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College Can Introduce Your Child To A Lot Of Things, Including Bedbugs

If you have a child getting ready to return to college, or go to college for the first time, you have probably worked hard to ensure they are prepared for this experience. Unfortunately, there may be one more thing you need to teach them prior to them leaving home. You need to make sure they know how to identify bed bugs, as well as know what to do if they encounter them in their dorm rooms, friends' apartments, or hotel rooms they may occupy while they are gone.

What Are Bed Bugs?

Cimex lectularius, which are most commonly called bed bugs, are small parasitic bugs which prefer to feed on human blood. Adult bed bugs are approximately 4-5 mm long, and are light brown, or reddish in color. Their color often changes due to how recently they have fed.

Due to the fact adults are flat and oval-shaped, they resemble a small apple seed. They may be mistaken for carpet beetles, small cockroaches, or ticks. They emit a distinctive odor when they are mashed. Young nymphs start off lighter in color, and will become darker as they age.

While they are primarily active at night, they will move and feed during the day. Although they are not known to carry pathogens, some people will experience adverse reactions to their bites. These include:

  • Skin irritations
  • Allergic symptoms
  • Psychological effects

Bed bugs have been around since the beginning of time, and had been eradicated in many places during the early part of the 20th century, but they have been making a comeback in the last twenty years. This is thought to be due to developing a resistance to certain pesticides. 

Where Are Bed Bugs Found?

These tiny creatures are most commonly found in or around the sleeping quarters, or beds of their hosts, but they do not just confine themselves to the beds and linen. Because they are so small they can conceal themselves behind wallpaper, any type of upholstery, within picture frames, inside electrical switchplates, and inside cracks and crevices of any type of furnishings.

Bed bugs can now be found in most states. Although there is a higher reported concentration of them in the upper Northeast, they are quickly spreading throughout the country. They travel from place to place by hiding in suitcases, handbags, backpacks, furnishings, and clothing. 

How To Check Your Child's Dorm Room For Bed Bugs

Prior to moving anything in your child's dorm room or apartment, you will first want to check the premises for bed bugs. If the room has beds, thoroughly check both sides of the mattress, concentrating on the seams, and the underside of the tag. You are not only looking for the bed bugs themselves, but look for small discolored dots of feces. Since bed bugs molt, you also want to look for translucent light brown skins. 

Look for these signs along the headboard, in drawers, and along the baseboard of the walls. Look for traces of powder in these places which may indicate that this space has previously been treated for bed bugs. If you find any signs of infestation do not move your child into this space until it has been treated, and you are sure bed bugs are no longer a problem.

How To Avoid Bed Bugs In Used Furnishings

College students are often very frugal and have been known to furnish their new spaces with used furniture they find in a variety of places. Advise your student to avoid cast off furniture finds. Good looking chairs and sofas sitting on the curb for free may be there because their previous owners know they are infected with bed bugs. Once your student moves this furniture in their space, they will also move in the bugs. 

If they choose to purchase small pieces of used furniture, advise them to thoroughly inspect each piece prior to purchase. After they have purchased the piece, they should seal the piece in a sealed dark plastic bag along with a thermometer. Have them to place the bag in a hot sunny location, where they are sure the temperature will reach a continuous temperature of at least 115 degrees. Leave the sealed bag in this location for several hours to ensure any bugs and eggs are killed.