Horton fleas bug residents

Exterminator called to oust pests

A smattering of black specks vigorously leapt about, and red bumps of intense itchiness appeared on various body parts of several dorm residents last week. These were the unhappy symptoms of a flea epidemic that had been experienced by a room in Horton.

Kristen Girard, Resident Assistant (RA) of upper South Horton (IRIS), noticed last week that the girls in the room had bites on their lower legs. Fortunately, the situation was not severe enough to be the cause of any serious alarm.

“A couple people in a couple rooms had a couple bug bites,” she said. “They [the bugs] probably got in because the windows were open, but they might not even be fleas.”

Senior Emily O’Dell, resident of the room, personally experienced the effects of this bug problem.

“I had several bites around my midriff, which led me to believe that the insects were bed bugs,” she said.

The first thing the girls did was call Facilities Services. Facility Services called their extermination service, which came out soon thereafter to perform a visual inspection of the room. The girls called to report bed bugs, but the symptoms the extermination service discovered indicated the new inhabitants of the room were actually fleas. This called for a flea treatment of the room, which involved taking the beds apart and covering the room in bug spray.

O’Dell and her roommate, senior Lacey Williams, were more than grateful for the speedy action of the extermination service. O’Dell expressed more gratitude than her roommate, due to the fact that she had experienced 36 flea bites at one point.

It was originally thought that these minuscule intruders could be bed bugs because Stewart had a problem with them prior to opening weekend this year. However, that was the only confirmed bed bug incident on campus.

“Bed bugs are pretty easy to find, and they can easily be distinguished from fleas,” Jonathan Rowley of Residential Facilities said.

Beth Braley, Manager of Residential Facilities, agreed.

“Bed bugs are large enough that you would not confuse them with fleas once you had seen them,” Braley said. Interestingly enough, this report of bugs is not a rare occurrence. Every year, there are people who report biting bugs.

“We’ve had a few bug problems recently, probably because of the hot weather,” Rowley said.

Bed bugs, fleas and any other type of insect can enter the dorms through furniture people bring in. Residents can get them by petting cats or by being outdoors. Bed bugs are an unusual but treatable problem.

The treatment itself is rather intense, but it gets the job done. Oftentimes, it takes hours to thoroughly inspect a room, and follow-up treatment is generally required. Rowley, who has been doing some research on the bed bug/flea problem, found it intriguing that these insects are coming back because of an increase in environmentally friendly treatment processes.

“We had killed off all the [bed] bugs in America before with drastic treatments, but because they still exist in places such as Africa, people brought them back from their travels,” Rowley said.

However, students can rest assured in knowing that, although the treatments nowadays are less intense, they are still completely effective.

“Even though I was covered in 36 bug bites and I spent four hours googling bed bugs and fleas because I was kind of freaked out, Facilities was swift to respond and sent a great ‘bug man’ to clean and spray our room,” O’Dell said.

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