Preparing to head back to your college or university? Before checking into the dormitory, be sure you are prepared to protect yourself against bed bugs. The experts at Ehrlich offer this advice to college and university students to reduce the chances of having unwanted roommates this school year.
- Inspect your room upon arrival. Before unpacking a thing, do a thorough inspection of your room. Begin with the mattress. Look closely at the seams of the mattress and box spring for signs of bed bug activity, including living or dead bed bugs or skins bed bugs leave behind as they grow. Dressers or night stands should also be inspected – look inside the drawers and at the drawer rails.
- Don’t buy or pick up used furniture. Furniture from unknown sources, particularly soft and upholstered types, can harbor bed bugs or bed bug eggs that you might not see immediately.
- Invest in a mattress encasement if your school doesn’t provide them. While a mattress encasement can’t stop bed bugs from getting into your dorm room, they can allow you to see bed bugs that get introduced to your room, since it prevents them from being able to hide on the mattress and box spring. Look for an encasement that promotes “bug proof” zipper locks.
- Report any bites or symptoms to your housing director. If you wake up in the morning with unexplained bites, ask your housing director to conduct an inspection for bed bugs in your room.
- Inspect your suitcase, backpack and other items before and after travel. Road trips are a part of college life – but they can also put you at risk for bringing bed bugs back to the dorm. After a trip, inspect your suitcase, backpack or other items for any bed bugs. If possible, before washing them, run all the contents of your suitcase through a dryer on high heat for 15 minutes. It is also important to avoid taking bed bugs with you when you travel home or to other destinations. If there has been documented bed bug activity in your dormitory or room, be sure to thoroughly check all of your items before traveling so that you don’t unknowingly transport bed bugs to a new destination.
IDENTIFY A BED BUG
Seen an insect in your room? Check out these identifying features and this photo to help you determine if the pest might be a bed bug.
- Adult bed bugs are approximately 1/4-inch long by 1/8-inch wide – they are often compared to the size of an apple seed.
- Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in color; after a blood meal, they may be redder.
- Young bed bugs, or nymphs, are visible but hard to see. They can be as small as 1/32-inch.
- Bed bug eggs are very hard to see with the naked eye. They are white, have a pearly sheen, and are found clustered together.
- Bed bugs are expert crawlers.
SPOT SIGNS OF BED BUG ACTIVITY
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms of bed bug activity, ask your housing director to conduct an inspection for bed bugs.
- Watch for unexplained bites or welts that seem to appear overnight.
- Bed bugs leave behind tell-tale fecal smears that may look like marker stains. These may be present on mattresses or other upholstered furniture, and in severe infestations, on other surfaces.
- Young bed bugs molt, leaving behind cast skins.
- The presence of live or dead bed bugs should be immediate cause for concern.