Bed Bugs

Parent Q&A

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  • Bed bugs (or related)

    (4 replies)

    Hi all,

    Someone who spends time in our home has recently gotten a bunch of bites that look perhaps like bed bugs. We're trying to figure out where she got them and what they might be. Does anyone recommend a service that will do an inspection of our home to assess what might be going on (bed bugs, fleas, spiders, something else)? Thanks so much.

    [ Moderator note: See also past advice: "What is Biting Us?" and "Biting Insects" ]

    heck out the Berkeley REnt Board for brochures and information on bed bus. All owners who rent to tenants are required by law to provide Bedbug information to tenants.

    Have you considered rat mite bites? Years ago our then young kids had a bunch of bites we couldn't figure out. The pediatrician suspected rat mite bites, and sure enough we found a dead rat outside of their bedroom window. YUK! Rats are extremely pervasive in the area. 

    We had bedbugs a year and half ago - they multiply exponentially at a rapid rate so finding out what the bites are is critical.  My son's pediatrician at Kaiser pulled in a dermatologist and it was diagnosed in 2 seconds.  You can also look at corners of your mattress between mattress and boxspring to look for evidence of bugs or actual bugs.  We used Orkin because they were the only ones who gave us a 30 day warantee on the work done (we opted to tent the house). 

    Contact Alameda County Vector Control. They will come to your house and assess for free. They’ll tell you which vermin you have and how to fix the issue. We called them a few years ago when we had an issue and they came out and were helpful.

  • Mysterious Bites on 2 Year Old

    (7 replies)

    My 2 year old started getting these red bites, 9 on one leg, 4 on the other, and 4 on one arm in a weeks time. We thought we noticed more on her legs after she woke up with more one day, from her crib. They look like flea or bedbug bites but no signs of bedbugs, I know you can see those with the naked eye. The dog hasn't been scratching, but she did recently start falling asleep on the dog's bed for a short nap. Mostly her upper body lays on the dog bed including her whole head which appears to be untouched, They are only on both legs & 1 arm at this point. We thought it was cute at first, even a picture, but could it be fleas causing these aweful looking bites even if the dog or cat are never scratching? And how serious could this be, since tomorrow is Sunday, doctors are closed so the ER would be my only choice until Monday. Basically, Can it wait utill Monday or not? Any help would be awesome! I don't know if I should buy a new mattress, get the dog to the vet or spray for spiders. PLEASE HELP!! THAT POOR THING

    I only have experience with bed bugs, not fleas, but I'll share what I know. While bed bugs are visible with the naked eye, they are very good at hiding, and they are nocturnal, so not having seen them definitely doesn't rule them out. As to where to look, they like living in walls and floorboards, and typically only move to the mattress when the infestation is so large as to force them to. You might look for small smudges of brown on your child's sheets, and also look at the pattern of the bites - bed bugs like to bite in lines. Bed bugs tend to only bite exposed skin, not under clothing, and they don't like crawling through hair or fur, so they tend to avoid dogs altogether. There are some traps you can put out to determine if you have bed bugs. The point isn't to catch all the bugs (because it won't), but to prove whether they are bedbugs:

    I don't believe bed bugs carry disease like other bugs, but they are certainly awful. Some people are allergic and some aren't, by the way, so you and your husband may be getting bit as well but not showing signs. My husband and I moved into an apartment with bed bugs and I was covered in bites that blistered, though my husband showed nothing. 

    In the meantime, if it's looking like they are bedbugs, wash your daughter's bedding and pajamas, and, along with any stuffed animals or anything else that's been in her bed, dry on as high a heat as the fabric can withstand for at least 30 minutes. Bed bugs can't fly, only crawl, so move her bed away from the wall, make sure no bedding touches the floor, and get bed bug interceptors for the legs of the bed:

    In-store bed bug sprays do not work, unfortunately. We had to go through an 8 week treatment regime with a pest control company, but after that, no more bed bugs.

    Good luck.

    Ugh. I feel your pain. The same exact thing happened to ME (not my kid!) a couple of months ago. I too was convinced we got bedbugs (hubby does tons of travel for biz, so I figured it's a matter of time...). I even called our pest control company (termites and ants), and had them come and look with me, including tearing apart my bedroom, and they found nothing. I have 2 cats/2 dogs. No one was itching. but I kept waking up with bites on my arms, legs and torso. Little red itchy ones.  First of all - no need for the ER, this can wait for your pediatrician unless a fever develops suddenly. If it's fleas, they generally don't carry diseases (unlike ticks) that humans can catch.  So here was my plan of attack, which so far has worked:

    1. Change or introduce flea control products for your pets. Skip the natural ones, they don't work, sorry to say. Ask your vet what fleas in your area seem most susceptible to. Where I am, they said Bravecto, but I can't give that to any of my pets because most of them have stomach issues, allergies, etc., didn't want an oral med.  We were using Activyl, which was useless. So I went back to Frontline, and that seems to have helped a lot. It's just a couple of drops on their shoulder once a month.

