Fighting Bedbugs at College
The Arizona Republic
Monday, August 15, 2011
PHOENIX, AZ - Parents helping their college-bound kids shop for
dorm furnishings this summer might feel pressured to buy sprays,
mattress covers and other items promoted as protection against
bedbugs, whose presence in the U.S. has been on the rise in recent
As Chris Brundige, regional manager for Terminix, knows
firsthand, bedbugs have increasingly popped up on college
"My daughter had a big issue with bedbugs last year," he says.
"They battled them for three or four months."
Bedbugs are tiny hitchhikers that can stick to anything they
come in contact with. (Their eggs are even stickier.) So if you,
say, sit on the couch in a house that's infested, you'll probably
bring some home on your clothing. Bedbugs aren't known to transmit
disease, but their bites (they feast on your blood while you sleep)
are irksome, unattractive and so itchy they can keep you up at
Here, for your son or daughter's summer reading, is a crash
course in battling bedbugs.
- Be careful what you bring in the
That sofa sitting on the curb might seem like a bargain, but it
could have been put there because it's teeming with bedbugs.
Bedbugs love cracks, crevices and other hiding places; they can
even hang out in picture frames and bedside stands.
"They stay close to the mattress because they know that's where
their next meal comes from," Brundige says.
- Keep your floor and furniture clear of clothes
Hang your backpack, purse and jacket on racks, hooks or hangers.
Don't pile clothing or coats on the back of a couch or on your bed.
Though they can travel along any surface, bedbugs especially love
- Buy a zippered mattress encasement.
"If the mattress is infested, they can't get out and will die,"
- Skip the sprays.
"I've never used an over-the-counter spray. But a lot of
customers use them" before turning to professional pest
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention point
out that the resurgence in bedbugs is due in large part to the
insects' developing resistance to chemicals used to treat for them.
People using over-the-counter sprays probably contribute to that
problem. (Pest-control companies generally use non-chemical
approaches such as heating or freezing the insects.)
- Learn to spot them.
Bedbugs are tiny, apple-seed-shaped, reddish-brown bugs that are
flat like ticks, only smaller. You might not notice them until you
get bitten; their bites cause minor swelling and itching, much like
mosquito bites. You might notice small red spots on your mattress
(your blood, from when you get bitten). Closer examination may
reveal red or brown sticky "pepper" (the bugs' waste) around the
edges of the mattress or in the rounded corners where mattress
If you see signs of infestation, report the problem to whoever's
in charge of dorm living. "And keep reporting it until you get the
response you need," Brundige says.