Do I have bed bugs? pic attached.
June 22, 2012 2:43 AM   Subscribe

Do I have bed bugs? pic attached.

My mom told me we just got bed bugs, I was skeptical at first, but I was laying in bed at 4AM, and noticed I was getting bit on my neck, I turned over, and there were about 10 bugs visible on my mattress, I looked and saw dozens more on the sides and crevices.

I got a blurry pic of one here, they were filled with my blood, and red in the body, and brown near the head, they weren't super fast moving like a flea would be on a cat. I noticed my sheets were covered in blood stains.

There were super tiny ones, smaller than the size of the tip of a needle head, and there was one huge fat one, about the thickness of three quarters stacked on top of each other.

Are these bed bugs? and if so, what is my best course of action immediate (where do I sleep tonight?) and long term.

I have a thousand dollars that I am willing to use it to get these bugs gone from my house ASAP.
posted by Patrick Leo to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Looks like one to me. Sorry, dude. Pernicious little bastards. Consider hiring an exterminator. At the least, launder everything on hot, throw heaps of diatomaceous earth on everything (crevices especially), and vacuum it all up. Once there are fewer, you can test for them with sticky tape as traps, by turning it outward and tacking it to the edges of furniture.
posted by evil holiday magic at 2:54 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd probably wind up sleeping in the tub.
posted by evil holiday magic at 2:57 AM on June 22, 2012

The Awl had a very good artical on how to conquer a bedbug infestation. It was a lot of hard work and the chick had to have her stuff sequestered for more than two months before she could use it again --- including pretty much every piece of clothing she owned. But she won. You can too. Sorry, though, this fucking sucks, ain't no way round it.
posted by Diablevert at 4:25 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yep, you got 'em. And yeah, sleep in the tub or something. Whatever you do, please don't pack up and go to a hotel, because it would be horribly cruel to spread them to unsuspecting guests of your city.
posted by greta simone at 4:29 AM on June 22, 2012 [2 favorites]

Yes, that looks like a bed bug.

You should probably stay in your bed, because if you move around they will follow you. (i.e., if you go sleep on the couch you'll just get the couch infested if it isn't already.) As greta simone says, please don't go to a hotel either (or start putting your bug-infested belongings on the street).

Getting rid of them is complicated, and the best way to do it is to get a licensed pest exterminator who is used to dealing with bed bugs. Where do you live? You might be able to get a recommendation for a local exterminator at It's best to try and find someone who's worked with them before -- they disappeared for decades and have only returned recently, so not everyone is used to dealing with them yet. I will say that any good exterminator will have to give you at least two treatments, because the first treatment will kill bugs but not eggs, and they have to return a second time three weeks later to get the hatched eggs.

In the meantime, don't freak out. Getting bed bugs sucks, but they don't spread disease or do anything but inconvenience you, and getting them doesn't mean you did anything wrong. Good luck!
posted by feets at 4:58 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

p.s. Don't use any sprays or bug bombs, they'll just make things worse.
posted by feets at 4:58 AM on June 22, 2012

Oh my heart aches for you. They are tough to get rid of. is a great website for news and strategies about dealing with bedbugs. You're going to have to invest a lot in laundry, exterminators, diatomaceous earth, and things like a mattress cover or packtite heater, but you can beat the little buggers!
Good luck and feel free to memail me if you need advice/support.
posted by whalebreath at 5:39 AM on June 22, 2012

Remember to read's product recommendations - which mattress covers to buy and so on. They've actually tested these things and there's a LOT of expertise in the forums. (Also, the wrong kinds of mattress covers don't actually keep the bugs sealed up.) You can ask there for recs for a local exterminator with experience.

If you have the kind of vacuum that has bags, you can vacuum your mattress, crevices, etc to get as many of them up as possible (it sounds as though you've got a pretty solid infestation if there were that many visible). Remember to take out the vacuum bag right away, seal it tightly and get it out of the house.

Also, if you are in an apartment building, the whole building has to be treated or you'll just get them again. Honestly, if I had to live in an infested building I would focus on minimizing the symptoms rather than eradicating the bugs.

