Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite: Tips for Preventing and Removing These Tiny Pests
Remember when your mom tucked you into bed with a kiss and jokingly said, "Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite"? Well, it turns out that those pesky little critters are very real and are making appearances at colleges across the nation. But, why are they such a problem now? It seems that after the pesticide DDT was banned nearly 30 years ago, these tiny pests made a strong comeback. Unfortunately, college campuses provide a perfect breeding (and feeding) ground for them. Contrary to common belief, bed bugs do not actually live in your mattress. They actually hide in cracks along baseboards, walls, within your headboard and even in your furniture. Many times, they hitch a ride in luggage, which is why college students are the perfect hosts for these pests. Whether you are just moving in, returning from a weekend trip home or coming back from Spring Break, every time your luggage goes with you, you run the risk of bringing back these unwanted visitors.
So, how do you know if you have bed bugs, and more importantly, how do you get rid of them? Since they are very small and live in dark areas within your room, it can be difficult to see them. But, there are some signs to look for if you suspect you have a bedbug problem.
1. Inspect your sheets and mattresses for red or brown spots. After the bugs feed, they leave behind feces and markings that often resemble blood spots.
2. Check your body for swollen, red itchy welts. The bites are sometimes in a row on your arms, stomach or legs. Be sure not to scratch them though, as they may become infected.
3. Shine a flashlight into any cracks or crevices, along baseboards, on your headboard and into nightstands; if you see small objects that are the size of apple seeds (and moving), you may have a problem.
If you find you do have an issue, contact your resident assistant or the front desk attendant at your dorm or apartment immediately.
For those who do not have a problem and want to keep their rooms pest-free, follow these simple tips to keeping the bed bugs away.
1. Always inspect your luggage after any trip and wash the contents in hot, soapy water immediately.
2. Vacuum your carpets, mattresses and furniture weekly.
3. Wash your bed linens weekly and dry on the hottest setting.
4. Keep clutter in your room to a minimum, as bedbugs thrive in messy areas.
5. Seal all cracks in walls, baseboards and furniture to reduce possible hiding spaces for pests.
6. Cover your mattress and pillows with vinyl covers.
Some other helpful tricks to reducing the likelihood of a bed bug infestation include hanging your clothes, backpacks and purses on hangers and placing non-washable items in the dryer on high for a minimum of 30 minutes. Just remember, if you keep your space clean and tidy, you won’t give bed bugs a biting chance at making a nightly meal out of you or your roommate. Sweet dreams!