Bed Bugs Invading College Campuses

Expert Tips for College Students Returning to School

As college students pack their bags to head back to school, they might want to think about the potential of bed bugs living in their dorm room. There has been a significant increase in bed bug infestations in recent years, and college campuses are on the list of hot spots where these pests congregate, which also includes hotels, motels, and multi-family housing complexes.

Bed bugs are harder to eliminate in multi-unit buildings like dorms because the insects are transient, attaching themselves to clothing or items that end up moving from room to room. Items that land on the floor, particularly clothing and bed linens, may be an easy target for bed bugs to attach themselves. A recent survey presented by the National Pest Management Association indicated 47 percent of pest professionals treat college dorms for infestations. The same survey revealed 67 percent of pest management professionals say clutter is the biggest challenge to infestation prevention.

While bed bugs do not transmit disease to humans, they can leave red, itchy bite marks, especially on the neck, arms, and legs, which may be exposed while sleeping. The Rentokil Companies (Ehrlich Pest Control, Western Exterminator, and Presto-X Pest Control) want college students and their parents to be aware of these pests and offer the following advice:

Identifying bed bugs is easy. Adult bed bugs are about one-quarter of an inch long, or about the size of an apple seed, and resemble a flat apple seed or lentil. While bed bugs are most often found in mattresses and box springs, they can also conceal themselves behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, and electrical switch plates, and beneath cushions in chairs and sofas.

Prevention includes:

  •   *Secondhand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, should be thoroughly examined for signs of a bed bug infestation before being brought into a dorm or home.
  •   *Fit mattresses, box springs, and pillows with protective covers before you put on linens. These bed bug and dust mite-proof encasements eliminate bed bug entry and escape points. They are available for consumers at the Rentokil Companies’ local branches.
  •   *Keep bed linens on the bed and off the floor.
  •   *Regularly inspect sleeping areas and check mattress seams for pepper-like stains, which indicate bed bug activity.
  •   *Bed bugs tend to live within eight feet of a sleeping area. Remove clutter around these areas where bed bugs can hide.
  •   *Visitors should not place backpacks or belongings onto the bed or cushioned furniture.


Parents and students should not overlook this important part of their college survival kit. College dorms aren’t always thought of as havens of austerity, but they don’t need to be a beacon for bed bugs either. Close living quarters, visiting friends, and cluttered living space are inviting accommodations for bed bugs. Careful inspection of personal sleeping areas and the implementation of these prevention tips will help keep the bed bugs from biting.