Dealing with Bedbugs in College

This article was written by Gwen Elise, Author at Student Caffe, and originally appeared on the Student Caffe Blog, a place to explore real topics relating to students.

When I was a college sophomore, an acquaintance of mine from the adjacent dorm building noticed nasty bites all over his body. He assumed that whatever he was going through was an isolated incident—spider bites, maybe—but what he didn’t know was that other residents in the building were also being bitten at night. By the time they banded together and figured out that bedbugs had moved into their dorm, the ruthless little creatures had taken over the top two floors of the building. The word got out, and soon everyone at school knew about the infestation. “Don’t go in there,” we nonresidents would whisper ominously to each other when we walked past the place. “That dorm has bedbugs.”

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Few outbreaks are feared more by college students than bedbugs. Not only are they keen to spread and difficult to treat, but bedbugs come with a social stigma. We think of them as indicators of filthy homes and dirty dorm rooms, but it’s not nearly that simple. So, what is the deal with bedbugs, and more importantly, how do you deal with them if you have them? Good questions. Let’s start from the beginning.

What are bedbugs?

Belonging to the Cimicidae family, bedbugs are small, wingless insects that feed on blood (read: they’re parasites). While several species of bedbugs exist, there are two in particular that prefer human blood: Cimex lectularius (typically found in temperate regions) and Cimex hemipterus (found in tropical regions). Both species are stealthy.

Their modus operandi is the sneak attack—the “dine and dash,” if you will. It takes bedbugs only a few minutes to feed on a human, and they promptly retreat to their hiding places (beds, couches, walls, any place strategically close to their food source) when they’re full. To make matters worse, bedbugs are nocturnal creatures, preferring to eat before sunrise, so their “victims” are usually sleeping during the whole ordeal.