Independent Texas A&M student paper thebatt.com covers bed bugs this week. They mention the seminars in New York City, and the interesting research out of the Center for Urban and Structural Entomology (CUSE, housed at Texas A&M) on bed bugs and chicken farms. And–because it’s a college paper, perhaps–they dig right into the fascinating and violent concept of bed bug reproduction in the third paragraph.
But what I found intriguing was the following comment:
Used and freebie couches are breeding grounds for these pests and a center-piece in many college students’ living rooms. Many apartment complexes warned tenants of the commingling of on-campus and off-campus Aggies, with reference to spreading bed bugs. The Luxor Management Group told tenants to avoid visiting residence halls and “if someone who lives in the dorms must come to visit you in your residence, [we] strongly recommend that they do not sit or put their belongings on your beds or even enter your bedrooms and to just stay in your living or dining rooms.”
This management company is warning residents of off-campus apartments that they should avoid visiting students who live in dorms, and treat visitors from dorms with caution, keeping them in the living room and dining room, and their belongings off the beds.
Bed bug awareness is a good thing, but this advice is a bit off.
Yes–I would absolutely advise people to avoid putting guests’ belongings in their beds. The whole party “coat pile on the bed” (or coat pile anywhere) concept is a bad idea, and aversion to it is a litmus test for whether people have experienced bed bugs or not.
And taking in used couches and other items from the street, Craigslist, or other sources, is a bad idea. (Though surely some of the students in private accommodation have done this too?)
On the other hand, you should realize that if your friends have bed bugs and bring them to your home on belongings or on their clothing, they can infest other rooms as easily as the bedroom. Keeping friends to the living and dining room is not going to do it. Sofas and upholstered furniture are common targets, but bed bugs do also move into rooms themselves, and wooden furniture items.
Better advice for Texas A&M students is to talk about bed bugs. Make sure your friends know about them and know that experts claim as many as 50% of people may experience no bite marks and no itching–that means you can have them and not know it.
Make sure they know what unfed first instar nymphs look like (1 mm or 1/32 inch, white or translucent; not 6 mm or 1/6 inch and brown), since–as Lou Sorkin keeps reminding us–this is not what the media usually tells people to look for, but they may be all you see.
Talk to your friends about avoiding curbside furniture, lawn sales, flea markets and the like.
While Luxor Management may have the idea that students in a dorm are more prone to bed bug outbreaks than those in private accommodations, it is true that anyone can get bed bugs anytime.
And you do not have to share your bed with a student who lives in a dorm–or trash-pick furniture–to get them, as most of us will attest.