Once thought to be a pest of the past, bed bugs are now an epidemic. Bed bugs cluster and thrive anywhere that groups of people gather and sleep—from hotels and movie theaters to, yes, college dormitories.
Because so many students move in and out of dormitories, the risk of spreading bed bugs is high. These uninvited hitchhikers are popular guests on college campuses, especially in Columbus. In fact, the Columbus Dispatch listed Columbus as one of the top five places for bed bugs! The annual report ranks Columbus fourth in the nation for bed bug complaints.
What does this mean for a college student? Unfortunately, it means that you need to add “prevent bed bugs” to your to-do list, right next to “unpack boxes” and “print syllabus.”
Bed bugs are a nightmare to deal with and hard to get rid of, which makes preventing them even more important. But how can you prevent bed bugs in a college dorm?
Keep reading to learn what you need to know!
Take Steps to Prevent Bed Bugs
Unfortunately, there’s no 100% guaranteed way to prevent bed bugs. These pesky critters are everywhere, and in shared living spaces like college dorms, other people might bring in the pest despite your best efforts.
That said, there are a few things you can do to help prevent or lessen a bed bug problem. Here are our top tips.
#1 Check the dorm room for signs of bed bugs.
Before you start unpacking, check the room for signs of bed bugs! If you suspect there is a problem, notify the college right away.
Bed bugs can be difficult to spot: they are small and nocturnal, hiding during the day. However, with careful inspection, you might find signs that bed bugs are present:
- Adult bed bugs, which are oval-shaped (like an apple seed) and reddish-brown, with six legs and two antennae
- Reddish-brown spots on the mattress, from bed bug feedings
- Dark brown spots on the mattress or box springs, from bed bug excrement
- Old bed bug skin shells
- A musty or obnoxiously sweet odor
Bed bugs typically live in clusters and like to hide in the crevices of mattresses or box springs. (That’s because they like to live near their food source: people.) Still, it’s a good idea to check other areas of the room, including the nightstands, dressers, baseboards, etc.
To do a thorough check, we recommend checking with a flashlight. Move the furniture and check the underside of the mattress and box springs.
For more information, read our previous post on the signs of bed bugs.
#2 Purchase bed bug-proof mattress and box spring covers.
Mattress and box spring covers won’t eliminate an infestation by themselves, but they will do two things: first, they will kill any bed bugs hiding in the mattress or box spring by trapping them until they eventually starve. Second, these covers can make it easier to deal with a bed bug problem. For college students moving into a dorm with pre-existing, used mattresses and box springs, we think these covers are a must.
Bed bug interceptors are special platforms or cups that you place under each foot of the bed frame. Having these interceptors can help prevent bed bugs from climbing up into the bed! Many college students get platform raises for their beds in order to use under-bed storage in small dorm rooms, so you might as well get the ones that are too slippery for bed bugs to climb!
#3 Be Wary of Secondhand Furniture
Most college students don’t have the cash to buy lots of new furniture, so they often rely on secondhand items. In fact, at the end of each school year, the sidewalks by college dorms and student housing in Columbus are littered with secondhand furniture sporting “FREE” signs.
However, furniture that isn’t metal or plastic could harbor bed bugs! That’s why it pays to check any secondhand furniture for bed bugs thoroughly before taking it home.
We recommend being especially wary of:
- Used mattresses or box springs
- Secondhand bed frames
- Secondhand nightstands, dressers, and other bedroom furniture
- Used sofas, armchairs, and other furniture covered in fabric
If you do get anything secondhand, we recommend giving it a good cleaning as well.
#4 Reduce your clutter
Keeping your space clutter-free won’t necessarily prevent bed bugs, but it will help you avoid a bigger problem. Clutter provides tons of spaces for bed bugs to hide. When your space is cluttered, a bed bug problem can go undetected for longer—getting worse with each passing day.
When you move into a dorm, unpack your belongings into plastic bins (bed bugs often hide in cardboard boxes). Going forward, try to keep your space tidy and organized.
What to Do for a Bed Bug Infestation
If you do end up getting bed bugs, it’s also important to know what to do and what not to do. You don’t want to make the problem worse!
We have a number of blog posts about how to treat a bed bug infestation—including helpful FAQs and why you shouldn’t DIY bed bug treatment.
Of course, we are also happy to answer your questions! If you need help with a bed bug problem, call us today.
Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We’ve been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.