Bed bugs teach unwanted lesson at 4-H science camp

by nobugsonme on August 4, 2010 · 2 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs and students, bed bugs in colleges, dorms, north carolina, spread of bed bugs

It’s summer camp season, and parents should be aware that bed bugs may come home from camp, along with the macrame plant hangers and duffel bags of dirty socks and shorts.

NBC reports today that a 4-H science camp ended when bed bugs when bed bugs were discovered in some of the camper’s dorm rooms:

Bedbugs are to blame for cutting a 4-H science camp short at the North Carolina Wesleyan College in Rocky Mount.

Sheila Martin, with the Dunn Center for Performing Arts at Wesleyan College, said the bedbugs were found Tuesday morning in four rooms of the Nash Hall dormitory building on campus after a few of the 137 campers complained of bites and itching.

The campers all went home a day early (it was supposed to be a three-night camp), with all of their possessions in a sealed bag, and armed with information for their parents on preventing bed bug infestations.

The Wesleyan campus is full of other groups but Martin said the bedbug incident did not impact their stay. She said she is confident everything will be fine for when students return in a few weeks.

The college should be very proactive in terms of making everything fine for the fall students.  Bed bugs typically require multiple treatments with sprays and dusts.  And if no one is staying in the rooms for the next few weeks, bed bugs will likely not be lured out to cross poison and die until a new source of food arrives.  Active bed bug monitors (which attract bed bugs to be trapped, to determine their presence) mean the college can test whether bed bugs are still around, in the absence of a human host.

The camp may have ended early, but the kids sure got a lesson in science. As Nash County 4-H Cooperative Extension Agent Sandy Hall told the press,

‘We’ve all learned a valuable lesson and we know how to identify them, the kids learned,’ Hall said.

How’s that for making lemons into lemonade?

Let’s hope the parents take all of the necessary precautions to ensure bed bugs which may have hitched a ride home do not set up their own camps there.

Parents whose children were not in the four rooms known to have bed bugs need to be aware their kids may still be at risk of having brought bed bugs home.

Bagged items must be treated to ensure bed bugs and eggs are killed. The best way to do this is with heat.  Clothing can be washed or dried on hot (preferably both).

Since most or all families won’t have a Packtite, some non-clothing items may be able to go in the dryer (shoes, cloth backpacks and duffel bags, etc.) Items which can’t be washed and dried are often still able to be put through the dryer (if already dry).

Books, non-dryable luggage, electronics and other items should be inspected very carefully (preferably over a bathtub, with a contact kill spray handy in case bed bugs appear.  And this should only happen after parents have a chance to learn about what bed bugs at different life stages, and their signs (fecal stains, eggs, cast skins) look like (this FAQ may help).

Parents should also consider whether they want to keep non-washable/non-dryable items bagged longer, though keep in mind bed bugs can live a long time without feeding.

Parents may wish to employ ClimbUp Interceptors on the children’s beds (and preferably the entire family’s beds), in case bed bugs have been brought home. These are inexpensive and can provide an early warning of an infestation.

This FAQ offers additional tips on how to avoid an infestation at home after exposure to bed bugs.

1 Ci Lecto August 5, 2010 at 9:57 am

Wouldn’t it have made more sense to treat everyone’s stuff prior to departure? The dorms have dryers, no doubt. Perhaps there was a sauna on campus that could be used as a hot room. Why fob this off on N different families, each with their own understanding of the problem and each with different capacities to deal with this?

2 nobugsonme August 5, 2010 at 10:05 am

Yes, Cilecto! It would of course make more sense to deal with this at the source.

I assumed that, given that this was a 3-day camp, and they decided to leave on day 2, they would not have time to wash 127 campers’ belongings.

On the other hand, the belongings of those who slept in the four rooms known to be infested should have at least been treated, but I don’t think the other 123 families should be too confident there were not also undetected bed bugs in some of theother rooms.

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