Reclaiming Your Bed from Bed Bugs

From childbirth to adult our life experiences is what helps to shape our beliefs and behaviors. In many cases traumatic life events can lead to a variety of sleep problems; and for some, bed bugs being one of them.

Referring to the Bed Bug Crisis Hotline calls, I often hear stories from people still suffering after falling victim to bugs in their beds. Unfortunately many of these signs and symptoms are becoming more common in every call I get.

These are some of the symptoms that not only I experienced but people have shared with me:

  • Interruption of normal sleep cycles [2 hours – awakened – 1 hour – awake again]
  • Trouble falling to sleep [tossing and turning all night]
  • Flashbacks and nightmares of bugs crawling on them
  • Sleepless nights and disturbances [not sleeping at all]
  • Won’t sleep in their own bed
  • Have to have “company” in order to sleep in a particular bed [won’t sleep alone]
  • Waking with total physical and emotional exhaustion
  • Falling asleep during the day
  • Won’t sleep without a light on [afraid of not “catching” the bug in action]
  • Can’t get back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night
  • Getting up to check the bed and clean or change sheets in the middle of the night
  • Trouble breathing and the feelings of not being safe in their own bed
  • Restlessness and anxiety

So as you can see by reading some of these; it’s not really about reclaiming your bed; it’s about reclaiming your life.

Coping with problems in regards to bed bugs can take time for some. I personally went through months of sleepless nights and bouts of post-traumatic stress.

I finally reached out to a sleep expert for help and she suggested that I took long walks or do yoga exercises before bed, refrain from watching the nightly news, soak in a hot bath, have a cup of calming non-decaf tea, and keep a sleep log.

wake upWithin a short period of time my focus was on the quality of my sleep and not the bed bugs. My heart goes out to anyone dealing with sleepless nights because of bed bugs but know you can get back to normal.

My wish for you is many restful nights ahead.

If you or anyone you  know suffers from any of this for more information on sleep disorders and helpful tips visit http://www.sleepfoundation.org/insomnia/ http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-related-problems/insomnia-and-sleep

Little Brown/Black Spots – Are These Always Signs of Bed Bugs?

blinds 2“While doing a routine cleaning of my blinds and window sills; I ran across these little brownish black spots all over them. From everything I had been seeing in the news and reading I thought, OMG! BED BUG POOP I HAVE BED BUGS – which then catapulted my cleaning efforts right into a serious episode of OCD cleaning! You should have seem me she explained, I almost ripped the curtains off the rods and the blinds came tumbling down as I danced the dance of a thousand veils thinking bugs were getting all over me“ She ran with the curtains and placed them into a hot washer and the blinds went directly into a hot soapy bleach solution in the bath tub.

Then back to the windows and sills where she spent the majority of the rest of her day carefully examining every inch as she feverishly scrubbed the paint off every crack and crevice she could find.

Stories like this and others similar are shared with me on our bed bug hotline on a regular basis. The first sign of bed bugs most people acknowledge is waking up with mysterious bites but because some people don’t react to bites; that means they potentially can have bed bugs and not realize it until they clean.

How do I know if these spots are from bed bugs?

Just because you see brownish or blackish spots doesn’t always mean bed bugs. Clean your glasses first. Bed bug fecal stains can be similar to other insects fecal matter spots like cockroaches (under large infestations) and flies; so your efforts have to go beyond just a mark and look for other signs.

  • Have you searched for shed skins (castings) or live bed bugs?
  • Have you noticed blood smears on sheets and clothing?
  • Spots can vary on color depending upon proportions of digested blood and uric acid. [From tan to brown to dark brown to blackish in color].
  • If you run your finger across a bed bug fecal spot it is usually smooth to the touch because it is dried liquid and it is absorbed into fabrics

The process of digesting a blood meal and signs

When a host is available the bed bug feeds approximately every 5 to 10 days. After talking a blood meal they go back to their hiding place where digestion takes place.

Once the blood has been digested it turns from red to a dark color which are the telltale signs you see on areas where the bed bug travels and can be found in groups of one to many.