    2. I washed ALL bedding, pet and human, scrubbed down my whole house. I use a homemade fabric freshener, so I bumped up the more flea-repellent ingredients. Here's my recipe:  fill a spray bottle 1/2 vodka 1/2 filtered water. Add 15 drops peppermint oil + 10 drops pennyroyal oil + 5 drops lavender + 5 drops cinnamon oil.  I sprayed down all mattresses and rugs after cleaning, also all upholstered furniture.

    3. Sounds crazy, but trust me, this next one helped too: I went to the pet store and bought a few old-school flea collars. I would never put these on my pets either, so I cut each one in half, and put each half somewhere fleas might like - under the mattress, under sofa cushions, under dog bed, etc.

    You're not losing your mind, I thought I was going nuts because you're right - bedbugs leave telltale signs or you can see them at night. Flea larvae you can't see, and they can jump, too!  A couple of months later, I'm getting ready to switch out my cut-up flea collars, and I'm diligent about flea control on the pets. And if anyone says "Oh I would never put those chemicals on my pets!' Say what I say  - "Really? Because I love my pets, but I love the humans in the house more, WE get priority for disease prevention."  GOOD LUCK!

    We had a suspected infestation of rat mites last year around this time. It might be worth it to check around your basement and attic, or set some traps. They often search out humans when their rat host has died, luckily they can't live without rats, so they go away when the rodents are eradicated. Also, interestingly they seem to like specific people (I was affected and my husband wasn't bitten at all). Just a thought!

    Hi - I hate to say this sounds like it could be rat bite mites. You'll see some tales in the archives.  There have been a bunch of reports of problems in the past two months, according to the City of Berkeley Public Health guy Ernesto who came and inspected my place.  They itch like hell, and each bite takes over a week to go away.  I never could see the mites themselves to get them identified, but others with similar cases nearby at the same time did.  I had dozens and dozens of bites (they didn't bite my kids at all) and I only survived with antihistamine and hydrocortisone. I tried every folk remedy to get rid of them, but the official way is to get rid of the rats, and eventually my landlord did have work done to close up places they could get under the house.  After a few weeks of torture it went away, possibly just a natural life cycle of the mite.

    If you know someone in science or medicine who wants to make a real contribution to society, suggest they study and publish on these pests, because it seems there's precious little useful research on how to repel them, interrupt their lifecycle, etc.  It was one of the most frustrating and miserable experiences I've ever had.

    If there is anything under the crib, remove it and vacuum thoroughly.  Leave the space under the crib empty and make sure the room is fairly tidy, especially at floor level.  Give the room a good dusting before you vacuum.  Wash the sheets in hot water with some vinegar in it and put the bare mattress out to air in a sunny spot for several hours.  If you have a window in her room, check to see that it is functioning well -- tight seals when closed and intact screen for when open.  If you leave her window open sometimes, check to see what is outside near that window.  Clear away any vines, ivy, weeds, or other tangles and drain any standing water or muddy spots.  Hope that helps!

    Dust mites! Dust and vacuum the room, wash all bedding including pillows, blankets, and mattress covers.

    If there is no sign of bed bugs, this sounds like rat mites to me. My family also suffered from a similar problem several years ago, although only my husband and younger son got red, pimple-sized, itchy bites (perhaps they were allergic and other members of the family were not?) It is important to check your roof and basement for rats. Premier Pest Control was the company that finally took care of our problem after several tries with other small and large companies. They did not use any chemicals, only physical barriers to entrance. In the meantime, to minimize bites, wash bedding often in hot water, wipe around the bed and baseboard, have your daughter wear footed pajamas or tuck pajama bottoms into socks and if she has two-piece pajamas, tuck the shirt into the pants. We wore turtlenecks as well with a shirt over it and used herbal insect repellent on our wrists. My son's bites were so bad, the doctor gave us a prescription cream, which stopped the itching. The problem did go away, but it is very annoying while it lasts.

Parent Reviews

Have you considered bed bugs? Bed bugs come out at night and when they bite there are usually multiple bites and they would be close together. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews




Feb 2012

Does anyone out there have experience getting rid of bed bugs for good? We have been struggling to eliminate them from our bed since August trying various things, including mattress covers, frequent cleaning and spackling of all crevices, diatomaceous earth, ...but each time we think we've finally got em, and have a week's reprieve -- they come back. Up til now they've been contained to our bed, but recently they've move to our 3 year old's bed -- she has big itchy welts on her and is miserable -- and we're at our wits end (and bickering and stressed and have been told we can't travel to see our family back east -- we have plane tickets for April -- unless we've gotten rid of them). We've considered the ThermaPure (heat) approach, but it doesn't seem (from what we can find on Yelp, etc.) that it really works that well (and they only guarantee it for FIVE DAYS! We've been able to do five days on our own..) and costs like $2,000. Has anyone used them successfully? ANd have a local referral? Or had other success stories or local pest control recommendations? Help! bugged out

Have they actually been identified as bed bugs? Just wanted to be sure because we thought we were dealing with bed bugs when it was really rat mites. anon

