Like most insects, bed bugs will infest any commercial structure with non-discriminatory aplomb, and college campuses throughout Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania and the tri-state area are by far no exception to the rule. Actually, they are more susceptible than most when it comes to these vampiric parasites for a number of reasons.
Ivy covered walls and tree lined campuses all over the Keystone State render beautiful and serene scenery for the pursuit of academia, but deep within those classroom walls and dormitories, the bed bug has invaded and refuses to leave, with or without a diploma.
In fact, in recent years social media and news sources have spread the word about their invasion throughout universities of every type. Truth be told, bed bugs have made an aggressive resurgence over the past two decades and matriculation campuses across the country are on the list of top hot spots where these pests congregate.
Several schools have reported different levels of infestation — in 2013, high school students visiting Penn State University’s main campus were forced to return home after a weekend science competition infested with bed bugs.
You see, in the close living quarters of multi-unit buildings such as dormitories, bed bugs present a real problem because they are transitory and attach themselves to clothing or items that move from room to room, from classrooms to cafeterias, from fraternity to sorority and other public areas — all of which makes for the perfect storm for a bed bug population explosion.
Penn State has taken a proactive approach involving student awareness and participation to preventing bedbugs from infesting residence halls, but it takes more than just an awareness campaign to control this scourge.
Proper, effective and often revolutionary methods are needed to exterminate this nuisance, all of which our teams have in their arsenal when combatting bed bug infestations.
If you administrate or maintain a school, university or college campus anywhere throughout Greater Pittsburgh, Western Pennsylvania, Cleveland, Eastern Ohio or the West Virginia panhandle, read on to learn more about these blood-sucking nocturnal parasites, discover our newly-released bio-spore bed bug treatment “Aprehend”, or contact our pest experts today to eliminate any bed bug infestation.
A Brief History of The Bed Bug
Cimex lectularius, better known as the bed bug, derives its name from the days of ancient Rome. Cimextranslates into the Latin word, bugand lectularius refers to a couch or bed. But the presence of the bed bug dates back even further than the glory days of Rome, almost to the beginning of time.
Studies concerning these ancient insect pests as well as fossils uncovered that date back more than 3,500 years suggest that they may have first inhabited caves in the Middle East that were inhabited by both humans and bats. Their first hosts were the bats and then they moved on to tastier humans.
In the ancient world, bed bugs served noble purposes, as the Egyptians used them in potions to cure common conditions and would drink them as a cure for snakebite. The Romans and the Greeks burned them to make leeches release their hold.
By the year 1200, bed bugs were all over Europe and during the 16th through 18th centuries. They arrived in America onboard the sailing ships carrying European explorers and the early colonists. They were attracted to the heat generated from cooking and fires.
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the rich as well as the poor living in urban areas were plagued with bed bug infestations.
Wealthier households had only a slighter edge, as vigorous house cleaning temporarily got rid of them. But they always returned until the early 1950s when DDT entered the bed bug scene, and they completely disappeared.
In 1972 the use of DDT was banned, as it was considered both carcinogenic and highly toxic to animal life. At this time, the bed bug returned to a not-so-adoring populace.
What Has Caused The Resurgence of Bed Bugs Today?
There are several theories as to why bed bugs have become an overwhelming problem in modern society in general. While some have merit, none can actually be proven. Still, they are worthy of note.
The increase in ease of travel is likely to have had an impact on the spread of the bed bug. People travel across continents for both business and pleasure every day of the year, increasing exponentially bed bug travel as well.
They are transported from one country to another via clothing and luggage and many airlines find evidence of bed bugs in their cargo hold areas. The need to often stay overnight in motels, inns and hotels also transports the bed bug to new and different spots.
Buyers should beware of second-hand furniture, especially mattresses and box springs, linens and clothing. While flea markets, thrift stores and garage sales are all very popular among thrifty college age shoppers as well as the mainstream public, all of these items could be havens for bed bugs. Picking up that nice looking recliner by the side of the road might well open up a can of…well, bed bugs.
Prevention of Bedbug Infestations on College Campuses
A lack of community awareness is another reason bed bugs have maintained their presence. Students, faculty members and all college staff must be educated about how bed bugs spread across campuses, what to look for (red welts) and what recognizable signs they leave behind (pepper-like stains on mattresses).
All students must diligently inspect their bags whenever they travel from one place to another for evidence of bed bug infestation, and while visiting other dorm rooms refrain from placing backpacks or belongings onto beds or cushioned furniture.
Fit protective covers under linens, mattresses, box springs and pillows. This helps to eliminate both ingress and egress points. Keeping linens on the bed and off the floor and removing clutter from within eight feet of sleeping areas where these bugs can hide also help to prevent their spread.
The best way to insure bed bugs will not return to a college dormitory is to provide ongoing inspections conducted by the knowledgeable professionals at Pestco. Recent infestations all across the country have spawned a new industry dedicated solely to prevention, reporting of infestations and the eradication of the bed bug.
