We have bedbugs! *horror*


It all started a couple of days ago, when I noticed a couple of bites on my hand that I assumed to be mosquito bites. I paid them little mind. Then I woke up today COVERED in giant, itchy red bites – my arms, my legs, my hips, my neck, the small of my back. I had been eaten alive!

The diagnosis seems to be BEDBUGS. I am horrified; I have never had to deal with them before. My friend told me that they’re common in immigrant communities here in NYC, and I live in Flushing, which if you don’t know is a huge Chinatown (there’s also Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi, and other South Asian immigrants here). I guess they came in through the wall or I brought them in on my shoes or something.

Here’s the plan of attack devised by myself and my roommates:

– The exterminator is coming Saturday to spray.
– We have sprayed the place with Bedlam.
– I’m putting all my bedding and clothing in a hot wash + hot dry tomorrow morning.
– My mother ordered me a mattress cover from Sears to seal my mattress in. It should arrive in a couple of days.
– I’m gonna rub down all the furniture with bleach.
– I’m contemplating setting off a bug bomb even after the exterminators spray, in an effort to overwhelm the critters with chemical goodness.

ANY advice, especially from those who have fought bedbugs in an apartment before, will be gratefully accepted.

Your friend who was on about bedbugs in “immigrant communities” was spouting some xenophobic twaddle.

Bedbugs are making a comeback, and it has diddly to do with people “from away” bringing them in. They are turning up everywhere, and there is no higher incidence of them in “ethnic” neighbourhoods. It’s not totally clear why their numbers on on the rise again in North America, but there are a few factors at work: [list=1[li]DDT (which was mainly responsible for their near-eradication) is not allowed for use any more.[]The little bastards have demonstrated increasing resistance to pesticides that we are allowed to use.[]Common prophylactic measures which were widespread when bedbugs were a widespread problem are practically unheard of today. When’s the last time you took your mattress out and applied direct sunlight to both sides for four hours each? I thought so, you dirty bastard.[/list] (j/k about the dirty bit. Nobody feels any pressure to do this anymore, and that is a large part of why the little buggers are gaining ground again.)[/li]
Addendum: I work in property management, and so today I was invited to attend a seminar which is titled “Bedbugs and Beyond.” I thought that was pretty cute.

I’m sorry you are experiencing this - I hope the blood-sucking little bastards are utterly exterminated as soon as possible and from there are well on their way to being a vague and well-suppressed memory.

Larry Mudd has the right of it in terms of the information on immigrant populations, and the fact that bedbugs are on the march more than ever but no one is 100% sure why. An acquaintance of mine picked up such a bad case of them from a vacation in the U.S. (they hitched a ride back in his and his family’s luggage, I guess) that he ended up having to destroy and replace all of his old furniture (all beds, mattresses, chairs, sofas, everything with soft fabric components) and replace the carpeting in his entire house.

He and his family lived in a trailer in their backyard for a couple of weeks while their house was being dealt with, after which they junked the trailer.

My understanding is that one possible treatment involves heating the house to high temperatures (140 degrees?) to kill the bugs and their eggs, but obviously that’s damaging to certain furnishings. Anyone heard of this?

I also understand that multiple treatments of multiple approaches may be required to bring them under some semblance of control.

Sorry :frowning:

4 posts and no one has given the ultimate advice?
Nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way…
I have heard that one way they discurage the bloodsuckers involves douseing the little IRS agents with liquid Nitrogen. The thoughts of their little behinds shattering fills my heart with joy…

I was in New York a month ago, and while i was there i read an article in New york Magazine about the bedbug infestations in Manhattan’s upscale neighborhoods.

As the article points out, not only do wealthy white people get bedbugs just like everyone else, but they can actually serve to exacerbate the problem because they are much more reluctant than some other groups to actually report the problem.

The article also got the viewpoint of the exterminators:

It’s not that the rich white Americans don’t have bedbugs; it’s just that they don’t want people to know about it.

