Bedbugs

This is a bit alarming, but we just returned from a RS tour in France, and we seem to have come home with some hitchhiker bedbugs. I noticed bites on the inside of my left elbow when we were in Beaune. The exterminator indicates that the feeding could have taken place earlier - Paris, Reims, & Colmar. I am super vigilant while I travel anymore, because we have had to tent and gas our house once before. While this has nothing to do with the RS tour, or possibly even the hotels we used, I just want travelers to understand that bedbugs are not a fantasy. They are real, and very pervasive. While not life threatening, a bedbug contaminated house is not something you wish to have as a result of your travels.Just saying....

Posted by George
Canada
836 posts

In Fact, the bites could be unrelated and you picked up the bedbugs on your flight(s) home or since you've been home - they're pretty hard to nail down.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8760 posts

I'm confused. Are you getting your medical help from an exterminator?

Posted by Paul
Somewhere in Europe
26 posts

Are you sure these are bedbug bites? They could be also chigger bites. These are very common in Europe in summer.

Posted by Karen
San Diego
5 posts

When I say the three itchy raised bumps on my left forearm six days into the trip, my first reaction was, "Oh, no." I checked the sheets for tell-tale signs of the little buggers, and found nothing suspicious. So, I passed the bumps off in my mind as possibly some other type of insect bite...which they might be. Having gone through this (the whole house fumigation before, as I mentioned before), I was anxious not to have to repeat the process, ever. Yet here we are again, having to double bag our edibles,prepare the clothes we are taking by putting them the dryer on hot for 15-20 minutes, leaving our cars in the garage with windows down, renting a car, and moving out for 3 days while our house is tented and gassed.The expense, over $5000, is enormous, the inconvenience, unbelievable, and the mental anxiety, incredible - why? Because one little blood blotted bedbug showed up on my family room sofa four days after our return. Where there is one, there are others, and others waiting to hatch. It was just not worth the mental angst and self imposed isolation to fantasize that we had not brought bedbugs home with us. At least this time we have a fairly clear explanation of how they came. They could have traveled on the plane in our luggage. We followed RS advice on the trip over and only had carry aboard bags. Dirty laundry and nicknacks expanded our luggage making it easier to check a couple of bags for the trip home. Just be vigilant, and aware that there are more than memories that could be coming home with you.

Posted by Andrea
Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
435 posts

They are prevalent at public libraries and movie theatres too. (I know, I work at a public library).

Posted by Karen
San Diego
5 posts

Well, yes. They could be anywhere. I have not been in a library or a movie theater, though. If the little devils could be routed out of our lives, I'm not sure what eco-cycle would be broken. What useful purpose do they serve? Scientists, without use of DDT, is there no relief? Just read yesterday that science is finding alternatives to DEET for mosquitoes. Now that IS good newes.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1358 posts

Karen, I had some issues on my recent trip. i woke up with bits all over my body and that was the first thought that came to mind. i examined the bed and it appeared clean and then i remember about the no-see-ems over there. by the end of the day, the bite/swelling was gone. happy trails.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Interesting that this topic always seems to attract replies from folks suggesting chiggers, mosquitoes, or all other manner of insect, arachnid, or true bug besides bed bugs. Indeed, there are lots of different ways you may have transported these back to your home. My only question is this: Did the pest control company heat treat your rooms to 120 degrees? From what I understand, this is the only sure way to eliminate all stages of bed bugs in a dwelling. Because of bed bug habitat, insecticides can only do part of the job. Was heat treatment used the first time? If not, it's possible that the bed bug on your couch (and others) survived the first treatment you mentioned. Then again, maybe it was from your last trip...who knows? The whole thing stinks...I didn't know anyone who actually encountered bed bugs until a family member (university student) had a dorm room infestation a couple of years ago while studying abroad. Good luck.

Posted by Karen
San Diego
5 posts

The pest control company is gassing the little devils in our house even as I post this. We had the gassing done the first time - and that was 7 or 8 years ago. The house is tented, and three times the volume of gas that is used to fumigate for termites is pumped in. We are having the same treatment done this time. For whole house treatment, the heating is not recommended. We did have to treat all of the clothing we took with us during the fumigation, before we left in the dryer on high for 25-30 minutes. That works, but to eliminated all potential hiding places they could lurk, the gas is the only solution. I doubt that the critter we found a week ago was a left over from our first treatment.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1978 posts

Karen: When you need to know about virtually any subject, you can now go to the internet. And whenever you need to get rid of any of 150 critters, bugs or mites, the best place to find information on them is BUGSPRAY.COM. They're the largest seller of termicides in the country, and have tutorials on how to get rid of critters, bugs or mites. And they sell all the industrial strength pesticides, termicides, traps and whatever it takes to solve any pest problem. Please read about your infestation on their website. It sounds as if your going through more treatments than necessary to solve your problem. Most mite problems can be solved by spraying permethrin, washing all the bedding and clothes in hot water and doing a good vacuuming of all carpets, etc. All people need to use a permethrin lotion for 8 hrs. and then shower. Then come back and do it again in a week.
And it takes a doctor to tell you what is causing your skin problem. What you think is bed bugs could actually be scabes.

