This article, entitled “Bed bug case is isolated and treated”, is taken from “The Colby Echo“, a weekly student newspaper of Colby College in Waterville, Maine. For more information about bed bugs, visit the Modern website.
By Luke Brown
A recent case of bed bugs found in a Heights suite has been treated and is believed to be an isolated incident.
On Thursday, November 11 Associate Dean of Students and Director of Campus Life Jed Wartman and Director of the Physical Plant Patricia Murphy sent an email notifying the student body of a recent bed bug infestation in a Heights suite. Since this announcement, Campus Life, the Physical Plant Department (PPD) and the affected students have worked together to contain, control and prevent the spread of these bed bugs. Along with Modern Pest Control, a New England-based company, the College has treated the affected rooms and is confident that the situation is in good hands.
In a follow-up email sent on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 16, Wartman and Murphy wrote, “Modern Pest Control was on campus to do a heat treatment of the impacted suite [on Monday, November 15]. The treatment involved raising the temperature of the room to a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of several hours to kill both live bedbugs and their eggs. Modern finished their work at approximately 7 p.m. Monday evening. This one time treatment typically results in 100 percent eradication in the treated areas. No pesticides were used in this process.”
“Since bed bugs have become a news topic, we have had somewhere between 15-20 calls from students about a possible infestation. When this happens, we call Modern Pest Control for an immediate inspection. This is the first time Modern has confirmed the presence of bed bugs,” Murphy said. After this confirmation, the school and Modern quickly got in touch with the affected students to discuss treatment options.
There are two ways to treat a bed bug infestation: chemically or thermally. The chemical method involves several applications of pesticides to the affected area in order to kill the bed bugs and their eggs, as well as to prevent future outbreaks. The thermal method requires the affected area to be heated to a high temperature for several hours, killing the bugs and eggs in the process. Though costlier, the thermal method ensures, according to Modern Pest Control, 100 percent eradication, and is more environmentally friendly. Also, the affected students would be able to return to their normal living habits sooner with the thermal treatment.
After some discussion with the school and Modern Pest Control, the students decided on thermal treatment. Sensors were placed throughout the rooms, including in drawers, as large, running industrial heaters in the rooms over a period of several hours. A Modern employee monitored the temperature throughout the treatment, occasionally raising it or moving heaters as necessary to ensure the correct conditions to eradicate the bugs.
Fortunately, according to Modern Pest Control, this infestation was very mild. In addition, the risk of the infestation spreading was fairly low due to the design of the suite. Thick block walls and tile floors make it impossible for bed bugs to move from the room, as they cannot travel on such surfaces, or even human skin. They need a more textured surface to grip, such as fabric.
Though bed bugs are often the cause of much commotion, there is no scientific evidence that they carry any diseases, and they cannot jump or fly. They are usually carried on a victim’s clothing, backpack, sheets or mattress. Because of this, Modern has checked areas frequented by the affected students and had confirmed that there has been no spread.
Campus Life and PPD stressed that this issue is a fortunately isolated one. That said, students should remain vigilant and report any suspected infestations or bites. Information about bed bugs and the recent infestation can be found on the Colby PPD website, https://www.colby.edu/campus_cs/pp.