Very Bad News

This was not what we wanted to have to deal with! Saturday night Anna was upstairs in our guest room comfortably reading on the bed when she saw a small bug crawling toward her. Normally, she would just squash the bug, but she was speculative of this one. She grabbed a tissue, and with some effort, killed it, and put it in a zippered plastic bag so it could be identified. Google soon answered the question, identifying it as a bed bug! Oh no!

When Steve went to his desk early Sunday morning for his Bible time, this is what he saw:

The music room is what we also call our guest room. We used to practice music there.

On Monday, Steve sent an enlarged photo of it to the local county extension office for confirmation. BED BUG. Our research reveals they are harder to eliminate than fleas, ants, or cockroaches. We are in this for the long haul, and we won’t be having guests for a very long time. 

The good news we are praising God for is that there has been no other evidence of these insects anywhere else in the house. 

For now the guest room is sealed off. Steve’s careful inspection of the mattress, box springs, and frame didn’t reveal any signs of bed bugs or bed bug infestation. He sealed the decorative pillows in black plastic bags, which will be in the attic waiting for the blazing Kansas summer heat which kills them. Would you believe they can live up to 400 days without feeding? He also sealed the bedding in black plastic trash bags waiting to be laundered. Thirty minutes in a hot dryer kills the nasty pests.

We will soon be putting some products down in there which should arrive by Saturday. Once they arrive, Steve will continue inspecting the rest of the furniture in the room and other places bed bugs hide. Not sure what he has planned after that.

Hopefully, none of you have any experience with them. However, if you have, share with us what worked for you and what didn’t. 

“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

50 thoughts on “Very Bad News”

  1. My daughter works as a Vacation planner for a summer rental agency and brought them home.

    Thankfully, (I guess …) she had suspicious bites) .

    My husband searched her mattress and found 2.

    It was an old mattress/box spring set so we decided to bag it up and get rid of it.

    We laundered every piece of her clothing in her closets, bagged up things that couldn’t be washed and washed what could.

    We had our entire house heat treated and they treated certain areas with a chemical as well. We stayed out of the house that night because it had a strong smell and the house was so hot from the treatment.

    Then just to be safe we put down this powder called Diatomaceous earth (food grade) around the baseboards and bedposts of each bed in the house. You can research it’s help in dealing with the bugs.

    Treating just one room, if not done properly can cause them to move rooms and spread throughout your home to other areas so be sure you have really researched.

    Praying you caught it early and that you are able to take care of it easily!

  2. Unfortunately our family brought some bugs home from an air b n b last year. Like you we try to do many things DIY in our household, but this is one issue you really want to bring in a reputable professional pest control company. Having a K9 inspection is key. Our beds passed “visual inspections” by humans 3 different times, but the dog “smelled” bugs living in the room 3 times. Our children were continuing to get bites, so we weren’t surprised at those findings. Bed bugs don’t only hide in bedding. They like cardboard boxes, books, etc. Dark cozy corners. They can travel under baseboards from room to room, so taping off the room is not going to keep them from hunting down their next blood meal. We did finally eradicate them with heat treating the room that was infested. Thankfully the dog confirmed they were only in that room multiple times, so while we could have heat treated the entire house, we felt better about only paying to do just the bedroom. It is very costly, but was worth the money to finally be rid of them. We were rejoicing during the final K9 inspection that found nothing! Feel free to email me if you have any more questions about what we did.

  3. Oh no! We had a similar experience that I wanted to share in case it is helpful. If this is an upstairs room, the bugs aren’t anywhere else in the house and there is no evidence in the beds, they may be bat bugs not bed bugs. They are indistinguishable except under a microscope. We treated our upstairs playroom (a converted attic) for bed bugs multiple times and they kept returning. Finally, we figured out that we had bats in the ceiling above the room. The bugs were only able to be permanently eliminated when we had the bats removed. We might have been an unusual case, but several things you mentioned (no bugs in the bed or anywhere else in the house) sounded similar to our experience. Hope you are able to get it resolved quickly – I know it can be stressful to deal with!

    1. It is an upstairs room. Not aware of bats in the attic but it would be worth checking for. And we could send the sample in to the extension for closer inspection.

  4. We had the same experience – one little bug we caught lead to discovering they had taken over the mattress!! We travel a lot so we suspect that a bug might have stowed away in a suitcase and proliferated.

