Please help my girlfriend before bloodsuckers drive her completely crazy.
May 14, 2012 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me identify/fight back the bloodsuckers in our apartment?

In August of 2011, my girlfriend and I moved into a 1BR apartment from where we had been living. About 1-2 months after we moved in, she started noticing medium-sized welts and bumps that itched and behaved like bug bites.

Initially, we feared bed bugs. I had recently replaced my creaky box springs with one that was gently used. But a close inspection of the box springs and mattress (in the folds and crevices) revealed none of the telltale signs of bedbug detritus, let alone the scoundrels themselves. The box spring was immaculate when we picked it up.

Regardless, I purchased diatomaceous earth, created traps around the bed legs, etc., but the bites continued.

A short time later, I caught a flea in the apartment. Thinking we had pinpointed the culprit (heheh), we gave the go ahead for the landlord to "bomb" the apartment for bedbugs and fleas.

The bites seemed to subside for a few weeks, but then they returned. My girlfriend has caught a flea herself, but other than that, we've never caught them in the act.

One important point i forgot to mention: If I am being bitten, I am showing no signs. I assume that I am and that I'm just not allergic, but she is the only one suffering.

Because the bombing seemed to provide a temporary respite, we ended up bombing three more times, despite my reservations.

Now she sleeps with two pairs of socks on, long underwear, and a fleece hoodie pulled up over her head. I desperately want to fix the problem, but I don't know what else to do.

A few things to know:

We have no pets.
We've never had an infestation like this before at any previous dwelling.
We have wood floors, no carpet

I guess my question is: where do we go from here? Is it worthwhile to call a professional exterminator? Would one be able to diagnose this, or do they just use the same chemicals, hoping for a different result?

posted by SpicyMustard to Home & Garden (6 answers total)

Any chance its her car that's infested? That might explain why she's so much more bitten than you. She could be re-infesting the apartment by bringing in stuff from her car.
posted by carmicha at 6:46 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I had not thought of that. She does commute to work. We should spray there as well.

It seems, although we're not 100% sure, that she is getting bitten more at night.

Definitely something to try though.
posted by SpicyMustard at 6:51 AM on May 14, 2012

I'd be surprised if they lasted that long, but I once was stumped by something that was biting me but not the person I was sharing a bed with. I was getting medium sized bumps, mostly at night. It turned out to be chiggers - I think they often stay on one person. Though if you are finding fleas, I would go with that assumption first.
posted by beyond_pink at 6:58 AM on May 14, 2012

It could also potentially be an unrelated rash from an allergy to laundry detergent or other environmental irritants. The totally unscientific way I test for this is to put a big piece of clear tape (scotch tape or similar) on a currently unmarked bit of the torso (or wherever bites/marks are appearing) overnight and then waiting to see if anything appears under the tape (where obvsly no bugs can get). This will not work if there is an allergy to any component of the tape though.

(in my case it turned out to be a viral rash not unlike chicken pox but obvsly ymmv.)
posted by elizardbits at 7:00 AM on May 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Did the bomb for the fleas treat just the adults, or the eggs as well? If it just treated the adults, you would need to bomb again about 3 weeks later to get the hatching eggs.

The car is a possibility as well.

I would also wonder about a reaction with the soap that washes your sheets.

In the meantime, if it is bugs, there's also the option of applying bug spray to herself before bed.
posted by MeiraV at 11:28 AM on May 14, 2012

It's probably bedbugs, sorry to say. We have bed bugs, and we did not see a single bug for six months or more after I started getting bites. Now, we have seen two bugs, so it's confirmed, but that is all in eight or so months of infestation (and multiple exterminations). Additionally, I get huge swollen bites - I'm covered in them - and my fiancée sleeps in the bed with me and either has no bites or invisible bites.

We've tried dietomaceous earth and it doesn't help; professional extermination or self-poisoning has provided temporary relief, but they're back today and we are hopeful!
posted by insectosaurus at 3:17 PM on May 14, 2012

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