Lone bed bug in the bathroom?
June 16, 2015 7:38 PM   Subscribe

Saw this single little bug on the bathroom floor between the tub and toilet last night at 11:30 PM. Is it a bed bug? Should I freak out?

If the bug in the photos is a bed bug, where could it possibly have come from? Our vinyl shower curtain (which we've had for a couple months)? It seems odd that it was wandering all by itself on our bathroom floor. I almost didn't think to look at it after stepping on it. I immediately cleaned my sandal and the surrounding area after picking the bug up (which I later flushed down the toilet).

My roommate and I are very clean residents. We've been fortunate to live in an apartment in NYC where we haven't had to deal with any of the conventional household pests you'd suspect seeing in this area. It sounds unreal, but the only other bug (besides the occasional fruit fly and mosquito) we've seen is a daddy long-legs spider, hence my surprise to see what appears to be a bed bug in our bathroom last night.

Other details:
- We have no carpet or rugs of any kind, only hardwood and tiled floors.
- Our beds, pillows, mattresses, sheets are all clear.
- Neither of us have any bites or itches.
- The bathroom is small, and our apartment is across the hall from our neighbor.
- Our apartment as a whole has very little structural damage - no noticeable cracks to speak of.

Besides talking with our landlord, what can we do to ensure we don't have any bed bugs in our apartment? Where else should we check? What precautions should we take, knowing you can never be too careful with these pests ("where there's one, there's more")?
posted by matticulate to Home & Garden (16 answers total)
Yes, that looks like a bedbug.
posted by pullayup at 7:49 PM on June 16, 2015 [1 favorite]

Sorry, but yeah, that's almost certainly a bedbug. Call the building management stat and get an exterminator in even more stat.
posted by holborne at 7:52 PM on June 16, 2015

Sorry, yes that seems to be a bedbug. It could have come from anywhere ranging from carried in by one of you or crawling through an outlet. Cleanliness probably means that you will notice an infestation before it gets out of hand and won't pick up sketchy furniture off the street, but doesn't really affect the likelihood that you'll get bedbugs.
posted by acidic at 7:52 PM on June 16, 2015

I just saw specimens today at the Natural History Museum in my area, that's a bed bug. Sorry.
posted by jbenben at 7:53 PM on June 16, 2015

I'm sorry but it does look like one. I would go to your neighbors and suggest they check. (Don't go in their apartments though lest you track something back into yours on your shoes.)

There are bedbug sniffing dogs you can order in.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:53 PM on June 16, 2015

Nthing bedbug. I had these and it wasn't because of anything I did or brought in on my own -- it was a neighbor who had taken in a discarded couch off the street. I got the landlord to pay for the abatement, but he was NOT HAPPY.
posted by mirepoix at 7:58 PM on June 16, 2015

Yes, bedbug. My deepest sympathies.
posted by Jubey at 8:29 PM on June 16, 2015

Best answer: Verification is already covered, so I have a suggestion. If it turns out there is an infested apartment in your building, talk your landlord into getting the whole place fumigated at once. If he just does the one apartment, there's a chance they'll just go somewhere else. I had them come through the wooden moulding along the floor, from another apartment.
posted by Gneisskate at 8:45 PM on June 16, 2015 [3 favorites]

It's not a question of whether there are more - there are definitely more. It's got nothing to do with cleanliness. We got them because an apartment in our building, not even on our floor, was infested. And you don't necessarily carry them into your apartment via curtains/bedding; for example, ours got into our apartment through electrical outlets (they squeezed behind the faceplates).

So - if there's one, there's more. Check your mattress, bed frames, behind pictures, lampshades, etc to see if they are setting up shop. Save that little bugger because you might need it as proof in order to get the landlord to pay for an exterminator.

I'm so sorry, it's a long journey but you can beat them. Good luck.
posted by pintapicasso at 9:57 PM on June 16, 2015

Best answer: Oh and to get a jumpstart I would remove all bedding / clothing / soft luggage / rugs and bring them to the laundromat. Run them for at least an hour in the dryer. Then bag it up and ideally keep it all out of your apartment. It's a lot of work but doing it once correctly beats a zillion half-assed trips to the laundromat.
posted by pintapicasso at 10:01 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

although it's unlikely, bedbugs can hitchhike on you or your things.

i would bedbug proof my bed by using climbup interceptors (after sterilizing all bed clothes and bed stuff with heat).

tip: also create a sort of decontamination zone.
posted by kinoeye at 10:05 PM on June 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I was about to suggest climbup interceptors and a mattress cover. Good luck!
posted by persona au gratin at 2:17 AM on June 17, 2015

Best answer: Yep it's a bedbug and it's presence in your apartment has nothing to do with your cleanliness.