My friend had bedbugs. I know because he posted in on Facebook.

Hey, your probably on a lucky streak so you might want to put some tape on your ass tonight and see what other adventures you have in store for the near future :slight_smile:

This is what we do - not sure if it’s actually effective or if we’re just lucky…

We cover the mattresses with a vinyl cover that has a pad. It’s the kind that completely zips up over the mattress. The main advantage here is that while it’s tough to wash a mattress, the cover can be removed and thrown in the washer once a week. Washing is kind of hard on the cover so we replace them 2-3 times a year but they’re only like $20 anyway.

And the way I see it, even if the mattress itself gets infected, if I zip the clean cover over it, it’ll take the little bastards a while to infect the cover pad and I’m gonna wash that again in a week anyway.

Diatomaceous Earth.

It works mechanically rather than chemically. It’s a little dusty/messy, but safe for people and pets. As long as you don’t snort it or rub it in your eye, it’s very safe.

I suspect I may have had something in my bed - I never saw them, but I had a few bites that I had a very bad reaction to, as in a 6-inch long, 4-inch wide welt on my calf that lasted a week. There were 2 instances of bites before that which were red and itchy for a week apiece, too. And this happened a month after moving into a new apartment, so whether they were picked up in the moving truck, or already in the apartment I’ll never know.

I dusted the mattress all around the seams, the boxspring all along the top seamed edge, the frame where it meets the boxspring, and then the floor around each bed leg and on top of the casters and anywhere else that would hold a little pile of the talc-like diatomaceous earth. Then dusted under the whole bed. I did the floor, too, but then swept that so the Earth would get caught in all the little gaps in the wood, but of course wouldn’t leave a dusty floor to walk on.

I did that on the 10th of this month. I had another suspected bite to which I didn’t have such a bad reaction on the 11th and 12th, so I can’t actually say they were from the same bugs, but what else would it have been? And nothing since. I think they’re gone. I’ll keep up the DE applications for a couple more months, but seeing as the biting had been ramping up and now hasn’t happened in almost 2 weeks, I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I never did see any, but I keep hearing that you don’t until the infestation is advanced. The welts I was getting had the described characteristics of bedbug bites, in that there were usually at least 2 spots that looked like a bite happened in close proximity to each other. The one on my calf had 4 spots. Another allergic reaction like that, I don’t want to have to go through, so I researched the diatomaceous earth and I’m happy with it so far.

One advantage of this type of treatment is that it works equally well on roaches, ants, silverfish, fleas … all the insects you don’t want in your house.

(Spiders, too, if you roll that way, but it’s mosquito season and we tolerate small house spiders as long as they prove their worth, as evidenced by insect corpses in their webs instead of just dust bunnies.)

Anyway, I predict SeaDragon won’t be seeing any roaches for a while.

This is somewhat effective.

While it will effectively stop the bedbugs that live in your mattress, not all of them do. Many live in your couch, in your baseboards, the the cracks in your walls, in your carpeting… Well you get the idea.

A mattress cover does nothing to stop the bedbug from leaving the carpet and crawling up to the bed, biting you and then going back to the carpet to hide.

While it’s true that bedbugs are found everywhere, they are much more common in immigrant areas. Why? For the same reason, roaches and mice and such are more common.

This is due to the fact in most of the world, people learn to live with them. An American may freak at a roach, an immigrant has had roaches all their life and they are less likely to think anything of them. So instead of bearing down to get rid of them at any cost, they simply adjust to them and learn to live with them.

Bedbugs were very common at one time. People learned to cope. Like when I lived in Florida, everyone had “Palmetto Bugs.” When I moved to Florida, people were like, “It’s part of living in Florida, you pay, rent, electricity, gas and exterminator bills every month.”

What ever you do, keep it up. There was a This American Life episode (on NPR) which talked about bedbugs. One woman kept a bedbug in a tightly-sealed container for months, and the little bastard lived without food the whole time.

Markxxx is right - the episode mentioned that there were bedbugs hanging out in couches, stuffed animals, pretty much anything upholstered or similar.

