Bed Bug FAQs

What are bed bugs?

  • Bed bugs are small nocturnal insects that live by feeding on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. Bedbugs are generally active only at dawn, with a peak feeding period about an hour before sunrise. After feeding for about five minutes, the bug returns to its hiding place.
  • Bites consist of a raised red bump or flat welt, and are often accompanied by intense itching. The red bump or welts are the result of an allergic reaction to the anesthetic contained in the bedbug’s saliva, which is inserted into the blood of the host. Bed bug bites may appear indistinguishable from mosquito bites, though they tend to last for longer periods. Bites may not become immediately visible, and can take up to 9 days to appear. Bed bug bites tend to not have a red dot in the center such as is characteristic of flea bites. A trait shared with flea bites, however, is tendency towards arrangements of sequential bites. Bites are often aligned three in a row.
  • There have been no known cases of bed bugs passing disease from host to host. Extensive testing has been done in laboratory settings that also conclude that bed bugs are unlikely to pass disease from one person to another.  Therefore bedbugs are less dangerous than some more common insects such as the flea.

Where do bed bugs originate?

  • Bedbugs were originally brought to the United States by early colonists from Europe. Bedbugs thrive in places with high occupancy, such as hotels. Bedbugs were believed to be altogether eradicated 50 years ago in the United States and elsewhere with the widespread use of DDT.
  • One recent theory about bedbug reappearance involves potential geographic epicenters in some states. It was determined that workers in these facilities were the main spreaders of these bedbugs, unknowingly carrying them to their places of residence and elsewhere after leaving work.
  • Many years ago, bed bugs were eradicated by the use of a pesticide, DDT. This is no longer used and may account for the resurgence of these bugs in the US, as might the increase in international travel.
  • Anyone can pick bed bugs up from a location where they presently exist – someone’s apartment, other dorm rooms, movie theaters, etc. Bed bugs are equal opportunity pests – they will infest anyone, anywhere.

What if I suspect there are bed bugs in my room?

  • Notify a Campus Housing staff member immediately.  The Office of Campus Housing can be reached at (202) 884-9316 during the day or at (202) 884-9111 after 5:00pm
  • Follow the instructions exactly and in a timely manner

What SHOULDN’T I do if I believe I have bed bugs?

  • Don’t panic! Bed bugs can be eradicated safely and successfully if you follow all guidelines given to you by Campus Housing.
  • If you believe you have bed bugs, do NOT wait to report.
  • Do not apply pesticides on your own. Trinity contracts a licensed pest control operator to confirm the infestation and to develop an integrated pest management plan.
  • Do not move your mattress or any furniture out into the hallway. Infested furniture can be cleaned and treated. Placing infested furniture (particularly mattresses) into common areas may simply help spread bed bugs to the rooms and suites of other students.
  • Do not go sleep in a friend’s room or in places off-campus. If you actually have bed bugs, you will only spread them to others.

What happens when the pest control company comes to my room?

  • If your room is confirmed to have bed bugs, the pest control company will make arrangements to treat your room. You will be required to bag all clothing, bedding, books and personal items prior to the treatment.
  • The treatment will likely consist of a few different approaches:
    • A pesticide will be applied to locations within your room that may harbor the bugs.
    • The pest control company may place glue boards in your room. These boards can be good detectives and show the degree of success of the treatment. If the glue board collects bed bugs after its placement, then another treatment may be warranted. If this is the case, you should be back in touch with Campus Housing staff as soon as possible.
    • The pest control company will perform a THOROUGH and DETAILED final inspection of your room prior to turning it over to Facility Services. Housekeeping will clean the residence hall room prior to allowing you to return to your room.
    • Once you are permitted back in your room, you may bring in your freshly laundered clothing and bedding and un-bag your other items.

What can I do to reduce my risk of bed bugs?

  • First, look at the room to seek potential hiding places for bedbugs, such as carpet edges, mattress seams, pillow case linings, head boards, wall trim or other tiny crack-like places bed bugs might hide.
  • Next, look specifically at the mattress seams for signs of bed bug activity: droppings, eggs, bloodstains or even bed bugs themselves – hiding in tiny folds and seam lines.
  • Never leave your clothing laying on the bed, or any location of possible infestation. Instead, use hangers or hooks capable of keeping all cloth distant from the floor or bed. It’s also not a bad idea to elevate suitcases off the floor on a luggage stand, tabletop or other hard surface.
  • Close your suitcase, travel bag, when you’re not using it. This way, during the night the bugs may move over top of your luggage with greater difficulty to get inside.
  • Elevate your luggage off the floor to tables or chairs. These may also be hiding places, but less likely.
  • Keep any bed bug you find (intact if possible) to show the hotel owner.
  • When you return from any travel (especially abroad) it is a good idea to take your suitcase to the laundromat so you can wash ALL items before taking the suitcase to your home, residence hall, etc. If you do your wash in hot water before entering your residence, you will stop the spread of these bugs.

Additional Information

Contact the Health and Wellness Center for additional resources.