Is this single bed bug?? What now?
May 14, 2017 1:38 AM   Subscribe

Think we found a single bed bug. We live in an apartment. No signs of anything in our apartment itself. What now??

This is what we found. It was in the living room on a footstool. It contained blood.

We checked with a flashlight all crevices of furniture, all the sheets off the bed, etc. and there's nothing.

I had a spotty rash a month ago that went away - could maybe have been bites? (I have a photo. It did not itch. My doctor thought allergies. My husband had no bites or rash. We also checked the bed a month ago.)

We can contact our emergency maintenance tomorrow or wait until Monday - as they likely won't do anything tomorrow anyway.

Can a single bed bug just be around? If anything it would be from another apartment or outside. We don't have any used items that we brought in. Any recent linens (towels) were washed or ironed. We have no signs of any infestation. 

Do we wait until Monday to contact the office? What should we do until then?

Honestly this is very frustrating as we have a lot of other stuff going on right now.
posted by SockWombat to Grab Bag (14 answers total)
As far as I can tell, that is indeed a bedbug. There are several ways they can get in from a neighboring apartment, so if your neighbor has bedbugs they can get over to you. A second way would be on clothing being worn. In places like movie theaters and hotel rooms, they can latch onto clothes and be carried in. If you're very, very lucky you may have caught the invader and there aren't any more.

As for the rash, that looks completely unrelated. Bedbug bites will usually be on the arms and legs as rows of three bites. They look a lot like mosquito bites, but smaller.

If it is an infestation (either yours or a neighbors) get the landlord to fumigate the building, not just the one apartment.

This all comes from personal experience with the little buggers. They are amazingly difficult to get rid of except by fumigation.
posted by Gneisskate at 2:24 AM on May 14

Yes, that's a bed bug.

Call your maintenance folks first thing on Monday. Infestations can be hard to detect so don't assume that you don't have one.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 2:27 AM on May 14

I'm so sorry. It's really unlikely that you carried in a single grown bedbug from outside your apartment. I had a similar situation and it turned out that the bugs were coming through openings in the walls (outlets, small cracks, etc) from a downstairs apartment. Do call maintenance ASAP and seriously consider breaking your lease and moving.
posted by pintapicasso at 5:26 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I do think it's plausible that your rash could be related. Bed bug bites are usually on the arms and legs but can bite you anywhere (especially depending on what you wear to bed) and sadly they don't always obey the rule to bite 3 times in a row, although that is the classic appearance.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 7:26 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I found one bedbug, once, in my art studio, on the back of my couch. I never found another one, and didn't have bites. I can't even guess how it got there, unless I went to a film, and it was on the seat there. I looked everywhere, and everywhere, there was nothing else. It is possible to catch the first one if the Universe is kind enough to point it out to you.
posted by Oyéah at 9:46 AM on May 14

I found one bedbug, once, in my art studio, on the back of my couch. I never found another one, and didn't have bites.

For solidarity and less panicking: about a year ago I also found one bedbug (younger stage, definitely a bedbug) after a thrift store trip. No other signs of bugs on my thrift store purchases, so I chucked them in the dryer on high for hours and hours, washed them a few more times, and then waited, nervously, for what I was sure was the eventual bedbugsplosion. It never arrived.
posted by deludingmyself at 12:41 PM on May 14

We literally checked all furniture last night with flashlights taking off all cushions and seats.

This morning I completely dismantled the bed. Again we found it in the living room on a laptop pillow that WAS under the bed but was in the living room for the past two days.

I took everything out from under the bed, examined all the crevices, all the edges, under and between the box springs. The ONLY concerning thing is this pillow that was under the bed. The spots are hard but not in a cluster and run in a streak. There is absolutely nothing on the box spring or under the bed though. No shells. Either side. Any of the crevices. Nothing. So I have no idea if these are droppings but it was ONLY on this pillow under the bed.

I'm washing our couch blankets in hot and drying now. Old stuff that was under the bed is being bagged and tossed (only a couple pillows we no longer use.) We vacuumed under there. Holding onto the concerning pillows and bagging for now.

I'm also going to bag and toss the stuff we WERE going to donate. I don't want any risk of spreading anything.

Again, no bites on either of us.

Our house is tidy right now so we're just going to put away dishes and whatnot so that we don't disturb anything but we're going to do another check again in daylight.