Don't rush out and blow that $1000 (and it may cost more than $1000 to get rid of them).

Read first or you could end up wasting your money on some exterminator who doesn't know what he is doing, treats the problem like it's fleas or roaches, and makes it much worse.

Don't throw stuff out right away - some folks rush right out and dump their mattresses, etc. For one thing, some of that stuff can be treated. For another, sometimes you just want to seal up infested stuff until the bugs die.

Remember that when you seal something up it must be absolutely airtight.

Also, if you do throw things away, remember to mark them clearly as infested. If you throw away furniture or mattresses, slash them and spraypaint "bedbugs" on them. Otherwise, pickers or resellers may take them and spread the bugs.

One good thing about this - you know what's going on. Some people get bit for months before they actually find the bugs, and they spend tons of money on treatments for fleas or ticks or allergies when it's really bedbugs.
posted by Frowner at 5:59 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yeah, you got them.
posted by angrycat at 6:03 AM on June 22, 2012

You need a professional exterminator. Follow instructions carefully; it's a huge, time-intensive pain (washing your clothing, bagging up everything), but it's worth doing it right the first time.
posted by insectosaurus at 6:09 AM on June 22, 2012

We had them in 2009, and had a pest control company come in. It cost $500 for our one-bedroom condo, and the company we used would come back and treat for free if the bed bugs came back within a year of the treatment. We've been bed bug free ever since!

I think that different companies have different prep requirements. Here are the instructions that we had, which were pretty easy to do.
posted by amarynth at 7:04 AM on June 22, 2012

I've gotten rid of a persistent bed bug infestation without an exterminator (though if you have the money, you're probably much better off calling one).

Step 1: Relax. Bed bugs suck, but they aren't the end of the world. 90% of bed bug pain is psychological.

The first thing you should do is try to isolate your bed. The bugs probably aren't actually living in your mattress. Apparently they're more likely to live in the baseboards and other nooks and crannies of your house. If you can, try to put the feet of your bedframe in bowls of water. This will stop them from climbing into your bed at night.

It's also probably a good idea to buy some kind of zip-up mattress cover for your mattress and boxspring. They sell them at Zellers/Target/whatever for like 10 bucks each.

Launder everything that can go in the machine. The dryer is more important than the washer, since the heat kills the bugs. When stuff comes out of the dryer put it directly into a sealed container.

Vacuum everywhere.

Diatomaceous was what finally won the battle for me. It's not expensive at a home hardware type store. Put it along the baseboards, around your bed and couch, and in any place a bug might be able to hide.

Good luck! It's a tough battle, but it's winnable.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 7:53 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, definitely.

I think you'll probably have to throw out your mattress. You can buy a comfortable air mattress for around 30 dollars that you can use to sleep on for now. Launder all your bedding in hot water before using it on the air mattress.

The bugs could be nesting anywhere in the room, so you need to de-clutter, launder/dryclean/wash everything, and, unfortunately, throw away things that can't be cleaned in which the bugs could be living.

You can use big plastic garbage bags, which you keep tied-up, to store clothes and things that you've already cleaned, so that they don't get re-infested.
posted by Paquda at 7:54 AM on June 22, 2012

You're lucky with that 1000$, because that is roughly the cost of a good extermination. They bring in some crazy machine that flash-freezes the bugs to death, and will probably come back 2-3x afterwards (only one fee) to do more work. Do not attempt an extermination on your own unless you have the patience of a god. Even laundering won't kill these bugs or their eggs.
posted by MangyCarface at 8:00 AM on June 22, 2012

Yes, bedbugs, yes, professional exterminator. Seeing a dozen bugs like that means you have a serious infestation, too.

Make sure you get an exterminator that will come back as many times as they need to to finish the job (for us it was 4 sprayings until they stopped coming back, over about 6-8 months). It is a huge pain in the ass and will take a lot of time, energy and money to get rid of them, but it's absolutely necessary and the longer you wait the harder they'll be to get rid of - spreading to other rooms makes them harder to kill.

