What you should know about Bedbugs

A worldwide problem. Bedbugs are a growing, worldwide problem emanating from increased global travel and decreased use of pesticides. Bedbugs have been found in five-star hotels, college residences, hospitals, and virtually all other types of housing throughout the United States. Given the large number students and staff that come to St. Lawrence University each semester, we are at an increased risk of contracting bedbugs on campus. It is important for residents to understand how to identify bed bugs, know who to contact if they suspect an outbreak and how to minimize the spread of these insects. We do not have any diagnosed bedbug cases on campus at this time and hope to keep it that way!

What are bedbugs? Bedbugs are small, flat, oval, wingless insects, about the size of an apple seed, that crawl and are visible to the naked eye. Similar to mosquitoes, bedbugs bite humans to feed on blood; however, unlike mosquitoes, they do not transmit disease. Hardy creatures that can live for up to18 months without feeding, bedbugs can withstand extreme temperature changes. Being nocturnal insects, their daytime hiding places include crevices, bed frames, mattresses and box springs, behind electrical outlet covers and picture frames, inside drawers of furniture, within pleats of curtains, in clothes discarded on the floor, and in other spaces where they are not easily detected. They are called bedbugs because they thrive best in beds where people sleep. A rash or bite mark with accompanying blood spots on linens are typically the first signs of a bedbug presence.

Are Bedbugs Dangerous? Although bedbugs and their bites are a nuisance, they are not known to spread any diseases.

How are bedbugs brought onto campus? While bedbugs are generally not carried on your person, they can be transported in personal possessions such as bedding, suitcases, backpacks, boxes, and furniture.

What are the signs of bedbugs?

  • Itchy skin welts
  • Small blood stains on bed linens or clothing from crushed insects
  • Dark spots from their droppings
  • Shed skins
  • Bedbugs hiding in seams of mattresses folds in linens, curtains, and nearby furniture

What You Should Know About Bedbugs
What can you do to help? Though bedbugs are rare, we need your assistance to avert and contain any cases. As bedbugs are brought into buildings through peoples’ belongings, the following are measures you can take to help with this issue:

  • Learn to identify bedbugs. Review the section of this fact sheet that describes sign of bedbugs and consult other resources listed below so that you can identify bedbugs
  • Inspect your belongings. Before arriving on campus, inspect your suitcase and other belongings to ensure that bedbugs do not exist on items you plan to bring to campus. Launder clothes and other washable items. If in doubt, items such as suitcases may be wrapped and sealed in a large trash bag and allowed to bake in the summer sun for 2-3 days before use; the heat will kill bedbugs and their eggs to ensure that they are not transmitted during travel.
  • Inspect your bed periodically. Check for blood spots on your sheets. Lift bedding and mattress. Check in seams, between bedposts and slats, and behind headboards. Use a flashlight at night.
  • Inspect your backpack periodically. Bedbugs can hide in backpacks. Check seams and pouches throughout your backpack for bugs or eggs. Do not place your backpack on or under your bed.
  • Clean and reduce the clutter in your room to eliminate places for bedbugs to hide during the day.
  • Wash clothes and linens frequently in hot water, and use a dryer to kill any possible bugs.
  • Don't bring second-hand furniture items onto campus, as these items can be common breeding areas for bedbugs.
  • If traveling before arriving back at SLU, take precautions to help prevent bringing bedbugs to campus with you. Inspect the bed you will be using as described above. Check the room, including areas behind wall hangings. Don't put your suitcase or backpack directly on your bed; whenever possible, elevate them on a luggage rack.
  • If you discover or suspect bedbugs, immediately contact Residential Life. Do not attempt to eradicate them yourself. Successful treatment must be carried out by a trained professional
  • When you arrive on campus, recheck all travel gear and packed items while you are unpacking.

Other resources.

Our commitment to you.
Providing a safe living environment for our students is the University’s highest priority. SLU is committed to doing everything practicable to manage the impact of this worldwide problem on our campus.

With grateful acknowledgement for resource information from Cornell University, New York State Department of Health and Stanford University Conference Services