Avoiding Bed Bugs at College

Institutions of higher learning are places where thousands of young adults attend classes campus-wide, participate in diverse extracurricular and social activities, live and eat together, and all too often unknowingly encounter bedbugs in the process. Being aware of some high-risk issues, however, can help busy students avoid a bed bug infestation and the accompanying itchy bites, bumpy rashes, lost sleep and stress associated with these nocturnal pests.

1. Dorm or Apartment Mattresses

College mattresses typically serve many occupants over many years. Inspect mattress seams and beneath corners initially and regularly for telltale tiny fecal spots, empty shell casings, shed skins or sticky white eggs. Note that most colleges do not allow students to bring their own mattress. While they often do advise a topper, that padding will not prevent bed bugs in an infested mattress from feeding on you and actually gives them more places to hide. Inspect mattresses and bedding regularly, every time you change your sheets.

2. Thrift Shopping

Tight student budgets can make secondhand furniture, giveaways and thrift shopping seemingly attractive options. Unfortunately, these can also represent key ways of introducing a bed bug into your personal space. Inspect any used acquisitions carefully before bringing them into a dorm or apartment. If possible, keep all washable items in a plastic bag, and immediately launder them before using or placing them.

3. Laundromats

College lifestyles often come with dorm floor laundries or laundromats serving many people who are washing clothing and other items for numerous reasons—including trying to rid themselves of their own bed bugs. While a hot wash and time in the dryer is usually effective in killing the insects, laundry bags, wet piles of sitting laundry and infested trash may leave roamers waiting to hitchhike.

4. Travel and Visiting

Retreats, road trips, visits, and conferences can leave unwary students open to bed bug issues common to travel. While many people know to keep suitcases away from carpets and other textiles, they may not be as careful with their dirty laundry. Piles of soiled clothing, however, may be more attractive to bed bugs than other items. When traveling, keep soiled clothing in a plastic bag, and treat it as carefully as you would your luggage. Once home, launder clothes immediately, and check luggage and other carry bags carefully.

5. Sharing and Borrowing

Especially in a dorm setting, friends may want to share clothing or borrow sleeping bags, for example. What you lend bug-free could come back infested, depending on where the friend went or did. Always inspect returned, borrowed or bartered items carefully, and promptly launder any suspect items before storing or using them.

6. Contact Exchange

Daily schedules, professional events and social gatherings provide endless contact and opportunities for stowaways: backpacks left resting together against sofas in a student union, locker rooms where belongings are tossed aside, parties where coats are piled on a bed, and meetings where personal belongings are corralled in a coat room or office, for example. While many situations are unavoidable, regularly inspecting personal items—especially after such contact—is well worth the time required.

Bed bug infestations have become such an issue for colleges and universities that most institutions have established specific bedbug policies that detail exactly how students can expect their school to handle a suspected bed bug infestation.

If your college student is having trouble with bed bugs or you believe that they may have brought some home to you, contact Harbor Pest Control for help. Bed bugs are stealthy, invasive and persistent, but we are dedicated to providing fast and efficient solutions for your pest issues.

We proudly serve La Jolla, California, as well as a number of other surrounding towns. Be sure to check out our service area to be sure we can make it out to your home or business!