Argh! Bedbugs! Exterminator coming. What do I do with my guns?


July 8, 2008, 01:01 AM
We got notice this afternoon that one of the apartments in my building has bedbugs. They are treating on Wednesday and have a huge checklist of things we have to have done by then or we are responsible for all treatment costs for the building and surrounding buildings if it spreads (min $200, possibly tens of thousands). Well, it looks like I'm pulling an all-nighter or two.

Anyway, there will be an exterminator here on Wednesday and we are not allowed to be here when he is here (I guess the chemicals are dangerous or something like that, they didn't say why, only that we can't be here once he's here and for at least two hours afterwards). Every part of the apartment has to be easily accessible. I can't have a locked gunsafe or cabinet (everything needs to be opened), I can't hide them in a drawer because our drawers must be open, I can't even hide them behind furniture or under my bed because our furniture has to be at least 6" away from the wall and the mattress and box spring have to be removed from the bed (fun, I have a queen sized memory foam mattress- those things are like 200lbs).

I thought about having a friend take them, but if the bed bugs and/or their eggs have made their way to the apartment I assume they could be on my soft cases or the foam of my hard cases so the cases should probably be treated. I can't transport them without cases (against MD law). I thought about buying new cases but, that is too many new cases for my budget. I thought about one new case to transport them one at a time, but I simply don't have the time (I'm on a strict timeline to get a ton of work done to prep or I may be held liable for a lot of money that I don't have).

Here is what I'm considering:
1) Just take the risk that the exterminator is honest and he won't make an "inventory" and come back for my guns (I doubt he'd be stupid enough to take them at the time, no deniability). I don't think I want to take that risk.

2) Same as above, but invest in a cheap gunsafe (I can't afford a good one, plus they are heavy and I'm in an apartment that I'm leaving in September so I have to be able to move what I buy soon) just in case. This is better than the first.

3) Risk spreading bedbugs should they be in my unit and have a friend take the guns anyway. Most likely my cases are OK since bedbugs feed on us and they'd want to be near "food", so I doubt they'd be there. However, I store my guns in my locked walk-in closet so the cases and my clothing come in contact so the cases probably aren't completely safe. I do want to be sure I don't have bedbugs, and if they are here I want to be rid of them. Plus, my friends I've talked to about taking the guns would need some convincing that they wouldn't be at risk of bedbugs so I don't know it is even an option.

4) Keeping the guns in my car's trunk. A very long-shot, I almost definitely won't go this way. In MD it would be illegal to do this, plus I do want my gun cases getting some of the treatment (see #3).

5) Hiding the handguns, handgun boxes, ammo and other gun related items in cardboard boxes and the long guns in the box my golf clubs came in. Maybe the exterminator wouldn't check what is in the boxes so I don't have the risk of #1 and 2. Then, hope for the best like #1.

6) Same as #5, but buy a lightweight gunsafe like in #2 in case the exterminator did look in the boxes and does come back (or send someone back) later.

Of course, there isn't much I can do (other than the unlikely #3 or 4) if he is stupid and leaves with the guns. At least if he is that stupid, the police will have a pretty good idea who took the guns (note to self, just in case be sure to put my gun purchase paperwork and serial numbers someplace the exterminator can't find them but easy for me to find just in case, like my car).

(man I hate living in an apartment) :cuss:

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July 8, 2008, 01:03 AM
Can you rent a storage unit for a week?

You may be able to kill the little critters by putting your soft cases in a commercial dryer that gets above 120F since bedding can be treated that way.

July 8, 2008, 01:07 AM
Oh, if anyone is an exterminator, can he speak to the likelihood of there being bedbugs in my gun cases since they are stored in my closet with my clothes. If it is a zero, or near enough to zero, chance I may consider getting a storage unit for one month (most have a first month for a dollar deal, though I don't know if there is a minimum lease term for those) and leaving the guns there if I can't convince a friend he won't get bedbugs from the cases.

Edit: funny, hso and I were apparently posting at the same time with similar thoughts. My only concern is wanting to be 100% sure I won't have bedbugs (or if I do, that we get rid of them), but the dryer idea is a good one.

July 8, 2008, 01:21 AM
Another option would be to call up local gun stores and see if they will rent you some space in their safe for the period of time you need. I know for a fact that many stores here in NV do this for California residents who need to store their weapons in a free state.

July 8, 2008, 01:32 AM
Another option would be to call up local gun stores and see if they will rent you some space in their safe for the period of time you need.

I never even thought about that one. I wonder what they might charge for 17 handguns, 5 rifles and a shotgun. Probably the storage unit for a month would be cheaper.

