In recent years, bed bugs have made a resurgence in this country. Unfortunately, Texas A&M residence halls have not been immune. Previously we have had some cases of bed bugs, but were able to effectively eliminate them. However, there is always the potential for more to occur. The following information is being provided to calm any fears about bed bugs and to instruct residents about what to do if bed bugs are suspected in your room.
What is a bed bug?
Adult bed bugs are slightly smaller than a lady bug or about 3/8 of an inch long. They are reddish-brown in color with flat oval shaped bodies. Bed bugs feed on the blood of people and other warm blooded animals. They are nocturnal feeders who, unlike lice or fleas, do not live on hosts but rather in the “nests” of hosts. Bed bugs do not fly or leap but rather hide in dark crevices close to food sources.
The average lifespan for a bed bug is 12 to 18 months and they can live for months without feeding. Bed bugs are spread by hitchhiking from areas of infestation on clothes, furniture, bedding, and suitcases.
Are bed bugs a concern here?
Bed bugs were scarce during the later part of the last century, but their populations have surged in recent years. Changes in the types of pesticides and their usage, as well as an increase in international travel, have contributed to the rise of the bed bug. Bed bugs are most common in places where many people sleep. These places include hotels, motels, apartments, cruise ships, and residence halls. They can easily travel on clothing, linens, and furniture. Infestations of bed bugs do not necessarily indicate poor hygiene.
Can bed bugs hurt me?
Although bites can cause severe itching, they are relatively harmless. When a bed bug bites, it releases a salivary fluid which can irritate skin and cause allergic reactions over time. Scratching the bites can cause secondary infections and scarring. Washing the bite area with soap and water and applying an anti-itch/antihistamine cream is recommended. If infection occurs, seek medical attention. Bed bugs are not known to transmit any blood-borne diseases such as HIV or AIDS.
Do I have bed bugs?
Bed bug bites are identified by small welts similar to mosquito bites. Often these welts occur in rows of three or more and cause itching and discomfort. These bites show up in the morning or middle of the night. If bed bugs are present, tiny dark excrement stains will be on the sheets, pillowcases, and mattresses. Molted skins and egg shells may also be present, but look for the crawling or dead adults as well. In cases of severe infestation, a musty sweet smell may be detected.
Examine areas around the bed and sleeping quarters for signs of bed bug activity. Bed bugs prefer areas around fabric, wood, and paper. Check the folds or seams in bedding and linens. Check around the headboard and footboard paying special attention to corners and crevices. Check baseboards, moldings, and carpet seams near and around the bed. Bed bugs often travel up so check areas above the level where you sleep. Check artwork and wall hangings, curtains, and walls. Look for any excrement spots, skin casings, or live bugs.
What if I have bed bugs?
Please contact your Resident Advisor, Community Director, Resident Manager, or Graduate Hall Director as soon as possible. The CD/RM/GHD will contact the proper entity to evaluate and treat (if needed) your room. Bed bugs CAN be controlled with vigilance and constant inspection and treatment by professional pest control technicians.
How do I prevent getting bed bugs?
- Do not bring infested items into your room. Thoroughly inspect any “freebie” or second hand furniture or accessories before you bring them in.
- Check luggage, clothing, and bedding after trips, especially after trips abroad.
- Clean up and reduce clutter to eliminate some of their favorite hiding spots.
- Keep rooms clean and tidy. Vacuum crevices and upholstery regularly.
- Vacuum mattresses frequently or permanently encase mattress in a mattress bag.
- Pull bed away from wall or other furniture. Tuck in sheets and blankets to avoid contact with the floors or walls.
If you should have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to ask your Resident Advisor, Community Director, Resident Manager, or Graduate Hall Director, or call the Department of Residence Life Central Administrative Offices.