I'lBed bugs: question about timeline from spotting just a few to having a full infestation

I’ll try to keep this brief.

In the last few days, a single bedbug was spotted in my apartment. We vigorously cleaned the place and found one more in the cushion of a chair that I often sit in to watch TV, a dead one in a drawer under my bed, and (gasp) one in a cocoon.

I have not noticed any obvious signs that I’ve been bitten, although the one in my chair has, apparently, fed. There is also no evidence (mattress or wall stains, weird smell, etc) of bedbugs, and the exterminator says we don’t have a balls-to-the-wall infestation.

We have cleaned the place vigorously, run everything through the dryer, and packed all our clothes away in vacuum bags. The above critter inventory is all that we have seen.

We are spraying tomorrow, and again in three weeks. I am hiring a cleaner to do the place once a week.

My questions have more to do with something that makes this problem much worse: before I was aware of the issue, I had visited my girlfriend several times (first time: new years eve). I am very worried about the possibility that she may also have bedbugs now (and yes, I have told her… she is needless to say freaked). Based on what I’ve told you, which is pretty much all that I know, can you tell me:

  1. How long it takes from “spotting a couple” to being a dangerous transmitter yourself?

  2. And before you have something uncontrollable on your hands?

  3. Any way to reckon from this how long ago the bedbugs were introduced?

  4. Most importantly, what my gf can/should do? Is it already too late for anything short of a professional inspection for her?

I’m scared, and can’t find much online that’s not witch-huntish alarmism or trying to sell you snake oil. So please, I just need some facts, no WAG’s and if possible some cites about the above questions.

You did all you can do. Exterminators usually declare your home bed bug free after two follow up visits with no sign of them.

Bed bugs are everywhere in major cities. In NYC and Chicago they have been found on public transit and in public libraries. In NYC they have even infested theatres, so you could easily pick up a lone bed bug.

Bed bugs are easy to kill, it’s the eggs that are the problem. A solution of water+alcohol will kill them, but not the eggs.

I would get some diatomaceous earth (DE) and spred it around. It works manually by cutting the insects exoskeleton and they die. It works on ANYTHING with an exoskeleton, so if you use it outside, make sure you know it kills both the bad and good bugs.

If you get DE, make sure you get food grade. This is ok. Pool grade DE IS NOT OK

Just use a light sprinkle of it and leave it alone. Do not use too much. The idea is an insect has to walk through it. If you put a lump of it, the bugs simply just walk around it.

You can find it online for better deals

About a third of people have no reaction to bed bugs bites so you can even have bed bugs and have no idea.

Bed bugs aren’t about being clean. It helps to keep a clean flat as it rid them of hiding places but bed bugs eat YOU, they don’t eat food and messes left, like cockroaches and ants do.

I would double check any wood you have within 10 feet of where you saw the bug. Bed bugs like wood to hide in. Then put down the DE and leave it. You don’t have to remove it or vacuum it up. It will not work once it gets wet though. Do NOT bug bomb and do not change your sleeping place, as it will just make them move along with you.

If you live in a flat tell your landlord. The bugs may simply move from flat to flat and return at a later date

Thanks, Markxxx! Sorry it’s been a couple of days. Couple of questions more:

  • Does my GF also need to tear her place apart, vacuum like crazy, and pack everything up in vacuum-sealed bags?
  • If we wanted to use diatomaceous earth proactively, where does it make sense to sprinkle? Around the walls of sleeping area, bookshelves, closets?

Thanks for any help w/this…

If you think that is where the bed bugs came from your girlfriend should make sure.

I would put the DE in any wood and carpet and near the baseboards of anyplace within 10 feet of where you found the bed bugs. DE won’t harm you any, it can make your skin very dry.

For instance, many people dust the DE on their mattress and then buy a bed bug mattress cover for it.

Bed bugs can’t really climb metal so using a metal cup around the bed’s leg will stop them. You should also put DE around your bed legs. You only need a light dusting. If it gets wet reapply.

Bed bugs hate heat, so once you wash your clothes in hot water and dry on high for 45 minutes to an hour you’re fine.

The real problem is finding out where you got them? You can get them in public places, but a lot of people are getting them from buying used furniture and clothes. As long as you wash your clothes your fine, but I wouldn’t recommend used furniture anymore.

If you go to YouTube some people have built a bed bug alarm/trap using dry ice. It may be worth a go if you want to see if you have them.

As I said, you don’t need much DE, the idea is to get the bugs to crawl through it. DE also works great on ants, cock roaches and any type of animal with an exoskeleton.

Make sure you get FOOD grade. DO NOT get POOL GRADE. Pool grade DE is dangerous. Food grade won’t hurt you.

I live in a building with a lot of poorer people so I am thinking eventually they’ll invade my flat as so many people buy used furniture. So I have DE at all baseboards and periodically look around. I have a metal bed frame as well.