestered in the bathroom. Have the exterminator help you place the mattress protector on your bed. If you have a cat, don’t let them sleep in your bed. If you live in a studio apartment, buy a cushy mattress pad to place over your mattress protector and make sure the cat’s claws are trimmed regularly.

    Now you’re ready to start the hardest part: treating and hermetically sealing off the entire contents of your apartment. This is my “scorched earth” technique: you want to leave the enemy with nothing. For the next six weeks, you should look around your apartment and see nothing but black contractor bags. It sucks, it is exhausting, but it’s how you kill bugs. Your exterminator will think you’re crazy, but don’t let them dissuade you from going overboard.

    Separate your belongings into three categories: things that can be placed in a dryer at the laundromat and things that can’t- and anything essential that you’ll need during the extermination process.

    Put aside clothing, a pillow or two, a set of bedsheets- only the essentials. Pack like you’re going on vacation, and be very spartan. (Like, one or two pairs of shoes instead of seven.) Spray down and scrub your shoes with 90% rubbing alcohol and wash and dry your “vacation” clothes on a high setting.

    Take all the rest of your clothes, bedding, curtains and furniture covers and cook them in a dryer for an hour on the highest heat setting. You don’t need to wash everything, you just need the fabric to be very hot for a very long time. Your delicates can be dry-cleaned or steamed, but tell the dry cleaner that the items may be infested. Immediately after these things are cooked, carefully place them in contractor bags and seal off with packaging tape. Make sure the seal is air-tight, and label the bag with its contents.

    As for your belongings that can’t be heated in the dryer (books, records, electronics, fancy handbags) you’ll use the *Nuvan Prostrips* sealed within contractor bags to treat them. This is a dangerous poison that’s illegal in the state of New York (I was told). Find an unscrupulous seller on eBay or Amazon, and buy as many strips as you need. Follow the specific instructions for bug treatment very carefully, and use gloves while handling the poison. Don’t expose yourself or your pets to this, and make absolutely sure the bags are air-tight. If you have a pet, make sure the bags can’t be punctured by their claws.

    Vacuum every single crack and crevice treated by the exterminator. About four hours after they’ve sprayed the apartment, most nymphs and adult bugs should be dead. Once you’ve vacuumed everything, throw away the vacuum bag. Keep vacuuming every few days, and throw away the bag each time. The exterminator will spray again every two weeks, twice more. Each time, make sure they’re treating your furniture and closets and inspecting for new hiding spots the bugs might have retreated to. Keep things off your floor. If you have crappy wood floors, wash them regularly with ammonia (but stay at least 12” away from the baseboards and the exterminator’s poison). If the wood slats of your floor have wide gaps, lightly dust the gaps with diotomacious earth instead of the ammonia.

    A week after the third treatment by the exterminator, you can start opening up the sealed contractor bags. For the bags with poison strips, make sure the room is properly ventilated and that you and your pets are no where near the vapors. I opened up each bag on the fire escape and let them vent for a few hours before returning the contents to the apartment.

    Despite your best efforts, you’re probably not out of the woods yet. Use a kill spray like Bedlam every 10-14 days, spraying the baseboards and furniture as instructed. Vacuum as often as you can. Keep inspecting the areas around your bed, and stay vigilant for any signs of new bugs. I still spray my bedroom and sofa every month, just in case. I place a cover on my sofa when friends visit, and I wash the cover as soon as they leave. I never use a laundry drop-off service, I do my own laundry so my clothes aren’t sitting next to the potentially infested laundry of others.

    NEVER sit on a wooden bench on a subway platform, ever: one exterminator told me this was the source of most NYC apartment infestations. According to this exterminator, the bench problem is so bad the MTA is currently taking measures to replace the wood benches with metal ones. It’s a rumor, but it makes sense. Best of luck, everyone.

  2. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Jul 14 2012 17:17:53
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    I guess bed bugs are a lot like golf wherein: "Amateurs teach amateurs how to be amateurs !"

    While the above post presents some very good information, I'd like to correct & clarify some of the misinformation presented above. However, thanks for your efforts as I know your heart is in the right place in trying to help others !