The fecal stains or spots can appear different depending on the surfaces they are laid. If it is deposited on an absorbent surface such as fabrics they will be smooth and appear like ink from a pen. When deposited on non-absorbent surfaces like furniture, window sills, baseboards and other wood items, they tend to have a dimension and appear raised.

Where do I look?

Picture5   These spots can be found just about anywhere.

During a recent or “introduction phase” of bed bugs they will be found on areas of the bed or places where one sleeps or rests. As the infestation grows they can be found in areas adjacent to the sleeping and resting areas including and not limited to the surrounding walls.

mold in ceiling   Here is an example of a rather large infestation where these marks appear to be “mold” on the ceiling.

Are you still unsure?

This past year a wonderful tool came on to the market that helps take the guess work out of knowing whether or not the stain you have is or is not from a bed bug call Bed Bug Blue. Bed Bug Blue™ will turn blue for bed bug fecal spots whether they are new or old (up to 2 years old) as long as the spotting has not been wiped down with cleansers or other chemicals. www.usbedbugs.com

The Bed Bugs Diary

Hey you! Ya you!

Listen very closely. This is the writings directly from a bed bugs diary to you.

For real. I know it’s weird. But I’m desperate so you’d better listen; because this really is the last straw…

I love you. Really, I do. More than you’ll ever know.

Without you I can’t exist.

I want to keep hanging around your house, car and belongings so we can sit around and do lots of lazy, boring things together. You’ve always provided a safe, warm and wonderful home for me to get great free meals and comfy little hiding places.

I understand your life is important, but I love it when you’re sleepy and I can feed on you because it helps me grow more.

You’re good for my ego too!

Spending my evenings with you keeps me happy and helps me expand my family and territory.

I love it when you don’t read up on all that stuff from the International Bed Bug Resource Authority.

Those guys are nothing but trouble for me and have been for quite some time!

Ya, I know there is all kinds of “stuff” about us bed bugs on the Internet but you know as well as I do that most of the information isn’t quite right.

Were a couple, right? I love it when you take me attached to your clothing and belongings and we do things as a “couple”. Especially when you drop a few of my new born off to discover new territories.

My babies LOVE field trips!

Last week was so awesome when your son’s friend Joey came for a sleep over. Ha! He didn’t even know that a few of my babies took a ride home him with him. His mom hasn’t a clue what those little bites on Joey’s body were from; she thinks its flea bites! I’m sure that my kids will get just as comfortable at Joey’s house as I am here with you in no time at all.

We’ve been friends for such a long time. We’re like hand and glove. We’re used to each other. Let’s face it. We’re AWESOME together.

How many times have you woke up in the middle of the night itching like crazy and ran your hand down your body with the hopes of catching me but I got away?

I love it when you throw the sheets back and turn on the light and can’t find me.

The panic look on your face is Priceless.

And do you know what I love the most?

I LOVE playing hide and seek with your family and overnight guests.

You guys are SO MUCH FUN!

sleepyheadSorry I kept you up again last night. We are such a good team. I’ll try to back off for a couple of days.

After all, we stay warm on those cold nights together. We get super tired all the time and take naps together. You are such a good cuddlier.

Trust me, I understand these things. After all, we live together in perfect harmony and we’ve been the perfect match for so long.

I am feeling like you can’t imagine your life without me. Am I right?

I know you’ve tried some crazy products from the hardware store before, but thank my Lucky Charms it didn’t work. It actually made me think that you were plotting against me. The stuff stinks so bad that I just went a little deeper for a couple of days until the smell subsided.

But I am back to give you all my love once again.

And I truly forgive you for plotting against me; it’s obvious now that you haven’t taken it serious.

So yeah, I guess what I’m really trying to say is, pleeeeese DO NOT resort to calling IBBRA members because they WILL take me away from you forever.

I’m begging you here.

And please, please, please don’t grab those books you find on Amazon that were written by the Founder and Director of the IBBRA packed with all that information on exactly who we are and how to deal with us.

I think they are trying to ruin us and what we have together.

