The story below was submitted to us by a client who wishes to share his bed bug treatment story in hopes to help educate others and allow them to learn from his initial mistakes and final solution for 100% bed bug elimination.
I worked for a guy during the summer, doing maintenance on his rental properties. I ended up doing some work on a room that had previously been infested with bed bugs. He didn’t disclose this information to me, instead simply telling me I needed to remove some wood and paint the room. I found out through another employee. I was told everything was fine and that the other employees had been spraying bed bug treatments in there for over a month. Trusting my employer was my first mistake.
There were bugs inside the walls of this room. I had to repaint it, and that involved exposing myself to them for two days. I should have just told him I wouldn’t do it. Doing the work was my second mistake. Coming home was my third mistake.
Within a week or so we noticed bites. We searched everywhere for signs of the bugs. We couldn’t find them. And then, we found them. Under the bed. In a box of sweaters, and in the box spring.
As soon as our land lady returned home, we told her about the bugs and showed her where they were. Her advice: squeeze boric acid into the cracks around the edge of the apartment and set off flea “foggers” with insect growth inhibitor that keeps bugs from growing to maturity. I told her that we needed to call and get a professional bed bug treatment. She wouldn’t let us pay to have a professional treat our own apartment. Fourth mistake – doing what our land lady suggested.
Our land lady believed she could solve it. We knew she was wrong, but we were desperate. We were scared and clinging to anything, so we just trusted her. Fifth mistake – trusting our land lady.
After about a week it became quite obvious that our landlady’s little “plan” was an utter failure. Not only do Boric acid and “foggers” not kill bed bugs, the foggers merely irritate them and cause them to run away to all corners of the apartment. We began to find baby bed bugs everywhere. In our closet. In our dishes. In our medicine cabinet. In our drawers. In the spice rack. Everywhere. We were terrified of bringing them into our parents’ or friends’ houses, this fear kept us isolated.
In retrospect we should have told the people who needed to know. We shouldn’t have kept it a secret from people who would have wanted to help or who were in danger of being exposed to my employer’s apartments. This was our sixth mistake.
We needed to move. We couldn’t go on like this. My land lady was not going to give in and let us deal with the bugs appropriately.
We planned out the move. We would bring everything in a moving truck to the Batzner pest management headquarters in New Berlin. There, the dog would sniff our stuff to find evidence of bed bugs. Where ever he found them, those things would be placed in an insulated trailer and heated up to 130 degrees for 8-10 hours to kill the bugs. Everything else would be considered “safe” and could be moved into the house. Our eighth mistake: attempting a piecemeal approach for bed bug treatment.
Within days of moving in I noticed bites. They weren’t all exactly the same as the original bites, but they were something.
Panic set in once again. How long did we have before they grew bigger? (egg to adult is about 1 month) Where were they living? How did they possibly get here? I felt there was no end in sight. So I did more research. I found a consulting company called Bed Bugs and Beyond. They specialize in fumigation, the only scientifically proven 100% effective bed bug treatment. It’s a one shot kill. Every single bed bug – egg, baby, adult – dies in one treatment. And the best part: they offer an unconditional one year no bed bug guarantee. They promise that with one treatment (which may include a number of services) they will eliminate your bed bug problem.
It seemed too good to be true. After the number of mistakes we had made we weren’t going to rush into this. So we did our homework, and the company checked out. We talked to the head of the company, and he was not only extremely knowledgeable, but also understanding and compassionate. We went through our options, and we decided to have the entire house fumigated. That means covering the entire thing with plastic, and pumping it full of Sulfuryl Floride – aka Vikane. Proper levels are established and monitored for a specific length of time, and then the house is cleared. Because we had moved into an extremely small house, this was actually a possibility.
Finally, things began to look up. Michael from Bed bugs and beyond connected us with a local company that was going to do the actual fumigation.
Fumigation is generally reserved for two situations. First, when an infestation is so bad that the bugs have moved into the structure of the building itself. This is extremely rare. Second, as in our situation, where the customer just wants the problem taken care of once and for all, no questions asked.
The weather cooperated (miraculous winter that we have had) and the fumigation was an unqualified success. It actually went even better than anyone could have hoped. It was over 60 degrees all night (required for the gas to work) and as a result the concentration of gas was reached much faster than anyone expected. Within 48 hours our house was cleared.
After experiencing a trauma like this, I found I couldn’t move on. Bed bugs inhabited my thoughts all day every day. I couldn’t let go of the anxiety. The thing was, I continued to get ‘mystery bumps’ on occasion. Probably a few times a week I would have an itchy spot that would swell up like a mosquito bite, but then disappear within a few hours. They were unlike bed bug bites in every way, and yet I just couldn’t believe that we were really ‘beyond bed bugs’. Michael from the company was very understanding, and talked to me on a number of occasions. We got some simple monitoring devices to put under the feet of the bed. We had the mattresses covered. We made sure there was no clutter around the bedroom especially. And we just kept pushing on. I’ve finally let go and I realized that in order to move on I had to tell our story.
So here it is. Our experience. Every mistake we made was a turning point; a decision made with the best of intentions but nonetheless made in fear and desperation. I’m writing this in the hopes that if any one of you ever finds yourself in a situation where you are dealing with bed bugs that you know it doesn’t have to be like this.
Please learn from our mistakes. At the very least get educated about what works against bed bugs and what doesn’t. Go to www.bedbugsandbeyond.com and get some good scientifically proven information.
Finally, I thought you should know how much this has changed our perspective on many things. I don’t know if we could ever get a used couch. We will never go near a bed or box spring left on the side of the road. The value of a clear and uncluttered house has become extremely apparent to us. We are much more cautious about thrift stores. Whereas in the past we would have thought that it was ridiculous to be so concerned about bed bugs, we just didn’t know how bad it could be. Now we find it shocking that more people don’t have bed bugs all the time.
All I want to say now is please be careful. Staying bed bug free isn’t rocket science but you just need to be knowledgeable and take precautions. Keep your bed room and house uncluttered and clean. Don’t take stuff off the street unless you can be 100% certain it is bed bug free. And really, you can’t ever be certain. If you get clothes from a thrift store, throw them in the dryer, on the highest heat setting, for an hour. If you start getting itchy mystery bumps that appear in the mornings, act quickly. We could have avoided so much pain and suffering if we just would have known what to do and what not to do. Use your brain, not your fear.