Going to college? Watch out for bed bugs!

Morning classes, tough teachers, endless lectures, endless reading lists, dorm food – college students can moan and moan, but somehow they can handle most of the harms of college life. But bed bugs? Sharing a dorm with these little night vampires can push even the most laid-back college student to its limits.

Bed bugs are coming back in the United States, and college campuses are not immune to attack. Last year, outbreaks occurred at universities and colleges in Ohio, Vermont, New Jersey, New York, California, Michigan, and Tennessee. And these are just the schools that made the national news. Many schools try to keep up with the news of a bed bug infestation. Not exactly a good selling point for new students.

Bed bug infestations have increased dramatically over the past five years, so it is not uncommon for college campuses with their highly mobile populations to be affected. Pest control company bed bug reports increased by 71% between 2000 and 2005, according to the National Pest Management Association (NPMA). In a national survey of pest control companies, University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter, a noted bed bug expert, found: "91% of respondents reported that their organizations have found bed bug infestations in the last two years. Only 37% said they found bed bugs over five years ago. "

Bed bugs have been reported in all 50 states, mostly in homes, apartments, hotels and motels. However, 2% of reported infestations last year were in college dormitories. "The last 12 months have been particularly active," noted Cindy Mannes, NPMA's director of public affairs, last spring. "They are appearing like never before in hotels, hospitals, college dormitories and multifamily housing units, as well as in single-family homes."

An ancient scourge, bed bugs such as lice and fleas, were common companions before World War II. The development of DDT-based pesticides after the war allowed America to eliminate these troublesome pests; However, bed bugs are still common in many parts of the world. The ban on DDT in the early 1970s, coupled with increased world travel and the rise of pesticide-resistant insects, caused a resurgence of bed bugs worldwide.

While they do not transmit disease, bed bugs can traumatize their victims. The size of an apple seed, the bedbugs flatten oval, wingless bodies from light to reddish brown. Feeding on human blood for three to 10 minutes at a time, nocturnal pests carry a psychological punch disproportionate to their size. "They come in the dark; they feed on you; they run away when you turn on the lights," said Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California Davis. Not all victims respond to bed bugs, but their bites can leave red welts and itching. Victims can get nervous and nervous, constantly feeling ghost bites and goose bumps. "I have people who call me tears," said Harvard University entomologist Richard Pollack. "They are hysterical."

Bed bugs are especially difficult to control in multi-unit buildings such as dormitories. Small insects multiply rapidly; Females usually lay 500 eggs during the life of six to 12 months. Some bed bugs can lead to a large infestation in a short time. Unattracted by dirt or food, bedbugs hitchhike into a building with used or rented luggage, clothing, bedding, boxes, or furniture. They spread easily on students' clothes and belongings, on refurbished mattresses purchased by some colleges, and by building air ducts, electrical and hydraulic ducts, elevator shafts, and voids in the walls. If a bed bug infestation is found in a room, it is likely that adjacent rooms and rooms on the upper and lower floors will also be infected.

Atlanta filmmaker Kyle Tekiela was shocked by the response when he posted a noir movie on YouTube. "Students from all over the country sent me videos of their dormitories," said Tekiela. "This guy made a 360 where the ceiling meets the walls and there was a three inch strip of bed bugs all around."

Hard to kill, bed bugs have a hard cuticle for protection and can live for over a year without feeding. They hide in small cracks and crevices near the victims' beds. Household insecticides do not kill bed bugs and can actually cause their spread. Increasing numbers of bed bugs have been found to be resistant to commonly used professional insecticides. Experts are turning to new extermination methods, including kryptonite, which kills bed bugs and their eggs by quick freezing. Bed bug-proof enclosures that prevent bed bugs from infesting mattresses are also sought.

Signs of bed bugs to look for when you move into the dorm:

Check the mattress, particularly the seams and welts, for live insects and dark stains in the stool or blood.

Look for fecal smears or pea-sized pearly egg deposits on the walls behind furniture, along baseboards, around electrical openings and openings, and in plaster cracks.

Look for whitish nymph seedlings and ancient exoskeletons along the baseboards.

If you get bed bugs, what to do when you return home:

Do not unpack in the room. Take clothes and sheets straight from the suitcase to the washer.

Jump in the shower and put the clothes in the washer.

Wash clothes in hot water and dry in the warmest place.

Seal non-washable items in plastic bags and heat at 120 degrees for 2 hours or freeze at 20 to 30 degrees for 2 weeks.

Vacuum your bags and backpacks and store away from the room. Place the plastic vacuum bag twice and immediately dispose of it in an external waste container.

Check the sheets daily for signs of bed bugs and call a pest control specialist if any.