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From the Forum – Help! Neighbor has bed bugs?

by Prince Of Petworth — August 28, 2013 at 2:15 pm 19 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user p.bjork

Help! Neighbor has bed bugs?

“Over the past few months, we have spotted bed bugs in our semi-detached row house (we have one household that shares our insular wall). They have been few and far between – six in the past three months – all but one have been adults and one was a “fresh out of the egg, first stage nymph.” Two of the adults and the nymph has been feeding since they were full of blood when killed.

We have stripped EVERYTHING down and have found nothing. No spots, no carcasses, and nothing reminiscent after washing and drying all of our clothes and linens. We took apart the couch and bed – still, nothing. Lastly, we bought diatomaceous earth powder and sprinkled that in areas that would be common for bed bugs.

When it comes down to it, we suspect the bugs are not coming from our house, but coming from the attached neighbor’s house because all areas where we have found them are adjacent to the neighbor’s house.

The ultimate dilemma is that the family next door is low-income, living off of the handicapped mother’s SSI, and exterminations are really costly. We haven’t asked them about the bed bugs yet, but wonder if others have dealt with this and how would folks suggest resolving the issue.”

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  • Maire

    You might want to put the D-earth around the spots where they’re coming in and not just where you see them.

    I personally would do almost anything to prevent/avoid bedbugs including probably paying for a neighbor’s treatment (just jump right into the heat treatment, that will avoid a lot of the legwork… the constant washing, drying, bagging clothes, etc that a disabled person might not be able to be diligent about).

    The other thing is trying to figure out where they came from initially. Your neighbors might need to take some precautions if they’re going back and forth from someplace that’s infested so they/you don’t have a recurrence.

    • ExKansan

      You need to realize that Diatomaceous Earth is nasty, nasty stuff if inhaled: it causes silicosis, a degenerative lung disease similar to Black Lung. The damage doesn’t show up in a day, or a week, or a month, but instead years or decades later.

      Some “experts” will say that the food-grade DE is OK, but it’s not: just because it’s OK to eat does not mean its OK to breath. Food-grade DE will causes silicosis if inhaled.

      So, if you’re going to use DE, make sure you use it very sparingly, and in areas where you are certain it won’t ever get kicked up in the air. Or just don’t use it at all.

      Bedbugs won’t make you sick, but DE sure as heck can.

  • Jon

    Offer to buy their house and fix the problem.

  • cookie

    Sorry you are experiencing this.

    In order to treat this properly, you must understand bed bugs. Most people living with an infestation never even see one and are not allergic to the bites. There is a common misconception that they are only in/around the bed. They basically hide in cracks, crevices, electrical outlets, hinges, draperies, appliances, behind picture frames, etc. and can travel on pipes, electrical conduits, etc. and mostly come out at night. They can and do travel a distance to feed on you.

    A big misconception, that you can get rid of them on your own. This is not true. You must contact a professional with proven experience to get rid of them.

    In your case, you can’t get rid of them by treating just your unit. You and your neighbors that share walls must be treated and work together at the same time to rid yourselves of this mess. You will never get rid of this issue on your own. No internet or Home Depot remedies will be able to do this.

    I won’t go into the specifics, but Rutland Court on 17th St. had bed bugs in almost half of their units several years ago. It took them multiple attempts (and years!) and exterminators to find one with the comprehensive approach that was able to eradicate the problem. The company that finally got rid of them in the building was American Pest Control out of Rockville MD. I do not work for, own, or even know the people that run/own this company. I just happen to unfortunately have intimate knowledge of the issues at Rutland Court and bed bugs in general.

    It’s a common misunderstanding that bed bugs are like other pests that are drawn to dirt and food. But that’s not actually the case as they feed solely on blood. Bed bugs are hitchhikers and are brought into dwellings by hitchhiking on suitcases, clothing, purses, computers, etc. and anyone can get bed bugs through no fault of their own. They are found in hotels of course but also hospitals, the Nike store in NY had them so did a bunch of movie theaters, office buildings, etc. Therefore, no sense placing blame or trying to figure out the source as you could easily be the one who brought them in. Just get them treated asap and work with your neighbor even if you have to pay to treat their place. It’s not that expensive at the place I listed above and you don’t have to get rid of all your stuff.

    If you don’t get rid of the problem where you are and you think moving out will solve it, it most likely won’t. It will likely follow you. I wish you luck.

  • Miss Lu Lu Hogg

    Bed bugs is a growing problem in the District of Columbia. Our city is ranked in the top ten cities with an bed bug infestation in the United States. Bed bug bites can cause redness, anxiety, and severe itching. The Northwest building where I live has a bed bug infestation and my landlord have refused to exterminate the entire building because it’s too costly for them. It’s hard to get rid of bed bugs and it will take several treatments to get rid of these pests. Unfortunately, if you live in an apartment building with bed bugs and if the landlord don’t exterminate their entire property, once bed bugs are found, bed bugs will travel from one apartment to another. I don’t ever want to experience bed bugs are their bites.

    • Jones

      What building?


