Bed bugs and college campuses go hand in hand. When students move into their dorms they often bring more than their backpack and mini fridge. Bed bugs are there for the college experience too! Unfortunately, these tiny pests are far more common than you would think and like to hitch a ride on bedding, purses, and in electronics. Worst of all, just because the students have moved out doesn’t mean their bed bugs went with them. Save your university the hassle of combating a full-blown infestation by preparing janitorial staff with the correct resources and making students aware of how to identify bed bugs.
How to Check for Bed Bugs
To keep bed bugs at bay it is crucial that your janitorial staff check dorm rooms for signs of bed bug infestations after students move out and again before new students move in. Performing two inspections is necessary because bugs are sneaky and might not be seen during the first inspection. They can also go up to two years without feeding. This allows them to survive during the summer months when there’s no food.
Making sure you know, and check, where bed bugs could be living is key to finding them. Here’s a checklist to go through when inspecting each room:
- Bed frame
- Heating unit
How to Clean Dorm Rooms Before Move-in Day
Making sure your university’s dorm rooms are clean and bed bug free before move-in day is the only way to stop an infestation from getting worse. As soon as students start living in the rooms, bed bugs have a source to feed off of, allowing them to lay eggs every six to ten days and spread to nearby rooms. Not to mention, there will be more items in the room to hide in.
Start by performing general cleaning, freeing each room of debris and dust that can mask signs of bed bugs and their droppings. If bed bugs or their remnants are found, you must heat the room immediately! Heat is the only sure way to kill bed bugs and their larvae. Although there are many pesticides on the market, they are generally 50% effective. Many bed bugs have grown resilient to their effects. In addition, pesticides are harmful and toxic to those who come in contact with them.
PrevSol’s Bed Bug Heaters are the preferred extermination method for many colleges, camps, hotels, hospitals, and apartment complexes because they are 100% effective, easy to use, safe, and discrete. Our heaters kill bed bugs and their eggs by heating the ambient air in the room in excess of 140 degrees to ensure all cracks and crevasses reach at least 121 degrees and hold that temp for three hours. Bed bugs die at 111 degrees and their eggs die at 117 degrees, making this extermination method most effective.
Preparing Students to Watch for Bed Bugs
Students need to know the signs of a bed bug infestation, so they can alert university staff, who can then stop the problem before it gets worse. There are two main ways to identify their presence – checking common hiding spots and noticing other physical signs.
Bed bugs are professionals at hiding, which makes finding them even harder. The first step is knowing what you are looking for as they often leave clues in plain sight. Second is knowing their preferred hiding spots. Contrary to what you may think, bed bugs do travel beyond mattresses. They will make their way into bed frames and other furniture in the room. The hollow metal bed frames often provided by the university or rented to loft the bed are the perfect hiding spot with plenty of room inside the poles to crawl around. The insects will also make their way into the electronics in the room – the TV, gaming systems, computers, etc. Most often, bed bugs are found within 5 feet of the headboard wall.
When changing sheets, mattress pads, pillow cases, and when cleaning futons, be alert for rusty or reddish stains. These are caused by the bugs getting crushed while the student is sleeping in bed or sitting on the futon. Black marks that resemble a marker bleeding may also be present from droppings being left behind. Also look for live, active bugs. Bed bugs are brownish in color, relatively flat, and about a quarter of an inch long resembling an apple seed, tick or piece of rice. A good way to differentiate them from other bugs that may be in dorms is that bed bugs do not jump or fly. Their primary mode of transportation is crawling. They can move three to four feet per minute, which is about the same speed as an ant.
Identifying Bed Bug Bites
Like mosquitoes, bed bugs feed on blood from humans, which is why they are most commonly found in beds. This is the best place for them to live because humans are most vulnerable while they sleep. However, if someone moves to sleep on a sofa, the bed bugs can follow the carbon dioxide and move with him/her. These nocturnal insects are most active just before dawn, making this their prime feasting time. When they feed, they latch on to their target for about three minutes, then retreat to their hiding spot to digest their food.
Identifying their bite is trickier than you would think. Bed bugs inject a numbing agent into your body, so you don’t feel the bite and wake up. In addition to this, they leave nearly no trace due to the anticoagulant they use to keep blood from running out of the bites and staining your sheets. The most telling sign that you have bed bugs is the marks they leave on your skin from their tiny bites. After they have feasted on you, they make small red marks that tend to be in straight rows and may be itchy if you are allergic to them. Their favorite spot to bite is the arms and shoulders, which is the first place you should be looking for bed bug bites.
Let the Bed Bug Heat Doctor Help You
If your college or university runs into a bed bug problem, give PrevSol’s Bed Bug Heat Doctor a call! We are here to guide you though this process and work with you and your janitorial staff to find the best heater to treat your current situation and help you develop better protocols for the future, so your university will hopefully never have this problem again.