Colleges react to bed bugs: Loyola (Chicago), Boston University, Brigham Young (Hawaii)

by nobugsonme on September 30, 2009 · 8 comments

in bed bug eggs, bed bug inspections, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs and students, bed bugs in colleges, bed bugs in dorms, dorms

There are a lot of reports about bed bugs in colleges this week, in the wake of the recent high profile John Jay College bed bug infestation (and the less high profile Manhattan College bed bug troubles).

The Loyola Phoenix reports that Loyola University in Chicago was treating bed bugs with steam and pesticides, encasing infested mattresses, and (students claim) telling them not to talk about their infestations:

In addition to the rooms being treated, items that were on top of beds or on the floor near the beds were removed from the rooms to be cleaned. According to [Andrew Naylor, assistant director of Facilities Operations], these items were taken to a company that specializes in cleaning items that housed bedbugs or came into contact with them.

Throughout the process, residents affected by the bedbug incident were communicated with on a consistent basis, said Naylor; however, residents on other floors were not informed of the incident. “It’s certainly not like we’re trying to keep a secret. We just didn’t feel it was necessary to alarm the whole building,” said Naylor.

[Juniors Mike Fernandez and Eric Finnegan] said they were informed to not talk about the incident. “They told us ‘don’t say anything,’ because they didn’t want to start a mass panic and have all the students worry, which is understandable until they got the problem under control,” Fernandez said.

[Emphasis mine.]

Ke Alaka’i reports that Brigham Young University in Hawaii is giving dorm RAs Steri-Fab for treating bed bugs and eggs; Ke Alaka’i says

Bedbugs live in both the seams of and in the crisscross stitching of mattresses. They are visible by pulling down on the edge of the cording.

However, as we understand it, Steri-Fab is not recommended as a sole treatment option (Dr. Michael Potter found Steri-Fab had a “very low egg mortality”) , and bed bugs can live anywhere in a room, not just on the seams of mattresses.

The most encouraging story this week comes from Boston University, where the Daily Free Press reports that housing officials proactively searched on-campus housing for bed bugs in August.

Boston University housing officials have identified the bedbug infestation in dormitories such as Student Village and Myles-Standish Hall as a serious concern within the last year.

The infestations don’t just occur in older dormitories — they can show up in any building, new or old. There were five StuVi1 apartments infested with bedbugs at the start of the academic year, Director of Housing Marc Robillard said.

“Bedbugs travel with people. It has nothing to do with hygiene,” he said. “Some of the nicest hotels in the world have bedbugs because of the transition of people coming into their properties.”

In August, housing officials checked each of the larger residences for bedbugs after the dorms housed different groups during the summer, Robillard said. Housing officials said they are currently unaware of any active cases on campus.

Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences graduate student Emily Wilkinson said she found out her four-bedroom StuVi apartment, which she shared with roommates last year, was one of the five infested.

“I guess they found the bedbugs when they were doing an inspection so they didn’t want to put us [in our apartment],” she said. “They moved us into StuVi 2 and told us it would take two weeks for the whole process to happen. It took more than three, which was annoying.”

[Emphasis mine.]

There’s no guarantee that bed bugs can be eliminated in two or three weeks, and it would be interesting to know how the college performs these proactive bed bug inspections and how it signs off on housing units as being bed bug-free after bed bug treatment.

However, it is a good idea for colleges to have residences proactively inspected for bed bugs; remember, not everyone reacts to bed bug bites, and it can take some time before one sees obvious signs of a bed bug infestation.

1 DougSummersMS October 5, 2009 at 3:39 pm

I believe that Dini Miller reported a study that demonstrated 100% mortality for eggs that were sprayed directly with Sterifab. She looked at several different products that killed eggs, but only Sterifab was able to produce 100% mortality in the lab.

Here is a link

2 DougSummersMS October 5, 2009 at 3:47 pm

The results are summarized on page 41 of Dr. Miller’s powerpoint presentation.

3 nobugsonme October 6, 2009 at 2:08 am

Thanks Doug, it is interesting that Dr. Potter (see link in article) and Dr. Miller had such different results from Steri-Fab being used on eggs.

In any case, my understanding is that Steri-fab needs to be sprayed directly on bed bugs (or eggs). As Dr. Miller notes on p. 43 of the PowerPoint you linked to, “The products require that you spray each bug.”

The article does not explain if students at Brigham Young Hawaii are given professional pest control treatment for bed bugs; it SOUNDS like they are only self-treating with Steri-fab — and then, only treating mattresses:

All of the RA offices are supplied with Steri-Fab, which is a chemical spray targeted at bedbugs and their eggs.

Adam Hai, the TVA coordinator, explained how to use this spray to get rid of bedbugs. “Bed bugs eggs hatch every seven days,” said Hai.

To get rid of the bedbugs and their eggs, spray the mattress with Steri-Fab once a week, on the same day each week for three weeks, and let it dry in the sun, Hai said. Wash and dry all bedding and clothing on the hottest settings.

So if bed bugs are not sprayed directly, they won’t die.
If bed bugs are harboring elsewhere than on the mattress itself, they will not even have a chance of dying.

I hope the article does not represent the full story of how bed bug reports are responded to at this college.

4 Devin@BacktoBedMattressStores December 8, 2009 at 7:14 pm

Bed Bugs will almost always invest more than just the mattress, sticking around in the more humid environment of the bed room or in this case dorm rooms.

Treating the mattresses is nice, but will not elimate the bed bugs.

I would suggest lowering the relative humidity of the dorm rooms with humidifiers also and protecting the beds with mattress protectors to lower the moisture exposure to the mattress.

And obviously keeping up with good housekeeping…

5 nobugsonme December 9, 2009 at 2:26 am


Are you sure you’re talking about bed bugs (a.k.a Cimex Lectularius)? Neither humidifiers nor dehumidifiers will remove bed bugs from a room. You need serious pest control efforts.

6 devin January 27, 2010 at 7:10 pm

LOL…sorry, i was thinking one thing and put another.

Yes, of course serious pest extermination must be completed. But even then they tend to stick around if the cleanliness and humidity levels are not kept up.

7 nobugsonme January 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm

H i devin,

I have not heard of any research showing that humidity levels need to be kept up in order to eliminate bed bugs. Can you point us toward some?

And cleanliness/houskeeping are crucial in helping one detect bed bugs once introduced, and help with elimination of the pest (difficult in a cluttered environment). However, bed bugs are a pest of exposure and will (re)infest any environment humans can live in (clean or dirty), if a pregnant female bed bug is present.

(Are you sure you are not thinking of dust mites?)

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