Our management is really great and has good ratings. We've had no issues and I'm friendly with the office staff. Been here for nearly 5 years. I'm also about to have surgery in about a month and deal with health issues so picking up and moving isn't the best option unless it becomes an issue - as again we have really good management, price, and my health situation.

I'm also considering doing the heat treatment instead of fumigation? Anyone done that option?

Anything else I should do today?
posted by SockWombat at 1:50 PM on May 14

That is, indeed, a bedbug. I would go on Amazon right now and buy a bedbug matress protector if you dont already have one. Rush deliver it. If I were you I would call an exterminator who specializes in bedbugs. The one I got was an entomologist. Having science on my side was very comforting. While our issue turned out to be carpet beetles, not bedbugs, one thing I did learn is that bedbugs are not always the horrible, impossible to get rid of, problem everyone thinks they are, so try not to worry too much, but do get working on this sooner rather than later. If for no other reason than peace of mind. It is definitely a bit difficult to sleep at night when your are worried something hungry is just waiting for you to nod off.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 3:12 PM on May 14

Those spots could be bed bug poop, but I think if you had as much activity as that
pillow has spots you would see evidence elsewhere. If I were you I would get a passive bedbug monitor, basically a couple pieces of white cardboard that you stick near the head of your bed, bedbugs love to live in cardboard and if they find it near your bed they will roost there and poop on the cardboard and thus you will know. If the cardboard stays clean you can imagine you brought in a single bug and count your blessings. Fingers crossed!
posted by hungrytiger at 5:11 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

YOu can get the mattress covers at Target too, if you want to run out right now and get one.
posted by latkes at 7:33 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]

I'm also considering doing the heat treatment instead of fumigation? Anyone done that option?

We had an infestation via (we think) our downstairs neighbor (who didn't inform us of his infestation until I told him about ours). We used a steam-cleaning unit as that's what our research indicated would work best. This was 2012. We bought a TwinTank Steam Mop and steamed our old hardwood floors multiple times, while doing the high-temperature dryer thing at the local laundromat for bedclothes, and bought bedbug-specific mattress and pillow covers that (if memory serves) we've never removed. We stuffed lots of clothes into trashbags and left them in our car's trunk outside during high summer heat for weeks. We trashed several books and a few pieces of furniture. AND our landlord also sent an exterminator over, twice. This combination of efforts worked.

Months later I saw a single bedbug in the bathroom, where we'd never seen one before. Ours is a nearly hundred-year-old building with gaps in the cabinetry directly above the downstairs apartment. I think we steam-cleaned again, just to be sure. Nothing since, knock on wood.
posted by goofyfoot at 7:32 PM on May 15


Maintenance manager came over. He agrees that the pink pillow is NOT droppings but the photo is a bedbug.

They're scheduling a pest detecting dog through their pest control agency to come sniff for them. It may take a couple days - apparently there's a big outbreak of them right now in the area - but no reports from our apartment.

If we do have an infestation it seems they would do heat treatment - which is more expensive but more effective.

He also seems to think it was a hitch hiker because we have no evidence of bugs. We did the cardboard behind the bed (we don't have a headboard) and there was nothing on it this morning.

I'll try to update again after we get an inspection.
posted by SockWombat at 7:43 PM on May 15

If possible have them inspect the apartments around you too!
posted by pintapicasso at 8:41 AM on May 18


Management was very fast and responsive. That week we had a K9 inspection. The dog unfortunately alerted on our sofa. However none of us could find any evidence. The assumption being there may be eggs in the frame.

Between that and treatment we put down diatomaceous earth and cup traps. A couple weeks later we did full heat treatment (bye $1k) and wore clean dryer fresh clothes to a hotel for the day.

We just had a followup (human) inspection and they found nothing. We opened the bottom of the sofa to inspect the frame and there was nothing. He added more dusting of diatomaceous earth but it seems we're in the clear. We could have had a single hitchhiker and the dog alerted to feces or something or we could have had a tiny clutch of eggs - but at the same time no evidence of any hatched anything which they had plenty of time to do.

I still have no idea where we picked one up - but it does seem that it could possibly have just been one bug.
posted by SockWombat at 2:09 PM on June 18 [1 favorite]

« Older Help with planning an insanely great treasure...   |   How many unique QR codes are possible? Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments