Help us get rid of this infestation.
June 4, 2010 11:01 AM   Subscribe

[BugFilter] Something is biting the everloving hell out of us -- help!

Okay, we've got an infestation in a Brooklyn apartment. It showed up completely randomly a month or two ago. Whatever these things are, they only bite at night leaving itchy welts that get worse when scratched and go away after a day or so if left alone. They only seem to bite when we sleep.

The thing is, there are no visible signs of bedbugs: no blood on the sheets (and the sheets are light pink.) No droppings. No dead bug bodies. The welts aren't usually clustered in a row like bedbug ones are prone to be -- once in a while it will be in a row, but usually they are on a specific place but apart from one another. But, again, there are two people in one bed and I haven't seen a single dead bug or bloodstains on the pillows or the sheets. I've been sleeping at a different place (my place) all the while as well for the last while and I/my place are fine.

Now, we've found some flying bug bodies: tiny with tiny round wings. Thinking they were noseeums, a cup of apple cider vinegar has been put by the window and nothing. Also: floor has been cleaned repeatedly and bleach has been poured down the sink.

Any ideas? Any pest control places you highly recommend that will do an evaluation before charging the big bucks?
posted by griphus to Home & Garden (22 answers total)
Not to creep you out or anything, could it be scabies?
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2010

Fleas? They will bite people on occasion, and they move fast enough that you might never see them.
posted by MexicanYenta at 11:04 AM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: (Mods: Can you please take out the 'only bite at night' thing?)

Not to creep you out or anything, could it be scabies?
When we sleep at my place, the bites heal up and go away and only recur at her place. Also, she took a nap during the day at her place during the day after spending the last 3-4 nights at mine and woke up with bites.

Wouldn't they be showing up at my place after a month or so?
posted by griphus at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2010

Where are they biting you? Legs, hands, feet, between fingers?
posted by LittleMissCranky at 11:08 AM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: Where are they biting you?
Hands (on fingers) and feet, ankles/calves, shoulders/biceps and upper back -- they seem to be staying away from the torso, even though I sleep shirtless. I once got a couple on my hip and a single one my ear.
posted by griphus at 11:11 AM on June 4, 2010

That really sounds like bedbugs. Have you checked under the mattress and under the bed? They hide really well. Might be worthwhile to call an exterminator.
posted by yarly at 11:17 AM on June 4, 2010

I know Metafilter clamours to suggest bedbugs at the slightest mention of welts, but your case still sounds like the little bastards to me. When my old apartment had an infestation (thanks, Bushwick), we never saw bug bodies, blood, or anything other than enormous welts on our skin. I never got bitten in rows, which is what threw us off their trail for so long. We only got bitten at night, and my roommate and I both reacted differently to the bites: her bites were little red dots all over her hands and face (ew!) and mine were enormous red mosquite-bite-esque welts that lasted for weeks.
posted by zoomorphic at 11:18 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Have you checked under the mattress and under the bed?

The mattress rests on the floor (no box spring/bed.) Picked it and nothing underneath except a few of those tiny dead winged bugs. We'll most likely call an exterminator on Saturday.
posted by griphus at 11:19 AM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: Did you call in professionals, zoomorphic? If so, who was it/did it work?
posted by griphus at 11:20 AM on June 4, 2010

Have you tried the "hop up in the middle of the night and speedily turn on the light" trick? You might catch a bug before it flees back to its homebase.

I would also recommend taking apart the entire bed and peering behind, and maybe checking out any nearby couch cushions, too. You might find some dead bugs or droppings there.

It still sounds like bedbugs to me, despite the lack of corporeal evidence, but I am a traumatized brooklynite.

Otoh, is it possible it could be mosquitoes? If you started leaving the window open when you sleep a month or so ago (coinciding with the warmer weather) they could be coming in and biting you while you sleep.
posted by crackingdes at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2010

Since they began when the warm weather started I'd love to tell you they're mosquito bites, but you'd probably have been woken up by the little bastards by now, they aren't shy about buzzing in your ears. Do you sleep with the windows open, or have screens facing the interior of the block?

Otherwise it really does sound like bedbugs to me.
posted by hermitosis at 11:25 AM on June 4, 2010

I had a couple of mosquito visitors last summer, and while they did seem to prefer my hands and feet, they were really loud (they'd wait until I turned the light off and was quiet for a while, and then they'd bzzzzzzz all up in my face). You'd probably already know if it was mosquitos.
posted by oinopaponton at 11:27 AM on June 4, 2010

mosquitoEs, even
posted by oinopaponton at 11:29 AM on June 4, 2010

Another vote for "textbook bedbugs".
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:30 AM on June 4, 2010

Don't cheap out on the elimination process! Our mega-sketchy landlord called an equally sketchy exterminator, which only helped for a month or so before we found brave new bites on our hands. Your lady needs to call a highly-rated exterminator and say her last goodbyes to that mattress on the floor. Don't fret about bedbugs, though. It's two visits from the exterminator and a mildly awkward conversation at the cleaners when you tell him to wash everything on the Extra Boiling Lava Hot setting.

This DIY bedbug detector was recently linked on mefi; you might try it out and see what you catch.

I smell a MeFi Project!

posted by zoomorphic at 12:30 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Might be bird mites. They bite in doubles, and they are tiny. If you can take a baby wipe and wipe the area of the bite when you feel it, you may have a tiny grey speck. Look at it through a magnifying glass. If you have a bird nest nearby, the mites seek you out when the birds leave. Do a search on the net and you will see some examples.
posted by effluvia at 1:08 PM on June 4, 2010

A DIY flea detector is also easy, although it carries some safety caveats. This won't be at all effective at controlling a flea problem, but it lets you verify whether or not fleas are present.

1. Fill a shallow dish or pie plate with water, and swish in a good dollop of dish soap.

2. Place the dish on the floor.

3. Situate a gooseneck lamp so that the light shines down on the water, maybe 6-10 inches away from the surface.

4. Leave overnight, and check for fleas in the morning.

Fleas will jump towards the warmth of the light, fall into the soapy water, and drown. If you find as little as 1 flea in the water, this signals a huge infestation.

Don't let the lamp fall into the water, for obvious reasons.
posted by ErikaB at 3:17 PM on June 4, 2010

Fleas are usually fairly easy to spot, and bite you all the time--just lie still and read in the infested area, one is likely to jump on or off you. (we just treated for them).

Treat for bedbugs, should probably treat both places in case you spread them inadvertantly.
posted by emjaybee at 7:43 PM on June 4, 2010

Response by poster: Okay we're getting an exterminator in the next few days. He thinks it might be bird mites because there's a big hollow board-up space where a wall-unit AC used to be right next to the bed. I looked up mite bites and they resemble the ones we're getting -- they've got that bullseye in the middle.

Everyone keep your fingers crossed for us!
posted by griphus at 8:36 PM on June 4, 2010

You should find out if your neighbors have pets that might have a flea problem. Last year my boyfriend and I had almost the exact same situation you're describing, and we didn't find anything in our "flea traps" and had no evidence of bedbugs, (we even had the exterminator come and he couldn't find anything.) Then after about 2 weeks of hell, we saw a flea, and realized the neighbor's dogs were the cause of it. We sprayed the apartment thoroughly and stopped having problems.
posted by egeanin at 9:23 AM on June 7, 2010

Response by poster: It was mites! The exterminator came and sprayed the place down. We'll find out in a few days if it works. But it is definitely not bed bugs. Thanks for help regardless, everyone!
posted by griphus at 4:38 PM on June 13, 2010

Response by poster: Huzzah! Spent the first night there in over a week and no bites!
posted by griphus at 8:01 AM on June 15, 2010

« Older Privia digital piano music transfer to laptop   |   Am I About to Break Every Link on My Site with One... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.