Whoo, haven’t seen any cucarachas - I think those would squick me out more than the little bedbuggers! I did also have ants in the kitchen, and silverfish in the bedroom. Applied DE along the baseboards of the outside wall in each room, and those are gone too.

Former bedbug researcher here. I don’t have a lot of time right now, but here are some basics - PM e if you need more info.

The bug bomb won’t do anything - you need specialized insecticides to kill bedbugs. You can’t buy these commercially, you can only get them as a licensed pest control operator.

The mattress cover is a good idea in the short term. In the long term, throw out the mattress and box spring and get new (cover them first) but don’t so this until your infestation is controlled.

Your dryer and vacuum are your best friends. vacuum EVERYTHING, bed, sofa, etc… pay attention to edges.

You will need to keep disinfesting your clothes and linens in the dryer. repeatedly. You can buy electric hotboxes that you can put electronics etc… in to disinfest them (my dryer has a shelf that I can put stuff on).

Diamataceous earth is good. Spread it around your bed, in the frame, take off power outlets and put it into the walls etc…

The best thing is to get an exterminator with EXPERIENCE treating bedbugs. Get references. Not every exterminator knows what they are doing.

As a last resort, you can fumigate IF you have a detatched house. if you have an attached place (apt etc…) your options are more limited.

How did you get them? Have you gone on any trips in the last 3 months or so? If not, and you live in an attached apt or condo, they may have come in from your neighbors. This makes control more difficult.

I worked with bedbugs for almost 5 years. I hate the fuckers.

Any advice on travellers not bringing them back? We’re going to go on a car trip next month and stay in numerous hotels; I guess we can’t assume any longer that all hotels will be bedbug free. If we do run into some on the road, how do we not bring them back with us?

Ooh! I remember that, it was chilling. There were two generations of the little suckers, and she had never opened the container.

It’s here, at about 26 minutes http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/361/Fear-of-Sleep

Don’t use hotel dressers. Hang everything, and put your luggage on the luggage stand.

When you get home, bag your laundry before going into the house, put the luggage outside in the sun for a day, and wash everything in hot water, plus 2 trips through the hot dryer.

Haha! It was those dirty immigrants that I live next to, it must have come thru the walls from their dirty couches and beds … baha

A friend of mine manages a very large building where apartments cost around $1 million to sky’s the limit. She recently had to deal with a very large infestation with multiple apartments so as another poster pointed out, blaming “immigrants” is just reactionary and paranoid.

The common denominator, however, in her experience is that infestations most often start with people who travel a lot. She has a lot of people who use her building as a pied a terre, for example. They travel back and forth through Europe, stay in hotels etc. If you stayed in a hotel recently or visited with someone who had recently been traveling that could be the source of your problem.

As for what she did, she hired specially trained beagles to sniff out the bed bugs, then exterminators would come in and then the beagles would return and then rinse repeat until the dogs gave the all clear. YMMV.

Also, I’d toss the mattress. You’re going to seal in the fuckers and that’s gross.

I was recommended not to unpack clothing at all, and leave your bag elevated and zipped up whenever you’re not using it.

I also got into the habit of inspecting the mattress before I accepted the room. Even if you don’t see any actual bugs (they tend to hide underneath the base, between slats etc), you may see small dot-sized blood stains from either bites or their excrement. If you do, don’t stay in this room, ask for another.

Bed bugs were once a lower class infestation, but with the number of backpackers over the last 20 years carrying them from hostel to hotel to home, anyone can get them. We were infested in the UK from a flatmate who (we think) picked them up in Prague. They managed to go throughout 2 bedrooms on the same floor, and up the stairs to my room, most likely via me catching them on a sock as I walked past.

As others have said, no point in trying to treat this yourself other than hot dryering everything. A professional exterminator (most likely requiring 2 visits) was the only thing that sorted it for us. Although we did take pleasure in hunting the bastards and squishing them when we found them.