Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Defeating the airborne bedbugs

Another update on my situation:

Although I took all the precaution while I was moving, I isolated my bed and started caulking as soon as I moved to my new apartment.

Since my problem started, I had a total of about three dozens of bumps that were big, itchy and lasted for weeks. I haven't had any of those ever since I isolated my bed and the working area. But instead I was getting 2 or 3 bumps or dots per week that were small, weren't itchy and disappeared quickly. This lasted until the end of November, a month after I moved. However, since the beginning of December, I haven't had any anything suspicious on my body. I haven't been able to find an explanation for this.

Right after I caulked the ceiling lights and the vents, I caught two spiders on the ceiling. I hadn't seen any spiders before and haven't seen any ever since. So this seems to support my view that caulking is effective against not only bedbugs, but also many other insects such as cockroaches and spiders.

Back to the main topic.

As soon as you isolated your bed, two things might happen:

1. The hungry bedbugs become reckless and come out more often during the day. This happened both at my old apartment and my parents'.

2. The bedbugs alter their normal routes and start to climb onto the ceiling and drop to your bed. My parents caught two on the ceiling right above the bed. I've also read at least a dozen of articles on the Internet that described this strategy used by the bedbugs.

I'll focus on how to defeat the airborne bedbugs today. I doubt that the bedbugs possess human intelligence, as suggested by Dr Campbell in his paper "My observations on bedbugs", but rather believe that the strategy is based on basic instinct, which is that the bedbugs are attracted to CO2 and body heat. One web site claims that the bedbug can detect CO2 from 15 feet away. I haven't been able to verify that.

My suggestion is that if you have a light infestation, you don't have to worry too much about it, but if you have a heavy infestation or if you have seen them on the walls or the ceiling, you definitely have to do something about it. Here are a few things that I would suggest:

1. Dust Diatomaceous Earth along the baseboard, as I suggested before. DE serves two purposes. If you apply heavy amount, the bedbugs will most likely try to avoid it, so DE acts as a barrier in this case. If you apply lightly, the bedbugs might cross it and eventually die.

2. Eliminate hiding places on the ceiling so that they won't nest there. As long as you have something on the ceiling, whether it's a light, fan or vent, there must be some places for the bedbugs to hide. It's important to eliminate these hiding places especially if you live in an apartment or condo, since they will lead to the drywall above and to the residence above eventually.

3. Spray long residual insecticide along the edges of the ceiling as a barrier.

4. If all fail, I developed two systems that should effectively defeat these airborne bedbugs.

Figure 4.1, top view

The first system is simply a rectangle of double-sided carpet tape on top of painter's tape. As shown in Figure 4.1, the rectangle should be at least a few inches bigger than the perimeter of the bed. I actually used this in my old apartment right after I read "My observations on bedbugs". But I mistakenly had carpet tape on top of duct tape, which damaged the ceiling paint when I peeled them off, and I had to repair the ceiling and repaint it. You also don't want to coat Vaseline directly on the ceiling since it will likely be absorbed by the ceiling and leave black marks on it. The painter's tape that I bought from Home Depot was rated for 14 days, meaning that it could be left up for 14 days without leaving residue on the ceiling. The longest one is 60 days, but is less adhesive. If the tape is left up for too long, it could possibly cause some damage, but I think the damage would be very minor. However, I haven't done any experiment, so do it at your own risk. To avoid the messy looking, you might want to tape along the edges of the ceiling instead.

Figure 4.2, tilted bottom view

Figure 4.3, side view

The second system is a plastic sheet, such as painter's drop sheet with double-sided carpet tape adhered to all four edges, and taped or nailed to the ceiling at the four corners. The basic setup is shown in Figure 4.2. The side-view in Figure 4.3 shows that only the four corners are attached to the ceiling. The main advantage of this system is that:

1. The first system works only on completely flat ceiling, while this system works on ceilings that aren't perfectly flat such as texture ceilings.

2. Since only the four corners are attached to the ceiling by tape or nails, it will cause none or very minor damage to the ceiling.

Because the plastic sheet isn't tightly against the ceiling, bedbugs can keep crawling on the ceiling under the sheet, but they won't be able to reach your bed in this case. And if they try to crawl onto the sheet, they will be blocked by the carpet tape. Better yet, bedbugs are not good climbers, if you also have carpet tape on the other side of the sheet, and if any bedbugs drop from the ceiling onto the sheet, they will be trapped.

Of course, with these tape and sheet on the ceiling, your bedroom won't look too neat. But would your pay this small price or rather let them drop to your bed and bite you?


Anonymous cheeky monkey said...

If your room was compact enough, I suppose you could also just put a perimeter of DSCT (double-sided carpet tape) on all four walls at a height greater than any hiding spots or nooks.

I live in a bachelor apartment that's about 16'x16' so I'm going to have to ditch a lot of the clutter, and put the bed in the middle of the room!

I don't have guests so I don't need my donated sofa bed, I guess I'll do all my livin' in the bed in the middle of the room, lol.

I often thought of why the traditional notion of keeping the windows open at night make sense ...

If you can fool or minimize the bugs ability to detect higher concentrations of CO2, this helps, and a nice airflow would do this.

I also had a strange thought of putting frozen cold packs near where I sleep to deceive the bugs about heat sources, but hey, that's some serious warfare, eh? lol

Lastly, any comments on the so-called mosquito nets? I know any nets make the user inside a bit starved for air flow... but your ceiling tape ideas sound better.

11:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We cut Victor glue traps in half and lined the floor along the baseboards. Caught a bunch. Not thru with the fight yet...unfortunately. Like the ideas I've heard here.

9:00 AM  
Blogger Allvira said...

you can just treat it as placing the ointment for the treatment of bedbug.
Seed treatments

7:22 AM  
Blogger Dave Spatholt said...

wouldn't it make more sense to try and get the ones that are airborne by trapping them on their way back to the ground? Since they can't fly, once they've dropped the must exit your bed somehow. Therefore a capture method around the bed itself should still be effective against airbourne bugs.

11:10 AM  

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