Bed Bugs in Student Accommodation
The onset of a new academic year means new and returning students will be settling into halls and rented houses once more. While pests may be not the primary concern of university-goers, bed bugs in student accommodation are on the rise and students should be aware of how to protect themselves from these pests.
What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed exclusively on blood, and, preferably, human blood. Parasites have fed on humans for thousands of years. However, in the 1940s they were mostly eradicated in the developed world. Despite this, due to the increase in travel abroad, tolerance to pesticides, and the increase in second-hand furniture, bed bugs are on the increase. As a result, they are found in many shared accommodation habitats, such as hostels, blocks of flats, hotels, holiday camps, and, increasingly, student accommodation.
Appearance and life cycle
Adult bed bugs look like a small brown disc up to 6mm in length. They are wingless with well-developed legs enabling them to climb up most vertical surfaces within the home. There are 5 early stages of development or nymph stages and then a final sexually mature stage. Each of these stages must involve a blood meal to complete their growth. These early stages are very tiny making them hard to detect with the naked eye. Females with enough food can lay three to four eggs each day continually until the end of their lifespans, which is about nine months under their ideal conditions. A female can lay up to 500 eggs in this period.
What you can do about bed bugs
As soon as you suspect there are bed bugs, alert your landlord, agent or the university staff. The important thing is not to be embarrassed. It is likely that they were there before you arrived and a combined effort is needed to get rid of them. We recommend doing the following before you unpack your belongings:
- Inspect your room – check around the bed frame and mattress for any signs of blood spots on the bed line, headboard or on the bottom side of the mattress.
- Using a mattress protector especially designed to inhibit bed bugs is always a good idea for student accommodation.
- Keep your room clean, and don’t leave dirty laundry lying around on the floor. Clutter on the floor can be a good nesting area for bed bugs.
Treatment of bed bugs
Before a treatment is conducted the following preparation is recommended. Bed sheets and curtains must be removed & washed. The rooms to be treated must be vacuumed and cleaned. Drawers and wardrobes must be emptied and the clothes only reintroduced to the rooms once they have been washed or tumble dried. Treatment will fail if the room is full of clutter. Clear out any toys, books, boxes, CDs, posters etc. Be careful not to put any of these objects into other rooms as you may spread the infestation. Objects in the room that cannot be either washed, tumble dried or sprayed with the insecticide (books, shoes, cd’s, dvd’s etc) must be put in a freezer overnight.
Our technicians will use a residual insecticide sprayed onto the floors, walls, ceilings and the bed frames and mattresses.
PESTUK are full members of the BPCA, the governing body for pest control in the UK. Using a BPCA member company ensures you have a qualified, fully insured company treating your pest problem.
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