Albany College Students: Worried About Bed Bugs?

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Do you have bed bugs on the brain? If you plan on staying in a dormitory, you should. Bed bugs thrive in hotels and dormitories, because they love people. More accurately, they love to take blood meals from people.

The reality is that these are little brown bugs that suck your blood. But sadly, you don't turn into a vampire and live the rest of eternity with super strength and radiant beauty. In fact, it's the opposite. Bed bugs will leave you with quite a few unsightly red bumps (although not everyone has a reaction), starting on your ankles, but eventually moving to other more noticeable areas of your body. And, left uninhibited, a single female bed bug can have as many as 5000 babies in under six months. As long as they can find a blood meal, they will multiply, grow, and thrive. And with hundreds of students, from every state and country, coming together in one place, it's like an all you can eat buffet for bed bugs at college. But YOU don't have to be on the menu. There are things you can do to detect and prevent bed bugs before they're a problem.

Understanding bed bugs, and how they spread, can help you make your room less appealing to these traveling bugs. They hitch a ride from room to room on socks, sweaters, scarfs, and other clothing, or in backpacks, duffle bags, and boxes. If someone down the hall has an old chair they're giving away, make sure they didn't pick it up for free off the side of the road somewhere. Bed bugs could be living in the cushions. Once they're in your room they will begin to explore every inch, to determine if it will be a nice cozy place to raise a family. And, unlike humans, they're not looking for a good school, a nice park nearby, or clean fresh suburban air.

Here are some of the things bed bugs like.

  • Piles of clothes, especially if they are on the floor. Makes hiding easier.

  • Cloth, mattresses, and upholstered furniture.

  • Rugs and curtains.

  • People. If you have blood, they want a blood meal from you.

  • Sheets and mattresses to be close to their main food source.

  • A clean orderly environment won't insure that you never get bed bugs, but it significantly affects their desire to stick around since no clutter means less space to remain secluded and well hidden.

How do I know if I have bed bugs?

If you're allergic to bed bugs, it will become painfully obvious, because your skin will become red and itchy around the bites, and appear as if you have a rash. Some people mistake these bites for mosquito bites, but a quick check of your sheets, can help you determine which bites you have. Bed bugs will drip a little when they are done feasting on your blood. This will leave tiny brown blood stains on your sheets. Peel back the covers at the foot of your bed, and take a look. These blood spots will be small, and sometimes have a trail. If you are scratching your mosquito bites, you may leave large blood stains, but it is easy to tell the difference. Bloody mosquito wounds leave a much larger blood stain.

If you believe you have bed bugs, you can check the corners and edges of your bed for a moist black residue. This a good visual indicator that bed bugs are present. If you find it, contact your RA, and let them know immediately. These bugs reproduce rapidly, and can grow to adulthood in as little as thirty days. Time is of the essence to prevent a widespread bed bug infestation.

Keep your dorm room clean. Wash your clothes and bedding at the hottest temperature, and dry them at the hottest temperature. Keep clothes off the floor. Vacuum frequently. And keep your clothes and other clutter off the floor. This will help you stay off the bed bug radar, and help you keep yourself focused on what matters.

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