The Think like a Bed Bug book really drops a bomb on us bed bugs. How dare she tell people exactly what we’re all about? We can’t even hide out anymore because she tells everyone all our little hiding secrets.

Like, what we look like no matter what stage of growth we are in and where we hide.

That’s not fair – what’s the point in playing hide and seek if she lets everyone know up front where we are hiding?

Then the SUPER Sneaky Information that she tells people that prevents me from visiting in the first place.

I don’t like that lady.

I don’t like her or anyone that she hangs out with at all!

Why in the world would you even want to tell everyone about our unusual and unique nature and allow them to know how to know that I am around? AND she tells many, many more of my secrets; that doesn’t make ME very happy.

 She might as well be sitting in your home with you and showing you exactly where I am.

I honestly love playing hide and seek with you, you know. After all, you have ME and I love you more.

She even put together a “professional group of exemplary pest control companies” that really know their stuff when it comes to destroying us. Along with that; rumor has it that that she answers hotline calls every day helping people get the right information to kill all us off!

I don’t like her at all!

She’s written books for people in the Hospitality industry, Landlords, Tenants, Property management, one about Detection Dogs, Travel, Health Implications and a whole bunch more.

What a pain in my kisser is she.

C’mon, it’s the holidays. You’re supposed to let loose WITHOUT being
concerned or worried about me during this time of the year.

It’s extra special when you travel because the chances of you picking up one of my cousins and bringing them back for a nice reunion is always there.

Remember we did that last spring? Ya, cousin Vinney and I had not seen each other in a long time. Thanks for bringing him back with you. We whooped it up, dated a couple of the new girls in town and now together we have a whole new generation of new ones that really love living here.

So there’s simply no need to use the book to make sure you can avoid me or any of my off spring from your holiday fun.

we need to sleep moreI mean it and I’m being dead serious here. Love me now or loose me forever!

What are you trying to do here? Make me disappear and go away?

I mean – if you really decide to take advantage of this book, our relationship is officially OVER.

Seriously, if you even THINK about clicking the link below I’m breaking up with you for good! We’re FINISHED.

==> Get Bed Bug Books

Instead, I have a MUCH easier plan. How about this…

I know I keep you up at night and you run to sleep on the couch thinking I can’t find you, but guess what? You are not as good as I am at hiding I found you, yep I did. So now when you hang out in the living room I don’t have far to walk and we can still cuddle.

Let’s you and me curl up on the couch together and don’t worry about “spreading” my youngsters around the house [they are harmless – they are still babies you know].

And Monday night we’ll get on the lazy boy, watch TV together all night long – together. Just you and I.

I’ll even make you a deal. We can watch whatever you want.

Getting hungry yet? I am

Let’s get to cuddling here. You know how good it will make you feel…just do it.

What more do you need? You don’t need sleep, it’s over rated and those bite marks eventually go away. I don’t spread diseases like other insects so nothing to worry about.

So Suzy is coming home from college for the Holidays right? I can’t wait to see her and maybe she will bring some of her college roommates. Yum!

And why do you even THINK you need to eliminate me from your life?

And I give you everything you need to be content.

I mean, c’mon.

Do don’t actually think you will be better off without me do you? Getting rid of me will get your life back. Who wants that? It was a boring life anyway. Yuck.

==> Get Bed Bug Books

You’re smarter than that.

What do you really think you’re gonna do for the holidays this year?

Spend more quality time with your family and friends and kids without me?

You should know by now that all you need is blogs from people who still have bed bugs and know nothing about packing our bags to go.

So go ahead. Lift up your shirt and take a good hard look at those love bites.
You know you want to grab me and give me more food and attention.

Let’s just forget about all this crap and commit to me.

No matter how effective it is. No matter how much they know about us.

YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO LET ME GO – DO YOU?

This is the closest you’ve ever come to abandoning me forever
and it’s really making me uncomfortable…

PLEASE. Stop. Otherwise our relationship is officially OVER.

Yours truly,

Your Bed Bug

-P.S. – You do NOT need to take advantage of the ==> Get Bed Bug Books

I mean it. This is my LAST warning. Or you’ll never see me again.

