Residence Life at Reed

Division of Student Life

Bed Bugs

This joint awareness campaign is brought to you by Residence Life, Health & Counseling, and Facilities services. 

In response to recent concerns about bed bugs in the Portland metropolitan area, we would like to share some pertinent information with you that will help you identify the insect and learn some techniques for preventing an infestation in your room or on campus. Bed bugs are an increasing problem worldwide, brought about by a mobile population and the decreased use of pesticides. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels, in college residence halls, in hospitals, in public spaces, and in virtually all types of housing throughout the U.S. We have not detected bed bugs at Reed, but we realize that the potential for an infestation exists. This information is provided to increase your awareness of the issue, not to alarm you. Our first line of defense against bed bugs is educating the Reed community.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small, flat, oval, wingless insects (about one-fifth of an inch) that are visible to the naked eye. They crawl at a steady rate. Like mosquitoes, they feed on blood, but unlike mosquitoes, they do not transmit disease. They are hardy creatures that can live for over a year without feeding, and they are nocturnal. During the day, they hide in crevices, bed frames, mattresses and box springs, behind electrical outlet covers and picture frames, inside furniture, within pleats of curtains, in clothing lying on a floor, and in other spaces where they may not easily be detected. They are called bed bugs because they thrive in places where people sleep.

Bed bug

Bed bug (magnified)

Signs of bed bugs on a box spring.

Signs of bed bugs on a box spring

How can you help?

In order to avert and contain an infestation of bed bugs, your assistance is absolutely essential. Bed bugs are hitchhikers and can be brought into rooms and buildings in your belongings, including suitcases and backpacks.

  • Learn to identify bed bugs. In addition to the information on this fact sheet, we recommend that you consult the websites listed below so that you can easily identify bed bugs. Look for signs of their presence, such as small blood spots on bed linens or an unexplained bite or rash on the skin.

  • Inspect your bedding and bed periodically. Check for blood spots on your bed linens. Look carefully at your pillows, sheets, blankets, comforters, and mattress. Check in seams, between bedposts and slats, and behind headboards. Use a flashlight at night, when bed bugs are active.

  • Inspect your backpack periodically. Bed bugs can hide in backpacks. Check seams and pouches throughout your backpack for bugs or eggs. Do not place your backpack on or under your bed.

  • Clean and reduce the clutter in your room to eliminate places for bed bugs to hide during the day.

  • Wash clothes and linens frequently in hot water and use a hot dryer setting.

  • Don't bring second-hand furniture items onto campus. These items can be common breeding grounds for bed bugs.

  • When traveling, take precautions against acquiring bed bugs. Inspect the bed you are using as described above. Check the room, including behind wall hangings. Don't put your suitcase or backpack directly on your bed; whenever possible, elevate them on a luggage rack.

  • Before returning to campus, inspect your clothing and other items before packing. Check crevices in suitcases and backpacks.

  • After returning to campus, recheck all traveling gear and items when you unpack. Do not put your suitcase or backpack on or under your bed.

What should you do if you think you have bed bugs?

Your first responsibility is to avoid spreading bed bugs to others. Our first responsibility is to help you.

  • If you discover or suspect bed bugs, immediately contact facility services at 503-777-7283. Do not attempt to eradicate the bugs yourself. Successful treatment must be carried out by a pest control professional, whose services we will employ.

  • DO NOT move your belongings to another space.

  • DO keep all visitors out of your room until it has been inspected.

What are some symptoms related to bed bugs?

Symptoms of bed bugs include bites on exposed skin and skin irritations such as itchiness, inflammation, and welts. Remember, bed bugs do not carry disease, so there is typically no reason to seek medical attention for bed bugs.

As always, if you experience fever, signs of infection, or allergic reactions, please call the Health & Counseling Center at 503-777-7281 and ask to speak to a nurse to discuss symptoms and determine whether medical treatment is necessary.

If an infestation occurs, we will respond immediately and sensitively, restoring personal possessions as quickly as possible, and supporting each student’s academic work in the process. We believe that with your help, we will completely eradicate any problem that arises.

Other resources

There are many good resources on bed bugs. Check the websites listed below or do a keyword search for bed bugs.