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Bed bugs while in confinement

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
A good friend who thinks that since I’ve had bed bugs four or five times, I must be an expert, called me to say she thinks she has bed bugs in her bed. She sent a picture and there is no doubt.

Aside from not knowing how in the world she could have picked them up, since she has been nowhere since March, she is a bit freaked out at the prospect of how to get rid of them. She has an appointment set up with one of the national chains, Terminix, and they presumably will tell her what to do.

But I am just wondering if there are wise ones out there who have been through this, and if so, what particular tips you might have for my poor friend.

Thanks and buen camino, Laurie
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
It is known that bedbugs can survive for many months, at least in some of their life cycle stages (e.g. eggs). Has she pulled something out of storage that was used in a vulnerable location a few months ago? Calling in the professionals was a good move!
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
For example, if she had a sleeping bag (or something less obvious) packed away in a sealed bag, and recently pulled it out. Or something with bedbug eggs that was stored in a cool/cold place. I am just brainstorming here - I don't know what temperatures would put them into hibernation, etc. I have even read about bedbug eggs being found in library books, but I don't know what conditions would cause them to be inactive for 6 months.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I have even read about bedbug eggs being found in library books, but I don't know what conditions would cause them to be inactive for 6 months.
Well, one thing she did mention was that she got a bag of old musty books from a friend several months ago. I will follow up on this with her. Not that it really matters, but I suppose it could help the exterminators as they hunt for sources.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (14), Portuguese (15), Le Puy (17), Ingles (17), VDLP (18), Lana (18), Madrid (19) + more
Does she live in an apartment complex? Bed bugs have been known to travel between units in apartments.

Otherwise, they could have hitched a ride on anything coming into a household - eg. on a handbag that was sat down on a public transit seat.

Rotten luck! :(
 

Iriebabel

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Del Norte & part of Lebaniego 2019
Has she been anyplace sitting in a location with fabric seating. Ex: doctors office, restaurant any public sitting area

I remember a few years back people were getting transfer from seats in a movie theatre
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
She has not been in any building other than her home (single family detached) since March. She has been in her car. No doctor´s office, no bus, no nothing.

This may be a question that asks for nothing other than speculation, but does anyone have a guess about how long these critters could have actually been in her house before becoming active and in her bed? In other words, if they came in in the dormant stage, how long does it take them to wake up and start biting? I’m asking because I wonder if it is possible that she brought them in before confinement and it just took them that long to get active. But our stay at home order went into effect on March 15, so it has been five months since she could have brought them in from a doctor’s office, hair dresser, etc.

Maybe the old books are in fact the culprit!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
If in books they would likely have hid in a loose spine. Or maybe the bag or box they came in. These may be long gone but definitely check the spines.

There are bedbug dogs that smell where the bugs are. Possibly your friend could hire one. She would still need the exterminators but after they track the bugs down she could point out places that they missed but the dog smelled bugs.
 

Iriebabel

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2018
Camino Del Norte & part of Lebaniego 2019
She has not been in any building other than her home (single family detached) since March. She has been in her car. No doctor´s office, no bus, no nothing.

This may be a question that asks for nothing other than speculation, but does anyone have a guess about how long these critters could have actually been in her house before becoming active and in her bed? In other words, if they came in in the dormant stage, how long does it take them to wake up and start biting? I’m asking because I wonder if it is possible that she brought them in before confinement and it just took them that long to get active. But our stay at home order went into effect on March 15, so it has been five months since she could have brought them in from a doctor’s office, hair dresser, etc.

Maybe the old books are in fact the culprit!
I read they can live up to a year without food In a colder climate, the average is 4-6months Warmer places
you could be correct about the books. Now that the weather is warmer this could have cause the active state . Good luck to your friend

Some additional information can be found here:
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I bow to @C clearly's expertse, and the internet tells me this:
According to the University of Kentucky, bed bugs can survive 2 to 6 months without a meal. In extreme cases, when the temperature drops to 55°F or lower, they may survive a year or longer.
One thing that jumped out for me: The car.
That's also a place to check and ask the experts about; it's much more likely to be the vector than the books. There are the nice plush seats with a ton of places to hide. And if they are in the car, it may need treatment too, more than a can of Raid.

So sorry for your friend. This is a real drag, on top of eveeything.
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
She sent a picture and there is no doubt.
just to say - there are other bite markings that can look like bed bugs, such as harvest mites/chiggers and fleas, which your friend may have picked up if outdoors sitting in grass or cuddling a pet. They don't usually follow the classic bedbug Aleutian-archpelago-cluster-pattern, but it's not always that easy to differentiate. If the bites only follow after sitting out in grass etc, that might also point to this explanation. I've experienced something similar myself.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
To help prevent the bedbugs from traveling to another location with you on your next trip on hot sunny days put the bag out. You can get the temperature up high enough to kill the bugs.
After many years with bedbug bites and a bit of anxiety upon returning home, last year I developed my “routine,” which unfortunately I have not been able to repeat this year. :(

