As a young child, one would be told “Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” After turning out the lights, there would be a legitimate fear of whether or not bed bugs actually were hiding in our sheets before one would slowly, but surely, fall asleep. Unfortunately, bed bugs are a real occurrence and can plague college residence halls. With a reported case in Brinser this year, as well as a case in Ober last year, there are many who are questioning where bed bugs come from, how large they can grow and the measures students can take in order to prevent bed bugs in their living areas.
Both senior Barbara Prince and sophomore Kyle Farkas admitted that they would panic if they ever found bed bugs in their room. However, Prince had no idea where bed bugs come from, while Farkas believed that traveling would be the main cause behind these bugs coming into a room.
Joe Metro, director of Facilities Management, said that there is a certain protocol that students should follow if there is an infestation of bed bugs occurring in a student’s living area. Metro stated that students should contact the resident assistant living on their floor so that a work order can be placed to bring in a specific team designated to tackle bed bugs or other insect-related issues. Area Coordinator Dan Cline mentioned that, in some cases, there is a possibility of the removal of personal items as a precaution so that the situation will not occur again and, through “a step-by-step management process,” prevention is achievable.
Metro stated that bed bugs are usually introduced into residences by the students themselves or various guests as they come and go, and once bed bugs are in the room, they typically do not travel far from the host site, which is the bed in most instances.
Prince had no idea what the typical size of a bed bug is, while Farkas compared bed bugs to the size of small specks. According to a diagram provided by Metro, the bed bug starts out as an egg and then becomes what is called the First Instar Nymph, which is approximately 1.5 millimeters big, which is about the size of a dot that one would place on a piece of paper. Metro said that bed bugs hide within the folds of fabric and can stay there for various amounts of time. Once a person is bitten, the bite could take 14 days to surface.
With these bugs being so miniscule, the main concern is how students can detect that there are bed bugs in the room and what measures can be taken in order for students to become more aware of the issue before they are bitten.
Metro believes that students educating themselves is the best course of action to prevent future problems with these bugs. Another way to detect that bed bugs are present, according to Metro, is by observing the presence of fecal matter as well as the shedding skin of the bug.
When asked if other colleges are experiencing similar issues, Metro and Cline both said they believe it is a possibility. Cline elaborated on the matter, saying that with a smaller school such as Elizabethtown College having two reported cases the past two years, bigger schools are more likely to have more cases.
Cline warned students to be cautious when traveling to various places and to keep their rooms clean. They also said that one’s personal hygiene is crucial in keeping the possibility of having bed bugs to a minimum. Academics and extracurricular activities keep most college students occupied for many hours; however, taking a few minutes each day to clean up the room as well as keeping up hygiene will go a long way.