    I stripped the bed, emptied cupboards of all clothing and then systematically dusted the whole room with diatomaceous earth for three days running (while creating a border of the powder so that the rest of the house – thankfully free of bugs – didn’t get infested). Laundered all clothes in hot water, put pillows and mattress out in the hot sun for 12 hours every day for those three days, and lived out of another room. That did the trick! We were lucky to have caught it and did not need to call anyone in as the infestation was just one room.

    I can’t recommend diatomaceous earth enough! It’s natural, the bugs eat it and die but it is pet friendly (as far as my research shows) and it is easily cleaned afterwards.

    I hope you will soon be bug free!

  5. Yes we had them. We had an exterminator go through our home. But the bugs came back. I bought diatomaceous earth and sprinkled it around all the beds, between the mattresses and box springs, and along base boards. We put every soft surface item we could through the dryer, and things that couldn’t go through the dryer into the freezer for a week or in sealed bags (that we dated so we know when we can open them again). Lots of vigilance, but we are bed bug free now. You really have to treat your entire home as they travel through your HVAC and through walls via electrical outlets etc. They’ll travel through your home looking for amtheir food source (ie. YOU). best of luck!

  6. The house across from my parents was a rental. Once sold the new owners found bed bugs when they removed the carpet. They had a professional exterminater come out. They ended up tenting the home and treating the issue. They have had no issues since the treatment.

  7. Oh no! I’m so sorry you are dealing with this! We are actually, currently, dealing with them right now! We found them back in May in our bedroom. We tried to treat ourselves, but it was impossible, as they do spread when you treat yourself, so for us and we had to get an exterminator. (We also rent, and it was our landlord decision also) The exterminator found them in our room, the living room couch, and our children’s room. The exterminator found them in places we never thought of like, headboards and even books! He also knew we only had them for 3 months and thats how much they spread! (We do have 3 kids ages 5,3,and 7 months, which aided the spread of them). I would recommend an exterminator, and drying everything like you said.

    We have learned so much about them! We have also notice the hugh decrease in them after just three treatments! (The exterminator is coming back in a week with a dog that can sniff them out, who know!?)

    We will pray that they go away quickly for you! I also want to say thank you for sharing this! We have felt so isolated and alone in this season of our bed bugs struggle! I’m a newer reader of your blog
    and I just want to say thank you for your ministry and letting peak into your lives! God Bless!

  8. Oh Teri! I’m so sorry! We had a similar experience with body lice.

    We purchased gerbils from a local pet store and they had them. It was a long haul but after a couple weeks I got rid of them. They hide in bedding, stuffed animals, pillows and the seams of clothing. Treatment is similar to bed bugs. I put all clothing through a hot dryer cycle, bagged up all bedding and placed it on the back porch. It was the dead of winter and the Lord blessed us that week with -0 temperatures that killed them. I vacuumed like crazy and put the vacuum on the back porch at night as well. I also chemically treated our beds. We camped out on the floor for a couple nights as the chemicals were pretty strong.

    The hardest part was treating the gerbils!! I had to put a tiny amount of the treatment from my vet on their necks, very similar to flea treatment for a cat. As I held the gerbils, the body lice would run off of them onto me! Yuck!! But in the end persistence prevailed and I won the battle. I will pray they haven’t spread and you found them early!

  9. I have heard they like to crawl into electrical outlets during the day and then come out at night. Be sure to tape those off as well! Praying you get it all taken care of quickly!

  10. Sorry to hear this. It happened to me – I live in New York City, where it’s almost impossible to avoid at least ONE “run-in” with these pests.

    I had them and had my apartment treated first of all (as mentioned in the comment above mine) – Washing everything in hot hot water and also drying them with the highest temperature you can go – was what was recommended to me. Then bag everything up for the duration of the treatment process.

    Very important to bag up books as well. I was told that bed bugs can live very happily in between the pages of books, where they are “resistant” to whatever treatment a room is given. So make sure you bag up all your books in garbage bags (double bags, if possible).

    I also put down the powder mentioned in the comment above.

    Follow whatever directions you’re given to the letter! Hopefully you caught it early! Good luck!

  11. Not sure how they got in but I had bed bugs a few years ago. Unfortunately I still have the scars from their itchy bites! I took my bed apart and sprayed and sponged it thoroughly with strong disinfectant, making sure it got into every little crack. I scrubbed down my room – walls and floor and put a protective cover over my mattress. Even though Google warned me this wouldn’t be enough, I didn’t have any more problems so am very thankful. Praying you are able to get rid of them easily and quickly!

