As college students across the U.S. head back to campus, they should be aware of pests that can be lurking in housing or furniture. Temperatures so far this year are the hottest on record, which has led to a more active and increased insect population. According to a national survey by HomeTeam Pest Defense, 84 percent of homeowners experienced a problem with pests in 2011 and weather has given them a boost this year.
“Bugs are thriving and they aren’t just a nuisance to homeowners. College students about to set up residence should take some precautions when it comes to pests,” says Kim Reynolds, entomologist and regional technical director for HomeTeam Pest Defense.
“Before purchasing used furniture, check it carefully for Drywood termites and German cockroaches,” continues Reynolds. “If you are moving furniture that has been stored over the summer, or if your dorm room or apartment comes furnished, check for these pests in all furniture (especially desks and dressers).”
Reynolds also says that used, previously stored or furnished mattresses and couches should be carefully checked for bed bugs (summer is the peak season). 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.
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:
- Look for signs of termites in furniture—like chipping away in wooden parts of the furniture or mysterious sawdust on the floor. Drywood termite swarmers are commonly mistaken for winged ants. They can be found in furniture because they survive and breed in very little moisture and do not require soil.
- Check furniture and living spaces for German cockroaches, which can hide easily and 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. 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 signs they are present. They feed off blood and hide in cracks and crevices near warm-blooded human hosts.
- 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.
“Move-in day is not the only time to be concerned about pests,” says Reynolds. “Many fall pests, like stinkbugs, rodents and crickets, have arrived early this year and in abundance. They will begin to look for a way indoors when cooler weather arrives.”
HomeTeam Pest Defense suggests the following tips for college students to help prevent pests:
- 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.
College students who are leasing an apartment should read the lease thoroughly to be clear who is responsible for pest control. Although there are many home remedies for different types of pest control, it is best for residents to seek the advice of a pest control expert. Find HomeTeam Pest Defense online at www.pestdefense.com or call 855-855-4873 for a pest defense professional in your area.