Top Five Things to Know About Bed Bugs
- It's not about cleanliness. Anyone can get bed bugs.
- Bed bugs are often picked up while traveling (spring break, abroad, etc.).
- When entering a hotel room, check for bed bugs immediately.
- Awareness is key to prevention. Know where to look.
- If you notice signs of bed bugs, contact your Housing Office immediately.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are bed bugs?
- Bed bugs are small, wingless insects with piercing-sucking mouth parts.
- Similar to a mosquito, bed bugs bite and suck blood.
- Bed bugs are oval and flat, and range from 1/16 to 1/8 inches long.
- Bed bugs are hard to see, but the signs that they leave behind are easier to spot when looking for them.
- Bed bugs are "hitchhikers" and are often picked up while traveling from hotels and resorts in luggage and laundry.
- Bed bugs can be picked up when visiting your friends in their room or apartment.
Are bed bugs harmful?
- A bed bug bite looks like a raised red bump or flat welt. It's often accompanied by intense itching similar to mosquito bites.
- Bed bugs are not known to spread disease.
- Except for allergic reactions or infection due to scratching, there are no health implications.
How do I prevent bed bugs?
- Bed bugs are "hitchhikers" and are often picked up while visiting another student’s room or when traveling, so always be on the lookout for bed bug signs when visiting or traveling.
- Bed bugs can be carried from one area to the other on or in your clothing, luggage, and other belongings.
Where do I look for signs of bed bugs?
- Check mattress seams, bed frames, behind the headboard (in hotels), box springs, and the general area around the bed.
- Bed bugs leave dark red spots in mattresses and can hide out in tight crevices in dressers, bed frames, and floorboards.
- It's important to check first and avoid infested rooms completely.
What do I do if I find bed bugs?
- Bed bugs are very disruptive to a student's schedule and are very difficult to eliminate. The best strategy is to not bring bed bugs back to your room. If you think you have bed bugs, notify your Housing Office immediately. Do not try to diagnose or treat the problem yourself.
- It's important to take care of the problem before the infestation gets worse and/or spreads. The process to eliminate bed bugs is lengthy and requires your full cooperation.
- Wash your clothes in hot water or place them in a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes. Bed bugs can be killed in less than a minute or two by heat over 120 degrees.
- Bed bugs can be killed by heat over 111 degrees and cold below 32 degrees, though at these temperatures it takes much longer to kill them.
What should I not do if I have bed bugs in my room?
- Do not try to get rid of the bed bugs yourself. Bed bug infestations are difficult to treat effectively and should only be done by licensed, trained professionals. By treating yourself, you may actually make the situation worse, and spread bed bugs to friends and family.
- Do not immediately throw away belongings. Furniture, clothes, and other belongings can be treated (However, mattresses are often discarded).
How does Penn State Housing handle an infestation?
- Once bed bugs are located in a residence hall room, the room and all the belongings in it are quarantined.
- Student occupants are asked to provide a set of clothing, including underwear and a bath towel, that the Housing staff treats using a 30-minute high heat process.
- While the set of clothing is treated, the students are asked to shower thoroughly. The heat-treated clothing is then given to the students after they have showered.
- A local pest control company inspects all belongings in the room and treats the room using insecticides and heat treatments as necessary.
- The rest of the student's clothes are transported in plastic bags and are heat-treated in clothing dryers for a minimum of 30 minutes.
- Mattresses are treated or discarded.
- Students are relocated to another living space anywhere from 24 hours to 24 days while the room is being treated, multiple times if necessary, and re-inspected.
Who should I contact if I have an infestation?
Contact your Housing Office.