Oswego, NY – A case of bed bugs in one room of a residence hall at Oswego State is prompting aggressive extermination efforts.
Oswego State's president, Deborah Stanley, announced in an email that exterminators are repeatedly treating "the affected room and every room associated with it in any way."
That includes laundry rooms and common areas on four floors of the Seneca Hall dorm.
Cornell University insect expert Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann has advised New York City on dealing with bed bug infestations. She says there's no stigma to finding the pests.
"It's not a surprise to me that there's a dorm room with bed bugs, because I don't know a single college campus that hasn't had this issue," she says.
Gangloff-Kaufmann says bed bugs are spreading partly because they were likely controlled by the most long-lasting, and dangerous, pesticides, which were banned from the market ten years ago.
"In addition to that, really nobody knew what they were," she says. "So a person can go a couple of months without noticing that they have bugs in their home, or really feeling the bites, so it gives it time to fester. So we were really caught off guard with bed bugs."
She says the best weapon is knowledge. For example, she says it's a myth that the bugs are invisible.
"The tinest ones are really hard to see because they are light in color. But they're still visible, and the eggs are visible," she says.
"It's really important to remember, also, that only a mated female can cause an infestation Mated females are easy to spot. They're about the size, and maybe even the shape, of an apple seed."
In other words, we need to re-learn what our grandparents knew.
"I think it was something our grandparents said because in our grandparents' days, they dealt with bed bugs," she says. "And we haven't seen them in 40 years, so it became a myth: don't let the bed bugs bite."
Gangloff-Kaufman says dorm buildings are actually easy to deal with because they're usually made of cinder blocks the bugs can't penetrate. "So it's likely to be confined to one room, whereas in a home or an apartment building that's made of wood, they have an easier time spreading."
And, she points out, dorm residents often have less stuff to treat than they would have living at home.