Bed bugs or mosquitos or fleas or...?
January 11, 2011 5:46 AM   Subscribe

What has been biting us? And how do we get it to stop?

So, for the past couple of months or so, my boyfriend and I have been noticing small bites on various parts of our bodies.

The bites themselves look similar to mosquito bites: small, raised, a little red. However, I don't they are mosquito bites, because I usually have a strong allergic reaction to mossies, with lots of itching, swelling and redness. These bites are itchy, but not terribly so. We have seen them most often on our hands and feet, but on our legs and torsos too. Sometimes they will be single bites, other times there will be a small cluster.

We usually notice them in the mornings, and while this does suggest that we are being bitten in the night, it could also just be because we're changing and showering then, and more likely to notice something in the morning. I would say the bites have slightly increased in frequency over the weeks, but not massively.

The obvious concern is a bed bug problem. We've never dealt with such a thing before, but what we've read implies that the bites would be more severe in appearance, more likely to appear on the torso, and more likely to be in a line formation. We had a nose around the bedframe and sheets, but couldn't see anything that looked like a bug. However, when we checked the sheets for blood stains, we found 2-3 small thin streaks on the sheet, at the foot of the bed. How likely does it seem that this is bed bugs?

We're reluctant to call pest control unless we really have to, so we want to see what steps we can take ourselves that might get it to stop. We're planning to strip the bed and hot wash the sheets (again), then sponge down the mattress with a suitable cleaning solution, do the same thing to the bedframe and the floor under the bed. We'll also do the same thing to the couch and couch covers. We don't have any other upholstered furniture in our place, and no carpet either.

What else should we do that could get rid of the problem? Or from the sound of what we're experiencing, should we have called pest control already?

Oh yes, and I should probably mention we don't have any pets.

Thanks in advance for all suggestions!
posted by greenfelttip to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
. . . but what we've read implies that the bites would be more severe in appearance, more likely to appear on the torso, and more likely to be in a line formation.

This is not the case - some examples.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:57 AM on January 11, 2011

Bed bugs. Call a professional; the measures you take on your own probably won't be effective.

But if you want to try: throw away mattress and all bedding, for a start.
posted by killdevil at 6:09 AM on January 11, 2011

Fleas :( Get vacuuming.
posted by hannahlambda at 6:26 AM on January 11, 2011

Could Be bed bugs start by getting mattress and box spring covers. Then call pest control.
posted by majortom1981 at 6:32 AM on January 11, 2011

Why would you discard the mattress or bedding before you had the rest of the apartment treated? The bugs will happily take up residence in the new one.

The mattress and box spring covers that majortom mentioned will hopefully minimize the bites in the short term while you wait to get professional assessment. Wash all the bedding frequently until then.
posted by hermitosis at 6:54 AM on January 11, 2011

Also lack of pets is not necessarily an factor for fleas -- once we had an apartment where fleas where coming up through the floorboards because there were rats in the basement. But fleas bite you anywhere, anytime -- including the daytime -- and you can often catch them doing it. Bedbugs are night-stalkers and difficult to observe unless you have a serious infestation.
posted by hermitosis at 6:56 AM on January 11, 2011

We were getting bites similar to what you describe and couldn't find any evidence of bedbugs. It turned out to be teeny tiny mites, due to a rat problem in our basement. We cleared out the rats and the mites disappeared.
posted by BlahLaLa at 7:26 AM on January 11, 2011

You can make a bed bug detector for about 15$. I'd do that first, it looks pretty easy.
posted by anaelith at 7:44 AM on January 11, 2011

asuming you get a new mattress also (because bed bugs could be living in it) Take stronge double-sided tape and put it around the legs of the bed. If bed bugs climb up from floor...they will get stuck on the tape.
posted by lifewith4cats at 8:40 AM on January 11, 2011

Have had bedbugs twice (problem was only solved by moving out of the apartment). In both cases, I was the only one being bitten (bf showed no signs of bites) and bites were primarily on my hands, arms, and legs. Call pest control. If you have bedbugs, you will NOT solve the problem yourself and you will not be able to address it by just treating your mattress. At the very least you have to treat the whole bedroom.
posted by chelseagirl at 8:53 AM on January 11, 2011

Don't rush to assume bed bugs. We've had similar in our house and like BlahLaLa's experience, it turned out to be rat mites. A co-worker had bird mites, which are very similar. Are there any birds nesting in the eaves of your building? Hearing any rat noises at night?
posted by Joh at 9:23 AM on January 11, 2011

I had fleas in my apt. Maybe try bugbombing once before doing anything more drastic? It should kill fleas.

I layed out all my clothes, bedding, and jackets in a closed room. I bug bombed it while I was at work and then did all my laundry at once.

If you do have bedbugs, that probably won't help though.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:29 AM on January 11, 2011

Fleas? Try walking around the room in white socks pulled up to your knees and see if any jump on you. They are big enough to see. If that doesn't work, set out a pan of water with a tiny bit of soap in it (to break surface tension) and aim a gooseneck lamp over the top of the water for light and warmth. Leave on all night. In the morning, you should see drowned fleas.
posted by Knowyournuts at 9:30 AM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: Hi all, thanks for the suggestions so far.

So, tonight we had a really good look around the entire bedframe and the entire couch - we lifted the mattress up and out, looked in whatever nooks and crannies we could. We did find about 4 or 5 of these insects under the bed and a couple on the couch - but they don't look like bed bugs to us.

Can anyone tell what this bug is from the photo, and if it is likely to be what is biting us, or just an innocent bug caught in the crossfire?

Also, how likely is it that we could have missed the bed bugs in our thorough checking? Like I said before, we will absolutely call pest control if we need to, but would like a positive ID of bed bugs (or whatever) first if at all possible.
posted by greenfelttip at 4:28 PM on January 11, 2011

Wouldn't it help us to know where in the world you live?
posted by AmbroseChapel at 6:05 PM on January 11, 2011

That looks like a variety of silverfish to me. If so, it will eat your books, furniture, carpet, and clothing, but won't bite you personally. They're a common pest in north America and harmless aside from property damage.
posted by anaelith at 9:26 PM on January 11, 2011

Response by poster: Ah yes, sorry, forgot to mention we're in Berlin, Germany.
posted by greenfelttip at 1:37 AM on January 12, 2011

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