 Learn what you can to prevent picking up a hitchhiker.

Think like a Bed Bug by helps you understand what you need to know about them!

Or call

1-888-9-NOBEDBUGS

A Dog’s Nose Knows

imagesA dog’s sense of smell is its most developed sense. Dogs are able to smell better than they see and even better than they can hear. The ability varies between dog breeds based on the length of their nose. The increased ability to detect but discriminate between many different odors is being utilized in increasingly diverse ways.

Dogs increased ability to smell is derived mainly in two main ways. The first is that dogs have many more scent detecting receptors than humans. The average human has 5 million receptor cells. A Dachshund may have up to 125 million, a Beagle or German shepherd 225 million and a Bloodhound up to 300 million receptors.

Dogs also devote more of their brain to processing smells. They utilize about 40 times more brain area than humans. With this combination, it is estimated that dogs can smell up to 100,000 times better than people can. Hunting, tracking, search and rescue, explosives and drug-detecting dogs are familiar to most people.

Read Bed Bug Detection Dogs to learn more about these amazing dogs and how they are valuable in identifying bed bugs and used for post treatment inspections!

Canine anesthesia assistant

Recently a service dog was permitted to assist monitoring a patient during a surgical procedure in a hospital. Kaelyn is a young girl who has the rare condition of mastocytosis. Because of this, she can suddenly and easily go into a life-threatening allergic type reaction. JJ, her trained assistant dog, has the ability to detect and alert someone very early to the start of a reaction. This early detection has permitted Kaelyn to have a more normal life.

Last month she was in need of a surgical procedure. At Duke University Medical Center, the attending surgeon and anesthesiologist utilized JJ and her trainer in the surgery room to help them monitor Kaelyn. In a previous hospital situation, JJ alerted staff to a reaction about four minutes before any other monitoring equipment alerted them to a reaction.

Service dogs have also been trained and utilized to detect changes in a diabetic person’s blood sugar levels. They can alert their diabetic owner of an arising situation in time so corrective action may be taken.

Other scent discrimination dogs have been trained for early detection of ovarian, bladder and prostate cancer. About 80 percent of ovarian cancers are detected after they have passed the curable stage. Trained dogs have been very accurate in early detection. While it is not yet routine to have a scent dog as part of a human physical exam, more research, experience and time may lead to this becoming more routine.

Scent discrimination dogs are also utilized for such diverse things as peanut detectors for those with peanut allergies. Border and custom control use dogs detecting narcotics, money, food, fruit, meats and other illegal contraband. Jails and prisons use dogs to detect contraband being smuggled in such items as tobacco, cellphones, drugs and other items.

Only a small percentage of dogs have the ability to become a highly skilled and trained scent detection dog. Only one in 70 dogs tested in one study had the ability and could be trained professionally. The typical dog obedience trainer does not have the experience or expertise for this type of training. Even rarer is a pet owner able to identify and train their own pet to become a scent detector dog.

If someone is interested in obtaining a scent dog, they need to contact a reputable professional trainer.

Read Bed Bug Detection Dogs to learn more about these amazing dogs and how they are valuable in identifying bed bugs and used for post treatment inspections!

Dr. Lee Fausett is a longtime Hanford veterinarian. Contact him at hanfordvethospital@sbcglobal.net with questions about this column.

How Safe Is It To Buy Pest Control Products Online or From A Local Hardware Store?

Quoted from an online pest control product site:

“If you are competent, can read and follow label directions, and then you too can safely solve your own pest problems.

It’s easy to get started!

 Just click on your pest or product from one of the menus, follow label directions, and you are on your way to becoming a pest management professional! You won’t find these products in your local stores or home improvement centers because they are only sold to distributors whom in turn sell them to pest control companies or licensed individuals”.

How about that?

With a single click, following directions, even YOU can be on your way to becoming a pest management professional!

And get this – without going to school or taking any formal training what so ever, and you never having to take a test to see if you are proficient in the understanding of the chemical you are about to apply to your home, environment and family!