    1. Sorry that you still have scars from the itchy bites. Wonderful that with what you did, you got rid of them right away. Good experiential information. Thank you.

  12. We haven’t had them yet thankfully!! We live in Colorado so that’s probably why. It sounds terrible to have them though!

    1. From what I understand because they live inside, they can go anywhere. For example, you can bring them home in your luggage from a hotel or like someone mentioned here a vacation rental. Or someone can bring them into your home from theirs.

  13. My daughter (unknowingly) brought bed bugs from her college dorm. We cleaned with every possible thing we could. We took down curtain, cleaned tile floors, changed mattresses/bedding/pillows..nothing worked.
    We finally had the “heat treatment” done to the house and it finally got rid of them. We also found their nest is a cloth zippered case.
    Hope you are able to get rid of them soon,but if cleaners don’t work, try the heat.

  14. I hate to tell you this, but from all the research I have done, it comes down to this: you need a reputable exterminator. Follow their instructions to the letter – they may want you to wash, dry, and bag all clothing and bedding, or they may prefer to treat it where it is rather than risking having a live bug inadvertently get bagged up to start the cycle all over again. They should be surveilling your home for bedbugs (there are small traps they can leave which the bugs would go to if there’s still a problem) and will likely need to do multiple treatments.

    Bed bugs tend to go where there are people to feed on. That’s why they don’t recommend that you just move to the spare room if you’re getting bitten – you’ll just be moving some of the bugs to an additional location and spreading your troubles further. In addition to beds, they will also feed anywhere people are seated quietly for long periods of time (the exterminator we talked to mentioned living rooms where people sit watching TV, but family Bible time would provide a similar opportunity for the bugs) so they may show up there also. They don’t generally hang out in places people aren’t – so unless someone is sleeping in the music room on a regular basis they’re not going to stay isolated there. As some others have said, they can travel in ductwork, electrical, etc. I’ve read that if you can fit the thickness of a credit card in a spot, bedbugs can hide/travel there. Finally, not everyone who is bitten reacts with itchy bites, so the presence or absence of visible, itchy bites doesn’t necessarily mean that person’s room does or doesn’t have bugs. You’ll need the exterminator to set traps, use bedbug sniffing dogs, etc to see how extensive the problem is and go from there.

    And don’t feel bad about getting them! They can ride in on a suitcase after a vacation, but they could also be present on the chairs in a doctor’s waiting room or at church. (I don’t put my purse on the floor at church for this very reason.) Thrift stores are risky – if something can’t be washed and dried in high heat, I don’t buy it used, and I keep it tied tightly in the bag until I wash and dry it.

    In short, call a professional. Ask about what they expect from you as far as preparation, their plan for follow-up inspections and treatments, their fee for returning for additional treatments if the bugs aren’t gone, etc. It’s expensive, but so is buying a lot of DIY products or wrecking all your clothes and bedding with repeated high-heat drying because the bugs just won’t die. Hopefully you can get this taken care of quickly.

    1. Thank you. I looked up an exterminator in our town and the preparation for them treating for bedbugs was unbelieveable – like emptying every item from every closet. Not sure where we would put all of that! But then the whole deal and how difficult it is to get rig of bed bugs is unbelieveable. Good advice, too, about where you put your purse and thrift store clothes. We have a professional calling to discuss a free inspection appointment or we might start with the dogs, which is an option, too, but for a fee.

      1. I’m sure as you sort/wash/move things you’ll come across lots of clothing, linens, and knick-knacks that you realize you don’t need, but PLEASE don’t donate anything you haven’t washed/dried/bagged, for obvious reasons!

        I forgot to mention in my other post that the reason why bedbugs are making a resurgence is that the chemicals of yesteryear have been banned due to the dangers they posed for people and the environment. That makes getting rid of the bugs more challenging. Increased travel spreads them easily as well.

        You can buy zipper/velcro covers for your mattresses which encase them completely and (a) keep any bugs that might be in the mattress from getting out and (b) keep future bugs from having a place to burrow. (Most hotels are using these now, making treatment easier if the room sees an infestation.) They’re a little pricey but cheaper than replacing mattresses, and worth it for the peace of mind in the future. Something to talk to your exterminator about.

        1. Yes, I had read that as well about not donating and not putting furniture out that is infested or might be that others might take. Put a sign on it or destroy it. Thank you for the reminder. Also on the mattress and box spring covers. We have been looking into those but not ordered yet.

