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With the end of the summer travel season, college students (and others) should be aware that they may be bringing some unwanted guests with them as they travel back to school.

  • Empty dorm rooms do not mean they are empty of bed bugs.
  • Bed bugs can live 18 months without feeding.
  • Students should inspect their luggage as they travel from place to place.
  • Students should not scavenge beds or furniture.
  • Check dorm rooms and mattresses for evidence of bed bugs.

Students should carefully inspect their luggage, especially if they have been traveling over the summer.  Places where students may have picked up bed bugs may include hotels, hostels, resorts, or other places where there is a potential for many people to rest or sleep over time.  Places where large amounts of luggage are stored may also enable bed bugs to spread.

When purchasing used beds, mattresses, and other furniture, students should verify that an inspection for bed bugs was conducted by a person who is experienced with finding bed bugs on these items.  If purchasing from a private vendor, make sure you have an opportunity to inspect the items.  If purchasing from a place of business, verify there is a policy about inspecting and preventing bed bug infestations on the used furniture.

Students are strongly cautioned against “scavenging” beds and furniture that have seemingly been discarded and left by the curb for disposal or behind places of business.

Bed bug infestations are not limited to beds and mattresses.  They can be found on tables, drawers, and even electronics if these items were located in a bedroom or other place that could support an infestation.

If a bed bug infestation is found, a professional pest management company should be contacted for proper control measures.  Control practices against these secretive pests must be detailed and extensive.  Most of the bed bugs will be located around areas where people rest, but a percentage of bugs will move away from these sites to “hide” in more remote areas.  If people do not address these “remote bugs”, an infestation will continue.[1]   Along with professional pest management controls, a bed bug certified mattress encasement will help protect you from bed bug attacks.

Because a bed bug can live up to 18 months without a blood meal, a dorm room left empty over the summer is not a challenge for the bed bug to survive. They do not discriminate or have a social status, and they can show up in any new or old building.  They travel with people in suitcases, backpacks, briefcases, clothing, used furniture, and mattresses. Bed bugs are usually found hiding in mattresses, but they can thrive anywhere they have access to their preferred food source… HUMANS!

One pregnant female can infest your entire surroundings.  College students need to know that they may never react to bed bug bites but may still be their nightly meal.

Students should check their mattress before moving into their rooms!  These 6 legged parasites are usually no more than ¼ inch in length.  A mature bed bug is about the size of an apple seed.  Inspect your mattress and box springs as well as the area around the headboard and bed frame.  Pay special attention to the binding and seams around your mattress and box springs.  Evidence of bed bugs can also be spotted by the small black spots (fecal material), cast skins, and eggs they leave behind.  If an infestation is detected, contact your local Housing Authority immediately so that a licensed pest control company can safely eradicate them.

 1. Copyright © 2006-2011, Regents of the University of Minnesota

Portions of content provided by:
Entomologist Paul J. Bello, PJB Pest Management Consulting, LLC. - Author of "The Bed Bug Combat Manual"