According to Nina Jenkins, a senior research associate in the Department of Entomology at Penn State, one of the main reasons bed bugs are so out of control is because they know how to hide. This alone makes it very difficult for conventional chemical pesticides to reach them. In her own words:
“Bed bugs are extremely difficult to target directly. They hide in little cracks and crevices. Often, people leave the infestation for a long time before they even report it, so it becomes such a huge problem that dealing with it is a major operation. It involves collecting all of your clothing and laundering everything, and reducing all of your clutter, so that a pest controller can actually apply the chemicals to the areas where the bed bugs may be.”
Relevant Studies and Statistics About Bed Bugs
A 2015 survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association indicated that that 99.6 percent of pest controllers reported that they had treated buildings for bed bugs in the past year.
Results of a similar study done 15 years ago reported 25 percent of respondents. In that same survey, 68 percent of professionals pointed to bed bugs as being the most difficult pest they had ever encountered.
A more recent survey conducted by the same organization indicated that 47% of pest control specialists treat college dorms for infestations and that in 67% of the cases, clutter was the biggest challenge to infestation prevention.
Ten Interesting Facts About Bed Bugs
- Bed Bugs Love To Travel – Bed bugs, like many other insects hitchhike their way through life. They love to hide in suitcases, backpacks, handbags and even furniture, such as wardrobes and sofas. Nooks and crannies everywhere are new and exciting places to live.
- They Like Three Meals A Day – As creepy as it may sound, bed bugs mimic humans in their feeding / biting patterns which often occur in methodical and predicable cycles resembling breakfast lunch and dinner.
- Bed Bugs Anaesthetize Their Victims – The manner in which bedbugs feed allows them to bite and not disturb the sleeper. This is due to their saliva, which contains a number of elements that numb the area about to be bitten. Other elements also aid in the increase of blood flow.
- Bed Bugs Will Live Anywhere – An old wives’ tale speaks of bed bugs only infesting rooms that are dirty. This couldn’t be further from the truth, as bed bugs couldn’t care less about cleanliness. Their only motivation is finding a spot with a nearby food source.
- These Insects Are Finicky Eaters – While they may not care where they live, bed bugs are incredibly fussy when it comes to what they eat. Their diet is always blood but it can never be spilt blood; it must be extracted directly from the host. (Count Dracula lives and has competition.)
- Bed Bugs Have Been Known To Fast – It is a bizarre fact of nature that the bed bug can live up to five months without feeding. In the case of low temperatures, bed bugs can survive for as long as 400 days without food!
- They Are Experts At Camouflage – They are so small that bed bugs can comfortably fit into small cracks and crevices, which is where they hide in between meals. When they aren’t feeding, they like to hide within bed frames and headboards; wardrobes; sofas and skirting boards.
- Bed Bugs Are Resistant To Most Pesticides – In decades past, the only solution to eliminate bed bugs was the application of insecticides. In recent years, however, bed bugs have developed a resistance to most pesticides causing the responsible and expert exterminators at Pestco to develop new methods of extermination including the application of heat.
- Bed Bugs Can Lay Many Eggs – If temperatures are favorable at 70 degrees or so, their populations can spread like a raging wildfire. A single female bed bug that has access to a steady supply of human blood can lay up to 500 eggs in her lifetime!
- Bed Bugs Do Not Like The Heat – Heat affects the life cycle of the bed bug at every stage of its development and they cannot survive at extreme temperatures. They cannot hide from the heat as it travels from room to room through any building. Their nesting crevices in beds, sheets, mattresses and linens become too hot and they die.
Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Bed Bug Treatments and Solutions
Eliminating bed bugs from college campuses in Pittsburgh, Western PA and the vicinity is no piece of cake, but for the highly trained expert (ahem, as in those at Pestco), such a service is just “part of the job.”
Our superior pest control and pest management services can successfully eliminate bed bugs from any industry, including hotels, motels, hospitals, nursing homes, healthcare facilities, movie theaters, apartment complexes, industrial buildings, office complexes and university and college campuses.
Pestco solutions for bed bug infestations are a far cry from pest control and management tactics employed by conventional exterminators. We include the use of both chemical and non-chemical methods applications such as Cryonite freezing techniques and non-toxic heat treatments.
And recently, we have become a pioneer in the adoption of a newly developed non-hazardous, bio-pestcide known as Apprehend. Invented by researchers at Penn State, this product is comprised of fungal spores that kill bed bugs and works for up to three months. It is also considered safe for both humans and animals.
In addition to our state-of-the art extermination tactics, the complete arsenal of pest control and pest management weapons also include an experienced team of bed bug-sniffing dogs that are trained to pinpoint areas of application.
Complete Hygiene Services For Pennsylvania Universities
This new, three-pronged initiative created especially for commercial and industrial spaces including college campuses offers the ultimate in pest control and pest management treatments and solutions. Part of this umbrella package we’ve developed also includes washroom hygiene services provided Enviro-Master and environmental odor and air freshening solutions supplied by Air-Scent International.
This vast array of professional services, known as Complete Facility Care, ensures that college campuses can be free of bedbug infestations and at the same time receive environmental odor-control and air freshening services that enhance the indoor college environment both in classrooms and in dorm living quarters.
College staff and administrators should consider calling our pest experts today to solve all of their bed bug problems, and at the same time, keep all of their restroom facilities clean and fresh smelling.
Final thoughts on bed bugs: It’s not a bargain if it has bedbugs. ~Lara Spencer