    Submitted for your review and consideration are some clarifications:

    1. We don't walk in everyone else's shoes. As such, each person can best determine if they should tell their friends, business associates, boss, etc. about their personal problems including bed bugs and not simply alert the media because a random NY bed bug victim says they should do so. In fact, I've had NYers who have told me that they might as well tell all their friends they have an STD if they were going to tell them they have bed bugs.

    2. Amonia, really? what for? Amonia can be a dangerous to deal with and can be significantly hazardous to people with pre-existing pulmonary conditions. Additionally, mixing amonia with (chlorine) bleach containing cleaners can result in the formation & release of chlorine gas, chloramine and other toxicants that are much more toxic than any pesticide you can buy, it is in fact deadly. You can look it up. As such, kindly refrain from using or recommending the use of amonia.

    3. Wooden benches? Really? These are the source of "most" bed bug infestations in NY City? Really? I'll alert the mayor's office and tell them that all we need do is eliminate all the wooden benches in the MTA in NY and our bed bug woes are over! Question: does this include the benches at Grand Central, Port Authority and Penn station too? What about the wood bleacher seats at Yankee Stadium or the wooden pews at St. Patricks? Does this person who informed you of this "fact' have a statistical study of the incidence of infestation of wooden benches in NYC ? Hmmm, I think not ! While benches may harbor bed bugs, only those benches that do in fact harbor bed bugs may be a problem. I'll be working in NY next week so I will be inspecting nearly every bench I encounter to test this "urban myth". Stay tuned ! In the meanwhile folks: This is NOT true and no agency that I currently know of is removing benches due to bed bugs ! ! !

    4. Bedlam is not the best product. The NEW "Bedlam Plus" product is much better. However, there are a number of products that work well. Such products include: Temprid SC, Tempo Dust, Onslaught, Bedlam Plus, Drione Dust, Nuvan and others.

    5. Take the day off work? Do people really need to take the day off work or can this stuff be done on the weekend or after they get home from work? About eight of ten of the people who contact me about bed bugs cannot afford professional services and, as such, can ill afford to take a day off work if in fact they have a job.

    6. Matress covers. Hmm, I'm sure you mean matress encasements. In any case, ONLY use those mattress encasements that are tested and proven to be bed bug proof and state so on their packaging !

    7. "Spray every 10 to 14 days". We only need to apply pesticides when pests are present. And, if we're using residual products, why are we applying residuals on top of residuals?

    8. Vacuuming: yes, absolutely vacuum and be thorough.

    9. Nuvan: "Dangerous poison?" "Illegal in NY?" Niether are true. the active ingredient in Nuvan is DDVP (these are the initials for the chemical compound). Initially introduced in the market by Shell as the "Shell No Pest Strip" these DDVP containing strips have been on the retail market since the 1960s. And, ddvp used to be an active ingredient used in pet flea collars as well. Are ddvp strips sold in NY? Yes. Is DDVP a deadly poison? Hmm, pesticide hazard is measured as a prduct of dosage and exposure. If you had what we refer to as "technical ddvp" which is the most concentrated and pure form of this chemical then you have the chemical in it's most hazardous form. HOWEVER, the formulated product that is sold for retail and commercial use comes to the market at rates that are less than toxic. And, because these ddvp strips emit the vapors over a course of 120 days just a small amount of ddvp is released each day which may be enough to kill a bug but many times less than needed to harm a higher life form such as a pet or person.

    10. Utility penetrations. I didn't see that utility penetrations or wall voids were mentioned for treatment, hmmm??? I recommend that utility penetrations are dusted with a suitable dust product.

    Hope this helps ! paul b.

  3. KillerQueen

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Jul 14 2012 19:22:50
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    “scorched earth” lol ... I remember the term, welcome back!

  4. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Jul 14 2012 19:29:35
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    P Bello - 1 hour ago  » 

    9. Nuvan: "Dangerous poison?" "Illegal in NY?" Niether are true. the active ingredient in Nuvan is DDVP (these are the initials for the chemical compound). Initially introduced in the market by Shell as the "Shell No Pest Strip" these DDVP containing strips have been on the retail market since the 1960s. And, ddvp used to be an active ingredient used in pet flea collars as well. Are ddvp strips sold in NY? Yes.