Hello!! I went through a similar situation but didn't know what was happening! My boyfriend at the time spent the night EVERY night and didn't have bumps on his body but I had trails all over! I was even embarrassed to wear short sleeve shirts because I had huge trails of red, extremely itchy bumps (on arms, as well as belly, legs, back, etc). Everyone thought it was stress - related since this wasn't happening to anyone who lives with me (mom, sister and boyfriend at the time) until one day, when I was sitting in bed, a bunch of them started crawling down my pillow! I threw everything away: pillow, bed frame ( which was new), blankets, washed everything else in hot water, etc. I know this sounds crazy but let me tell you, this lasted something like a year until everything was out of the house. I found their nest : inside the fabric of my headboard, so the whole thing is forever gone!!! Haven't seen any bedbugs since and the thought of ever seeing them again gives me nightmares. Find the nest! They come out at night! After I knew they were gone ( or at least hadn't seen them anymore), I went to Home Depot and bought a bed bug spray. I sprayed the carpet, room corners, etc daily for a month. Mariana

Are you absolutely sure it's bed bugs? I have bites, don't see any bugs and found out that roof rats, carry mites that can bite. We have an exterminator setting traps in the attic, sealing the holes, and spraying to eliminate mites. Hope this helps.

Im sorry to hear you go this. I got them from a meditation center and brought them home in my bedding. They are hard to get rid of unless you are extreme. They can hide for a year without eating. You have to kill the eggs. Only heat kills the eggs.

1. Throw away the bed, carpet and any furniture you can part with, window treatments etc.. They can hide real well in any crack.
2. Clear caulk every crack in that room. Between baseboard and floor, between floorboards, between window and door trim and plaster etc.
3. Put a ring of diatomaceous earth around the bed or matress on floor. I got a cheap air matress as interim bedding.
4. Put all clothing and sheets curtains etc in a hot hot dryer for twenty minutes minimum to kill eggs.
5. Either throw books away or put them in oven to kill eggs- they love to hide in books and bookshelves. Throw away bookshelves if not attached. Remember you can always do Ikea after..
6. Anything that can tolerate boiling water should get dumped in a bucket of it.
7. Vacuum everyday as this can suck put newly hatched eggs. Basically throw anything away you are not attached to make it easier. The emptier the room the easier. Do not move anything from that room into the rest of the house or it will spread. Also even if you think you got rid of them not everyone has an allergic reaction- which is the only way you know you have them.

Finally I used Pestec back in 2004 they were the only ones that understood them since they were dealing with homeless shelters in SF. No pesticides work except DDT which is banned which is also why they a coming back. Please don't bomb the room or they scatter to the rest of the house! Pestec came with special target steamers and vacuum cleaners.

Since it is now an epidemic in NYC I am sure there is more info out there on Internet. But bottom line is if you get rid of almost everything in that room, caulk and vacuum and bring in Pestec at the end- you can do it! P.s. maybe rent a private dumpster for disposal and put everything in contractor grade black garbage bags. Put a sign on dumpster ''everything has bedbugs'' so no one repurposes it. Also the black garbage bag if sunny enough out will generate enough heat internally to kill the bugs. Debbie

You can find some useful, non-toxic, ideas from Pesticide Action Network at Good luck! J

Please check out the Bug Man who has a column in the SF Chronicle every Wednesday. He has great advice for non-toxic, non-poison ways to deal with all kinds of invasive bugs, rodents, ants, you name it. Good luck to you!!! GW

We have used Northwest Pest Control 707-528-7776 or 800-281-2710 ( and they were great. We were looking for the least toxic control available. (We had termites, not bed bugs, but I just called, and they deal with that issue.) They were conscientious about telling us what chemicals they recommended, and their toxicity. Good luck! Kathy

I am sorry about your bedbug problem. They are AWFUL. I had them in NY. First- you want to do more than you think necessary at the start- if you leave even one behind, they multiply rapidly. Get rid of your bed and your child's. Even if you are told you don't have to. Diatamaceous Earth IS useful. But it needs to go everywhere and it takes a couple of weeks to work. I brought in a company that specialized in bedbugs and had a beagle that sniffed them out so i would know how big of a problem it was. They go into sockets and hang out in the walls. I caught it at the beginning, but i got rid of the bed, put my stuff in large plastic tubs with mothballs(mothballs can kill them in 3-5 days even though it is not rated for that use) had all of my clothes either dry cleaned or washed in hot water and dried on the highest setting for an hour, and had the company come in with a combination of heat and pesticide. You will want both. Even the company said Diatamaceous Earth worked- but slowly. And usually not until it is a real infestation, because the bugs don't walk around a lot. Sorry for the news. I know all of this sounds like a lot to do. But they are really hard to get rid of. You do need the elephant gun for them. Shay

I had this problem and it won't go away, it will only get worse. I used a local company called pestec They got rid of the bed bugs by heating up the house to a very high temperature for several hours. They did several re-checks and were extremely thorough. The bed bugs left and have not returned and it has been about two years. It was horribly expensive, but not toxic, and I highly recommend it. They will come out and assess and give you a free estimate. Good luck. Ann

