Bedbugs, kids, no money

Asked August 14, 2015, 3:59 AM EDT

We recently discovered we were infested with bed bugs and we are already in financial hardship. We first tried spraying with Hot Shot for bed bugs, but it seemed to draw them out more and make them more active. The only ones that died are the ones we hit directly and we couldn't continue to spray because we have children and pets in our home. We read that we could buy food grade Diatameceous Earth, sorry if I spelled that wrong. We purchased some at the Pet Club, then experimented by putting some bed bugs in a plastic container with a light amout of this dust. They died by the next day. It seemed promising, so even though we plan on disposing of our beds and sofa, we sprinkled it all over them, then we covered our carpets, baseboards, dressers, night stands, etc with a light dusting. We are finding dead ones, but also live ones. We heard heat also works, which we can't afford to do professionally, but we are thinking of turning our AC off and turning the furnace up and going to a motel for a couple days. Since it's still about 113 degrees here in Phoenix, we hope this will help, but we truly can't afford a motel, if it won't help. Today at school, my six year old grandson was sent to the nurses office to inspect his bites. He told them it was mosquitoes. We are so afraid if anyone finds out, they may call CPS and they may take the kids. Can or will they do that? I am terrified to tell my landlord because he probably won't help anyway, and what if he evicted us? We have a three bedroom home that two of us leased earlier in the year and our landlord said we can't have any one else living here, but a couple months later, my son and his wife and their five kids became homeless in Colorado and came to stay here until they get on their feet. So, do you have any suggestions? Can we heat this house enough naturally to make a difference? Should we keep using the powder and be patient? Can the kids be removed by CPS due to this situation? We are afraid to tell anyone! Thanks for any help you can provide!

Maricopa County Arizona

1 Response

Hello, very sorry to hear you are battling bed bugs. You are completely correct Hot Shot will kill the bed bugs sprayed but as most of them are secreted away in locations you can not see, it will not get rid of them. Food grade Diatameceous Earth, will help, but again is not likely to get rid of them all I'm afraid. Please be careful not to breath it in, it is an inhalation hazard. Wall voids including behind electrical faceplates are good locations for the dust. You can encase your mattresses and boxsprings as opposed to discarding them. Sofas are more difficult to deal with.

Heat treatments can be very effective, but I am sorry to say it's highly unlikely that leaving and turning your heating on will do the trick. I live in the Phoenix metro area and even on a 117F day wall voids and locations inside furniture simply do not get hot enough (140F for 4 hours) to do the job. I wouldn't waste your money on a motel stay.

I am so sorry you are worried about CPS. I can promise that there are so many families with the same problem you do that schools are regularly dealing with kids with bites and hitchhiking bed bugs in school. My direct number is 520-374-6223. Please call me if you have any problems with the school. I talk to schools, nurses and district offices regularly on this subject. I have only once heard CPS get involved and the bed bugs were really coincidental, severe neglect was the issue. Please read the hand out re. what landlords can do and feel free to have your landlord contact me. Unless your lease indicates you are responsible for bed bug remediation then it's likely your landlord will assume the cost. Some of far from thrilled and need to understand the law in AZ but please review the publication, it may be the help you need: https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1563.pdf

Also see this publication for some helpful hints: https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/pubs/az1625-2014.pdf

You can call me if you have more questions, your information is confidential and I'll help any way I can, Dawn.