Are Your Kids Headed to College Dorms?
Although back to school season looks different this year, many colleges in New York and across the United States are opening for onsite classes this fall. Despite everything else going on in the world, when planning for your kids’ college dorm essentials, consider preparing them for the possibility of bed bugs. With many people living under the same roof, traveling in from all over the world, dorms can be a serious breeding ground for pesky bed bugs.
What Are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, rusty red or mahogany in color, and resembling apple seeds. These nocturnal pests feed on human blood by biting (though they will also bite other warm-blooded animals like dogs, cats, birds, and rodents), often while their hosts are fast asleep. In order to survive and develop, bed bugs must have these blood meals. If they haven’t fed recently, bed bugs’ bodies will be clear and flat, but after they’ve taken a blood meal, their coloring changes to a purple-ish red color and they become larger in size.
How Do You Get Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs have been around humans for thousands of years, which is why at this point, they’re found virtually everywhere humans congregate. Bed bug infestations are common in homes, college dorms, apartment complexes, in libraries, hospitals, nursing homes, theaters, offices, and on public transportation. If there are people, there’s the possibility for bed bugs, as well.
How Do Bed Bugs Spread?
Bed bugs are hitchhikers, and will travel long distances by latching onto luggage, clothes, and linens, easily spreading and infesting new spaces.
It’s a common misconception that clean living spaces don’t attract bed bugs. All it takes is one college spring break trip to a hotel with bed bugs in order to bring these pests back into a bedroom. Similarly, purchasing used furniture is a surefire way to increase your odds of a bed bug infestation. For bed bugs in college dorms in particular, these pests often spread easily as students buying and selling used furniture is incredibly common.
Every person and every type of home has the potential for bed bugs to make their way in, given the opportunity.
How Do You Know if You Have Bed Bugs?
Despite their name, bed bugs hide in a variety of places, and can be quite difficult to spot. When checking for college dorm bed bugs, be sure to look not only on the mattress and bedding, but on headboards, in and around nightstands and dressers, in wall junctions, and in other various cracks and crevices.
While bed bugs don’t cause damage per se, they may stain bedding, the walls around beds, or other common hiding places with blood.
Additional Signs of Bed Bugs:
- Visible bed bugs or small, pearly white eggs found in clusters
- Remains of exoskeletons, feces, or bed bug egg castings
- Bed bug bites (often seen in clusters) that look like red welts on the skin, which burn and itch
- A musty, unpleasant odor similar to wet, moldy shoes or clothing
College Dorm Rooms: A Breeding Ground for Bed Bugs
Based on the habits of bed bugs, you likely understand why it’s important to prepare your college kids for dorm living with a chat about bed bugs. Here are a few tips to help your family prepare for college and prevent bed bug infestations:
College Dorm Checklist: How to Avoid Bed Bugs
- Inspect all suitcases and furniture before bringing it into your dorm room or apartment, using a flashlight to thoroughly search for bed bugs
- Before settling into your furnished dorm room or apartment, fully inspect any mattresses or furniture for signs of bed bugs
- Consider a bed bug mattress liner to protect your mattress from bed bugs
- Keep your room tidy. While no room is 100% safe from a bed bug infestation, keeping your room clean minimizes the number of hiding spaces for bed bugs, and makes it easier to spot unusual signs.
- Check your body for bites and rashes.
- Check any library books or used or rented textbooks before bringing them back into your room—bed bugs are known to hide in books, too!
- When it comes to college travel, inspect all bedding and furniture before getting cozy
- Another tip for traveling to hotel rooms in particular—before inspecting the area for bed bugs, keep your suitcase outside the room
- After traveling, wash and dry all of your clothes at the highest possible temperature setting
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs Fast
If your child does end up with a bed bug infestation in their dorm or apartment, these pests can be difficult to get rid of without a professional bed bug exterminator. At Suburban Exterminating, we have the knowledge and tools to identify bed bug hiding locations and eradicate the issue. Your college student may be headed back to class, but we’ll be here if you need us! Call (631/516) 864-6900 for a free bed bug treatment estimate.