We had a similar problem with what we thought were bedbugs, but turned out to be bird mites. We battled them for more than 6 months, used all sorts of spray, laundry galore, etc. Then I finally caught one, and froze it in a bag, then gave it to the terminex guy the next time he came around. He sent it to the lab, and voila, we finally knew for certain it was not bedbugs, it was bird mites brought in by a dead bird, either in our attic or just close to the house. Terminex couldn't help with that, but what I finally did get that completely solved our problem in one use, after months of trying to solve it ourselves, was a UV light sanitizing vacuum. I kid you not, after months of itching and welts, being bitten more than once a day, this little affordable vacuum did the trick. It claims to work for bedbugs too, and after seeing what it did for us, with bird mites in our rugs, our furniture, all three of our beds, and the kids rocking chair, one afternoon and they were gone. It is so worth the money, and the one we bought is now half price on Amazon! Sanitizing-Furniture-White/dp/B00316H2L0/ref=pd_sim_hpc_3 Good luck! Mite-free!

I feel you!! I am impressed that you were able to keep it contained to just one room for so long! My daughter and I moved into an apartment in August that was completely infested, in every single room! Two bedrooms and the living room, I had to ditch all of my furniture and lost many personal belongings, it was a horrible ordeal, but here's what I learned in the process.

Heat treatment is the only way to really resolve the problem! The slumlords who owned my apt building, hired a big pest control company to come out for chemical treatment to rid the apartment of bed bugs.

However, after 2 chemical treatments, there were still live bed bugs running the show. We ditched out of the lease in early October.

I've finally just moved into a new apartment, and after 2 weeks, discovered a bed bug in my brand new bed - most likely from the boxes of things, (I assumed were safe), that were stored in my ex-husbands garage for the past 4 months.

I'm not sure at this point if I have a problem, or if it was a lone straggler that survived 2 chemical treatments and over 100 days of starvation, what I can tell you, is that you shouldn't waste your time with chemicals, go with heat - It's the only thing that will effectively kill the bugs. If you've ever seen the show ''Infested'', every time the only thing that worked was heat!

Also, from all of the entomologist I have spoken too, and the other professionals from Berkeley Heath dept., Scent-Tek, and even entomologists from UC Berkeley as well as Herb Field - all recommended the same thing, HEAT TREATMENT!! Here is an article from Gail Ghetty and Vernard Lewis,

I have done a ton of research and I am so sick of these parasites ruining my life! I know you feel the same.

I highly recommend you call Kevin Youngblood from Scent-Tek, 415-933-0880, they have great dogs and fantastic resources.

I wish you a lot of luck, there is nothing worse than dealing with these pest, let alone watching your child suffer as well! All I can really tell you, with great confidence, is that chemical treatments do not work, I think it's worth the money to do the heat treatment. If I have a problem, it's what I'm going to do. I will most likely call pestec, unless Kevin or Brent from Scent-Tek have other companies in mind.

Good luck to you, and here's to not itching any more!! bed bug bitten as well!!

Here is info about bed bugs.

I find it is helpful to know your enemy, and that site explains habits and life cycle. Anon

Hi there, So sorry you're going through this. It must be so frustrating. Now, we've never had bed bugs, so I don't know much about them. However, we've had LOTS of other weird things happen to us. What I'm wondering is: Could this be another kind of bug infestation? A few years back, I kept feeling itchy at night and had little bumps all over me. No one else but our newborn was struggling like me. So everyone thought I was crazy. Come to find out we had bird mites and I wasn't insane! Once we got rid of the offending bird nest hiding in our heater vent, we were fine. Maybe something strange like that is happening? Just thought I'd throw that idea out there. You never know. Good luck! K

Bedbugs are dreadful, horrible things, like a bad dream, coming back again and again ! That you are having such trouble getting rid of bedbugs is not surprising !

Because we own and manage residential rental property (small single-family homes, mostly), we have, unfortunately, had to ''deal'' with bedbugs !

Years ago, faced with bedbugs when some tenants moved, we used the ''cook-the-house'' method, which required:
- clearing every living thing out of the house (people, pets, house plants, etc. - at that time, our small house was empty before new tenants moved in),
- tenting the house, completely,
- securely sealing-up windows and doors with aluminum-foil sheet insulation, and
- safe heaters were installed to ''cook'' the whole house for more than an 24hours.

The folks who worked with us, about ten years ago, have retired, but we assure you that, done correctly, ''cooking'' your house can get rid of bedbugs !

BUT certainly, a ''guarantee'' of more than five days would have to be a contractual requirement: it seems a year's guarantee would be right !

That little rental house has never had bedbugs since it was ''cooked'' ! Careful property-owner

We also have had to deal with bb's and it's been a nightmare. We have done the heat treatment twice, using Alliance who are based on Santa Clara. They have been very responsive and great to work with but it's expensive ($1,400 the first time and $1,100 the second time). We just treated our upstairs b/c no evidence that they had moved down stairs. They wouldn't guarantee the treatment for us because we had done an entire 30 day cycle of chemical treatment (pest guy came out 3X 10 days apart) and it didn't work completely. Alliance told me that it can be harder to treat with heat after chemicals because the bb's move deeper in. Our last heat treatment was just about 10 days ago, so I'm not sure that they are 100% gone.