The exterminator will tell you everything you need to do. Try to get one with good reviews if you can, and the good ones will be expensive - around your 1000$, more or less depending on the extent of the infestation. Cheaper exterminators will cost you way more in the long run if they don't kill them all and you need to exterminate again.
posted by randomnity at 8:13 AM on June 22, 2012

Also, where are you located? In some places the landlord has a responsibility for extermination.
posted by corb at 8:36 AM on June 22, 2012

Also, you said you live in a house, but if you have any walls/structures that adjoin neighboring properties, you might warn your neighbors and earn yourself some good karma. Those shitters get in the walls and find other bloodsacks to torment. If you feel shame, try not to. God is cruel, is all.
posted by angrycat at 9:22 AM on June 22, 2012

I used gentroland bedlamwith success. Wasn't nearly as hard as I had heard but I was lucky. I also wrapped my mattress and boxsprings in airtight plastic.
posted by M Edward at 10:48 AM on June 22, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, that does look like bedbugs. You will want to get an exterminator. Like others have said, you want to get one that will come back as many times as needed to treat it. You will have to treat at least twice or three times, in order to kill both grown bugs and eggs. It's worth it to have a professional come and help.

Do not go sleep somewhere else - you will just run the risk of spreading them around. Today, you will want to remove the sheets on the bed down to the bare mattress. If you can afford to throw the sheets out, do so (in the trash outside, not in the house). If not, you will want to wash them on the hottest setting you can, and dry them in the dryer on hot for at least an hour to kill any eggs.

Vacuum your mattress thoroughly, and try to get it as clean as you can. Save a few of the bugs you find in a plastic baggie, to show the exterminator. Then vacuum the baseboards by the bed as well. A canister vacuum is ideal for this. Take the vacuum bag outside the house right away and throw it in the trash. Tonight, put just a sheet and pillow on the bed - no cover if you can sleep that way, or just a flat sheet if you can't. If you want some sort-of peace of mind, put heavy-duty double-sided tape around the sides of the bed, so they can't crawl into the area where you are sleeping without getting stuck.

When I had them a few summers ago, I didn't sleep well for weeks. I kept a flashlight by my head, and would wake up every 20 minutes or so in a panic, looking for them in the bed. Three years of being bedbug free, and I still sometimes think I have seen them again. It sucks, yes. It can be very expensive to get rid of them. Your entire family will have to help out and do all the right things in order to get to them all.

But remember that it can be done, you just have to follow the instructions of your exterminator, and use the information at to help you figure out how to best help your case. And they aren't dangerous, just creepy. Good luck!
posted by gemmy at 4:05 PM on June 22, 2012

Yep, bedbugs.

I'm a weirdo who doesn't seem to have a reaction to bedbug bites, but I *did* notice a breakfast-lunch-dinner series of scabs about 2 months before my apartment complex informed us of a bedbug infestation and necessary inspection. A jackass in my apartment building tried to use a bug bomb and just ended up infecting 8 other apartments with bugs. Was awesome.

There were two types of amelioration my apartment managers explored; one was the flash heat thing where they heat your living space to some ungodly temperature, the other was chemical. They went the chemical route and everything was fine. What WASN'T fine was the process of preparing for amelioration, which involved removing everything from my furniture, pulling all the furniture away from the walls, putting all of my belongings in plastic storage containers for inspection, drying (but not washing--this was not actually recommended because it could dislodge eggs in water not hot enough to kill them and then allow re-contamination) every piece of fabric I owned, and then leaving my house in an absolute uproar for 3 weeks until re-inspection could be completed. It was like moving twice without the joy of fresh paint and new carpeting.

While the pest people did a fabulous job of getting rid of the bugs, they sucked at being nice to my things, breaking three pieces of furniture in the process. My insurance, it turned out, did not cover damage done to my belongings as part of pest amelioration. Nor did my apartment complex. Definitely something to consider when dealing with pest control companies.

Tonight? Go to bed. Call pest people tomorrow. They'll tell you what to do.
posted by xyzzy at 10:13 PM on June 22, 2012

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