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Bed Bug Information

The staff of the College of Charleston Facilities Management, Campus Housing, and Residence Life are committed to an effective and efficient response to students who suspect they may have bed bugs. For the comfort of all students living in the residence halls, our staff will adhere to the following guidelines:

  1. As soon as a student suspects that they may have bed bugs, they should contact Facilities Management by submitting a work order. They may submit a work order by calling 843-953-5550, via the Housing/Dining portal in MyCharleston, or via email to facilitiessupport@cofc.edu. Work orders can be submitted 24 hours a day; however, they may not be processed until the following business day. If another administrator or office learns of a potential bed bug problem, their first call should be to Facilities Management. Please note that should a student notify Facilities Management on a weekend or holiday day, the exterminator will be contacted on the next business day.  It is recommended that students contact Facilities Management as early on a regular business day as possible.  The exterminator cannot be dispatched on weekends or holidays.
  2. Generally, Facilities Management will dispatch the College’s exterminator within 24 hours. The exterminator will perform an inspection of the room that may include taking a DNA swab to verify the presence of bed bugs. DNA testing results take between 24-48 hours to process.
    • Students who report suspected bed bugs will NOT be granted a temporary room change nor will they be issued a new mattress.  This protocol is in place so that we can prevent the spread of bed bugs and conduct the most accurate inspection. The student should not remove or wash their bedding until after the exterminator inspection.
    • If the student chooses to stay at another location temporarily, the student is advised to wash and dry whatever clothing they need to take with them for the night.  Upon doing that, the student should shower and put on clean clothes.  The clean laundry is all the student should take with them to the temporary location.  We want to ensure that if there are bed bugs in the student's room, they do not travel to another area with the student.
  3. Exterminator Findings
    • If the exterminator finds that there are no bed bugs present in the student’s room or suite, a general pest control treatment will be conducted.  The student will be asked to continue monitoring their living space, and to notify Facilities Management and Campus Housing immediately if there are further problems.
    • If the exterminator concludes that bed bugs are present in the room or suite, Campus Housing will provide the affected student(s) with a detailed list of instructions for the preparation of the exterminator treatment. The office will not cover the cost of anything a student wishes to dry clean, or have laundered for them by an outside vendor.
    • Only the College’s exterminator can confirm or deny the presence of bed bugs – NOT Primary Care Health Services or any outside person.
  4. Bed bugs can become a serious community issue, and ALL students are expected to comply with all instructions given to them once bed bugs have been confirmed within their living space.

Bed Bug FAQ

What are bed bugs?

  • Bed bugs are small nocturnal insects that live by feeding on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. Bed bugs are generally active between 3am and 8am, 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 bed bug's saliva, which is inserted into the blood of the host. Bed bug bites may appear indistinguishable from other insect 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, giving rise to the colloquialism "breakfast, lunch, and dinner."
  • Extensive testing has been done in laboratory settings that has concluded that bed bugs are unlikely to pass disease from one person to another.  So while bed bugs can be a nuisance, they are less dangerous than some more common insects such as fleas.

How did we get bed bugs?

  • Anyone can pick bed bugs up from a location where they presently exist – someone’s apartment, other residence hall rooms, movie theatres, etc. Bed bugs are equal opportunity pests – they will infest anyone, anywhere.

What happens when the exterminator comes to my room?

  • If your room or suite is confirmed to have bed bugs, the College’s exterminator will come to treat your room. Campus Housing will provide detailed instructions for you to properly prepare your space for treatment. If available, an exterminator will be present to answer questions.
  • The treatment will likely consist of a few different approaches:
    • A pesticide will be applied to all locations within your room that may harbor the bugs.
    • While this process is taking place (a few hours), you will need to be out of 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.

If I travel quite a bit, what can I do to reduce my risk of bringing these bugs back with me?

  • First, look at the room to seek potential hiding places for bed bugs, such as carpet edges, mattress seams, pillow case linings, head boards, wall trim or other tiny crack-like places bed bugs might hide.  If you see signs of bed bug activity inform management immediately.
  • 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.
  • 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. It is highly recommended to consider traveling with a bag that can be washed and dried upon your return if possible.

What SHOULD I do if I believe I have bed bugs?

  • Notify Facilities Management ASAP by submitting a work order. You may submit a work order by calling 843-953-5550, via the Housing/Dining portal in MyCharleston, or via email to facilitiessupport@cofc.edu. Work orders can be submitted 24 hours a day; however, they may not be processed until the following business day. If another administrator or office learns of a potential bed bug problem, their first call should be to Facilities Management. Please note that should a student notify Facilities Management on a weekend or holiday day, the exterminator will be contacted on the next business day.  It is recommended that students contact Facilities Management or Campus Housing as early on a regular business day as possible.  The exterminator cannot be dispatched on weekends or holidays.
  • Be prepared to follow the written instructions to the letter and in a timely manner to not delay scheduled treatment.

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

  • Do not panic! Although bed bugs can be annoying, they can be eradicated successfully if you follow all guidelines given to you by Facilities Management and Campus Housing.
  • Do not apply pesticides on your own. The College hires a licensed pest control operator to confirm the infestation and to develop an integrated pest management plan.
  • Do not remove or wash any bedding until after your room has been inspected by an exterminator. 
  • Do not move your mattress or any furniture out of your room. Affected furniture can be cleaned and treated. Placing affected furniture (particularly mattresses) into common areas or on the street 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.