Bed Bug Learning CurveWe receive Bed Bug Crisis Hotline calls from all over the world. Different demographics, different life styles, different vocations, young and old, some wealthy and some low income. People also express how “clean they are” and they have “never had bed bugs”. They are confused and frightened and just don’t understand. We do our best to be the voice of reason, calm your fears, educate you and help to find you the right resources in your demographic area to help you tackle the problem before it gets out of hand. We even get you laughing if we can.

I’d like to share some stories with you so that you can understand that you are not alone. It can happen to anyone, anywhere, any day; no matter how clean you are or how careful you are. There is no shame in picking up a nasty bed bug hitchhiker to invade your living spaces.

Those who call us can feel confident that unless they specifically ask me to disclose their particular situation in order to help others; that we will not disclose any pertinent and personal information including and not limited to names, phone numbers, locations or any identifying information what so ever. Some people fear getting fired from work, evicted from their apartments or ousted by their friends and family. You’re secrets safe with us.

Story #1. Late one night I received a call from a gentlemen asking what he could use to get rid of bed bugs which is a very common question. 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.

Story #2. Another story is of 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!

Story #3. I received a call from a woman who lost her home in a fire. It burnt down to the ground. She had nothing left but her purse and clothing she had on her back as she left for work that day. After a couple of months she received a check from her insurance company and was finally able to find a new home. She rented a 2 bedroom apartment and purchased new furniture. She was so excited because she had all brand new things. Everything from the bed rooms, living room to the kitchen. Within the first week she started to “break out” with small bumps all over her body that itched terribly. She immediately thought it was mosquito bites or fleas. Two weeks went by and she continues to break out regardless of what she did to avoid any pest. She went to her dermatologist and he said it looked like she probably had allergic reactions to food. So he started a regimen of medicines, tests and the changing of foods. She had to log everything that touched her lips for weeks. At her next appointment nothing had changed and she was still breaking out. This went on for 3 months. One day her daughter, the boyfriend and her children came to visit and stay for the weekend with mom. Immediately she was confronted with “mom what’s up with all the marks on your neck and arms?” She explained she was going to the doctor for allergies. They blew that off and had a great time. The next morning when her daughter and children woke up they were covered with the same kind of marks mom had. This made them think it might be environmental. When the boyfriend came out of the bathroom after taking a shower he said “There are bugs in the bathroom”. They immediately ran to the internet to look up “the bug”. Unfortunately it turned out to be bed bugs. And in a big way! She came to find out that the tenant before her had a pretty serious problem with bed bugs and moved out. I got the panic call late in the afternoon. Tears were shed then laughter preceded the rest of our conversation. She felt so stupid that she didn’t put two and two together and she had been going through all those tests at the doctors!!!! We helped her out and she no longer has bed bugs.