Found a bedbug , now what?
September 10, 2016 12:07 PM   Subscribe

So I woke up in the middle of the night and my foot was itching so I took a look at it and I noticed two raised areas. I was immediately suspicious so I got up and looked on the side of the bed and I found a bedbug crawling back down to whatever hell that birthed him. I removed him and stuck him in a plastic bag. NOW WHAT?!?

I'm trying really hard not to panic; my husband is asleep and I didn't wake him because there's nothing we can do about it at 3:30 in the morning. We live in northeastern NJ on the second floor of a two family house.

I've been getting a single bite or two per week for a few weeks and so I didn't think anything of it as we've been having a lot of mosquito activity this summer. Either my husband hasn't been getting bit or he's not reacting to them.

What do I do in the morning? I imagine I have to call an exterminator, any recommendations in northern NJ? I have to go on a work trip starting on Monday, any advice for not taking hitchhikers with me? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Hi there. I have a lot of experience removing bedbugs. I worked in a care facility for 8 years that had a bad infestation as well as having the problem in my own home. First, find the problem area. Is it just your bed or have they spread to your dresser and night tables. If you have piles of clothes on the floor this is a breeding area. If it is just the bed you need to strip all the bedding off and wash and dry it. The dryer is the key. Bed bugs can survive a wash cycle. Keep the bedding in the dryer for at least one hour on high. Next, go and rent or buy a steamer and first vacuum the whole room thoroughly, as well your mattress and boxspring paying special attention to the seams, and then, with the steamer on high steam with minimal water, steam around the baseboards, the bed frame, the box spring and mattress again paying special attention to the seams. Then go and invest in a bed bug proof box spring and mattress cover. Repeat this process in 10 days in case you missed any eggs.
posted by LOOKING at 12:43 PM on September 10, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yes first inspect your bed to see the scope of the problem - you can google how to do this but basically pull back the sheets, look at the mattress especially the sides, the cracks made by the stitching and the piping on the side. Look for dark spots like ink blots (bug poo) or bugs themselves (size of a sesame seed).
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:49 PM on September 10, 2016

Look in all the cracks and seams of your bed frame too - they can hide in tiny cracks!
posted by mai at 12:51 PM on September 10, 2016

It's my understanding that they only feed once a week... So if you have only been getting a bite or two per week, and it's only been a few weeks, is it possible that you only had the one? I mean, of course, do everything that you would do for an infestation. But that's the hope I would cling to if I was in your place.
posted by amro at 12:55 PM on September 10, 2016

Your most effective bet is an exterminator, although people have tried self-extermination efforts. It's very unlikely that there is just one; they hide extremely well. Adults are about the size and color of an apple seed, but nymphs or eggs are very difficult to see. In the meantime, the existing advice to clean your clothes is correct, but I would do that in concert with/at the same time as any extermination efforts, as it makes no sense and would be frustrating to launder such clothes and then have them reinfected. I'm very, very sorry that you have to deal with this.
posted by WCityMike at 1:17 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I used Cooper Pest Solutions when I came across two bed bugs in my new apartment in central NJ, and I think that they serve northern NJ, as well. Their staff entomologist is Dr. Richard Cooper, a leading expert on bed bugs. He actually personally confirmed that what I had was a bedbug when I went to their office after the exterminator my apartment complex sent claimed it was a baby cockroach.

The exterminator put my mattress and box springs in a bedbug-proof case, sprayed for bugs, and told me exactly what to wash and how to do it. They came and sprayed several times to make sure to get any newly-hatched bedbugs. It was awful to have someone literally going through my underwear drawer, but I was so glad to have experts who knew what they were doing in charge of the endeavor.

Bedbugs like to travel between units, so my neighbors' apartments also had to be treated. Because you live in a two-family home, your downstairs neighbors' home will also need to be treated.
posted by capsizing at 1:33 PM on September 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I was going to recommend Cooper! We have used them for various exterminating needs and they are great. And yes, the experts on bed bugs.
posted by amro at 2:46 PM on September 10, 2016

Lots of good stuff above. I lived in a building in NYC that dealt with bedbugs off and on for about 18 months. Here's my advice.

Definitely get the entire building treated. Bedbugs will travel between units down through electrical sockets and cracks in the wall.
Make sure the exterminator is scheduled for at least two visits. Generally the sprays do not kill eggs, only live bugs, so the exterminator will have to return in about 7-10 days after any eggs have hatched to kill additional bugs.
Consider asking the exterminator if they can lay in some drione dust or other diotamaceous earth. That is a non-toxic product that is effective for up to six months. It basically tears up the exoskeletons of the bugs and they dehydrate.
Purchase allergy covers for you mattress and boxspring. That will keep bugs from reinfesting your mattress.
Wash everything in the hottest water it can take. If you can't wash things in hot water, then just run them in the dryer for at least an hour.
Go through the night stand and dresser and anything that is within 12 feet of your bed. Bugs can hide in books, cracks in the furniture. Clean all that stuff out before the exterminator comes so they can spray the furniture around your bed.
Put all the stuff in plastic bins. Shake everything out thoroughly before putting back.
Vacuum and the immediate wrap the bag in plastic and throw it out. Or wash the canister thoroughly.

If you are diligent about all of this you can be rid of bed bugs.
posted by brookeb at 3:09 PM on September 10, 2016

Ok, so I have an update. I went anon for the initial question but you know what, fuck that. People need to talk about this more so it's not this big shame fest. I first called Bell Environmental and they came, no live bugs, eggs or casts found anywhere, just bug poop in the underside of my bed foundation. They do Cryonite "snow" to freeze them and then apply pesticides. After a few days of stalking I discovered that Cryonite is not really as awesome as the marketing would have it and so I took everyone's advice and called Cooper, they are coming out on Monday. We bought a Packtite and the number of giant ziplocs in my house are increasing. I had a rough week emotionally, I have spent most nights sobbing for at least a little while because omg you guys I have bed bugs. I think the bugs are mellow right now because my blood consist mostly of Xanax, which I have been talking to get ahold of myself and also to convince myself to get into bed each night with the newest members of my household.
posted by crankylex at 7:30 PM on September 17, 2016

We have now been though two treatments by Cooper with no evidence of of additional bedbugs. The technicians think I had a hitchhiker picked up somewhere. That was one expensive bedbug but the peace of mind is worth it. I also have passive monitoring in place now which I admit that I am going to check religiously for THE REST OF TIME. As it turns out, the house next door is infested so my alert level is not going to come down any time soon.
posted by crankylex at 9:13 PM on October 16, 2016

« Older Options to open a WordPress post in a responsive...   |   Up tempo/techno/trance music suggestions for... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.