I had the bb dog out twice (Scent tek). They are also nice and the dog is adorable, but the dog cleared us the first time and I kept on getting bites. I think that the problem is that the dog might not be able to smell all of the eggs, which might be deep in the woodwork.

Brent from Scent tek told me that he thought the most effective treatment would be chemicals and heat at the same time -- the chemicals would drive them out and the heat would kill them. Don't know how you'd do that timing wise.

Two things come to mind -- there are these plastic bowl-like things you should get for the legs of each bed in your house. They prevent the bb's from climbing onto the beds. Then you should move the beds away from the walls and make sure that the bedding doesn't create a walk way from the floor to the top of the bed.

Before our chemical treatment I brought all of our bedding and every single piece of clothing that we owned to the laundromat, put it all thru the dryer for 30 min, and washed all the bedding. Then I bagged up all of the clothes that had been thru the dryer, and we lived out of a few bags for the month that we did the chemicals.

We also bought new metal bedframes, and have them on the anti climb up things. (I got the plastic climb up things on Amazon.)

There's a great website called the Bed Bug Forum. Tons of info and advice, and some really scary stories.

Sorry for the long message! I wish we had done the heat treatment right away, and I think that you have to pick one method and stick to it, probably repeating as much as necessary. Just resign yourself to the fact that it's going to be expensive. Or, you can just use the chemicals, which is not expensive, but you might have to do them many many times (you should call Helmut at Bay Area Pest Control -- he deals with a lot of bb's). anonymous

bugged out, i am sorry you are going through this! we recently went through a much smaller scale of bed bug(s) and i feel your pain. i take it from your post that you didn't go the chemical route. i would have preferred to do the natural way, but really wanted to get rid of them FAST before spreading to other rooms. we used Burge Pest Control(out of Alameda-i think), and they were helpful. Have you tried the little dogs that can find them? There are a couple companies out of SF that will travel to the East Bay. Burge said they were 100% accurate. From there, you have choices to make(chemicals, heat treat..). Best of luck. I hope you are able to sleep soon. sleeping a little better

I have a couple thoughts on the subject. The mattress covers have to be really good-not cheap ones that leak. Allergy Control Products makes really good ones. You could try flipping the mattress in the sun for a few days if that is within reason, but good covers on pillows and mattress should isolate and kill any infestations. Pesticides would be a last option. Maybe those insect foggers in aerosol cans to gas each room for a day then air out. They work awesome for spiders! Additionally all bedding must be laundered in HOT water at least a couple times-maybe even with bleach or bleach substitute. Clothing too must be laundered. If you don't implement a house-wide effort you can keep transferring them back to bedding. Are you sure it is bed bugs and not scabies? been there too

Hi, we had that same problem in our bed many months ago, and I understand the horrible that it feels be eating by bed bugs, I strongly recommend you to buy BEST YET, in amazon, this product kills forever all kind of bugs in our bed including the bugs eggs, a little expensive but chemical free control and effective, good luck. ada

Bed bugs from used furniture?

Nov 2011

I'm thinking of getting furniture for my children's bedrooms from consignment store or craigslist. After the recent reports of bed bugs I'm wondering if it's safe after all. I need some help here. How should I inspect the furniture before I buy it? What should I look for? Or should I just keep going to Ikea? Sigh... anon

Go to ikea! Bed bugs can hide in the tiniest cracks-- it is virtually impossible to inspect furniture enough to detect them. It honestly isn't worth the risk. Unless you want to wrap the furniture in plastic, airtight, for 4 to six weeks, I wouldn't do it! Ikea is alright

Hi, Yes, you can get bed bugs from used furniture, sadly. My friend got a horrible infestation from some used fabric donated to her for use in her art class. She couldn't sleep in her room for months . She finally got rid of them by aggressively vacuuming the bed, carpet, and washing all bedclothes at once, on same day.

Seems to me that you could take a vacuum cleaner to the person's house and vacuum the couch or whatever really well before sticking it in your vehicle. Then wrap vacuum bag in plastic bags, seal them and throw them in dumpster outside. Bedbugs can get into little cracks in the wood though, and down into spring area. Maybe you could get some chemical to put on it, but that would be toxic for you. You can also ask the seller, and see what your gut feeling is about whether s/he is telling the truth. You should really avoid the second hand store and the ''flea'' market (see why it's called that?). It's really sad that this has happened. I get practically all my furniture used, and it's great stuff. But that was before the problem started. Now i will still get used clothes, but it goes straight into the washer (or bucket of water) before it goes anywhere else. Used furniture lover.

Bed bugs (ick!)

Sept 2010

Okay, I am finally accepting the high likelihood that my family is one of the many now suffering from the new resurgence (epidemic) of bed bugs. My kids had been waking up with a few new red bite marks every morning, which we originally thought were mosquito bites. But then I saw a few telltale brownish spots on their sheets, and when we picked up their mattresses we found I think two very tiny bugs total. We pulled the mattresses off, vacuumed all around them and the bed frames, pulled the drawers out from under the beds, washed all of the clothes in those drawers - and the sheets - in hot water, and bought those special bags to zip around the mattresses and prevent bed bugs from moving out of the mattresses. It seemed to help for a little bit, but now I'm seeing more bites again. I suspect that the little buggers are hiding in the bed frames, drawers, and other crevices, so the mattress sealing isn't helping enough.

