Managing Bed Bugs in Dorms

As the academic year approaches, universities and schools are checking their lists to ensure that everything is up to par with what their incoming students are expecting. One thing that may potentially throw a wrench in their plans: bed bugs in dorms.

Survey Indicates that Cases of Bed Bugs in Dorms is Increasing

Bed bugs are found in places with high traffic and usage, such as hotels, so it’s no surprise that cases of bed bugs in dorms and residence halls has increased, particularly with the high turnover of new and returning students. A recent survey shows an alarming trend when it comes to new cases of bed bugs in dorms and residence halls across campuses in the United States:

The 2011 “Bugs Without Borders” survey of U.S. pest professionals, conducted by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky, found that bed bug encounters in non-residential settings had increased significantly from the previous year. A majority of pest professionals (54 percent) said they encountered bed bugs in college residence halls in 2011 compared with 35 percent in 2010.

How do Students Introduce Bed Bugs in Dorms?

Bed bugs in dorms do not discriminate and infestations are not the result of students’ social status or cleanliness. Well known for their hitchhiking capabilities, bed bugs are brought into dorms from the outside and are often unknowingly transported and relocated as students travel on campus and to and from classes, other students’ dorm rooms, or their homes, etc. Bed bugs can easily hitch rides and travel on items such as luggage, backpacks, briefcases, clothing, shoes, handbags and furniture (chairs, couches, dressers, night stands, beds).

For example, if a student visits a friend in a dorm room and lays their jacket or backpack on a bed infested with bed bugs, the bed bugs could easily attach to the jacket or backpack and return home with the student. Or, if a student brings in a used mattress or nightstand previously infested with bed bugs, they’ve most likely introduced these pesky bugs into their dorm room and set a potential infestation in motion.

How to Prevent and Control Bed Bugs in Dorms

With the rapid growth of bed bugs in dorms and residence halls, it’s important for facility and residence staff to not only educate students about bed bugs and provide preventative information, but to also deal with a bed bug infestation as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Bed Bug Prevention

To help prevent bed bugs in dorms and residence halls, it’s helpful to set up some prevention guidelines for both staff and students. Here are a few tips:

  • Inspection – Establish an ongoing inspection program requiring rooms and common areas to be inspected before, during and after the school year.
  • Information – Provide bed bug information to staff, students and parents, including bed bug identification, signs, habits and prevention tips, as well as a clear protocol explaining what to do if bed bugs are found.
  • Clutter/Cleaning – Encourage students to keep their environment clutter free (to avoid bed bug hiding spots) and to wash their bedding in hot water and dry on high heat regularly. Vacuuming their dorm room, particularly in the area where they sleep or rest, is also recommended.
  • Mattress Encasements – Provide or encourage students to purchase mattress, box spring and pillow encasements that are certified for bed bug protection.
  • Used Furniture – Discourage students from bringing secondhand furniture into the dorms. If they do, provide information about how to inspect the used furniture for possible bed bugs.

Bed Bug Control

Early detection of bed bugs in dorms is critical, but it’s only the beginning. As soon as bed bugs are suspected, a thorough inspection should be made to determine the extent of the infestation and then a treatment strategy and follow up plan, including the use of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques, should be discussed. Many pest management companies offer canine inspections, which leverage the expertise of a certified canine and handler team to quickly and efficiently inspect for bed bugs in dorms, followed by heat or conventional treatments to control the bed bug infestation. In addition, pest management professionals can provide educational trainings to both staff and students.

Bed Bugs in Dorms: Reduce your Risks

Bed bugs in dorms are a growing issue and can be a challenging and costly problem. If not handled properly, bed bug infestations can be a public relations nightmare for universities and boarding schools, resulting in a damaged reputation, lost revenue and possible litigation. The good news is, you can greatly reduce the risks associated with bed bugs by being proactive, preparing properly and partnering with a reputable pest management company.

If you’re facing a bed bug issue, give Modern a call at 1-800-323-7378.