Do you have college-age kids? This is when they’ll be coming home on break. It will be a time of smiles, laughter and gifts. A time to hear stories of life in the dorms, talk about future plans, and hear how classes have been going. However, it could also be a time of gestation. Often, unknowingly, your kids bring bugs home with them. Maybe it’s only one bed bug. But one bed bug is one bed bug too many. A single female bed bug that has been impregnated is capable of producing fifty eggs. Those eggs will hatch in one to two weeks. The hatched larvae will mature to adulthood in around thirty days. What does this mean? It means, in one month you’ll have bed bugs mating. And, since a single female can produce 500 eggs in a four-month period, you’ll have thousands of bed bugs in as little as six months. That’s a sobering thought. This quick explosion of population is what makes bed bugs so hard to control. But they can avoid them, if you and your kids are informed.
Bed bug prevention starts with knowing whether or not you have bed bugs.
- Finding red welts on your skin does not mean you have bed bugs. Finding red welts in threes or in a line may be an indication. Entomologists call this breakfast, lunch, and supper. Typically, if a bed bug is feasting on you, they won’t stop with one bite.
- Look for bed bugs regularly. If you find black fecal residue on the corners or edges of your mattress, this is another good indication.
- Check your sheets and pillowcases for dark brown blood stains. Bed bugs are messy eaters and will dribble. I know, it’s gross, but important to know.
- On a regular basis, use a flashlight to check the backboard and any furniture in the room for tiny seed-like bugs.
Teach your kids how to keep a bed bug-resistant environment while at college.
- Keep laundry in a plastic bag and wash clothes often.
- Always wash clothes on the hottest temperature and dry on the hottest temperature.
- Don’t leave dirty clothes on the floor.
- Get a mattress cover to keep bed bugs out.
- Vacuum drapes and rugs daily, if possible.
- Keep a clean and uncluttered environment. Bed bugs will gravitate to cozy, cluttered, bacteria-laden environments.
- Thoroughly check any furniture that is brought into the room, especially if it was acquired from the side of the road.
When your kids are ready to come home, have them take a couple precautions.
- Check bags and luggage with a flashlight, before putting clothes in. Look closely at linings and seams.
- Wash and dry clothing on the hottest temperature when your kids get home.
- Items that can’t be laundered can be put in a freezer for 5 days. This will kill bed bugs eggs living inside those items. If you have a cold garage, this is a good place as well.
- Bed bugs can get in laptops and other electronics. Check these if your student knows there has been an infestation at school.
With a little precaution, you’ll have a better chance of keeping bed bugs from hitching a ride into your home. Be wary, be informed, and have a bug free holiday season.