This is a landmark year for us. After seven plus years of searching for bed bugs, Ollie is finally retiring. He has worked hard. He has trained repeatedly. He has been in hundreds of different environments and helped thousands of people fight bed bugs. He is now able to spend some quality time on the couch. He doesn’t have to work for his meals. He can enjoy (occasional) table scraps. Life is good in the golden years…or so it seems.
In the last week, I have had two close friends approach me for help detecting bed bugs in their homes. A bed bug was spotted crawling out of a child’s backpack in their home. The sibling also had been experiencing some bites.
This led me to start investigating the frequency of these bed bug sightings, and I began asking around. One of my kids has spotted bed bugs on three separate occasions at her school this year. The sightings were in hallways, classrooms and cafeteria. None of these areas have upholstery or carpet. Just students, lots of students. Another child indicated that she sees bed bugs much more frequently in one of her classrooms.
I understand that this is not the fault of the school, as it is not the fault of any place that is accessed by large numbers of public populations. In this school setting, I am inclined to think they are mostly on back packs, coats and kids. I keep debating is what are some of the best modes of being proactive to reduce the risk to other students and teachers. Reducing the amount of personal belongings floating through the hallways would be one step. Checking out lockers and various other areas regularly is another.
I wonder what some other school districts are doing about their bed bug problems. My research hasn’t shown much with regards to proactive policies. I think maybe there is limited sharing due to fear of reputations being tarnished by bed bug rumors.
I hope this gets better soon, but it doesn’t seem likely.
Bed Bug Infestation At Chicago Police Headquarters Leads To Investigation
I am certain that some people would find it shocking that there are bed bugs in public buildings such as this, especially since there is an obvious lack of beds (they are called “bed bugs”, right??) What bed bug prefer over beds is people. They are driven by their need to feed, which pushes them to be near us. I have seen bed bugs in a County Courthouse, a museum, a funeral home, libraries, day cares and countless more obvious places (hospitals, doctors offices, airports…)
I have placed the fate of my family’s financial well-being in a bug. Why? Because they continue to spread and be more pervasive. They continue to mutate to evade treatment methods. They are a plague on our society (just one of many these days.) These dogs are one of the best tools to track, identify and eventually eliminate bed bugs.
Sometimes this type of work is super rewarding; other times it seems to just tug on those heart strings and make me wish I could do more. Without elaborating too much, I had the pleasure of meeting this amazing older couple. Strong marriage. Great family. Super house in a nice established neighborhood. They found bed bugs months ago in their master bedroom. Neither was noticing symptoms or signs of the bites. They were accustomed to “do it yourself” projects, and attempted this one as well. They bought over-the-counter remedies and began a lengthy and costly self-treatment process. So many people assume that there must be “truth in advertising” and that the claims on these worthless bottles will actually hold true.
Months later, they were still battling the bed bugs. The bugs were now in two bedrooms, the living room, the master bath and the laundry room. The couple had begun sleeping on their outdoor chaise lounges (in the family room) to try to find peace.
On the positive side, they hired a reputable company to heat treat the house for them. When we took the dogs through after the treatment, we did not find any “residual” bugs.
Have dog, will travel ~ Jenn
We made it through most of January without taking many breaks and/or days off. We are spending much of our time in our hometown, Lancaster, Ohio chasing bed bugs in a variety of venues. It seems that so many people have bed bugs in their homes (perhaps without even knowing) that the insects are more frequently being found in businesses. It is causing a lot of changes to procedures and protocols within the work place.
People are bringing bags or totes to store their belongings in at work. They are minimizing personal items at work. Some folks are removing all “work clothes” at the door when they return home and placing everything possible in the dryer. Kids are being discouraged from taking backpacks to their rooms. Daycare locations are trying to isolate personal belongings to minimize risk and potential contamination.
It is great to see these proactive steps being implemented!
We were in New Lexington today hunting bed bugs. We only found one small area with bed bugs out of the five structures we inspected. As we drove through the streets of Perry County Ohio, I was struck by the amount of furniture piled in alleys and on curbs. Mattresses, sofas old and new, complete bedroom suites…all set out to go to the dump. It is so discouraging to see peoples’ possessions devalued in a community where money is sparse. ~Jenn
This is a reality that is not so great for retailers…
I recently witnessed a sad and unusual situation. We visited a fraternity house that was having a few bed bug sightings. We had already been there and were checking the improvement of the outbreak. In one room, the resident had noticed bed bugs and had a severe aversion to them. He was truly frightened and scared to sleep in his own bunk. He had taken some store-bought diatomaceous earth and covered the sofa and the mattresses. This is not a good practice, and it also doesn’t seem to provide any of the anticipated benefits….excuse me as I go off on a tangent…
….diatomaceous earth (DE) is basically ground up seashells designed to cut up a bed bug’s exoskeleton. First, it doesn’t work as well as initially hoped. Secondly, using a product in a manner that is not in compliant with the label is NOT good idea! This brings us to number three…dumping DE on fabrics and materials. It can become airborne and get in your lungs! (If it can slice open the exoskeleton of a bed bug, imagine what it can do to your lungs!) Some people are able to be near DE without noticeable effects. It makes me cough almost immediately, and my dogs will have sneezing fits. It is a really bad idea to spread this pesticide around in open areas, even if it IS called “organic” or “green”.
…Anyways, this poor college kid was so bothered by the thought of bed bugs crawling on him while he was sleeping that he made a huge elaborate set-up to keep himself “safe”. He suspended an Eno hammock from the top bunk area and placed two-sided tape all around to reduce the bed bugs ability to climb on him and/or bite him. He had to climb up a ladder and carefully climb out into the Emo (which was six feet up) and try to get some rest. Not to mention that climbing to this contraption included a gaunt through the DE that was sprinkled all over!
Bed bugs are so challenging to deal with. This was another example of that…
This week we drove two hours each way to inspect a home for an individual. This person once lived in an apartment and had a bad experience with bed bugs. A neighbor in an adjacent unit had a heavy infestation and was self-treating with foggers/bed bug bombs. The bugs, instead of being killed, were being pushed into other areas and into other peoples apartments.
Having undergone treatment and eventually moving, this person couldn’t escape the fear that they may have brought bed bugs with them in their move. The mental and emotional burden that bed bugs can cause is quite traumatic. People describe waking at night and fearing that they woke due to a bug biting them. Many also describe the constant self-evaluation of their skin for potential marks and/or bites.
We were able to provide peace of mind that there were not any bed bugs at the new residence. I like it when the story has a happy ending!
Have dog, will travel ~ Jenn
This week we are doing some unique training with the dogs. Today, we are working on “high” hides so we can be better at identifying these types of situations while in the field. It is awesome to walk into a training situation like this and see the dog’s reaction. That “head whip” when they catch the scent. Standing on their back legs like hairy canine ballerinas, trying to get closer to the scent. Watch out bed bugs on ceilings and drapes, we are coming for you! ~Jenn