So many bed bugs. How to not have so many bed bugs?
June 2, 2011 4:58 PM   Subscribe

Bed bugs! In Chicago! I need advice, recommendations and morale. More inside.

Apologies for how long this will be...

So a few weeks ago I've been waking up to find a few bites on my arms. Maybe a new one every couple days. A couple weeks ago, they were in row formation. On my arms, upper arms, torso. A couple days ago, I found a few small black marks on my sheets along with some blood streaks.

So bed bugs. I convince myself its a small infestation -- "lets find a good specialist and treat the shit out of it." Long story short - I talked to my landlord for the third time today after noticing 2 people move out on my floor. He admitted to knowing about an infestation for months. Not to get all "All the Presidents Men" on you, but I have reason to believe the owner told him not to say anything to anybody. (I also don't want to get my landlord in trouble - he's a great guy). The owner also told the landlord to self treat, so he's been spraying with industrial whatever in select apartments. This, as I understand it, could cause the bugs to just frenzy and spread out.

That's the backstory. My plan is to get a specialist in here this weekend, monday at the latest. I told the landord and the owner this, so we can all come up with a plan of action. Owner wants to bring in some other exterminator Wednesday to treat just my apartment.

I'm going to document what the specialist recommends since I'm pretty sure the owner isn't going to do it (jumping to conclusions, I know, but he has terrible track record with stuff like.. fixing a ceiling fan). I'm then going to get a packtite, and treat all my books and papers and clothes, buy some airtight containers and move them to a self storage. I'm also going to move all my electronics as well. And I'm going to treat the packtite treatable stuff again before I move into a new place - wherever, whenever that is. Here's where I need your recommendation: I'm considering using Pest Control Chicagoland - I've heard GREAT things about them and their bed bug treatment - but what do you say? Anybody better? Personal experiences

What I'm doing now is running my sheets and covers through the dryer, at maxiumum temp, every other day. I have a spray bottle of 91% rubbing alcohol for contact kills and baggies on hand at all times in case I need to catch one (though I've yet to actually see one). I also put double sided tape on my futon legs, and have been checking the mattress religiously, though I see nothing yet. I should probably get a cover for my futon, right? Do they make futon bed bug covers? What else should I be doing?

Outside of all this I'm planning on breaking my lease (hopefully I'll be able to) and moving out by july. Luckily all my furniture is expendable, and I live in studio so there's not TOO much stuff. I'm keeping a daily log of what I do and what my leaser does, and a spreadsheet of all expenses.

I've come to terms with bugs crawling over me at night. What I'm still struggling with is how much work this is going to be. Hours and hours in addition to a full time + part time job. Bed bug sufferers - how did you get through it? Psychological tricks? Ways to avoid going crazy?

Thankfully money isn't an issue. I've got a bunch saved. At the end I'm planning to give a copy of my log and spreadsheet to my landlord. Though I'm not holding my breath on getting reimbursed.

tl;dr Any bed bug specialist recommendations? What should I be doing in the meantime to keep them at bay? How do I not go crazy? Thanks for listening to my question-rant, sorry for the millions of questions. Thanks so much!

If it matters my apartment is in edgewater.
posted by MPnonot3 to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know this is hard to hear (much less do), but the first thing you should do is to stop cleaning until the exterminator visits. What happens is, when you wash/clean, the bedbugs scatter from the concentrated spots where they're comfortable (like your bed) to all the different nooks and crannies of your apartment, making it much harder for the exterminator to be sure he'll target them effectively and thoroughly.

In other words, don't do anything in the meantime to keep them at bay. I know how much this sucks, and how counterintuitive it seems, but that's the advice I was given by folks who kill these bugs for a living.

Once the exterminator has visited and sprayed, then you get to wash everything, Packtite everything, put on the bug-proof mattress cover, etc.
posted by artemisia at 5:14 PM on June 2, 2011


It gets better.

I had bed bugs a few months ago in NYC. I totally understand the psychological effect it has on you. I promise, you will not feel nearly as bad about the whole experience shortly.

Bedbugger.com is an excellent resource. I'm sure you'll be able to find people in Chicago and read about their experiences. I don't know about Chicago, but in NYC the landlord is required to pay to clear out the infestation, but is not required to cover any expenses you incur cleaning your stuff. If they are spraying themselves, they are doing it wrong. Definitely contact the housing authority in Chicago and disclose the infestation.

Meet with the specialist and follow their recommendations. As artemisia said, there's not much point in doing anything until your apartment has been treated.

For what it's worth, I decided to stay in my apartment. Two things led me to this decision: 1) Bed bugs are everywhere. I haven't had any issues since my place was treated, and I've learned that I'd rather know what I'm dealing with than not know. 2) Other than being bit, bed bugs don't really do that much damage. It's funny how much they've been vilified when people will just swat a mosquito away despite the fact that it's a disease carrying killer.

Bed bugs used to be a fact of life. Then they weren't. Now they've come back and we're all freaking out. Don't make any rash decisions, and you'll be fine.
posted by AaRdVarK at 5:33 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Consider thermal remediation, if you can. Units above, below, and both sides need to be treated to be sure you are safe.
posted by Exchequer at 8:59 PM on June 2, 2011


Also. mattress encasements can help with short-term mitigation.
posted by Exchequer at 9:01 PM on June 2, 2011


Listen to the exterminator. I've had two separate bed bug infestations at two different apartments (separated by enough time that they were definitely not related), and compliance with the exterminator was critical for eradicating the bugs. My friends who did not comply (move everything to center of room, remove wall hangings, wash all clothing and bedding at temps that kill the bugs, keeping clean and dirty clothes in separate plastic bags, etc.) did not get rid of the bugs. Those of us who did listen to the exterminators never had bugs show up in our rooms after the initial treatment.

You will get through this. It may take longer or take a move depending on issues with your neighbors, but this is a treatable issue.

Additionally, this may be (almost certainly is) an issue that your landlord should be paying for. I'm not entirely clear on who will be paying for the specialist, but if you wind up with the bill, you should probably deduct it from your rent. If the bug situation get terrible you may have to consider rent escrow. (Hopefully someone who knows Chicago laws can flesh this issue out.)
posted by Logic Sheep at 10:30 PM on June 2, 2011


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