The very fact that bed bugs are on the rise in nations throughout the world and affordability of professional services are unreachable for many; people are turning to the internet and their local stores in search of the one thing that can end their bed bug misery.

Pesticides are toxic chemicals specifically designed to harm or kill living things. Unfortunately, they have unintended consequences that harm things outside their labeled intentions.

Late one night I received a call from a gentlemen asking what he could use to get rid of bed bugs. Of course I asked him a multitude of questions to get better informed of his particular situation.

He worked as a maintenance worker in a hospital that had bed bugs and feared he was responsible for bringing bed bugs into his apartment. When I asked if he had a conversation with his landlord about this he adamantly replied “No, he would just evict me, I want to get rid of them myself”.

I am now thinking to myself “Hummmm I wonder if he’s had the problem before and the landlord refused to pay for treatment – or shame and guilt had the best of him”. Either way I lead with complete caring and understanding.

I explained to him that was not the way to go about this and the landlord deserves to know that his building is at risk for the spreading of bed bugs to other units. As always there are risks and liabilities involved in multi-unit properties.

He ignored that and went on to tell me that he received a bottle of liquid and a small fogging machine from a friend who “used to work for a pest control company” several years back. His “friend” instructed him to put plastic over all the windows and tape them tight. Then place this “liquid” [btw has no label and he has no clue what it is] into this fogging machine and start spraying in the back room backing out until he gets to the entrance door and leave for two hours. He had been assured that the bed bugs would be all gone after this treatment.

It was obvious by the call to me that he had concerns and was looking for validation to back up his attempt to get rid of the bed bugs in his apartment using this method.

I don’t tell people what to do, but what I do, is allow them to answer their own questions by causing them to “think”.

I Asked Him These Questions:

  • What is the product that your friend gave to you called?
  • Is it designed to use for bed bugs?
  • Was there a Material Safety Data Sheet provided with this product?
  • Did you know bed bugs have built up a resistance to some chemicals?
  • Will it leave a residual?
  • Is it an inside or outside product?

I added “OK, suppose you decide to do this just like your friend told you to do – making sure you followed the instructions to a T. If this “product” that you know nothing of, not even the name of it, just happens to find its way through the air vents into another’s apartment and they fall sick or even die – would you be willing to take responsibility?”

There was silence on the phone for a good 30 seconds. I didn’t have to say another thing.

Consequences of Actions

As I go through my notes from phone calls over the past few years I’ve noticed a serious pattern of those who have no clue what the consequences of their actions would be if they took applying poisonous chemicals to their environment.

It reminds me of the people who bought every possible chemical and product they could find at their local hardware store until they exhausted their attempts to get rid of the blood sucking beast that were plaguing their lives. As a last ditch attempt, the woman tired of getting bit nightly; literally applied the chemical product on her personal body and hair, wrapped herself up to retire for the night. Unfortunately, she went into respiratory arrest and died from poisoning.

Another story is a client that suffered with bed bugs for nearly a year and used bed bug bombs [previously labeled for fleas and now available for bed bugs]. After the first attempt of using only one, they noticed a significant difference in the amount of bed bugs on the walls in their home.

Within three days they were back and with a vengeance.

Normal human mentality is what? – “if one is good … more must be better”.

For once and all, this poor tormented family was finally going to get rid of the bed bugs.

So back to the store they went to purchase yet more bed bug bombs. They let off 6 of these inside their 950 sq. ft. home and left to let the product, “do its magic”.

Well, as the story goes they came home and all the bed bugs were gone. One problem though – they never read the directions. They set off too many of these for the air space and the pilot light on the gas stove ignited the chemicals and burnt their home down to the ground!

The use and misuse of these chemicals have been linked to a number of serious health and environmental effects. So ask yourself before you reach for that “magic bed bug potion” online or on the shelf at your local store, am I fully aware of what I am using and am I willing to stand up and take personal responsibility for the consequences of its use?

Leave chemical application to the pros!

Denise Donovan Founder/Director IBBRA www.ibbra.org