My husband brings a big black plastic bag and clean clothes to the airport. I change clothes in the bathroom and put them and my backpack in the big black bag. The big black bag goes out in the sun for a few long stints of direct summer sunlight. I suppose I could take out the first aid stuff to save it from melting, but I like having the absolute assurance that I have not opened anything at all after arriving home.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
The big black bag goes out in the sun for a few long stints of direct summer sunlight. I suppose I could take out the first aid stuff to save it from melting, but I like having the absolute assurance that I have not opened anything at all after arriving home.
Your comment about melting got me thinking about cooling with dry ice (solid carbon dioxide) but then that would be cooling down the killing heat. That's no good. But then I thought that since carbon dioxide is heavier than air if it were placed in the bag with the top open just a little then the air would float out leaving little oxygen for the bugs and that should kill them. Time for a web search.

I found the following at

https://biocontrolbeat.wordpress.com/2012/07/24/carbon-dioxide-gas-combats-bed-bugs/

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is used by libraries, museums, and others as an insect-killing fumigant. Indeed, dry ice (frozen CO2) to release CO2 gas is cheaper than washing and drying fabrics to kill bed bugs, Rutgers University’s Changlu Wang told the ESA. At an 80% concentration, CO2 kills all bed bug eggs in 24 hours (eggs are the toughest bed bug life stage to kill). A 50% CO2 concentration for 8 hours is sufficient to kill bed bug nymphs (immatures) and adults.

Wang’s CO2 fumigations involved filling Husky garbage bags 90% full of items such as mattress covers and fabrics, leaving little room for air. Then the bags were sealed with dry ice inside for several hours. Books, electronics, toys and other items damaged by heat treatments might benefit from the low temperatures created by dry ice treatments. However, for safety reasons Wang recommends wearing gloves and turning on fans for ventilation when opening many bags filled with carbon dioxide gas (fumigant).
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Maybe I should unzip the pack, and shake everything out loose into the bag?
Maybe, maybe not. I think that a tightly enclosed container is more likely to heat up in the sun. (Think about a car with the windows closed). However, I have no idea about the heat transmission into a tightly wadded sleeping bag, for example. If you spread everything out in the open, it will not heat up much higher than the air temperature. Putting things loosely into a couple of black plastic bags, closing them tight, and then putting them into the hot sun for an hour or two would be your best bet. But I am still curious what studies have been done.
 

domigee

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2020? Looks like.... nowhere! 😁
After many years with bedbug bites and a bit of anxiety upon returning home, last year I developed my “routine,” which unfortunately I have not been able to repeat this year. :(

My husband brings a big black plastic bag and clean clothes to the airport. I change clothes in the bathroom and put them and my backpack in the big black bag. The big black bag goes out in the sun for a few long stints of direct summer sunlight. I suppose I could take out the first aid stuff to save it from melting, but I like having the absolute assurance that I have not opened anything at all after arriving home.
When I finished the Camino aragonés last year - where I picked up bed bugs on my last night 🙄 - I was going straight back to my flat in Alicante. No garden and no-one to bring me a black bag 🙁 I unpacked everything in the bath tub, put all my clothes/sleeping bag etc in plastic bag, rucksack in another plastic bag and put everything in the local launderette dryer. (At the highest setting, several times over). It worked, thank goodness but it was a rather anxious time 😱
 
Camino(s) past & future
Us:Camino Frances, 2015 Me:Catalan/Aragonese, 2019
Maybe, maybe not. I think that a tightly enclosed container is more likely to heat up in the sun. (Think about a car with the windows closed). However, I have no idea about the heat transmission into a tightly wadded sleeping bag, for example. If you spread everything out in the open, it will not heat up much higher than the air temperature. Putting things loosely into a couple of black plastic bags, closing them tight, and then putting them into the hot sun for an hour or two would be your best bet. But I am still curious what studies have been done.
I'm too lazy at the moment to look for a study but it seems to me that, like pasteurization, a longer time under slightly less than optimal temperature should do okay. 50 degrees for 20 minutes? Maybe 45 degrees for 8 hours a day over 7 days will do the trick.

I was also thinking that a warming drawer in an oven or a oven that can be easily set really low might do the job too.

Sorry for getting away from the OP's topic of how to clear a house. Steam might be used for that. May as well hang your silk garments near the mattress in that case.
 

Walking Lover

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CdS from Leon to Santiago, June 16, 2016 to June 30, 2016.
A good friend who thinks that since I’ve had bed bugs four or five times, I must be an expert, called me to say she thinks she has bed bugs in her bed. She sent a picture and there is no doubt.

Aside from not knowing how in the world she could have picked them up, since she has been nowhere since March, she is a bit freaked out at the prospect of how to get rid of them. She has an appointment set up with one of the national chains, Terminix, and they presumably will tell her what to do.

But I am just wondering if there are wise ones out there who have been through this, and if so, what particular tips you might have for my poor friend.

