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Tips from the Pros to Avoid Bed Bugs at College

Monday, August 22nd, 2016 by Bill Cowley

Kids arriving at college

There are a million things on the minds of students heading off to dorms and off-campus apartments, and one of those things should be bed bugs. Even some of the most elite private institutions have had problems with these blood sucking little creatures, but there are some important precautions college students can take to make sure they are not a bed bug’s next meal!

Educate Yourself. A recent study conducted by Dr. Michael Potter and the University of Kentucky uncovered that more than two-thirds of travelers were unable to distinguish a bed bug from other household insects. Become familiar not only with what bed bugs look like but also signs of them. We offer tips for uncovering them along with plenty of pictures on our website.  

Don’t unpack too soon. When you first get to the dorm room or new apartment your first inclination may be to unpack, but don’t! Keep your clothing and other soft items like bedding on a hard surface. Better yet, if you can leave them in the car, do so until you can thoroughly inspect the room and ensure bed bugs are not present.

Perform a thorough inspection. When you first enter the room you want to inspect it. How do you inspect a room for bed bugs? The least complex, and first method you should use to inspect for bed bugs is a simple visual inspection. Although you can do this with no tools at all, using a good flashlight and a magnifying glass can be helpful. The first place to inspect is any soft furniture, including the mattress on the bed. 

After a bed bug feeds on a human, they will automatically seek a dark crevice to digest their food and, if the bed bug is a female, lay eggs. That is why using a flashlight to check the seams, edging, and corners of the mattress can be very helpful. When inspecting, gently pull at the folds on the sides of the mattress to make it easier to look in the corners. Turn the mattress over and inspect the underside as well as the box spring and both sides of the headboard. If the dorm room or apartment comes with a chair, sofa, or other upholstered piece of furniture, first remove any removable cushions, and like the inspection of the bed, look at any crevices, corners, or seams where a bed bug would be able to hide.

Adult bed bugs are large enough that they may be observable with the naked eye, however nymphs and eggs are small enough that their detection may only be possible with the aid of a magnifying glass. The average adult bed bug is approximately the width of a credit card; a newly hatched nymph can be the size of a pinhead. During some infestations actual bed bugs will not always be easily seen, but you will see evidence that they were there. Small dark spots on the mattress, often described as looking like sprinkled pepper, may be bed bug feces, eggs, shed skin, or blood blots. 

Report. If the visual inspection gave you no reason for alarm then feel free to move your belongings into the room. If however, anything seemed like possible evidence of bed bugs report the situation immediately to either the Residence Assistance in the dorm or the owner of the off campus apartment. It is in their best interest to have the room thoroughly treated before the bed bugs can spread to neighboring units. 

College is a time of learning and exploring. Don’t let bed bugs put a damper on your experience. Bed bugs can be difficult to detect in some situations. If you feel you may have a bed bug problem contact us for a free consultation.  

Read more about preventing bed bugs at college in our other blog posts: