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With the new school year upon us, college students are returning to campuses for the fall semester. College dorms and off campus housing provide the perfect storm for a bed bug infestation to develop, as the pest thrives in heavily populated places.

A recent study conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky found that bed bug infestations are on the rise in many types of dwellings, including college settings. In fact, 54 percent of pest professionals surveyed had treated bed bug infestations in college dorms in 2011.

“Bed bugs are known for their uncanny hitchhiking abilities, so students returning to school should inspect their belonging and living area thoroughly before they unpack,” said Erin Richardson, Vice-President for All-American Pest Control in Nashville, TN. “If anything suspicious is found, we recommend immediately contacting a university facility manager.”

Experts at the NPMA offer these additional tips to help prevent bed bugs from becoming an unwanted college roommate:

  • Fully inspect your suitcases prior to re-packing for a return to school, especially if you have traveled during the summer. Be sure that any clothes that may have been previously packed in the suitcase have been washed and dried in hot temperatures .

  • Before putting your sheets on your dormitory bed, inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. Thoroughly inspect the entire room before unpacking, including behind the headboard and in sofas/chairs.

  • If you are considering bringing “secondhand” furniture to campus, properly inspect it to insure that a pest problem, such as bed bugs, is not the reason for its “secondhand” status. If you see anything suspect, do not bring it to campus.

A licensed pest professional can assist in proper identification and treatment of bed bugs. “Many consumers think they can handle bed bugs on their own, but the reality is this pest is not a do-it-yourself project,” added Erin Richardson. “Attempts to control bed bugs on your own may only exacerbate the problem and lead to a larger infestation.”