Bed Bug Filter: my partner and I went on a road trip with friends who thought they had treated their bed bug problem. After the road trip, our friends found a bed bug on a pillow that had been in the car with us. We took preventative measures before we returned to our apartment (long details inside), but what else should we do? How freaked should we be?
Sorry about all the details. My main question is just this: based on the preventative measures we took, how worried should we still be, and when should we feel safe putting our trip luggage back into our closet?
ROAD TRIP AND INITIAL CONCERNS:
- We live in Toronto. We flew to Chicago to meet some friends who live there, and, in our friends' car, we went on a road trip around the Midwest.
- Our friends in Chicago recently had what the exterminators thought was a mild case of bed bugs.
They did a ton of laundry and the exterminators sprayed once. Our friends hadn't seen anything for a few weeks. We didn't stay at their apartment while in Chicago, because the exterminators weren't scheduled to do their next spray until after our road trip.
- We travelled in our friends' car on the road trip.
They said the car had been searched thoroughly and hosed down with poison, and that all of the luggage they put in the car had been dried and checked like mad. We never intermingled our clothes, but our duffel bags were next to theirs on top of the car (in a hot plastic storage container). And in retrospect, their supposedly-safe luggage had just been sitting on their floor in their apartment before we left.
- On the road trip, we were super cautious about all the hotels
: we didn't bring any luggage in without first scouring the mattresses and headboards, and didn't leave clothes or bags in risky spots.
- During the whole road trip, we didn't see any signs of bed bugs.
My partner did get two non-itchy bites on her back, but because we were staying at a cabin north of Superior at the time, we thought it was just some other bug. (Several days later, the bites started to itch. She's convinced they're bed bug bites.)
REASON WE FREAKED OUT:
- The day we flew back to Toronto, our friends told us that they had found a bed bug on a pillow that had been in the car for the whole road trip.
When they found the bug, the pillow was in their apartment, so we thought the bug might have been from the apartment, not from the car. However, when they found the bug, the pillow was on something that was equipped with Climb Ups
(those little cups that are like mini-moats to catch the bugs). So we're worried that the bed bug came from the car
, even though we never saw anything on the pillow while we were driving.
PREVENTATIVE MEASURES WE TOOK:
- My partner and I went from the airport straight to the laundromat,
washing and drying everything for 30 minutes, including duffel bags, camera bags, purses. We put all the clothes in garbage bags inside the dried duffels, and the non-clothes in big sealed Ziplocs. We left them in the spare bathroom and entryway of our house that night.
- None of our clothes from the trip, or the clothes we wore while doing laundry, went near our carpets or our bedroom.
- The next morning, we went online and learned that the rule of "20 minutes on hot in the dryer" only goes for already-dry clothes. Since some of ours had gone in wet, we took everything back to the laundromat and dried it all for another 30 minutes.
But it had been sitting on our floor all night before that.
- All of our trip stuff is now quarantined:
the twice-dried clothes and duffels are all in garbage bags inside big tupperware containers, in our spare bathroom (across the house from the bedroom). We've sprayed them inside and out with Surekill bed bug spray many times, for what it's worth. I vacuumed the whole house and disposed of the bag outside of the apartment.
HOW THINGS ARE LOOKING SO FAR:
- We got home six days ago. So far we haven't seen any clear signs: no bugs, feces, or fecal stains on the mattress, and no new bites.
(The first time we checked our mattress, I did find evidence of an old bug skin of indeterminate species, but it seemed ancient and crumbly. I've had the mattress for 7 years and never looked in that spot, so chances are it's not new.)
- One worrying thing is that, on the second night, I went into the quarantine bathroom and there was a weird blood spot in the toilet bowl, on some toilet paper.
Maybe I blew my nose and didn't notice it. But it looked kind of like how blood looks inside a transparent bed bug nymph
, but it's not
like it was encased in a bug shape with legs or anything. (But might the Surekill have melted the bug? It's not like I know how the poison operates on them...)
SO, MY QUESTIONS:
1. Based on the risk and the precautions we took, how bad is the situation? How likely is it that bed bugs got into our apartment and are making their way to our bedroom?
2. We've read that bed bugs can live for 18 months without food. We'd rather not maintain the quarantine for that long. But could an adult, or an egg, have survived the dryer? If so, could it hatch and the nymphs stay alive for 18 months without eating once? Basically, we don't know when it's safe to reintegrate the quarantined stuff.
(We'll certainly wash and dry it all once more before doing so.)
3. Does our quarantine even sound secure?
Once again: dried clothes, in tied-up garbage bags (didn't have enough big ziplocks), in big plastic tubs, doused on poison, in a bathtub.
OK...thanks. This is a rare case where I truly hope everybody laughs at me and tells me to take a chill pill.