Hello College and Bed Bugs

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Going away to college is an exciting period in a young person’s life. There are so many sports and activities to get involved in and so many different people to meet. Plus, you get to decorate your dorm room and maybe even get a really cool roommate. When you go off to college you would never think bed bugs would be part of your college experience.

Bed bugs are rampant all over the United States and they are being discovered at your local college campuses. Your kids are bringing them home with them when they visit you on their college breaks. Infestations are occurring at colleges and universities; some of those who have reported bed bug invasions are located in New Jersey, New York, California, Michigan, and Massachusetts. Bed bug infestations are not something schools want broadcasted nationally fearing and knowing it would hurt their reputation.

Bed bug infestations have risen substantially during the course of the last five years, so it isn’t out of the norm for colleges to be stricken with their extremely nomadic student community. Over the last few years alone, bed bug reports are steadily climbed. Bed bugs are not just infesting one particular area of the United States; they are an issue in every state. Houses, apartments, condos, hotels, and high rises are all being invaded by bed bugs. College dormitories account for at least two percent of the reported bed bug cases. Bed bugs are popping up like mad in hotels, college dorm rooms, apartment complexes, and traditional homes.

Following WWII and with developments like DDT, bed bugs were thought to have been eradicated, but that didn’t last too long because in the early 1970s DDT was made illegal. International travel can also be attributed to the rising bed bug populations all across the country and the entire planet. In addition to that, bed bugs like the ones you will encounter in New York City have developed immunities to some of the chemically based pesticides.

Bed bugs have not been found to spread diseases, but they do leave behind red bumps that are extremely itchy. They can become inflamed and infected if the area is scratched excessively. Feedings can last as long as ten minutes per meal. How can they do this without you spotting them before they finish, you might ask? Their saliva contains an anesthetic for numbing and an anticoagulant to stop your blood from clotting. Bed bugs don’t just leave behind physical reminders of their presence but can cause one to experience high levels of anxiety. People who have had bed bug infestations sometimes feel as if bugs are really biting them even though there are none. Some can’t sleep at night and insomnia takes over.

Preventing the spread of bed bugs is particularly hard to do in apartment complexes and college dormitories. They get passed around on clothing, suitcases, backpacks, and moving boxes. Used mattresses are one of the worst offenders. A terrifying but true, bed bugs can also travel by way of air ducts, electrical and plumbing pipes, elevator shafts, and empty space between walls.

When you go into your dorm room check the mattresses first if you are not bringing your own. Pay special attention to the seams and see if there are any brown or red stains on the mattress. Next, inspect any cracks in the walls or on the floor and look around the perimeter of the room.

Bed bugs can be treated for immediate relief and long term control by using natural products available on the market that work just as well or better than chemical pesticides. Diatomaceous earth is a white powdery substance with a talcum like powder consistency which can be sprinkled in all areas bed bugs have infested and all their likely hiding places. DE is safe for us, but cuts up the exoskeletons of bed bugs and leaves them to dehydrate and soon after die.


Bradley Skierkowski