Bed Bug Policy

The staff of the Barnard Facilities Services and Residential Life & Housing offices are committed to an effective and efficient response to students who suspect they may have bed bugs.  For the safety and 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 she may have bed bugs, she should contact Residential Life and Housing (RLH).  If another administrator or office learns of a potential bed bug problem, their first call should be to RLH.
  2. RLH will notify Facilities Services as soon as possible so that the College’s exterminator can be dispatched to the location to perform an inspection of the bed(s) in the room.  Please note that should a student notify RLH on a weekend or holiday day, the Facilities staff will be contacted on the next work day.  It is recommended that students contact RLH as early on a regular business day as possible.  The exterminator cannot be dispatched on weekends or holidays.
    • Students who report suspected bed bugs on a work day when the exterminator can be dispatched within 24 hours will NOT be granted an immediate temporary room change nor will they be issued a new mattress.  This is CRUCIAL so that we can prevent the spread of bed bugs if they are found to be in the student’s room and belongings.
    • If the exterminator is unable to respond to the student’s room to inspect within 24 hours, Residential Life staff may be able to provide a temporary location in which the student can sleep until the inspection can take place.  This is based on the availability of space within the residence halls.  Any student who is given a temporary relocation is required to wash and dry whatever clothing she needs to take with her for the night.  Upon doing that, the student should shower and put on clean clothes.  The clean laundry is all the student can take with her to the temp room.  We want to ensure that if there are bed bugs in the student's room, they do not travel to another room with the student.
    • Students may not, at any time, deny the College’s exterminator or Facilities Staff access to their living space (including their bedroom, suite common space, kitchen, bathroom, etc.)
  3. Exterminator Findings
    • If the exterminator finds that there are no bedbugs present in the student’s room or suite, then no further action will be taken.  The student will be asked to continue monitoring her living space, and to notify RLH immediately if there are further problems.
    • If the exterminator concludes that bed bugs are present in the room or suite, RLH will provide the affected student(s) with a detailed list of instructions for the removal and laundering of their personal items.  While Residential Life can provide the student(s) with laundry detergent and some funds toward the cost of the laundry machines on campus, the office will not cover the cost of anything a student wishes to dry clean, or have laundered for her 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 are a serious community health issue, and ALL students are expected to comply with all instructions given to them within 24 hours once bed bugs have been confirmed within their living space.


Bed Bug FAQ

What are bed bugs?

  • Bed bugs are small nocturnal insects that lives by feeding on the blood of humans and other warm-blooded hosts. Bedbugs are generally active betweeen 3am-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 bedbug'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."
  • 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.  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?

  • 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 epicentres 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 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. You will be required to bag and launder all clothing and bedding.  Books and personal items will also need to be bagged up as well prior to the treatment. Your room will essentially need to be emptied out in order for the treatment to be effective.
  • 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 exterminator 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 Residential Life as soon as possible.
    • 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.

Since 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 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.

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

  • Notify Residential Life ASAP.
  • Be prepared to follow the written instructions to the letter and in a timely manner (within 24 hours).

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

  • Don’t panic! Although bed bugs can be annoying, they can be battled safely and successfully if you follow all guidelines given to you by Residential Life.
  • If you believe you have bed bugs, do NOT wait until after 5pm on Friday to notify someone. It is not possible to get service from the exterminator on weekends.
  • 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 move your mattress or any furniture out into the hallway. 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.