BedBugs - It's War and I'm Going To Win

Monday, February 13, 2006

Devising a Strategy

Before waging war, you have to understand your enemy. You have to know how they attack, how they defend against attacks, and properly scope the probability of winning.

Probability of Winning War:

This is detached home. This means that victory is possible. If this were an apartment building or motel that was known to be infested, I would most likely claim defeat and move out.
Assessing Size of Enemy's Army:

My wife and myself have just moved in. We both come from rentals that had no troubles with bedbugs. We rented a moving truck that sat in freezing cold temperatures for over 30 hours. We are fairly sure we didn't get them from the moving truck. Thus, we are certain we don't have bedbugs in our packings, belongings, or bed.

The previous owners obviously had bed bugs and this may have prompted them to sell the house. There is no visible stains or key signs that there are bedbugs in the bed room. Also, bites have not been nightly and only myself has received them. It took about 2 weeks before the first bite - this is a month total from the time the old owners left and I got my first bite. There does not seem to be visible, heavy infestations. Either way, it will get that way if nothing is done now. A smaller army is tough because they hide very well. Osama has a small army; consequently, he's very hard to find.

Unlike Osama, bedbugs take offensive action during predictable times. If the numbers are low, the eradication of this army should be quicker. A possible estimation could be 3-4 active full grown bedbugs and another dozen on the way. Another possibility is that the downstairs is heavily infested and that it took 2 weeks for them to make their way upstairs and seek me out. The original owners had a bed downstairs on the main floor which is now my study. They probably used the ground floor bed to aid all the immigrants he was sponsoring or refugees aiding into the country. This is always a possibility and I will inspect the downstairs further. However I think that the bedbug problem is most likely something that recently happened to him a couple of months back and then he rushed to sell the house after he found out his pest control man couldn't control these. Either way, the bites aren't too large in number and we'll deal with those facts.

Strategy for Warfare:

Now that we understand our current surroundings and size of the army, it is feasible to win this war. First we need to understand the enemy before we create a strategy.

The bedbug is a lady-bug sized creature that only comes out at night and attacks you during your sleep. Like mosquito's, it is attatched to your breath (carbon monoxide). Since it's birth, it's instinct is to do nothing but suck your blood in the dark while you are sleeping. It's feet and legs are very light footed: you won't be able to feel them crawling up you while your sleeping. It has a beak that it puts in you, released a saliva that numbs the pain so you don't feel it, and it sucks your blood for a good 3-10 min. It will do this in a few areas. 2-4 and many times 3. Usually in a row or formation. They will feed and then come back in either a few days to 2 weeks. They do poop and shed skin so they leave brownish dirt. They also leave speckles from their poo drops. They can move quite fast but don't have good traction as they cannot climb up materials like glass or steel. An infestation might look like this:

Bedbugs all hide together so finding the spots could be easy for you. I have still found none. They will be on the offensive approximately 1 hour before dawn. Although times can change. They like to go for easy targets and open skin, but dressing wont work because they will eventually climb in your clothes, bite you, and then climb back out to go hiding again. Bedbugs get desperate: the hungrier they get, the more they will resort to rash behavior including coming out in the light or biting eyelids.

They like to hide in small cracks and creases and stay very close to their food supply. Mostly they can be found hiding in the mattress, boxspring and headboard assembly. I haven't heard of pillow or blanket hiding though. They can be wedged in the floorboard and go under the carpeting around the top of your bed. This is where I think they are hiding in my case.

Going after them is what an exterminator will do over and over during the year until they are gone. This depends on the exterminator's talent and probably some luck. But spraying a can of Raid under carpets and floorboards and killing the eggs are not feasible for the average person.
But if you know they are going to come for you and even when they are going to do it, it's best to setup a defensive warfare tactic. Let them come, defend yourself, but not only this, they need to be killed at the same time while coming for you.

Let's look at some methods which have proven not to work:

Wearing extra clothing: Bedbugs will eventually go under them.

Spraying Raid: While Raid will kill on direct contact, you usually won't see all of them and the Raid is not killing the eggs. It doesn't work as a final solution. But by all means, if you visibly have a 'nest', Raid them as a first step!

Moving Rooms: They'll eventually follow you to your new location.

Hiring an exterminator: I do think in most cases this is a good solution, but this is an offensive approach and many exterminators do not know how to deal with bed bugs. This is also very expensive and for the most part doesn't work very well because it's an offensive approach. I've read too many testimonials of it resolving the problem for a while and then they are back again just to have the exterminator called all over again. After a year and $1000's later maybe you'll be doing well.

Putting silicon jelly on the bed legs or buying them slippery: Well this seems to be close to a good solution. If they can't eat you, they'll die eventually. The only problem is, the eggs will be laid each day and the father and mother bedbugs will be returning home after their trip up and down your slippery bed legs.

War Strategy Declared!

Ok so here is my strategy. I shall take 4 empty sour cream/yoguhrt containers. Each bed leg will be placed in these containers. Around the middle of each container, I'll tape a ring of super sticky fly tape or specialized insect tape. Thus, when they come out of hiding around 5-6am, they will by instant try to climb up the leg of my bed to reach me. What they wont know is that they are climbing up a yoguhrt container and are going to be stuck in sticky tape. This bedbug will have a one way trip to his destiny. His little friends can come looking for him by all means!

Steps of action I have taken:

  • Bought 2 queen sized mattress covers meant to keep out dust mites. These have a zipper and contain the whole mattress. This will stop the Bedbugs from settling in the mattress/box spring, or if they are already inside, it will prevent them from leaving. This is a major hurdle under control. Got some pillow covers too in case they are inside there.
  • Washed and dried (on high) all sheets, pillows and laundry.
  • Removed all clutter in the room. Most of the room is now bare.
  • Vacuumed twice over.
  • Sprayed Raid all along the baseboard, carpet, walls and outlets where I believe them to be.
  • Bought caulking and caulked all the cracks along the windows and phone plug outlets have been replaced with solid white covers. (looking back should not have done so)
  • Covered baseboard/carpet gap with masking tape. (will take out tonight though)

To Do Tonight:

  • Will take the bed frame out of storage, take apart and spray with Raid and scrub it because I'm paranoid at this point. I'm pretty sure this does not have any bedbugs in it.
  • Will remove sheets and place in dryer for 5 min.
  • Mattress covers are very white and new. There should be no infestation between mattress/boxspring. Will Raid all over anyway and scrub with brush to kill eggs if there.
  • Will take 4 empty yoguhrt containers and place a ring of sticky fly tape around them.
  • Will put the bed frame legs in the yoghurt containers.
  • Will Remove the tape I put in the baseboard cracks. This will encourage them to come.
  • Will remove night light which will further encourage them.

Let's hope I have some good pictures to show...


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