Is this a bedbug?
May 27, 2016 7:28 AM   Subscribe

I found this little monster crawling on the wall of a short-term rental apartment I'm staying in. HALP
posted by homodachi to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Yeah, looks like a bedbug. Same general body shape and color (can't tell size in the pictures), same number of segments on the abdomen, same antennae shape, same number of segments on the antennae. The tips of the feet look the same. Probably not just something that looks kinda like a bedbug, probably an actual bedbug. The photos you posted don't have a lot of detail, but everything I can see matches up. Sorry.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:32 AM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Yes, very sorry to say.

Here's what I'd do, not that you asked: Buy one of these and bake all your luggage before you leave the place. Wear your cheapest clothes out of there. Buy new clothes, change somewhere else before you go in your house, throw out the old clothes.

You DO NOT want to let even one of those puppies hitchhike into your home. And it would be kind do to this before you leave your place if you're going somewhere else before you go home.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:42 AM on May 27, 2016 [7 favorites]

Best answer: It definitely looks like it. I don't know where you are staying, but I would contact the owner of the apartment or the landlord immediately. In some cities, like New York, the landlord is responsible for getting rid of them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:08 AM on May 27, 2016

Response by poster: Thanks for the quick ID, all. I reported it and they're working on it. Looks like I'll be spending the 3-day weekend sanitizing. If you have a favorite link describing how to deal with cleaning stuff before moving to a new locale, please meMail me.
posted by homodachi at 8:10 AM on May 27, 2016

My condolences. Go wayyyyy over the top to get rid of them. As fingersandtoes notes, bake all your clothes, and I'd do so multiple times. I had them 4 years ago and my brain still hasn't recovered, and is still in hypervigilant mode.
posted by jpe at 8:25 AM on May 27, 2016 [3 favorites]

Yep, that's a bedbug. So the next thing you have to think about is how not to take them with you to your next place since this is a short term rental.

When you pack up to move put everything in plastic bags and tie them up tight.
Give your clothes a good shake before putting them on.
When you get to your new place, don't bring your suitcase in. Take the clothes you've packed in plastic and put them right into a hot, hot dryer and run it for an hour or so (don't need to wash first, but you can if the clothes can take hot water).
Shake out any books and belongings outside.
Vacuum out your suitcase then take the vacuum bag out of the vacuum, seal it in a plastic bag and throw it away.
Then you can bring your suitcase inside the new place.

And tell the landlord or property manager ASAP that they have bedbugs. Do it in writing. They should be calling in an exterminator right away.
posted by brookeb at 10:39 AM on May 27, 2016 [2 favorites]

How short-term is this rental? How much stuff do you have to transport out of this place?

If you can get enormous Ziploc bags, those are the best for transporting potentially buggy clothes until you can get them to the laundry.

If you have a ton of things, a Packtite device (basically a special bedbug-sanitizing oven that is essentially a giant duffel bag with a hot air blower inside it) can help you sanitize shoes, suitcases, books and so forth -- but that's only an economical and reasonable solution if you have a ton of stuff and are staying longer than the week.

If you're staying for a while, the extermination process done right takes a few weeks (poison doesn't kill bb eggs, so they put the poison around the perimeter of the property and it kills the adults, then come back a few weeks later to kill the newly hatched ones). Unless they heat treat the whole building, which is fast and effective but maybe expensive.

Sorry! Good luck!
posted by hungrytiger at 11:22 AM on May 27, 2016

Response by poster: Hey all, here's what's happened so far:
  • We put on our crappiest outfits, then put the rest of our clothes into bags and had a bedbug laundry service pick them up
  • I put my suitcase & backpack into a sealed garbage bag and threw them away
  • I kept only expensive/hard-to-replace cosmetics and meds, wiped them down with clorox wipes, and sealed them in ziploc bags. Same with the contents of my purse
  • I put all the ziplock bags into a new, heavy-duty plastic shopping bag. While I was loading the bag, I kept it in the bathtub
So now, wearing my crappiest clothes and with my shopping bag full of ziplocked toiletries and credit cards, here's my plan:
  • go to old navy and buy a cheap outfit for the next couple days. change into the new outfit and throw away the clothes I'm wearing (into a sealed garbage bag)
  • check into my hotel, go right into the shower, store my ziplock bags in the bathtub
  • wait for the bedbug laundry service to bring my clothes back
  • eventually on this trip, buy a new suitcase
Did I miss anything?
posted by homodachi at 12:50 PM on May 27, 2016

Response by poster: (to be clear, we have left the apartment and have a hotel for the rest of the trip. I'm taking the steps above to avoid bringing bedbugs to the hotel (and later, to my house).)
posted by homodachi at 12:52 PM on May 27, 2016

Check the hotel, too.
posted by Don Pepino at 1:34 PM on May 27, 2016

Best answer: Just in case you need some reassurance at this point: I unwittingly spent two nights in a horrifically infested hotel room last September and successfully avoided bringing ANY bugs back by employing more or less the strict containment procedures you listed above plus dryer treatment upon arriving home.

Treat the hotel as though it's contaminated, too, even though it's probably not, and when your clothes come back clean keep them sealed up as though to protect them from bugs getting in. When you get home, all your belongings should go in clean garbage/Ziploc bags BEFORE you enter your house (even if they're already bagged - remember, you're assuming everything is unclean at every step.) Strip down to your skivvies in the garage or in a secluded alcove or whatever and bag those clothes, too. Everything should be in a NEW bag before it goes inside. The only time stuff leaves the sealed bags should be to go into the dryer.

I bought these well-rated detectors for my bed when I got home to monitor for any signs of hitchhikers. Nothing. I had over 50 bites when I left the hotel, had seen actual live bugs crawling on the bed the morning I left, and I never had a peep of an infestation after arriving home. They are creepy crawly little fuckers but they're not magical.
posted by superfluousm at 1:45 PM on May 27, 2016 [4 favorites]

Can you throw away the purse?

(It cost me $2500 to tent my house for bedbugs that I somehow brought home from a trip. Does that change your answer on whether you can throw away the purse?)

If you really cannot throw away your purse, at least put it in a ziploc and into the freezer for several hours when you get home.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:13 PM on May 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

Bedbugs like to get cozy in between sheets of paper, so watch any books that you're carrying. In all likelihood, that's where my bedbugs originated a few years back—a library book that lived on my desk for about two months. (There was definite evidence of a hatching on the carpet directly below where that book was).

Likewise, they goo up and nestle between layers of fabric, so really check seams and layered, folded stuff. They tend to leave behind a dark little x-shaped mark (because they excrete the gooey substance that makes the sheets of paper/fabric stick to them, so they aren't shaken loose—so watch that; don't just shake out a book—look within the pages for a darkish splotch about the size of the bug you saw).

Sounds like you're doing all the right stuff—and then some. It totally sucks while you're going through it, but it eventually ends. Remember: getting bedbugs in your stuff doesn't mean you're unclean; it's just a blood parasite not too far removed from mosquitoes. That's what I trained my brain to focus on until the situation was resolved, and it helped me to think about it that way. Good luck!
posted by heyho at 6:29 AM on May 28, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks @fingersandtoes and @heyho. I can definitely throw away the purse. I also took photos of all the pages of my notebook and threw it away. Then I bought a new temporary notebook for the next week, and will photograph it/throw it away before I go home.

I sincerely appreciate any and all paranoid-seeming tips; I'm willing to go over the top to ensure I don't take them home.
posted by homodachi at 10:17 AM on May 31, 2016

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