    I think what the other poster is getting at, Paul, is that -- unless something has changed-- Nuvan Prostrips are only supposed to be sold to licensed professionals in NY state. Online sources like Bed Bug Supply sell the strips To consumers but don't ship them to NY (or CT). I assume brick-and-mortar locations would have similar restrictions on sales in these states.

    It seems possible to use DDVP strips safely, but I would note that there are other experts here besides Paul who don't advocate for their use by consumers.

    A lot of us would find Packtite to be a useful alternative to DDVP-- it cuts out the whole waiting for bags of stuff to get treated period. Almost everything except vinyl will be okay. Most electronics don't need to be treated, but would be another exception.

    Note also that having bags of stuff sealed in the presence of a cat will not work for many people (other pets and children may also be a problem). I know some cats who would attack any sealed bag lying around within minutes. If the bag contains DDVP, that adds a level of danger.

    Besides that, I am not going to comment on the treatment plan, as I think that's best left to experts in this case, but I would note that while I sit on NYC subway cars (which I believe David Cain would advise against), I would never sit on the wooden benches. Paul may not be familiar with them, but they're not just wooden, they're really old and full of cracks and crevices. A few years ago, there was a big fuss in NYC after a Housing and Preservation Dept. bed bug educator noted he had seen bed bugs in wooden benches in three stations.

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  5. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Jul 14 2012 19:46:36
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    Actually, I was wrong, I do have two other comments:

    First, drying dry items for an hour is not only unnecessary for most items, but may damage them. The nice thing about putting dry things in a dryer is that you don't have to heat them long. Bed bugs and eggs were killed in a dry sock in five minutes in a hot dryer by Dr. Michael Potter. And many items which can't be "machine washed" are okay going through a hot dryer for a brief period. I would worry about such items being in for an hour.

    Adding on some time to cover thicker items (dry jeans, for example), and you might decide to go for 20-30 minutes tops.

    Of course, drying wet items is an entirely different ball game and takes much longer.

    Also, I would not encourage mopping with anything during treatment. Most of us don't see pesticides being applied (and probably should not be present for this). So we are not prepared to decide whether we're in danger of mopping pesticides up or not. If you want to mop, ask the PCO where it will be safe to do so.

  6. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sat Jul 14 2012 23:14:33
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    Dear nobugs,

    Pest strips have been sold on the retail market in NY since the 1960s. The Shell No Pest Strip eventually became another brand name pest strip as the market conditions changed over time.

    Currently the retail version of these pest strips are marketed as Hot Shot and possibly other trade names.

    This product has been on the market for a very long time and if it was problematic this would not have occurred.

    pb

  7. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Jul 15 2012 0:06:09
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    Hi Paul,
    I respect where you are coming from, but I am also aware that other respected experts here are more cautious about consumer use of DDVP in the ways in which people use it against bed bugs.
    Since none of those folks have weighed in yet, I want to represent that there are other opinions.

  8. P Bello

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Jul 15 2012 0:22:47
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    Understood ! : )

  9. zebmandebugger

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    Posted 3 months ago
    Thu Feb 8 2018 16:57:10
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    I would like to comment about the use of ammonia. In my own tests, I have found a strong ammonia solution to be more effective than any other quick direct kill method including alcohol, vinegar, and various insect chemicals. Of course you need to decide what strong is, relative to your personal tolerance which might be zero.

    AND, from more test I believe that vapors from a strong ammonia treatment to an enclosed area also kill bed bugs.

    Commenting that if mixed with chlorine is dangerous is like warning somebody not to use lighter fluid on their grill because a match might light it. At least we know what the affects of ammonia are, which we do not regarding most of the pest control chemicals. And, ammonia breaks down quickly and does not harm the environment.

    Ammonia and water will harm some coatings/ finishes and plastic, but not likely to harm any fabrics, carpet, and most wood.

    I would be interested to hear from someone else that has tested a strong ammonia solution (10% is strongest for consumer sale) in a small enclosed area such as a plastic bin for several hours to see how it does. I no longer have access to bed bugs. By the way, warm ammonia increases the power greatly for fuming things. It loosens all of the black crud in your oven for example.

    There is a safety factor, as strong fumes can be uncomfortable.


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