College dorms are prime targets for bed bugs. Just think about it. You have students coming from all parts of the country, as well as from overseas, all of them settling into life away from home on the university campus. Before too long the dormitories are filled to capacity, with the student residents packed into small living quarters like sardines in a tin. It is the perfect environment for a hungry colony of bed bugs.
Public Enemy #1
Bed bugs are small wingless insects that feed on warm-blooded mammals. They’re parasites, and their preferred hosts are human beings. For a time it looked like bed bugs were all but extinct in the West, but over the last few decades these tiny little bloodsuckers have made an alarming return to our shores. Quick to reproduce, and difficult to fully eradicate, bed bugs are quickly becoming a problem of epidemic proportions.
Coming to a College Near You
As the bed bug epidemic continues to spread throughout the country an increasing number of colleges and universities are facing the unenviable task of combating these bloodsucking pests on their campuses and in their dormitories. It’s a very real challenge, and many college administrators are counting on students to help them win the battle. To that end they are educating new arrivals on how to recognized the signs of a bed bug infestation, how to reduce the risk of occupation, and what to do in the event their dorm or classroom becomes ground zero for a colony of bed bugs.
College dorms are an ideal environment for bed bugs. Students are living in cramped quarters, often moving into and out of their rooms as their living assignments get changed. Students are also constantly coming and going, traveling home for the holidays or heading overseas for study programs. It’s the ideal storm where bed bug invasions are concerned.
Colleges and universities do their best to stay on top of any potential bed bug infestations, but more often than not it is the students themselves who have to face the problem head on. They are at ground zero, so to speak, and it’s usually an observant dorm room resident that sounds the alarm when bed bugs set up shop on a college campus.
So, for any college students who are bed bugs in the dorm rooms here are a few simple tips to help you avoid sharing your dorm room with a colony of hungry bed bugs.
Tips for Avoiding Bed Bugs at College
The constant influx of new arrivals makes it almost impossible for students to entirely eliminate the threat of bed bugs on their college campus. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t steps you can take to dramatically reduce your chance of falling prey to these remorseless bloodsuckers.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you check into your new dorm:
- When you are packing to go to college carefully inspect your suitcases for signs of bed bug activity. This is particularly important if your luggage has been in storage for a long period of time. Take a flashlight and check under flaps, in any pockets and in all of the corners. Perform the same thorough bed bug check of your luggage any time you are returning from a trip, or heading home for a break or out of state for a holiday.
- If you have been traveling make sure that any clothing you are taking back with you to college has been washed and dried at the hottest temperatures available. Drying your laundry at high heat for a minimum of 30 minutes will help to kill any stray bed bugs as well as any eggs that may have become attached to your clothing.
- Before putting sheets on your bed carefully inspect the mattress and bedspring for any telltale signs of bed bug activity. You are looking for reddish, brownish or black stains that could indicate the presence of feeding bed bugs.
You should also consider adding mattress encasements to bed and box spring for added protection.
- Fully examine your dorm room for any signs of bed bugs before you start to unpack. Check out the chairs and sofas and look along the baseboards and around any standing furniture. If you spot anything suspicious contact your resident advisor or house fellow immediately.
- Keep your dorm room as neat and tidy as possible. Understandably, this is college life and neatness is not priority number one. However, the tidier the room the fewer places bed bugs have to hide. An uncluttered room also makes it easier for you or your roommates to spot the early signs of a bed bug invasion so that the college can address the situation before it gets out of hand.
- Any furniture you are thinking about bringing into your dorm room should be carefully inspected for bed bug activity before it is allowed into your living space. This is particularly important when it comes to second hand items. If you notice anything suspicious do not bring the piece into your room. Ideally you should avoid second hand furniture entirely, but as that’s not always an option do your due diligence.
- Bed bugs have been know to infest libraries so it is always a good idea to examine any books you may be checking out before you take them into your dorm rooms. If you see anything that suggest bed bug activity notify the librarian or your peer advisor.
- Finally, regularly check yourself for bed bug bites. If you begin to notice any unexplained welts or rashes they could signal a bed bug problem your dorm room. It is not unusual for people to be bitten by bed bugs while their sleeping, without noticing the presence of the insects in their bed. If you see any unexplained bites, welts, or rashes have them looked at and notify your resident advisor.
An Ounce of Prevention…
Bed bugs are quickly becoming a significant problem for colleges and universities throughout the country. It is important to remember that these pests are indiscriminate in their choice of hunting grounds. They will just as happily invade an Ivy League campus as a state university, so all college bound students need to be ready to protect themselves from these bloodsucking parasites regardless of their school.
In many ways, students are on the front lines when it comes to battling bed bug infestations on campus. They are typically the first to notice the problem, and the first to be affected by the infestation. However, if you follow the simple tips outlined in this article you should be able to seriously reduce your chances of becoming overrun by bed bugs while you are away at college.