Bed Bugs Discovered In One Abel Dorm Room
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
Notify your resident assistant or landlord about the problem
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