Bed Bugs and College

Bed Bugs and College

Bed Bugs and College, yes it’s that time of year when college kids are heading back to school, some for the first time, some the fourth and some… well, we all go at our own pace.  Many of these students will be living in the dorms, setting up their new rooms and will find, much to their horror, that their new place has been infested by bed bugs.

Bed Bug infestations have been on the rise, and the reasons are not exactly clear as to what this comeback is all about.  The Bed Bugs were practically non existent a few years ago, but have begun to populate homes, high end hotels and yes, Universities.

You can take steps to avoid bed bug infestation by being educated on bed bugs and keeping a trained eye out for evidence they may be lurking where you live.

What are Bed Bugs:

  • Adult Bed Bugs (Cimicidae) are small, flat, wide, brown insects less than ¼ inch long and oval in shape.  An immature bed bug (nymph) resemble the adult, but are smaller and lighter in color.
  • Bed bugs feed exclusively on blood, and they prefer human blood to other animals.  The Bed bug feeds and then leaves it’s host- ie: they don’t live ‘on’ you.  They are nocturnal and hide during the day, they are most active late at night whne they will crawl out to feed.
  • Bed Bugs generally do not transfer diseases.  Their bite may cause itching and creep you out, but they are not considered dangerous from a disease standpoint.
  • Bed bugs get to a new environment by being transferred, they are not wanderers.  If you avoid bed bugs, it is unlikely that you will find yourself with an infestation, but they are great hitchhikers and will transfer from an infested area to one that is not.
  • If you wake up with unexplained bug bites, this could be a sign that you have bed bugs.  You should also keep an eye out for bugs matching the description (and photo) of a bed bug.  Another sign is dark brownish black stains on your mattress as that could be a sign of bed bug infestation.
bed bug life cycle

Life Cycle of the Bed Bug (Cimicidae)

How do you Avoid Bed Bugs in College?

There are a number of things you can do to minimize and avoid the problem of bed bugs in college.

  • Inspect your new room or apartment and this includes inspecting any existing furniture there, including and especially your bed.  Look at the seams, check the frame, headboard and screws.  Does it smell or do you see anything to indicate a bug infestation.  If anything looks amiss, ask for a new one or get your own.
  • Be aware of where you sit. Lay down or hang out.  Are these areas clean, do you see signs of an infestation?  You could pick up a bed bug hitchhiker and bring them back to your place.
  • If you do find evidence of a bed bug infestation, alert your RA who should in turn alert the school and/or the student housing office.
  • Keep your room/area clean; avoid clutter as that is where bed bugs like to hide.
  • Wash your laundry in hot water, any possible bed bugs will be killed in hot water.
  • Buy a mattress protector for extra protection.

Bed Bugs are creepy and can cause you stress.  If you find you have them, the goal is to get them eradicated as quickly as possible from your room.  If you find bed bugs, there are some things you should not do:

  • Do not throw things away or take them from your room.  Items infested with Bed Bugs need to be disposed of properly and if not, they may cause the bed bugs to spread to other areas of your room or the dorm.
  • Do not try and handle the bed bugs on your own.  You could actually make it more difficult for a Pest Professional to deal effectively with the problem.  Advise your RA and student housing, they will get trained experts out to handle the problem.
  • Do not relocate to another room.  Bed bugs are hitchhikers; you run the risk of spreading them to other areas.  Get the right people involved immediately and they can advise and assist you in finding appropriate sleeping facilities.

Have a great time off at college, but be aware of the increasing presence of the pesky bed bug. You need to be aware not only about your room but those of the people you spend time with.  Knowing just these few simple things we have discussed can dramatically decrease your chances of having to deal with a bed bug infestation.