Send the kiddies safely off to school, and SLEEP more soundly…
“Sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite!” GET REAL! Who can sleep after even mentioning BED BUGS? If you have just sent your kids packin’ to college, you may not be sleeping very well as it is. And worrying about their living conditions states away certainly doesn’t help. COLLEGE KIDS PRACTICALLY LIVE OFF OF THEIR BEDS, in close quarters with a high level of social interaction, and are not known for their cleanliness. So you can imagine how easily bug problems can be missed and spread. But don’t freak out…Knowledge is power!
Let’s review some common-sense tips on how to detect, and potentially avoid bed bugs with just your wits and the tools you already have! (If you already know a lot, skip to the summary.)
(Excerpted from CDC Website, about Bed Bugs)
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, flat, nocturnal insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1 to 7 millimeters in length. They can live several months without a blood meal. Infestations of these insects usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep or spend a significant period of time. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.
They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, and under any clutter or objects around a bed. They tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep. Bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they can transport stow-away bed bugs as they travel potentially infesting new areas, including their homes, as they relocate.
How to Identify a Bed Bug Infestation:
One of the most noticed signs are bite marks that appear on the face, neck, arms, hands, and any other body parts. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea – a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite. These bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These other signs may include:
- the exoskeletons of bed bugs after molting
- bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets
- a sweet musty odor
- rusty-colored blood spots from their blood-filled fecal material that is often excreted on the mattress or nearby furniture
A comprehensive Integrated Pest Management program to control bed bugs may include methods such as:
- using monitoring devices
- removing clutter where bed bugs can hide
- applying heat treatment
- sealing cracks and crevices to remove hiding places
- using non-chemical pesticides (such as diatomaceous earth) and
- judicious use of effective chemical pesticides
- bed bug infestations will not go away without intervention, and intervention is most effective when populations are low
The Huffington Post printed a great article specifically on the issue of bed bugs in college dorms. Here are some highlights… (FULL Article)
Ways students can protect themselves:
- When going on vacation, place luggage on luggage racks rather than a bed. And if you have to use a bed, vacuum your suitcases upon return from a vacation.
- If you’re purchasing used furniture for your apartment, make sure you thoroughly investigate it before you bring it into your home. The last thing you want to do is PAY for bugs!
- If a bed is provided in your room, thoroughly inspect it for signs before you move in, and periodically check your mattress and surrounding areas for signs of bugs. (see below)
WHAT TO DO if you discover (or suspect) a bed bug infestation:
- DON’T PANIC! While bed bugs are not thought to transmit disease, infestations decrease the quality of life by causing discomfort, sleeplessness and embarrassment. Please don’t start rumors until an infestation is confirmed. Also, skin allergies or other bug bites can be mistaken bed bug bites….
- Yet be on the safe side – watch where you place your clothes, shoes, bags, etc. and limit sharing of belongings.
- If at school, tell your R.A. you suspect a problem, so that they may arrange for proper, professional diagnosis and extermination if needed. Do not try to exterminate on your own.
- Seek medical attention if your bites are causing you distress.
- SEEK PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS & EXTERMINATION SERVICES.
So, use your smarts (as well as a flashlight and good vacuum) to check out your sleeping quarters regularly!
Change your bed sheets often and look at the mattress for signs of bugs. And one of the best things you can do to keep your MATTRESS fresh and free of allergens, dust mites, and to nip bugs in the bud – is to VACUUM it!
Utilize a powerful, sealed-HEPA vacuum cleaner with disposable HEPA bags to do this job correctly. Your goal is to pull out fine, creepy particles like dead skin cells, dust mite eggs and excrement, as well as bed bugs, their eggs and fecal matter. The vacuum must be of the highest quality so as not to expel those particles back out into the air! Dispose of your bag immediately to eliminate the contamination. Miele vacuum cleaners are the best choice for this task, and they even produce the SBD10 Mattress cleaning attachment (pictured above) to reach the awkward crevices where dust and bugs accumulate.
Now that you’re in the know don’t neglect your mattress and don’t send your kids off to school without an education about bed bugs and a good vacuum to keep their dorm clean! But DO get a good night’s sleep!