Help me escape my bed bug hell.
November 4, 2006 2:28 PM   Subscribe

Help me escape my bed bug hell.

I have been dealing with a bed bug infestation for about a year and a half. It is a nightmare that has been going on for too long. Although it's a minor infestation, no matter how many times my place is treated/vacummed/sprayed etc. it doesn't go away...the bugs probably travel from apartment to apartment in my building. I've gotten to the point where I just want to move. However, I want to make sure I do it right.

THE PLAN: To rent a new apartment and put every single thing I own into storage. Since I live in the northeast, if I move during the dead of winter and store things in an unheated storage unit, I am expecting that the cold will kill the bugs and the eggs.

For the first month all I will bring to the new place will be a brand new bed and clothes that have been freshly washed in hot water. Then after an adequate amount of exposure to below-freezing temps, I will bring the rest of my stuff out of storage and into the new place. The question is—how long is adequate?

I cannot find any hard & fast information online about exactly how long it takes to freeze the bugs and their eggs to death. I am *terrified* to take these critters to a new apartment. The good thing is that since my apartment has been treated so often, if anything the infestation is very minor...so I'm hoping I only have to worry about a few bugs trying to hitch a ride to my new place. But if I don't do this right, I could bring them along. Has anyone who’s had this problem successfully moved to a new place without these critters along? What are your thoughts?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
"...place the legs of the bed in saucers of mineral oil, creating a “moat” the critters can’t cross."
posted by trevyn at 2:52 PM on November 4, 2006


To clarify, your question is specifically how long does it take for exposure to cold to kill bedbugs? I think you would need to leave all belongings in below-freezing temperatures that were consistently below freezing for a number of days. I am not sure that is a situation you can easily do, although perhaps you can if you move during the worst of a northeast winter.

An exterminator sprayed my apartment, and told me the poisons would remain active for six to eight weeks. I moved within that timeframe and while I do not want to say that I got rid of them (it's become a superstitious thing with me), I will say that I have not seen any live bedbugs since my move. In my case, I tried my best to move long enough from the spray date that it had time enough to kill everything, but not far away that a fresh infestation had time to take hold.
posted by WCityMike at 2:54 PM on November 4, 2006


Make sure your storage isn't heated, most are.
posted by np312 at 3:01 PM on November 4, 2006


I threw a lot of stuff away, particularly wooden furniture, as wood is the preferred egg-laying surface of bedbugs. Keep in mind that bed bugs can live for a whole year without a meal. I stored most things that I kept in an unheated garage for a year, and it seems to have worked.
If I were you I'd buy a new bed, and wash all your clothes and linens in the hottest possible water before allowing them in the new place.
Sorry you're going through this. I had a similar situation, and it made me feel crazy, verging on paranoid, like I'd never escape them.
posted by Sara Anne at 3:18 PM on November 4, 2006


Is it possible to fumigate the storage area? And leave the furniture there 6 to 8 weeks?
posted by Araucaria at 3:18 PM on November 4, 2006


Fumigation doesn't do anything to bed bugs.
posted by lampoil at 3:21 PM on November 4, 2006


I had bedbugs a few years ago, and after 3 very expensive professional pest treatments, I discovered diatomaceous earth. It's a white powder that you should be able to order online. Sprinkle it everywhere you've seen the bugs, on your furniture, etc. Leave it there. Over the course of a few weeks, the bugs will eat it, spread it, and die.

If you want to go the storage route, I'd treat everything in the storage space with diatomaceous earth and then leave it for a few weeks. The stuff works miracles, I swear.
posted by decathecting at 4:47 PM on November 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


Also see wikipedia for more info on how it works.
posted by decathecting at 4:48 PM on November 4, 2006


I'm sorry I don't have an answer for you, but have you seen the other begbug threads? There may be some advice/empathy/solace there. It sounds like a terrible thing to have to deal with.
posted by hot soup girl at 5:45 PM on November 4, 2006


Call in professional help.
posted by caddis at 7:02 PM on November 4, 2006


Watch out with that diatomaceous earth — there's one form that's useful and normal, and another that's cancer-causing.
posted by WCityMike at 7:48 PM on November 4, 2006


wsitymike, please explain, with cites if you have them. I am a big DM user, is there something I should know?
posted by caddis at 7:54 PM on November 4, 2006


um DE
posted by caddis at 7:54 PM on November 4, 2006


The crystalline sort (consisting primarily of cristobalite) is the lung-damaging (and eye-damaging) variety, with the amorphous sort being more friendly to humans. I don't think you can accidentally purchase the nasty, sharp, pointy kind commercially in the US.

Don't breathe it, though. It's worse than pink insulation dust.

Here's a data sheet for amorphous and one for crystalline.
posted by Sallyfur at 9:28 PM on November 4, 2006


Heard a good story on NPR a week or two ago. They didn't give any great advice but did mention the Bed Bug Blog. You might find some good stuff there...
posted by richmondparker at 6:05 AM on November 5, 2006


i JUST read somewhere of an offbeat strategy that worked for someone. some guy figured that since bedbugs are nocturnal creatures, and need a host to survive, he would jump out of bed at 10pm, turn on all the lights, and go sleep at a friend's house. after a while, all the bedbugs died. sounds too simple/good to be true, but it worked for him!
posted by milkdropcoronet at 7:02 AM on November 5, 2006


If I were you, I'd give extermination a go again. Hire professionals and make sure they're experienced in bed bugs and use the new generation of insect growth regulators like Gentrol, rather than just the old pesticides.

If that doesn't work, then I would go the route of moving and storage, but I wouldn't count on the cold weather to kill them. Instead, I'd leave the stuff in storage for two years so that they'd die of starvation. Maybe, in the end, you'd decide that something you can live without for two years is something you can just throw out from the get go.
posted by footnote at 4:36 PM on November 5, 2006


Fresh-water D.E. is the okay part; salt-water or heat-treated D.E. is the problem. Google.

i JUST read somewhere of an offbeat strategy that worked for someone. some guy figured that since bedbugs are nocturnal creatures, and need a host to survive, he would jump out of bed at 10pm, turn on all the lights, and go sleep at a friend's house. after a while, all the bedbugs died. sounds too simple/good to be true, but it worked for him!

That wouldn't work — they can live without food for 18 months.
posted by WCityMike at 5:44 PM on November 5, 2006


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