Does anyone have advice about how to deal with this? Any exterminators you've used for this problem? I've been researching it on the web and the news is not good - they seem to be very difficult to get rid of and generally resistant to a lot of pesticides now. I'm hoping we can use some kind of IPM approach - at this point, I'm okay with spraying some chemicals, but also expect to do major (and regular) thorough cleaning. Help!! Creepy crawlies

I'm so sorry you're dealing with this. The Bugman has some good, detailed advice for eliminating bedbugs in his column in the Chron: Bugged by Bugs

My former housemates had a bedbug infestation (fortunately after we moved out!) and they found a service that tented the whole (quite large) house and heated it up to 140 degrees (maybe I have the temp wrong but it was super- heated for several hours). They had to remove wine, electronics, and some other items that would be damaged by the heat (and of course all people and pets). But it worked like a charm, with absolutely no chemicals of any kind. I don't know the name of the service but you can probably find an alternative pest company that will do it. good luck with the ick

Google Diatomaceous Earth and bedbugs this stuff worked wonders.... julie

I always consult Richard Fagerlund who writes the Ask the Bugman column in the SF Chronicle. He is against using toxic pesticides whenever possible and has lots of advice on controlling many pests. Here's one bit of advice he gave about bed bugs: He also recommends using diatomaceous earth (natural grade, not swimming pool grade). You can always email him for advice. Good luck! Andi

Check out these two articles. You can probably start with just the vacuuming, duct tape, and water/alcohol/soap spray and then move on to the other steps if you're still having problems. It can definitely be fixed. Good luck! Anon

Bed Bugs are definitely on the rise!! I dealt with this a few months ago and I was miserable. At first I thought the bites were from mosquitos, then fleas, then I realized the triplicate pattern of the bites were classic bed bug bites- though I never found or saw evidence of them in my house. I was going out of my mind with discomfort (physical and emotional)...the thought of these bugs descending upon me and feeding at night was (is) so gross!! I checked BPN and found a guy who I would recommend. His first name is Helmut and he is with Bay Area Pest Elimination.(510)717-3506. It was not cheap or easy to have the house exterminated (need to do it twice)and to have everything- I mean everything- dry-cleaned and washed.

In my case, I believe I picked up the bed bugs when I stayed at a nice hotel in LA for work. It is not a sign of ''dirtiness'' to have bed bugs. Hotels, by the way, have no legal obligation to disclose reports of bed bugs. Make sure to look at the mattresses in hotels for evidence and never put your luggage on the floor. There are recent articles in the Chronicle and NYT. I hope you are bed-bug free soon! Good luck. anonymous

Last night I listened to Terry Gross on NPR, interviewing an entomologist on this topic. I hope you can find something helpful at Listen to the interview, don't just read the synopsis. The comments also have some ideas. All my best wishes


May 2010

BED BUGS MAKING ME MISERABLE!!! I checked the archives- nothing too recent. I thought at first the bites were from mosquitos, just a couple of bites here and there (after returning from LA for work); then more bites and I checked for fleas on my dog who is treated monthly and showed no signs of them at all; then, significantly more bites all over- many in triplicate patterns. My research (and miserable symptoms) indicate bed bugs, probably from a hotel. My son sleeps in another room and has had less then 10 bites. I have about 75-100 right now....soooo gross and miserable!!! No rats around here, BTW, so not likely to be rat mites. Unfortunately, about 15 years ago I got scabies from travel and this is different, so I have ruled out scabies, as well.

Today- I spent $225 on an exterminator (no visual signs of the bed bugs) but he tells me it is rampant right now in Berkely, El Cerrito, and Albany??? I spent another $150.00 on the wash/fold of all clothing items in my room and my son's room; and $100.00 on new mattress and pillow covers and new pillows. What else? (Can't afford new mattresses right now- both are relatively new.) I am using over the counter cortizone cream to help, but it's not providing much relief. Is it this location experiencing a rash (no pun intended!) of bed bugs? Any further advice? Tired of scratching!

I'm so sorry you're dealing with bed bugs. The Bugman has some good advice for non-toxic ways to deal with the critters -- sounds like a lot of work, but worth a try: Good luck!

I really think you have to find some evidence of bed bugs before you do anything to get rid of the problem. Although they are small, if they are there, you should see them or their feces.

Then, for treatment, I would suggest you find a company that can heat the bedrooms to 140 degrees for a few hours. That should kill them without harming the humans.

More info here: Anon anon

I am not sure they always help, but the only thing that's worked for me for both bed bugs and fleas is ultrasonic insect repellers. They're a fairly cheap investment too. I suspect some brands are better than others...I had a few from Costco years ago that worked superbly, and then I couldn't find that brand any longer. Anyhow, you could try buying a few different brands and putting a bunch in your bedroom. I think they won't necessarily repel the current generation, but they interfere with mating and communication and hopefully it can break the cycle of reproduction. You can buy them at Home Depot, some drugstores, and Amazon. The low frequencies repel bigger pests like mice so you want the high-frequency insect ones.

