Back to Bugs? Expert Advice for College Students


Across the country college students are headed back to school, which for most means back to a new living space. Whether moving into an apartment or dorm room, furnished or not, don’t forget to check for uninvited pests, which are often overlooked by on-the-move college students.

Residents should thoroughly inspect the property before moving in and report any problems to their R.A. or property manager. HomeTeam Pest Defense recommends the following for a full inspection before setting up shop in your new space:

  • If you are moving furniture that has been stored over the summer, or if your living space comes furnished, look for signs of Drywod termites—like chipping away in wooden parts or mysterious sawdust on the floor. Drywood termites are commonly mistaken for winged ants, but pose a more serious problem.
  • Check furniture and living spaces for German cockroaches, which hide easily and can fit into very small cracks and crevices. They are only about a half an inch long (much smaller than most common cockroaches) and are most active at night.
  • Inspect your mattress, box spring and headboard for bed bugs. Moving vans, plus the constant rotation of tenants in college dorms and apartments make it all too easy for these pests to hitch a ride from one location to another. Pull back creases and folds in the mattress fabric where they like to hide. Look for the bugs themselves (adult bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed) or tiny black or reddish dots that might be a sign they are present.
  • Inspect corners, behind refrigerators and inside cabinets and drawers to remove cobwebs (also keep an eye out for cockroach and rodent droppings). Make sure window screens do not have tears or holes. Mice can enter a space through an opening the size of a dime and rats can enter through an opening the size of a quarter.
  • Check for leaky pipes and dripping water in bathrooms and kitchens. Most household pests only need small amounts of water to breed and survive.

Remember, move-in day is not the only time to be concerned about pests. Many fall pests, like stinkbugs, rodents and crickets, will begin to look for a way indoors when cooler weather arrives. Follow these steps to help maintain a pest-free environment throughout the school year:

  • Dust and vacuum your living space often.
  • Store food in tightly sealed containers or storage bags.
  • Pick up after yourself.  Clothes and towels (damp or not) left lying around can be a warm environment for pests to live under.
  • When visiting home or friends at other campuses, be careful where you put and store your belongings to avoid carrying pests back with you.
  • Always wash your bedding in hot water and dry on high heat.

Report any pest problems to your property owner or manager immediately to resolve any issues. If you are leasing a college apartment, read the lease thoroughly to be clear if you or the landlord is responsible for pest control. It is best for residents to seek the advice of a pest control expert should they encounter a problem.

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