Bed bugs - keep them from moving with me!
November 2, 2017 3:18 PM   Subscribe

My fiance and I recently had a run-in with bed bugs at our apartment. Last Saturday we had the entire apartment heat-treated, and we're due to move to a new apartment this Friday. As of yesterday, "new" bites are still showing up on my arm, even though we passed post-treatment inspection by a bed bug dog. Is it likely that these are just a delayed reaction from old bites? What reasonable precautions should we take to ensure we don't carry any remaining stragglers with us to the new apartment?

I've read previous questions about bed bugs, but haven't found any that address the experience of having new bites appear even after a heat treatment... I started getting bites 2.5-3 weeks ago. I thought they were probably fleas at first, based on past experience with flea bites, but last Wednesday we found live bed bug nymphs (checked their appearance under a microscope and it was unmistakable) and fecal stains under our mattress. We got the entire apartment heat-treated and took the precautions suggested by the pest control company after the treatment - we changed into clothes that had been dried on high heat before re-entering the apartment after treatment, and double-bagged and dried the clothes, including shoes, that we had been wearing when we left. We also dried all clothes that had been in a drawer during the treatment (although we didn't dry clothes that had been piled into open-weave laundry baskets in the open). We threw away every piece of cardboard that had been in the apartment. On Tuesday this week, three days after the heat treatment, the inspector came through with a bed bug-sniffing dog, and the dog didn't find anything in the apartment. The inspector also confirmed that our bed looked fine with no signs of new bed bug activity (we had put a new bed bug-proof mattress cover on right after the treatment).

Despite all this, 15 new bites appeared on my arm the same day of the inspection (yet there were no bites during the three days between the treatment and the day of the inspection). I should perhaps note that this is in keeping with the pattern I'd been having before the treatment, where several bites would show up one day, and then I'd have another 5-6 days without additional bites, until the next round. Is it more likely these new bites came from bed bugs that somehow survived the treatment, or that this is a very delayed reaction from old bites? The inspector didn't seem concerned by the new bites, but I imagine he had an incentive to be able to say that his company's treatment worked in one shot, so that he'll keep being hired by our landlord (a university, so they've dealt with bed bugs many times) for future problems. I've read that bite reactions can be delayed up to a week or more, but I'm still getting nervous as we are supposed to move to a new apartment this Friday, and we don't want to take any chances when it comes to preventing the bugs from coming with us. We're planning to put all clothes and bedding through the dryer one more time and double bag them before taking them to the new apartment. We also bought some bed bug spray (EcoRaider) and are considering spraying down our sofa and bed frame right before the move. Is there anything else we can do? How worried, or not, should we be?
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (3 answers total)
If I was feeling like my sofa and bed frame were the only items needing to be sprayed, I wouldn't move them. You can probably buy a new sofa at Ikea for less than what you've spent on drying and heat treating everything, even more so if you value your time.
posted by yohko at 4:49 PM on November 2, 2017

Sorry, but I doubt this is a delayed reaction to bites. I still think you have them and let's face it, you want to err on the side of caution to ensure you don't move them to your new place. I'd either get your bug guy to spray again, hire a new person and /or ditch your bed etc. In other words, act like you still have them because the bites make it sound like you do.
posted by Jubey at 5:04 PM on November 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

Sorry you're going through this! I know how miserable it is.

If you're still getting bitten, you've still got bedbugs. I definitely wouldn't move your stuff without another round of treatment, or you'll have the same problem in a new place (not to mention leaving bedbugs for the next tenant where you live now, which is a terrible thing to do). Similarly don't just dispose of your bed while it's infested.

Something that helped us in a similar situation was physically disassembling our bedframe--there are lots of little nooks and crannies that bedbugs love to hide in. Then have a pest control person spray it alllll down. If you're as paranoid as we were, consider taping over joints, screw heads, etc. after you reassemble it so they can't get in and out.

Diatomaceous earth is also a bedbug killer and not harmful--can be useful to spray it around (wear a dust mask or respirator) to help get any lingering beasties.
posted by space_lab at 10:19 AM on November 3, 2017

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