Hmm, I've been thinking that as long as I'm in an apartment with little storage space that I might sell a bunch of my handguns (I don't have much that can't be replaced later should I want to). I think this may have pushed me over the edge (though if I do sell a bunch I'll probably rework my collection altogether- get what I would have the first time if I had the money, or since I'll be selling more than I'm buying sell most/all and replace with higher end guns). This situation would be easier if I didn't have so darned many of these things. Then again, even in a house there can always be exterminator issues (though a full-sized gun safe and changing the locks could be involved when I have my own house).

July 8, 2008, 02:28 AM
Have you checked to verify this was legit and not a scam?

"Open your entire house, no locked doors, we will come in and you cannot be there to watch us at all, or be their for hours afterwards. Fail to comply and we may charge you a lot of money." It just doesn't sound right.

July 8, 2008, 03:40 AM
Have you checked to verify this was legit and not a scam?

"Open your entire house, no locked doors, we will come in and you cannot be there to watch us at all, or be their for hours afterwards. Fail to comply and we may charge you a lot of money." It just doesn't sound right.

It was on apartment management letterhead and they enclosed the part of our lease where we agreed to let them in for extermination services, and where they threaten to charge us for the entire cost of the extermination if we aren't ready in time.

We aren't to leave the house unsecured, we just have to have everything in the bedrooms, closets and living room opened up and emptied (I assume for them to get to for treatment). The front door is to be locked when we leave, a member of the maintenance staff will let the exterminators in (I don't know if he'll be there with them so they won't be alone in our apartments or if he'll just be there to let them in). I'm a teacher and I'm off right now for the summer so I'll be here until they show up (and I'll recognize the member of the maintenance staff who should be with them at least to let them in).

I'll be calling the apartment managers with a bunch of questions (the paperwork didn't cover everything) so in the event it was a scam I'll probably be greeted with a "what are you talking about" so I'll know before Wednesday.

Also, as a precaution (I assume from what they gave us that it is for real, that doesn't mean I trust that the maintenance guy or exterminator, people I don't really know, won't be back later or send someone else after noting what I have and where I keep it) I will be putting other valuable items in the storage unit if I go that route (the way I'm leaning now). I'm guessing that the metal of my bike and wood of my guitars won't really be hospitable places for bedbugs so I'll probably bring them and if I don't have time I will definitely be taking photos of them and other valuable and easily transported items like my desktop and laptop computers to make things easier with insurance.

July 8, 2008, 03:55 AM
moving sounds like a idea to me

July 8, 2008, 06:49 AM
Personally, I'd treat my own equipment, load it in the trunk, legally drive to a range. Hang out, practice, and legally drive back home.

Be proactive - find out the species / suspected species, buy a bug bomb or spray from Home Depot/Lowes that kills that species, treat your key property youself, and then close it up. You don't want to be trusting an exterminator anyways to do a good job. has information about pesticides, if you need more than what appears on the label.

I can't have a locked gunsafe or cabinet (everything needs to be opened), I can't hide them in a drawer because our drawers must be open Ah, no. Bedbugs are nasty critters, but they aren't ninjas. If your safe has been closed (or is brand new) and has an ok seal, the bugs aren't inhabiting it. Just because the apartment complex tells you to do something or else, doesn't mean they are right or can enforce that

For example, did they tell you to prop the refrigerator door, oven, and microwave open? Same principles as a gun safe.

Food is actually a big problem. Most exterminators are afraid to spray near food, and bags/boxes of food can harbor pests (my apartment story involves spraying for roaches, and respraying for roaches because the eggs stayed with my food and came back into the apt).
If time is pressing, just make sure the Maryland trigger-locks and breach-chains are on your guns, and sit in a chair outside your door until the exterimators are done to make sure they don't steal anything. Or get a thin-wire bike chain, and chain all the guns together (either through the trigger guards or through the loopy breach-chains).

PS - they probably warned you, but when you get home after you'll want to run all dishes/utensils/cookware through the dishwasher with extra soap, vaccuum the crap out of all your rugs, wipe down the table, counters, and handles (doors, fridge, etc).

July 8, 2008, 07:22 AM
+1 on the range idea.

Maybe even see about going to a gunstore, leaving them for a day, and letting them give you a rough value for "insurance purposes". See if they will accept a small fee for doing this.

Or, just put them in your trunk for the duration of the day.

July 8, 2008, 07:28 AM
I wouldn't be so concerned with the exterminator taking anything then, but its easy for him to be talking to some of his friends when he mentions he did an apartment today loaded with guns.

Remove them. Theres always some place they can be put if you try hard enough for a day.

July 8, 2008, 09:21 AM
Maryland, huh?

Does your lease have any restrictions on firearms or ammunition storage? WIll you get in trouble with management if the exterminator reports back to them? How about fire department regulations on storage? What if the exterminator or maintenance person gets all wetty-pants and reports "an arsenal" to the police?

