These past few weeks many students have gone off to college. I want you to all be aware of the blood sucking bed bugs that could be lurking about in their dorm rooms.

Bed bug populations have exploded across the United States in recent years. People are finding them in pretty swanky places, such as five-star hotels and restaurants as well as fancy clothing stores and other retail outlets. I know the college dorms that your children are living in are beautiful accommodations. Many of them are called “suites” now. Wow, they must be very fancy! I’m sure any college that has dormitories with suites could never have bed bugs! NOT!!!!!!

Bed bugs are flat reddish brown oval insects around the size of an apple seed. They live by feeding on the blood of humans or other animals. Bed bugs are wingless so they cannot fly but can move very quickly over floors, walls and ceilings. One adult female can lay up to 500 eggs in its lifetime. Immature bed bugs must shed their skin 5 times before maturity. Before each shedding of skin, they need a blood meal. Under favorable conditions the bed bug can reproduce up to 3 generations in a year.

Bed bugs are mainly active at night. They hide in places like mattresses, headboards, or box springs as this makes you easy prey for them while you sleep. They can also hide in cracks or crevices around your home. The bed bug will pierce your skin and usually feed for 3-10 minutes and crawl away full and satisfied. Most bed bug bites are painless at first and go unnoticed. Eventually, they start to itch and become red welts on your skin. Other signs of bedbugs could be small blood stains on your sheets or pillow cases. In spite of their bite itching, bed bugs luckily do not transmit diseases.

Bed bugs usually get into your home by hitchhiking on you or your clothing and luggage. The best way to control them is not to get them. When you travel, inspect all beds and mattresses for signs of the insect. Keep your luggage away from the walls and beds in hotel rooms and keep them elevated on a luggage rack in your room. When you arrive home wash all clothes and run them in your dryer on high heat. This will kill any that could have made the trip home with you. Also inspect your luggage for any stowaways. When your kids get home from school, leave their bags outside and have them unpack and follow the same steps.

If you get an infestation, use Bonide Bed Bug Killer which kills on contact. It also has a residual that will kill any eggs that may hatch up to 4 weeks later. You can also spray the closet and under the mattress where they hide as a preventive measure. Another effective control is Ortho Home Pest Fogger. This is an aerosol that can get into the nooks and crannies that you may not see. A combination of both will give you effective control. As always, read the labels for proper application. If your infestation is really bad, you may want to consider a professional exterminator.

An infestation of bed bugs is not a result of poor sanitation or distressed housing. Even the cleanest homes, hotels, or colleges can get them. Just follow my simple advice and you can prevent or control any that may come your way. On that note I feel a little itchy now, sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite. Stay tuned for my next story, “Head Lice and Other Itchy Tales”.