Good luck--as the person in the family the insects love the most, I really feel for you! Colleen

I'm so sorry you are having to deal with bed bugs. They are truly awful. I wanted to advise you to see a doctor about the bites - they can prescribe something more powerful than over-the-counter stuff. I got bitten badly once a couple years ago from staying in an infested Red Roof Inn in Cincinnati, OH. The bites were so itchy - way worse than the typical mosquito bite - so I got some prescription creme (can't remember what it was).

No sign of them in our house in Albany, and I have not heard of anyone complaining of them. Good luck getting rid of them! Sarah

ugh, i'm sorry to hear about this... but my friend had a problem with bedbugs, and he got rid of it with diatomaceous earth which is a food-grade, powdery stuff. two others got rid of fleas with this substance also.

however, even though it's touted as safe and my friend didn't have ANY effect, i must warn you that i had a horrible reaction to it when i had to treat fleas. my body cannot handle powdery particulate matters (i.e. drywall dust), so what most people don't experience, i can feel it and end up with bronchitis. my situation is very unusual, and i honestly don't know anyone who reacts like me.

that being said, my friend got rid of the bed bugs in some time by dusting his place with diatomaceous earth with a duster which ''puffed'' it out. but i will personally never use this product. still, i'm recommending it cautiously because it worked for bedbugs for someone else. good luck. - a fair recommender

So sorry you're going through this. Have you considered rat mites? Similar reactions. You'd see blood marks on your mattresses if they're bed bugs (we just had an episode in Mexico), but not w/rat mites. I'd check w/Alameda County Vector Control if you haven't already.

We use Flea Busters, a non-toxic descicant powder, which you can sprinkle around then vacuum up. Good luck. Bed Bugs and Rat Mites

Like another poster, I used diatomaceous earth (for mites, not bedbugs). My approach, to avoid inhaling it, was to put a *little bit* of the product in the palm of my hand and rub it all over me, from shoulder to ankle, then get into my pajamas. I didn't apply it to any part of my bed, or above my shoulders, to avoid inhaling it; using a little at a time, and not slapping it around, helps keep it from puffing up in clouds (which do nothing to help you anyhow). It really quelled the critters and did not irritate my lungs. If this could work for your situation, it's worth a try. Remember, once they crawl through it they're in trouble, so if you're going to be ''bait'' anyhow, you might as well take advantage of that. good luck!

Bed bugs and landlord

June 2009

My neighbor's apartment is infested with bed bugs. They want the landlord to pay for the exterminator. My building manager refuses and suggested they seek council. Since the problem has spread to the whole apt my other neighbor and I want our apartments to be checked to make sure they are not infested. My question is who is responsible for treating this problem and what rights do the tenants have in this situation. Anon

As far as I know, who is responsible for pest control is included in the rental contract; if your contract says that it is your responsibility, then it is. However, you would probably be advised to check with local rental laws to determine whether or not an infestation of this sort comes under a higher authority, such as communicable diseases, in which case the landlord is likely responsible for taking care of this infestation. So, first, get some legal aid advice about California rental laws, second, if it's the landlord's responsibility, get the whole complex together and file a complaint with the rental board. the landlord should come around rather quickly when confronted with fines and sanctions. Good luck to you, gosh I'd hate to have bedbugs! -anon

It is illegal for the landlord to not take care of the bed bugs in the apartment. It is considered ''inhabitable'' and the tenant can refuse to pay rent. I am a landlord and follow the strict rules of renting. Your friend should contact a lawyer who deals with these cases for support. Anna

Bed bugs can become a SERIOUS long lasting problem, you should take whatever action you can immediately. You can check for bedbugs yourself by examining your mattress (you can google for more info on what they look like, but I believe they are supposed to be small and clear looking). If you can move and they haven't infested your stuff yet, this may be the time to do it. If they have, you may have to get rid of your mattresses, etc. I've read that bed bugs can live in walls for up to ten years or more and they are very difficult to exterminate, even if your landlord actually hired one. I'm fairly certain that its a violation of your lease for him not to deal with this issue, I would check with tenant's rights groups. C

Bed bugs from a new futon?

Jan 2009

Has anyone else ever bought a futon and brought it home only to find bedbugs in it? We bought a futon for my daughter to sleep on and she started to get bites at night. We cleaned and washed all of her bedding thinking that we might have a spider around. My daughter is sleeping in a small bed in our room at the foot of our bed. We didn't get any bites but each morning she would wake up with nickle and quarter size bites. This went on for 3 days. Finally we realized that the only thing that we didn't wash in the room was the new futon. We removed it from the house and put our couch cusions on her frame....NO BITES. It was the futon. I called the shop where I bought it and they said that it couldn't be their futon. I asked for the owner to call me on my cell, she would not. Instead she knowing left me a message on my home number when she knew I was out. It said that there is no possibility that her futon had bedbugs. I called her several times after that and she would not come to the phone or return my calls. Has anyone else had this experience with them? What can I do about this? I really don't care about getting my money back but I do care if this company is selling futons with bedbugs in it. My daughter has to take Benatryl each day because the bites itch so much. She is uncomfortable sleeping and I don't want to see this happen to someone else. Can I report this to some government agency who might follow up? Any idea's would help.