Long story short, I'd say "get practical," remove/store them, treat them and the ammo on your own and keep your mouth shut. Bug spray in car trunk full of cased guns might be a good idea, if the spray won't cause corrosion (unlikely, but possible --and with thorough aeration afterward, of course.)

If you don't have enough "cases" you might be able to stretch* the definition of "cases" to include firearms wrapped in bedsheets or something and stapled shut...

Tough conundrum. Time for out of the box thinking and putting self-preservation at the top of the list.

(*E.g., I was told once, don't know if it's true or not, that putting a handgun in a plastic sandwich bag, punching a hole in one end, sticking a cheapo lock on it, and using a magic marker to write "gun" on it satisfied all the legal requirements for keeping a "cased" gun in one's car. But don't rely on that --I think it may have been just a joke. Just an example of how a lack of a definition in a law might work to one's advantage... Free advice, worth every penny, but it might get you thinking some more.)

July 8, 2008, 10:57 AM
The night before you put all of your guns in a BRAND NEW sheet in the trunk of your car, leave all the cases inside to be sprayed. Pull up a lawn chair nearby with a cold beverage and a book and pass the time till the cleaning is over. It should not be illegal to temporarily store the firearms in the trunk so long as you aren't driving around with them. Stay put. After the alotted time, go back in and clean everything you have to then after dark you can bring your long lost children home again. If any questions come up about the cases, tell them you collect gun cases.

Personally I would discuss with the manager about having to open a safe for this and any other sensitive places things might be stored. Call the company that will be doing the cleaning and ask them about having to open safes and anything else you are not comfortable with.

XD Fan
July 8, 2008, 10:59 AM
What if you (1) rented a storage unit for a week or so and took your guns with cases there and (2) used a bug bomb in the storage unit? I am not sure if this would work or if it would violate storage unit rental agreement, but it is a thought.

Joe Demko
July 8, 2008, 11:13 AM
I think I'd go buy some good insecticide and treat the gun cases myself. Then transport the guns in them to your friend's house and store them there.
Bedbugs have, IMO, an overinflated reputation for being hard to exterminate. Last fall, my house had an infestation when a travelling relative carried them into the house, presumably in his luggage, from one of the hotels where he had been staying. After prepping the house much like you described, I used Raid Fumigators (; one per room. I never saw another bug, but I used them again a few weeks later just to be sure. Bug free to this day. My point is, you can certainly treat your cases with commercially available product and kill anything that may be lurking in them.

July 8, 2008, 11:19 AM
Ah, no. Bedbugs are nasty critters, but they aren't ninjas. If your safe has been closed (or is brand new) and has an ok seal, the bugs aren't inhabiting it. Just because the apartment complex tells you to do something or else, doesn't mean they are right or can enforce that

It's not if the apartment complexes require spaces to be open, it's if the exterminator requires them to be open or accesible. They require stuff like small lockers, closets, ice chests, gun safes etc to remain unlocked that way they can check to make sure there are no living beings, human or animal, locked in these places. Otherwise, they won't do the extermination for liability to wrongful death reasons.

They won't require refrigerators, ovens, and microwaves to be propped open because they can open them to check without the need of undoing a lock.

July 8, 2008, 12:58 PM
OK, I talked to management and my apartment was not one of the units where they saw bedbugs when the exterminator did an inspection the other day. So, my gun cases are fine.

I have decided to rent a storage unit for a month or two anyway. Bagging all my clothes in airtight bags and other needed precautions are a bit of a pain. I'd prefer to put valuables (my guitars, guns and bike) in a storage unit along with any clothing I won't be needing (why go through the trouble with my winter coat for instance). So, my guns will either be in storage or at a friend's house (since there is no risk of the gun cases spreading bedbugs).

moving sounds like a idea to me Don't worry, the lease is up in a couple months and I'll be outta here.

Just because the apartment complex tells you to do something or else, doesn't mean they are right or can enforce thatExcept that it is in the lease that, in case of bedbugs in the apartment building, if we don't follow all their instructions within the time frame given we will be held responsible for all costs of treating for bedbugs in our building, and if they spread in the neighboring buildings as well (min $200, possibly tens of thousands). So, yes, they can enforce it, other than the kitchen there will be no cases, drawers, or other "containers" that are not open so they can treat within them and/or inspect them for "safety" reasons as D94R stated.

they probably warned you, but when you get home after you'll want to...vaccuum the crap out of all your rugsNo can do. Apparently for bedbugs, the main treatment is to spray some kind of powder on the floors- no vacuuming or mopping for a couple weeks after the treatment (apparently, if we don't do all the post-treatment stuff pretty religiously we are at some risk of getting bedbugs- after the infected unit is treated they'll be looking for a safe place in the building, hence the whole building being treated and all the post-treatment stuff we must do).

July 8, 2008, 02:12 PM
I feel for you, I lived in an apartment where the people who moved in downstairs were slobs. After about a year the roaches started showing up. They sprayed regularly but never got rid of them. Strangely enough, they never required us to open all closets, etc. All my guns were in my closet at the time and luckily no one ripped any off.

July 8, 2008, 02:26 PM

Dang, I can't believe you'd have to pay for that. That'd really be a bummer.

I'd move. Really. Because it might happen again.


July 8, 2008, 07:12 PM
Everyone saying they'd move, well I will be. I can't now, lease isn't up and they won't let us out over bedbugs (I can't afford the penalties if I break the lease without their permission). Most of the apartments around here have waiting lists anyway (being one of only 2 places where there were plenty of vacancies should have told me something). However, I will most certainly be moving as soon as the lease is up (mid-Sept, not long).

Heck, this is just the latest thing: bad customer service from management, mice, an upstairs neighbor who has made my patio unusable by having birdseed scatter all over the place and it doesn't matter how often I sweep it up (I've seen many dozens of birds out there at a time, my grill is unusable, and lately the darned seed has been attracting rats), the next door 2BR apartment is occupied by 2 women and 6 kids who have no discipline or regard for others so it is loud (I love kids, but I don't like kids to be screaming and cussing at the top of their lungs at midnight or any time of day in the apartment stairwell), neighbors who blast loud music at inopportune times, parking issues (when neighbors have parties, which isn't uncommon, it can be hard to find a place in the lot), etc. Oh yeah, all this and at the bargain rate of about 10-15% more expensive than the average apartment in the neighborhood!

July 8, 2008, 08:13 PM
That is exactly why I bought a house. I know not everyone can afford it, but for me it was a good deal. Monthly payments for about the same as rent.

I feel for you. I've been there.

July 8, 2008, 08:49 PM
alemonkey, its funny you should say that. I was considering doing a condo next year (if I couldn't find something and close by Sept I would have done a month to month continuation of my lease for a month or two). However, this has me rethinking that. Multi-unit residences, such as condos, can have neighbor noise issues, and if a neighbor has a bug issue, you have a bug issue, just like in an apartment. So, this situation has me rethinking things. If I wait just 2-3 years I can probably do a house, so I think I may be leaning in just that direction (then I can finally get a regular full-sized gunsafe without worrying about weight issues or how to move it when I move).

July 8, 2008, 09:04 PM
The thing I can't understand is why they say you HAVE to leave your gun safe opened. thats your private property and nothing to do with them. if it is not blocking anything where they need to spray or fog then I would tell them where to stick it since it is your property and not that of the apartments. besides he doesn't need to go near your gun safe for anything. I would move my gun safe and set it by the bed after it was moved the proper distance away from the wall, then set my guns in it and lock it up.

Something about this whole thing sounds fishy to me. sounds like the landlord/ property owner just wants to see what is in each and every one of those apartments to me. should be no reason for having to leave your personal things like drawers to your furniture and your gun safe open and unlocked. I have had many a job in my day and one was actually working in pest control and we never made any request as far as personal property other than it be moved, unless the owners stated there was bugs in the drawers and things like that. in fact we never went near the renter/home owners personal affects at all unless we absolutely had to and for bed bugs they should not have to. that is more for roaches or fleas maybe spiders but not bed bugs. I would definitely raise some questions to the land lord and see what the answers are.

But if you are just forced into moving your firearms I would spend the day at the range like was already stated. mini storages just ain't safe for valuables like firearms. different for ammo and things of that nature but nice guns I would not trust with a mini storage at all.

July 8, 2008, 09:39 PM
I can't speak for your state laws, but in CA, if they are doing a funagation the pest control company must inspect all areas of the house by law.

July 8, 2008, 09:56 PM
As long as your firearms are legit, see if your local police department will voucher them for safe keeping. When you want them back, return with your voucher and retrieve your firearms. I think the fee is minimal, around $20.00 or so for the paperwork. I do know that some departments will do that for you. My friend had it done.

July 9, 2008, 07:28 PM
True Tab but that meant only the house, we had no business or rights to go through personal things unless the owner of those artifacts asked us to.

We couldn't just open drawers or things like that or demand safes be opened and us go through them.

July 9, 2008, 11:44 PM
Take a break, go to the range and come back to clean them later. Out of sight, out of mind. I used to spray peoples pads and if I saw a gun I would not spray it or mention it. That's your business. But out of sight is out of mind.

July 10, 2008, 08:28 AM
As a renter, I suppose you do not have any control over the choice of exterminator. As a home owner, I was pleased to find out that the man that does my pest control is a fellow gunny. Even has a CHL so he can carry something to protect himself from larger pests while on the job.

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