Getting rid of bedbugs in an apartment building is a big fat pain in the ass. My building had then once and it wasn't until every single apartment was treated at once that problem was finally dealt with.

Bedbugs hop a ride on a pant cuff and slip under your door. They go through the electrical outlets looking for yummy human blood. Someone getting rid of their old buggy mattress has a bunch of bugs fall off on the way down the stairs or in the elevator. They travel!

You should try to get real clarity from your landlord about how he/she will deal with the problem. There are generally warrant of habitability laws in every state that says you are entitled to a vermin free living situation, so your landlord is obligated to address this.

Let your neighbors know so you can present a united front with the landlord.
Make sure any exterminator the landlord hires makes more than one visit because bed bug eggs are not killed by sprays.

You can
Get an allergy cover for your mattress to keep bugs from establishing.
Vacuum frequently and clean out the vacuum after each run.
You could get drione dust (non toxic) and spread a little around the bed and in cracks and crevices. The dust cuts the exoskeletons of the bugs and they die.
But things in plastic bins (books near my bed had bugs in them).
wash anything you can in hot, hot, hot water and run everything else through the dryer only.
posted by brookeb at 4:28 AM on June 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Sorry, but yeah, that's almost certainly a bedbug.

I just want to make a note that there is another sort of bug, the bat bug, that looks exactly like a bedbug. In fact, the only way to distinguish between the two is under a microscope. Batbugs behave a little differently -- although they will drink human blood, they're not very good at it, and tend to bite in strange places that bedbugs don't really do, like the legs. They aren't extinguished the way bedbugs are, and they aren't the problem bedbugs are -- they will eventually just die off on their own, as they need bat blood for their life cycle, and won't reproduce without bat blood.

I mention this because we had some bat bugs, and it cleared itself up. It was the result of a bat infestation in the basement of our apartment building, and the bats got cleared out, but the bugs remained and went wandering. This often happens with animal mites -- if you clear out a pigeon infestation, you may wind up with pigeon mites everywhere, and when you exterminate rats, you end up with rat mites biting your legs until they die off, if you're unlucky.

If you have had issues with bats, it's worth double-checking, as bat bugs are much easier to handle than bed bugs. But go to an expert -- it takes a entomologist to make the call. I mention this because I suspect a lot of bed bug panics are actually bat bugs (they are far more common than people realize), and there is no incentive for exterminators to distinguish between the two, because they make a lot of money off bed bugs, even when they are actually (and unnecessarily) providing bed bug treatment for bat bugs.
posted by maxsparber at 10:10 AM on June 17, 2015

Response by poster: Hey everyone, thanks for all your answers. I had a sneaking suspicion it was a bed bug, but definitely wanted to make sure I wasn't crazy. I contacted our landlords/building management, who will be sending an exterminator to my apartment unit with a sniffing dog Friday around noon. How thorough are these inspections, generally?

I'll be taking the day off from work to show the exterminator the area I found the bug, and probably ask him/her to check other parts of the apartment. What should my roommate and I do to prepare for the exterminator's visit?

Also, I'm not sure if the landlord will have the exterminator inspect the other units in our building, so what should we do if they don't find any traces of an infestation in our unit on Friday? I just worry that the exterminator will decide the apartment's clear when the source of the bed bug still exists, just in another unit.
posted by matticulate at 11:46 AM on June 17, 2015

You should check with your immediate neighbors to see if they've had any bug bites or bug sightings recently. Your landlord won't necessarily know, and wouldn't necessarily tell you if he did. In the meantime buy a big pack of climbup interceptors (they're cheap on Amazon) to put under your beds & sofa. Bedbugs are attracted by your heat & CO2 so the interceptors should definitely catch them. Keep them on for a while (weeks/months?) until you feel comfortable.
posted by acidic at 11:53 AM on June 18, 2015

« Older Anyone Know What Content Management System This Is...   |   Where art thou Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.