Bug out
October 16, 2014 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Circumstances that be, our apartment has bed bugs. They appeared under our mattress and the landlord is bringing in exterminators. Though we are moving out and had given notice for the end of the month, I'm worried the landlord will try to ride us out and fumigate after we leave. So, if the landlord holds out on fumigation until after we leave... I've come to terms with trashing every piece of furniture, mattress, ikea thing, couch, and anything that can't be put into the dryer high for an hour. But what about my electronics? Should I just write-off everything, bag 'em, and put into a storage unit for a year?

Not sure of the method yet if it'll be heat or Vikane gas. The inspector just came yesterday and gave the estimate.

Also, from the bit of research you can buy heat closets (packtite, zappbug) but a forum user on bedbugger dismisses them as not 100% effective due to some cold spots.

Are there any heat trailer rental services in Los Angeles? I've seen Insect Inferno trailers but there doesn't appear to be anything like that in LA.

We haven't seen bugs beyond our bedroom but god knows. We've put Diatomaceous earth on the baseboards all over the rest of the place, took every item of clothing to the laundromat and blasted them for an hour, double re-sacked them in clear plastic bags, and put them into a newly rented storage unit.
posted by wcfields to Home & Garden (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Apparently putting items in the freezer for a few days will kill bedbugs. Here are some guidelines.
posted by mareli at 11:49 AM on October 16, 2014

This is just based on a cursory google, but it looks like there's one place in the LA area (at least) that will do the "put your stuff in a moving truck, we fill the moving truck with Vikane and kill the bedbugs" thing - here is the bedbugger thread. The place is called Isotech. It might be worth calling them to find out what it would cost - if you're actually looking at tossing all your furniture and mattresses and so on, it might be cheaper and easier to pay for the Vikane/truck thing. That would also take care of your electronics.
posted by Frowner at 11:56 AM on October 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

Frowner: "The place is called Isotech"

I just saw that thread. Gave them a call, it will cost is $1200, takes 2.5 days. Included is a dog inspection too. They have a secure facility with cameras and gates.
posted by wcfields at 12:36 PM on October 16, 2014

If anyone else reads this, from what I can read only a few things kill 'em:
  • Cold ( 0 F for hours, impossible in LA, and even on the bugger forum people have experimented and sometimes they seem to reanimate )
  • Heat (+125 F for hours, the things they sell on amazon aren't 100% effective due to cold spots according to a bedbugger forum researcher. Only enclosed hot-box trailers "Insect Inferno" seems to be 100%)
  • Diatomaceous earth on contact (they will avoid it if they sense it and it takes hours to kill since it effectively "shreds" their exoskeleton up and they die of dehydration )
  • Suffocation (Vikane gassing/fumigation. Vikane is a colorless/ordorless gas that replaces all the other gas in an enclosed environment).
Seems like DDT and other supertoxic pesticides used to work in the 60's-70's, however, they have evolved past it, especially the varieties found in NY and SF.
posted by wcfields at 12:56 PM on October 16, 2014 [1 favorite]

FYI, I was in a similar situation in a different city. I paid $1100 for a mobile heat treatment and it killed everything (100% effective), and I've been happily bug-free in my new home. Worth every penny.
posted by monkeymonkey at 1:12 PM on October 16, 2014 [3 favorites]

I looked for the bedbugger thread you were talking about, and the researcher (I assume you mean David Cain) said that both Insect Inferno and Packtite products work. I see that Packtite has some terrible reviews on Amazon but I got one in 2010 and it did what it was supposed to and is still ticking four years later (we use it now in its intended use, to heat suitcases when coming home after a trip). It's basically a heater in a duffel bag with a metal shelf on the bottom, but it works.

Unless you weren't talking about this thread? http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/zappbug-vs-packtite

If I were in your shoes, I would probably do what Frowner suggests and save everything by having it put in a truck and Vikaned (or heated -- preferably heated but I don't know if that's an option). If you are planning to ditch all your worldly belongings except for your electronics, I'd get a Packtite and bake the electronics. (The truth is that bed bugs aren't at all interested in harboring in your electronics, but I understand the desire to be 100% certain.) Sorry you are in this frustrating situation.
posted by sockanalia at 12:08 AM on October 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

From what I understand both heat and Vikane both work 100% if done correctly, but the bonus with Vikane is that not only will the moving truck get done I can also do my car in the tent as well.

Heat also would potentially ruin my records. I don't have a ton, like 4 spaces filled of one of those Ikea "cubes".
posted by wcfields at 10:21 AM on October 17, 2014

I'd prefer heat not because of doubts as to Vikane's efficacy, but because of worries about toxic aftereffects on my stuff. I know Vikane is supposed to leave no residue whatsoever, but whether it's superstitious or prudent I just don't like the idea of poison gas on all my belongings.

The idea that you can Vikane the car is pretty compelling, though.
posted by sockanalia at 11:32 PM on October 17, 2014

There is another method I have heard of but not tried yet. You can find it with a little searching. It involves encapsulating your chair or whatever in plastic and then tossing in some dry ice. You put some small needle holes in the top so that the oxygen will escape. The dry ice melts into CO2 and, being heavier, displaces the oxygen. The bugs suffocate. No toxic residue.
posted by charlesminus at 3:49 PM on October 22, 2014

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