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
633 posts

If I am reading this correctly you had three bumps on your arm in Europe, came home and found a bug of the sofa and called your trusted exterminator to tent your house for $5000? I am not surprised that a representative for a company who's business is fumigating homes would do nothing to dissuade you from the notion that you had an infestation and I think they played on your phobia. That you were checking sheets ahead of time tells me you are predisposed to looking for this as the cause and any skin irritation is going to end up as "bed bugs". Did anyone else in the home or on the trip have the same bumps? Did you find any other evidence in your home other than the one bug? I know these things exist but for something so common your reaction seems a bit over the top. Others reading along should realize this is an alarmist reaction and not something that should cause anxiety for an upcoming trip.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7978 posts

In the Deep South, if you spot a bug in somebody elses's house it's a cockroach. If you see the same critter in your own house, it's a palmetto bug.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Obviously, traveling increases the potential for exposure to bed bugs. It's entirely possible that Karen's home was infested with bed bugs, but I agree that I wouldn't take such drastic action as tenting my entire home and pumping in dangerous chemicals for $5000 times two unless I was absolutely positive there was no other option based on multiple opinions and estimates first. Personally, I would expect a reputable pest controller to use a dog in their inspection. I would also expect them to recommend a treatment plan that included heat treatment in some fashion. I'm not an exterminator, nor am I an entomologist, but I've never heard of tenting and fumigating a home with dangerous chemicals for anything other than Formosan Termites (I've actually seen this done in Newport Beach area). I'm fairly certain bed bugs, if that's what you had, can survive pesticide-only treatments because of their habit. But whatever...what do I know? Did you personally capture the bed bug on your couch, and were you able to independently identify for certain that's what it was? If Karen really did have a verifiable infestation, then I can understand her level of angst. Some of you don't worry about bed bugs...fine. Some people do...also fine. Some have had infestations before, and, therefore, have a heightened sense of anxiety about it...I would, too. I just wouldn't fork out that kind of money so easily. I also wouldn't instantly discount her by suggesting she probably had chiiger, mite, or mosquito bites. Could be, but how would any of us know?

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1978 posts

See: http://www.bugspray.com/article/bedbugs.html Everything you never wanted to know about this subject is there. And nothing is said about tenting a house. Only thing I've seen them tent a house for is brown recluse spiders, and there are also other techniques to rid a house of them. The pest control business is not one of the most upstanding of businesses. In California, they no longer "Nuke" bugs, they "Scare" bugs out of your house.
I have tried to find some specialized pesticides for my lake house, however none are carried locally including my Farmer's Co-op. That's when I turn to BugSpray.com in Stone Mountain, GA for the really professional pest control products.

Posted by Paul
Tuscaloosa, AL
877 posts

Having gone through a bed bug problem ourselves, I don't discount Karen's concern. These little buggers are very hard to get rid of and once you do, you never want them back again. My daughter apparently brought some home from school and we tried lots and lots of things to get rid of them. My wife and I took turns sleeping in our daughter's room to see how effective our efforts were. Looking over the sheets in the morning for the telltale signs of infestation - small blood spots - is a very disheartening process, especially when you think you're clear and then you find a spot. The most creative solutions I've seen advocated involve surrounding your bed with sticky paper or water so the critters can't get to you as you sleep and perhaps get stuck on the paper or drown. But then I read that they crawl up the walls and drop on you from the ceiling. A horror story just in time for Halloween.

Posted by Karen
San Diego
5 posts

Yes, it is a horror story! We are back in our house now. Two days and we are still unpacking and putting away everything that had to be double sealed in heavy duty plastic bags all food, medicine, - anything that you would put in your mouth. Not to discount anything anyone has said, I'm sharing our experience to heighten awareness that bedbugs are a real problem, especially if you travel. There was nothing (except for the three itchy bites on my arm) that suggested we had come into contact during the trip. Many of you suggest that tenting and gassing our house was an "overkill" reaction. Since we had been through an infestation before, had done our research then and tried alternate solutions to no avail, we jumped to the extermination solution first this time. You all do what you think is best. They are hardy little beasts, and they could be anywhere. If you have them and don't know it, you could also be spreading them unwittingly as you go about your daily business. If you are not sure you are totally eliminating them from your environs, you also could be spreading them.

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
633 posts

I am more freaked out about all the pesticide than I would be about three bumps on my arm and a bug on the sofa. This story is just amazing.

Posted by Sasha
Bainbridge Island
1590 posts

Hey people---three bites in a row are diagnostic for bedbugs. They call it breakfast, lunch and dinner. Apparently one bug bites three times. So I think Karen knows what she is talking about more than a lot of others here.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

Thankfully, I have yet to encounter a bed bug. As a precaution, however, I never set my bags on carpet or the bed. I'll put them on a shelf, stand, or non-upholstered chair. If nothing else, I'll put them on tile rather than anywhere bed bugs are likely to live. Getting bit isn't near as big of deal to me as letting them catch a ride home and/or to other lodging in my bag.

Posted by stan
Kansas City, Missouri
222 posts

Brad another strategy is to not unpack your bags into dressers where they can live, but to leave your bags in the bathroom where they don't.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2155 posts

Yep...bringing them back to my house is the primary concern for me, too. I couldn't care less about bites that amount to nothing more than a few mosquito bites. The crappy thing is that you can take all the precautions in the world, totally avoid them in lodging, and still pick up bedbugs from the overhead bin, the checked baggage hold, or somewhere in the passenger cabin on your flights. Maybe you avoid all of that, too, but your university student brings them in from her dorm during Christmas break. You can only do so much...the rest is up to god (or whomever).

Posted by Charlie
Honolulu/Seattle, HI/WA, USA
1843 posts

We go to Europe every summer for a month. We do as Brad does about keeping our luggage in our suitcases on hard surfaces and not unpacking into dressers. When we first walk into our home after arriving from Europe, we take our luggage and everything else that has been to Europe with us down to the laundry room and put it all into one of the laundry tubs. Later, we take out things that can go into the dryer, into the dryer and cook what can be cooked. We wash out everything else and leave our suitcases there until we can spend a little time cleaning them throughly. Thank goodness, we have never had a bed bug problem.