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Bed Bugs in Used Furniture

by Mike & Cindy
(Pottstown, Pa)

I had been wanting a sectional sofa and could not afford a new one. I found one on Craigslist valued at $1400. but the people were moving and need to get rid of one fast. I paid $100.

When we brought it home it had a funny smell and I thought that the people lied about being non-smokers. We decided to remove all the cushion covers and wash them. When we took them apart we found a bug. We immediately took it to an exterminator to see what it was and confirmed it was a bed bug. Then went to the store and bought an otc bed bug spray to hold us over until an exterminator could come to our house.

After spraying the sofa and living room we recognized the smell. It was bed bug spray we had been smelling coming from the sofa. When the exterminator came to our house he found one more bug. We were lucky we did not have an infestation, but could have quickly. We treated everything and I don't think I will buy used upholstered furniture again.

Editor Response

Mike and Cindy,

Thanks for sharing your story regarding how easy it is to bring home bed bugs hiding in used furniture. It's even been a problem with new furniture deliveries when used and new shares the same truck. We've also received letters from people that have rented furniture that is infested with bed bugs.

The safest way to buy used furniture is to pick it up in a truck that has a portable heat chamber on the back. This way the furniture can be heated to the required 120F to ensure that all bed bugs and bed bug eggs are killed.

In climates with freezing weather, leaving furniture outdoors for 5 to 10 days in freezing temperatures will kill all bed bugs and eggs.

Thanks again for sharing this warning. With the rise of bed bug infestations, it no longer makes any sense to buy used furniture.

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Bed Bugs in Library Book

by Rachel Ward
(Cincinnati, OH)

While reading a library book, a red bug walked out onto the page I was reading. He (she?) was quickly squashed in the page and flushed down the toilet. I spent a restless night denying that it could have been a bedbug. Your photos are so graphic, that I can no longer deny it. I am going home, cleaning, washing and vacuuming the whole room. Do I need to hire an exterminator if I don't have any other evidence of activity in the room? Is it a fair assumption that he/she hitch-hiked in on the library book?

Editor Suggestion Bed Bug in Library Book

Hi Rachel,

You point out a very real problem that is only going to get worse as the bed bugs problem grows. This is particularly true in cities like Cincinnati which have a very real bed bug problem. Since bed bugs primarily are found in the bedroom and since is also where people leave library books, there is a real risk of bed bugs in a library book infesting a home.

In your particular case, the odds of one bed bug causing an infestation is low, unless a pregnant female escaped from the book. A single male or female that is not pregnant will eventually die without reproducing.

Even so, it might pay to take some precautions. At this point I'd suggest being vigilant. Keep an eye on your mattress, sheets etc. and do a visual inspection in any area where the book was located. This includes your car, bags etc that were used to transport the bed bug. Look for signs of bed bugs such as brown fecal stains, red stains, eggs etc.

You can see bed bugs with the naked eye, so be sure to use a thin object to glide inside any bed tufts, around the box spring etc and see if you jar loose any insects. As a precaution, you can vacuum around the bed and box spring using the vacuum crevice tool (immediately dispose of vacuum bag). If you have a hand steamer, holding the steamer in each area of the mattress for about 30 seconds can also work. A hair dryer on high heat held on the sames may also cause the bed bugs to try and flee.

If you are really worried, buy a mattress safe bed bug spray such as Sterifab (works against insecticide resistant bed bugs). You can buy a bottle for under $20 and it buys piece of mind.

You could also place climbup interceptor traps under each bed leg. If the traps stay empty for about 2 weeks, then you are bed bug free (this is the life cycle of a bed bug)

The problem with calling a bed bug exterminator right now is that they will charge for the visit ($50 - $100 or more with a bed bug sniffing dog). If the exterminator cannot find a live insect, then it was wasted money, so you might as well look yourself. The only sure way to know is to use an exterminator that uses a bed bug sniffing dog, although this gets into the few hundred dollar fee range.

For now, go the self inspection route. Or if worried, go with the inspection, vacuum/steam and spray, trap route. If you see even 1 insect, capture it and get it identified by either an exterminator or bring it to a local service such as a cooperative extension or department of health (call first to confirm they offer that service).

In the future, be sure to not only inspect library books, but any clothing you might buy. The only fail safe is to purchase a portable heat chamber for the home called a PackTite. These foldaway units are big enough to hold luggage and can heat any items to the temperatures required to make sure both bed bugs and bed bug eggs are killed. This might be more than you need right now, but for those that travel or take out many library books, it is a great way to go.

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