University Housing Updates Students About Bed Bug Situation Via Email
Monday, January 23, 2012

Just over two weeks ago, two Abel Hall residents found bedbugs in their dorm room after returning from winter break. Last Friday, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Housing sent out an email to all students living in residence halls about the bedbug situation.

"We in University Housing want to actively communicate with you about this: What we're doing, and what you can do, to manage this situation," wrote Sue Gildersleeve, University Housing director, in the email. "Your comfort is our top concern, and we promise to involve you in this process."

The email informed students of what University Housing is doing to handle the situation, as well as basic information about bedbugs. The entire email is posted on the University Housing website.

Since the first case of bedbugs appeared on Jan. 6, Brooks Exterminating Service, Inc., was called to identify that it was bedbugs in the room. University Housing contracted Plunkett's Pest Control Inc. to perform a heat treatment.

Gildersleeve said it was Housing's first experience using Plunkett to treat bedbugs.

The heat treatment was performed Friday night in Abel. Results of the heat treatment won't be known until Monday, wrote Gildersleeve in an email.

Barb Ogg, UNL extension educator, said doing a heat treatment to get rid of the bedbugs should work to get rid of them.

"When they die, they actually aren't dying of starvation," Ogg said in a telephone interview. "They die because they dry out. The warmer the temperature, the faster they dessicate."

Ogg said bedbugs can live a lot longer in cooler temperatures, so turning down the heat in a room will not do anything to get rid of them.

The Village also reported a case of bedbugs, but they were isolated to one bedroom, not an entire apartment.

University Housing didn't inform students about either bedbug situation until Friday afternoon, via email.

"The reason we didn't make an effort initially to talk about it with other students was because of the way bedbugs travel," Gildersleeve said. "They are not known to migrate from one room to the room next door ... They are not contagious like a disease that we feel we have to warnpeople."

Gildersleeve said she thought students living nearby in Abel might have known about the issue, but she could not guarantee that was true.

LeAnna Cutler, a sophomore business management major and Abel resident, said she did not hear about the bedbugs until some of her fellow battle buddies in the Big Red Baton told her last week.

"I'm not too upset about it, because I clean my sheets all the time," Cutler said. "But it's a big concern as far as health issues go and it'sgross."

Another Abel resident, Hope Job, said she heard about a bedbug rumor from her friend, but Job wasn't sure if her friend was telling the truth. Job, a sophomore general studies major, said she was a little bit upset about University Housing not telling students about the bedbugs.

"I like to know those kind of things, just in case," she said.

Luke Stoppkotte, a freshman athletic training major, lives on the ninth floor of Abel, where the first case of bedbugs was found. Stoppkottesaid he was not upset that Housing didn't warn students about the bedbugs.

"It's kind of gross, but whatever," Stoppkotte said. "As long as it's not in my dorm."

Because only 20 to 30 percent of people react to bites, people might not realize they are in the area, Ogg said. And leaving for winter break won't alone kill the bedbugs.

"They can easily live five to six months," she said. "Three weeks for Christmas break is a piece of cake."

Knowing exactly how the bedbugs made their way into Abel is difficult to determine. While bedbugs only travel on people, anyone could have brought them in.

"It could have been the people (in the specific room), a guest or a friend of a friend," Gildersleeve said.

"We'll never know, and frankly, I don't think it matters how they got there. Nobody would bring them in intentionally. The minute we knew they were there, we were trying to take care and deal with it."