Thanks and buen camino, Laurie
Lowe's has a spray.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
I am kind of in disbelief. My friend was visited by the bug guy who looked at the bug she had killed and said that he thinks it is a bat bug and not a bed bug. The differences are quite subtle. Since she has been hearing noises in the attic, this hypothesis becomes more likely. But of course the bug guy can’t deal with the bats, so a bat guy is on his way to see if the noises in the attic are bats. But since bats are protected species, if they are up there it will be along drawn out process to get them out of her attic. But the silver lining appears to be that if they are bat bugs, they will die out once the bats are gone, no infestation to deal with.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Oh.
Just a mispelling then.
😄;)

You learn something every day.

Bats are hugely beneficial, so it's worth giving the alternative places to roost so they don't intrude on attic space.
They have a bad rap, but every night they feast on mosquitoes. A good and interesting page with a super-cute bat pic (covered in pollen):
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I don't know if that is good news or bad. Although VN has a good point about bats being beneficial, they should be treated by humans with caution! In my province, they are the only vector for rabies.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
In Australia we are told to be cautious and not to handle bats directly unless trained and wearing protective clothing, as they can cause a number of viruses and infections.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
Very true, especially in Oz.
It's both - to know their value while also knowing the risk of handling them. Bat houses give them alternative roosting places away from attics. Win-win. (Well...at least for the little guys in the States. Your fruit bats, @Kanga? Another story. We have them here in Burma in a few places, where they festoon the trees by day and then take off at dusk to forage...it's a really impressive sight! But then I like bats.)

But back on topic...
What you wrote, @Kanga , reminded me of something I'd forgotten. While bats play vital ecosystem roles, they're also hosts to a higher proportion of diseases that can be transmitted to humans than other mammals - perhaps because of their unique immune system. All the more reason to give them places to hang out, but away from us.
From this article :
But that's no reason to fear or fight them, he adds. Bats have many useful roles, from pollinating flowers to controlling insects. And virus outbreaks are not inevitable as long as humans keep their distance. "These viruses will only emerge in people if we continue encroaching into bat habitat, hunting and eating them, and otherwise making contact with them,”
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
The protocol for getting bats out of the belfry (or the attic) is regulated, precisely because they are protected species and probably also because of the disease potential.

The bat guy is in high demand and lives two hours away. She is on his calendar for next week. First he will come to do a thorough inspection and seal up all potential entrance and exit points, except for one. That one special spot will have a sort of baffle on it, so that the bat can go out but can’t come back in. They should be gone within a day, since they go out every night, but he will have to schedule a return trip to seal up the open spot and then hope that is the end of it. The bug guy told her to expect a bill of several thousand dollars, so it isn’t cheap, but I thnk bed bug remediation would have been more expensive. She is so relieved not to have to deal (hopefully) with the bed bug elimination ritual.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
While I am sorry that this has happened to your friend, I consider this thread to be a good reminder to me of the procedures that I should take to prevent a bed bug infestation in my home when I return from walking a camino. I had a good, but time-consuming, set of procedures to follow to keep them out of my apartment, but became lax after my last camino. No more! Everything gets dumped in the bathtub when I enter my apartment, then sorted for my usual "fumigation or freezing" procedures. Thanks for the warning.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
If she or a neighbor has beans growing in the backyards, bean leaves spread out where the infestation is, can kill them ...or so it says: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/scie...-bite-by-using-tiny-impaling-spikes-18427074/
That is very interesting! A slight clarification - the kidney bean leaves don't kill the bedbugs, they trap them, and the leaves need to be removed and destroyed each day. Good clues for scientists developing trapping materials, but I'd still get the professionals in to eliminate an infestation!
 

peregrino_tom

Member
Camino(s) past & future
.
Bats are hugely beneficial, so it's worth giving the alternative places to roost so they don't intrude on attic space.
An old friend of mine lives in a converted barn in Wales. It is quite smart and has all the mod cons, but it is shared with a few bats. Of an evening sitting comfortably in the upper level, enjoying a quiet glass of wine and there will be the occasional quick furtive whoosh and a flutter. The family have lived there for about thirty years and brought up three children, all in peaceful co-existence - but I might be casually checking the furnishings for little critters next time I visit...
 
Camino(s) past & future
October (2021)
Having dealt with bed bugs three times, twice in an apartment when other tenants moving in brought them with them, I would say if she does have them the most likely place would be the books that were unpacked. After my place was treated the second time, 7 or so months later I went through a box (that was stored on the floor, down the hallway from where I had been sleeping) full of papers and newspapers only to have a very starved bug crawl across my ankle while I was reading later that afternoon. It felt like a leaf crawling on me and I immediately torn him in two pieces. He must have run to the box during the treatment and gotten trapped in the folded newspapers.
I realize her situation might not be that dramatic, but, it's a thought. One can always put books in a bag and then in the freezer for a few weeks to fix them. Clothes and bedding is just put straight into the dryer and then bagged up. The treatment usually takes care of the rest.
By the way, the way the bugs got into my apartment initially was by crawling under my door from the hallway. The landlord only told me this a few years later.
 

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