Dear Home-Ec 101,

My boyfriend has recently gotten bug bites, mostly on his right arm but other places as well (legs, etc.). They are small, red, and itchy. Smaller than mosquito bites. I haven’t gotten any. He thinks they happen more on a particular couch, but it’s hard to pinpoint (the bed and a computer chair have also been suspected). He can’t catch them in the act, and we haven’t seen anything.

So we think they’re fleas, but we’re not sure. We don’t have pets or any reason they would be here, but who knows (neighbors have cats, and we live in an apartment building). We’ve read a little about bed bugs but feel like we would see those…

What’s the best way to deal with this? Preferably without having to remove our dishes somewhere while we wait 4 hours? I don’t mind bug bombing, just don’t wanna have to worry about all my plates and stuff…

Anything we can do right away and cheaply to get my boyfriend relief?

I’ve searched the internets so far for help, but it’s confused, usually sponsored by some pest company trying to sell me something I’m not sure I need, and usually pet directed… we have no pets and want to figure out if these bugs are living ON my boyfriend or what?! Eww!

I figure I’m getting bit as well but just don’t have a reaction to it or whatever.


Scratchin’ in Scranton

retrochick.JPG Ivy says:

It definitely sounds like you have a flea infestation. The reason your boyfriend has bumps and you don’t is because some people are allergic to flea bites and other people are not. I’m not allergic to them, either. Better them than us, eh? 😉

Since you don’t have pets, flea removal is going to be slightly easier. I have two cats and a dog, and when we got fleas a couple of years ago, I went ahead and went the flea bomb route, because I wanted to knock it out as soon as possible. If you do go the flea bomb route, you’ll need to make sure you are vacuuming really, really well, and make sure you wash everything you possibly can in hot water. Curtains, area rugs, everything.

I don’t think you will have to go the flea bomb route, though. I did a little research and found this nifty contraption on Amazon. It’s a flea trap, and the reviews are largely really good, and it’s priced right, $16.

I’d probably get a flea trap and then vacuum the absolute heck out of everything in my house. Make sure you are taking the vacuum bag (if you have one) entirely out of the house immediately after a vacuuming session. You can even put the bag in a plastic bag and put it in your freezer to kill them all before you take it outside. If you have a bagless vacuum, empty it outside directly into a trash bag. Seal the bag and throw it in your dumpster (if you have one).

Wash everything that can possibly be washed in hot water. Take the sofa cushions out and put them in one of those giant plastic bags and leave it outside in the sun. Then vacuum the entire couch really well again, making sure to follow the bag procedures outlined above.

I think that’ll take care of it! If you do get a flea trap, let us know how well it works, it looks neat. I totally want one, except I don’t have any fleas (knock on wood).

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  1. deneicer1 on September 25, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    When got home from being gone a week I noticed immediately that my legs were covered in BABY FLEAS! Argh! The dogs were not home to continuously keep the population down due to their flea treatment. So…we all took turns running our Dyson Animal Vac [Yes, yes I love it!] and vacuumed up as many as possible. We vacuumed for about an hour, seriously. Then I retrieved the Borax from the laundry room [I now make my own laundry detergent and I love it, too!] and shook it all over the carpet. We left the Borax on the carpet for about 24 hours and went to vacuuming straight away again. The Home Stead – 1 Flea Infestation – 0! My husband sprayed the carpet with icky chemicals just to make sure the little baby-boogers were goners, too.

    So sorry about the bed bugs. 🙁 My husband travels sometimes and I am terrified he would bring them home by mistake!

  2. Lellie on January 28, 2008 at 8:34 am

    I live in apartment and got bed bugs from one of the tenants. Did all the major hot water washing and bagging everything, etc. I use a day bed so I disposed of the mattress and got an inflatable one. I bought some tangle foot and painted my bed legs with it. And I spread diatomaceous earth all around my bed and on the floor and everywhere around the wall that I figured they had come through. And I made sure that my bedding didn’t make any bridges from the floor or walls to the bed. I moved the bed a bit away from the wall. They hide and in the early morning climb on to the place where you are sleeping, bit and then run away.

    I am a night owl and sometimes I am still awake in the early morning. For a while I had to make sure my feet were not on the floor because I got bites. The diatomaceous earth is working and the problem is over.

    Diatomaceous earth is made from the tiny shells of diatoms and is non toxic to us. The shells are sharp and they cut the bugs and they bleed to death.

    Tanglefoot is a sticky substance that traps any insect that tries to crawl on it. It’s a very old product from the 1800’s and still available today.

    My city has an epidemic of bed bugs and I would suggest that anything that you buy from a thrift store be immediately tossed in the hot wash and the bag thrown in the trash. Don’t buy a second hand couch or a second hand mattress.

    The street people were all over our garbage removing things that were infested.

  3. JRae on September 28, 2007 at 11:32 am

    So yeah… it’s bed bugs. *cries*

    Looks like they’re a rising epidemic too. And tough to get rid of.

    Luckily my building has an exterminator- but it will be extremely difficult to prepare for the visit because you have to remove ALL cloth from your bedroom, sealed in plastic bags and then washed in the hottest water possible. What about my delicates? Also we are very messy, so cleaning up itself will be a monumental task.

    This sucks. 🙁 I never thought I would want them to bring back DDT (apparently the reason bed bugs died out in the 40’s and 50’s).

  4. Margo on September 27, 2007 at 8:46 pm

    When we had a cat, we had a flea infestation once. I got rid of it mainly by treating the cat with the expensive drops between her ears AND putting salt in our carpets before vacuuming. The problem I experienced with salt was that it corroded the metal on my canister vacuum pipe, so now I can’t remove the floor attachment anymore. But we did get rid of the fleas.

    We used four roach bombs on our house when we bought it. . . now that’s another story 🙂

  5. themomhalf on September 27, 2007 at 7:48 pm

    putting salt (non-iodized) down on the carpets, furniture, etc…. about 24 hours before you vacuum helps immensely, the fleas have a coating that the salt scratches and they dehydrate!

    this is the best book i found for such problems:

    Tiny Game Hunting: Environmentally Healthy Ways to Trap and Kill the Pests in Your House and Garden New Edition — Hilary Dole Klein (Author), Adrian M. Wenner (Author)

    good luck

  6. JRae on September 27, 2007 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks so much for the advice! 🙂

    Hey that flea trap jogs my memory- I read somewhere you can do something similar with a lamp and a soapy dish of water underneath it on the floor. The fleas jump towards the heat and land in the water, which is soapy so there’s no surface tension, so they sink and drown. That would definitely be a good test to see if this is really fleas or not!! 🙂 (I hope they are, because the idea of bed bugs give me the willies.)

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