I'm sorry that happened, and sorry also to hear of bedbugs arriving in the bay area. Yuck. I just wanted to share that when bedbugs were first getting into the news, they mentioned that if a truck is both delivering new mattresses and also picking up old mattresses (as they sometimes do) the bedbugs can migrate from an old, infested mattress to the new one. I don't know if this might have happened to you or not. Sarah

Don't rule out a spider. The nickle and quarter size bites you described are more spider-like than bedbugs. I was so upset when my son had sporadic bites like this (four separate times) that I researched this like crazy. (1) Bedbug bites tend to be three (or more) smaller bites in a line/row. Spider bites tend to be larger and have a raised point in the middle. (2) Bedbugs can be seen. An hour or so before sunrise, heating pad on the futon, look with a flashlight, they move as fast as ants. Also, look in the mattress seams for droppings or blood. (3) Moving around furniture can stir up bedbugs from your bed (which is touching the futon, right?) or spiders from anywhere...bedbugs can feed as little as once a week so the removal of the futon and the elimination of bites may not necessarily be linked. Same with spiders, they just move on.

If you are willing to concede that you just aren't sure whether it could be spiders or bedbugs, than try wrapping the futon in an allergy cover or two large (tape-sealed) garbage bags to ensure nothing from the futon gets out. No matter what you decide, it is worth starting a *constant* vacuuming and elimination of untouched crevices routine in your room. We finally did and our son has been bite-free for almost a year. Bite-phobic

It may be something other than bedbugs. My husband and I got an infestation of carpet beetles once and I had been itching for weeks before we figured out what it was. They gravitate towards natural fibers like wool and cotton (thus loved our woolen carpet and cotton futon) but can be found on other things, too, and they are common in this area. In fact we've seen them in our new house on a wooden floor. I am quite sensitive to bugs and I don't know if I was allergic to them or their poop or whether they were biting me but it was a drag. We had to wash everything we owned, etc.

I have no advice about how to get this business owner to be open to the suggestion that the futon contained some bugs but if you still have it is it possible to cut it open and see what is crawling around inside? I remember calling a state or county agency (vector control or something like that??) that deals with infestations of all sorts of vermin about it and getting some advice - perhaps they could suggest a way for the item to be tested so you would have some evidence. Good luck - I really feel your pain. Since my experience I've become a fan of those dust mite cover things to protect my new mattress. Susan

How frustrating! I don't know how you can make it right with the company, but I do know that wool futons are naturally fire retardant (and so the legally-mandated toxic fire retardant used on all new mattresses is not used on woolen beds). Also, wool is not hospitable to skin mites (which may be different than bedbugs, not sure). The downside is they are not cheap. Check out this site:

hi - you should buy an allergen mattress cover (from macy's or online at amazon) that protects against dust mites. We put one on our mattress after we were getting bites and it really helped. I'm assuming your futon would probably take a regular twin or full cover. it might be worth it to get one for the pillow as well just in case. here is the link to the one amazon sells that we bought. sara

You can file a complaint through the Better Business Bureau website ( My husband did this when he was having an issue with a company and he ultimately received a refund. Also consider Michael Finney's 7 On Your Side: 9

Consider gently informing the business owner of the steps you intend to take...this might change her response...

If they were bedbugs in a futon that was adjacent to your own bed I'm not sure why they didn't make the leap to yours. That is strange. Have you tested the bed to be sure they are bedbugs? What if your daughter had an allergic reaction to something in the futon instead? I think the store owner is handling this poorly but unless you are sure it is bedbugs then I too would be on the defensive. I have experienced bedbugs from a trip to asia and they are the worst but the bugs were on every bed not just in one. I'm not sure why they would ignore you or your bed. anon

Yes it is possible to get bed bugs from a new bed. There are many cases where the bed bugs from the old mattress jump to the new mattress on the transportation truck.

This is what I would do.

1. Try to settle the matter with the business. If they are not responsive, call them and tell them you will be calling The Better Business Bureau. Call The Better Business Bureau and follow their direction.

2. Did you charge it on a credit card? Call the credit card company and explain the situation. Most will stop the payment or hold it in escrow until a settlement is reached.

3. You can always voice your opinion on YELP or other similar sites. People really read them.

4. If you want to keep the mattress, there are many websites that explain how to get rid of bedbugs. Please do me a favor though.. have your child sleep somewhere else until they are gone. Her condition sounds really miserable. -Itchy

I would take the darn thing back to the store; physically take it back. I would push for a refund (or complain to the credit card company). Even if I couldn't get my money back, I would leave the bed bugs at the futon store. I would also call/email the KGO consumer guy to see if he can help you. Oh and if you can't get it re-dressed...I would put it in writing to the store and copy the better business bureau. Nikki