Bed Bugs Discovered In One Abel Dorm Room

DailyNebraskan.com
Friday, January 13, 2012

When freshman nutrition and health sciences major Emily Mrzlakreturned to Abel Residence Hall on Jan. 6, she didn't expect to spend her evening with bed bugs. Mrzlak, who didn't notice theunwelcomed guests until she saw them on her roommate's comforter, immediately broke into a panic.

"I had my boyfriend kill them because bugs freak me out," Mrzlaksaid. "After they were dead I didn't think anything else about it and just went to bed"

But her panic wasn't over.

"That night I couldn't go to sleep, I kept feeling these pinches of nerve pain all over my legs and arms."

Although she figured it was merely a figment of her imagination,Mrzlak woke up the next day with multiple bug bites on her legs.

These bites occurred at night, because bed bugs are nocturnal. They usually reside in dark spaces such as cork boards or mattresses until a human source is available to feed on, according to KeithZaborowski, associate director of Housing Residence Life who has also done research on the insects.

As soon as Mrzlak found the bites she took major precautions; she threw her sheets in the washer and dryer to kill them with heat. She then texted her roommate, because they were the same bugs they saw on her bed the night before. But the bugs returned.

Mrzlak's roommate, Ashleigh Auman, a freshman mathematics major, decided to go to their floor's resident assistant, who pointed her to the Abel Facilities office. When notifying Facilities, Mrzlak and Auman said they learned that the maintenance staff was reluctant to believe there were actual bed bugs in the room.

"We went down to talk to them and they didn't really believe it was bed bugs at first, but they came to set traps up in our room anyway," Mrzlak said.

As soon as the staff realized the insects were indeed bed bugs, they set traps. However, once they discovered just how many had infested the room, they decided to call an exterminator.

During the fumigation, the extermination company also checked other places in the room in case the bugs were tucked away in dark hidden spaces.

"When they searched the room, they found the bugs living in the cork board above my roommate's bed," Mrzlak said. "After removing it they realized that the bugs had been living there for a while."

Not only had the insects lived in the cork boards of Mrzlak and Auman's room, but they also produced a litter of new bugs.

"Housing ended up having to replace both cork boards over the beds, and we both got new mattresses and chairs. They also washed our walls and ended up spraying our room a second time." Mrzlak said.

During the fumigation, the pair could not stay in the room. They were relocated to an emergency room in the hall, and Housing had to bag all of their soft items such as clothes and blankets during the spraying.

According to Housing, this is the first time that bed bugs have ever affected that room, but due to the maturity of the bugs they are not sure how the bugs got into the room.

Mrzlak said having bed bugs in her room was a shock to her and Auman. They were used to cleaning their room multiple times a week and didn't understand how it could have been infested since no one had been in the dorm for weeks. But to their knowledge, the bugs have been living in the room since August.

According to Zaborowski, bed bugs can "hibernate for about two years and revamp when there is a host present."

Because these bugs use human blood to survive, they were able to live in the room without a host during the winter break, he said.

"They stay close to whatever the host is, so whatever the room might be they won't leave," Zaborowski said.

The report from Mrzlak wasn't the first that Housing received about bed bugs this year.

"We have received numerous reports from students who thought that there could be bed bugs in their room."Zaborowski said. "Out of all of them there were only two cases: Abel Hall and the Village."

"98 percent of reports that we get are something else," Zaborowskisaid.

Reports that come into Housing go to the Facilities staff, Zaborowski said. The staff investigates the rooms to identify the insects.

But if bed bugs are found, or any other infestation, Housing calls Brooks Exterminating Service to take care of it.

As of Wednesday, Mrzlak and Auman have now moved back into their room. There have been traps placed in the room, and so far the blood-sucking bugs haven't been spotted.

 

BED BUG QUICK FACTS

"It was kind of ironic that this happened, because we got the chance to rearrange our room," Mrzlak said, "so it ended up working in ourfavor."

Bed bugs are nocturnal

They feed on humans and other warm-blooded animals

Bed bugs can only be killed by heating or freezing

They can hibernate for up to two years

If you wake up with a mysterious bite, you may have bed bugs

If you find bed bugs in your sheets or pillows, put them in the dryer immediately

Notify your resident assistant or landlord about the problem right away

Make sure your RA contacts the Housing Facilities office

Make sure an exterminator is contacted to set traps

If you are being fumigated, find a place to stay

Be careful with luggage as bed bugs can travel

Depending on the stage, bed bugs can multiply