  15. One year, several children at our church’s Kids’ Camp got bitten. Most of us laundered our kids’ clothing and dried it at laundromats (before bringing it into the house), and we let the suitcases and other non-washable items) outside in black trash bags in the summer heat for a week or two. It was a big ordeal for all, but to the best of my knowledge, nobody’s home was infested. Some parents DID throw all of their children’s clothing and suitcases, etc. away!!! My parents have also had bed bugs in one of their rental units, brought in by a tenant who traveled often and stayed in hotels. They chose professional chemical treatment because it was less expensive than the heat option, and the tenant could move out. But the heat option is obviously healthier/safer in an occupied space. Bed bugs are no respecter of persons; just like lice, they can “happen” to even the cleanest and tidiest of people. Best wishes!

    1. I’ve also heard of people leaving their suitcases in their cars for several days after vacation, because the same greenhouse effect that makes leaving kids or pets in a car in the sunshine so dangerous will often get the car hot enough long enough to kill any bugs in the suitcases. Of course this hinges on the climate being hot, sunshine being plentiful, and having enough extra seats in the car to devote several to luggage for a few days. As for me, I now pack for our travels in quilted Vera Bradley-type bags which I can wash and dry along with our clothes when we return. Obviously that won’t work if you fly, but it has been helpful for our car travels.

      1. I don’t think about bed bugs when we travel and the possibility of bringing them home, but I sure will now. It sounds good to have a plan in place to eliminate that possibility by getting everything in the heat before putting it away.

  16. I’ve heard the diatomaceous earth is really great, but I also understand that you need to keep pets (especially small curious ones) away otherwise they will inhale it.

    1. We have some of that, which arrived yesterday. Steve plans to put it down when he inspects the rest of the room today. The pets won’t be in there.

  17. I feel like I won’t overwhelm you with any more advice but instead will be praying they haven’t spread in your home and you can get rid of them quickly! Have a wonderful and restful Sunday tomorrow!

  18. A family member had them and was able to treat them successfully with heat treatment. Apparently there are machines you can rent for this, and they work very well. Hope it’s a short-lived problem for you all!

  19. We had bed bugs a couple of years ago. I have no idea where they came from, unless I brought them home from school. I am a public school teacher. We had exterminators come in to check and spray. We only found a total of 4 bugs. Since we live in a small space we also had the house heat treated. It wasn’t as expensive because our place is small. If you do heat treatment then I would find a place to stay that night. We didnt and our home was so hot for a long time nobody really slept. They didn’t have to take everything out of our closets because we dont have many clothes but they did in my girls room because they share a room and closet. There are a lot of options and it can be very overwhelming. We prayed for guidance and picked what was right for our family. Sounds like you caught it early so that’s a blessing. Prayers as you move forward.

  20. My mom moved into a rental home. Her bedroom had bedbugs in the carpet. She treated with everything imaginable. Finally got rid of them with 91 proof alcohol. Interestingly enough they never spread to any other part of the house. It was quite a nightmare for a while.

    Also as she and I traveled one summer she got bitten in bed at a very upscale hotel. The bugs there were also contained to just one bed and Storm and I never got bitten. She had to wash her pajamas before we left the hotel to ensure she didn’t take any bugs with us.

    Those things are a true headache.

    Hope ya’ll get shed of them soon.


    1. We have some 91% alcohol and had read that killed them on contact. Right now Steve isn’t finding any signs of the infestation to use it on contact!

  21. Topical Sprays: steri-fab or Mediclean x-590
    Rent Kerosene heaters heat the room to 118 degrees for 2 hours and they are gone.

    I would do the heat first, then topical spray everything. Make sure you seal the vents in that room with garbage bag or plastic sheeting under the vents and then replace the vent creating a plug.Just closing the vent won’t keep them from spreading throughout the house.

    Good catch Anna! Definitely not a catch and release situation, bag them.
    Don’t let anyone visit that is super cheap when it comes to hotel / motels. They are the source.

  22. I feel your pain. We are battling those right now. We have had to bring in an exterminator because not having people in is not an option for us due to my dad’s hospice workers coming in. We were supposed to have a second visit from them to make sure all were killed but my dad has since become bed bound. We are also washing all clothing and beds in hot water and drying and doing daily inspections plus lots of vacuuming. Our exterminator told us that they most often travel on a person’s shoes. I will be praying for you.

    1. Oh Holly, the bed bug deal is hard enough. I can’t imagine going through it in the midst of your dad being on hospice. I will be praying for YOU!

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