    I feel your pain, this is a HUGE problem in this city that no one talks about or seems to want to deal with. I have never had bed bugs in my unit – I live in a 20 unit building – until my neighbors got evicted and decided to leave their bedbug infested furniture directly in front of my door and fire escape thus infesting my unit. It’s literally physically and emotionally draining to deal with this issue. It may sound trivial to someone that’s never dealt with bed bugs but wait until you do, it’s a big deal, especially if a loved one is hyper allergic to their bites.

    American Pest is good but the heat treatment (pricey) is the way to go. They also have bed bug sniffing dogs that can determine where there may be an infestation (they actually do work). Best of luck, this is such a huge pain to deal with, on a positive note scientists believe they don’t transmit disease but everything else about them is awful.

  • Angry Parakeet

    Twice (2 years ago) I removed the plastic bag and opened my home delivery Washington Post and there were maybe 2-3 bedbugs in a folded section. The delivery guys were delivering from a very ratty van.

    • textdoc


  • annonny

    Oh this is horrible. A negligent neighbor in my building was the source of bedbugs that infested 4 other apartments. It took over a year to get rid of them, largely because the guy who was the source was uncooperative and belligerent about letting the exterminators do their job. Knowing nothing about your relationship with your neighbors, I’d suggest you try to build up some rapport with them and tackle the problem together – otherwise the bugs will simply continue to invade your property. Is there another house on the opposite side of the suspected source? Enlist them, as well. Finally, if all else fails, try kidney bean leaves on the floor under and around your bed: http://blogs.smithsonianmag.com/science/2013/04/bean-leaves-dont-let-the-bedbugs-bite-by-using-tiny-impaling-spikes/

  • Kathryn-DC

    I also went through this with neighbors, and part of your problem is that the darn bugs are in the walls, traveling along pipes and electrical connections.

    I have established a ‘bug barrier’ with a good bedbug spray along the baseboards and in every electrical socket. Just in the bedroom. It has to be redone every week, but so far no nighttime visitors.

    • Jones

      “Bug Barriers” with OTC sprays do not work. Bed bugs are immune to any pesticides you can get your hands on as a non pro exterminator. And like was previously posted, unless you are allergic to the bites (and only a small portion of people are), you would not have any bite marks and thus, you would not even know if you had them unless you woke up and saw one. I hope you don’t have them, but your method is not a good one for getting rid of them or keeping them away.

      • Kathryn-DC

        I know for fact that I do not have them. My apartment has been repeatedly inspected, even with dogs and I am one of the people who is allergic. I would break out in welts and have to take Benedryl. My landlord has been very responsive to the issue, but it is a long process to get them out of the walls.

        • Kathryn-DC

          The main issue with using sprays is that they only kill bugs and eggs on contact, so you have to be very diligent about using them. But If you were to treat your shopping bags and luggage with plain permethrin, it’s a good preventative. Not 100% but good.

  • ExKansan

    The nuclear option is to “tent” the entire structure and fumigate for several hours with Vikane (at three times the strength usually used for termites). This will kill every last bedbug dead, and kill the eggs. It’ll cost you several thousand dollars, and you’ll need the neighbors to at least cooperate, if not chip in.

    Pretty much every other option is going to be an exercise in frustration, because it’s utterly unlikely that the neighbors will ever diligently comply with the strict regimen required to eliminate bedbugs using conventional treatments (“Dry clean all my clothes and carefully store them in sealed plastic bags for weeks on end? Ain’t nobody got time for that!”)

  • Miss Lu Lu Hogg

    I received a Memo from landlord today, Eagle Pest will be on the premises on 9/6/13 and will be treating my unit between 8 a.m.-2p.m. We ask that you move everything 2-3 feet away from the exterior walls and unplug all electronics from the outlets (We will not treat any outlets that have electronics plugged into them). Our pest control professionals will be dusting wall voids with a product called Mother Earth D. We ask that you leave for 3 hours during this treatment, you may return home anytime after 4 p.m. All pets should be removed as well. Thanks in advance for your cooperation!

    Have anyone every heard of Mother Earth D and will it kill bed bugs?

  • Duponter

    Is it generally the landlord’s responsibility to pay for extermination efforts if you are a tenant, or would that be considered something you (or unfortunately others) brought onto the premises and therefore must handle yourself?

    I have no issues that I’m aware of, but since reading this, I feel itchy and will immediately be inspecting my mattress when I get home.

  • ebgb

    I think you should offer to pay the full cost of exterminating services for your neighbor. With their bug problem only growing and beginning to invade your space, it Seems like you’ll be paying for your own house’s extermination soon if their bug problem is taken care of. If you can nip their problem now, you wont have to deal with an infestation in your place. As a bonus, all the nasty chemical residue will be on their belongings not yours, and you’ll still be bed bug free.

  • Magssno

    You don’t say whether your neighbor and yourself rent or own the property. If you rent your landlord should be the one to sort out treatment.

    I would be very careful how you tackle the issue with your neighbors, even now their is a stigma attached to having bed bugs and it may cause huge embarrassment, but I agree it has to be done. As for offering to pay for the treatment – this lady may be extremely grateful, on the other hand she may be deeply offended.

    Have you considered that it may have actually been a guest in your house who brought the bugs with them? It would make sense taking into account the very small number you have found.

    Good luck, I really don’t envy you !


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