June 26, 2019 | 75° F

State’s location increases risk of bedbug infestation

Photo by Keith Freeman |

University experts say New Jersey’s location put the state at risk for outbreak. Although the University did not report any bedbug infestations, it has experienced some isolated cases on campuses.

Nestled between two major cities where bedbug infestations are common, New Jersey residents are also experiencing bedbugs infestations.

A 2011 Terminix ranking of the most bedbug-infested U.S. cities lists New York City as first in the nation and Philadelphia as fifth. University experts said the proximity to these cities puts New Jersey at higher risk.

“New Jersey has more cases than most other states due to the high population density, urbanization and the presence of large numbers of multi-unit dwellings,” said Changlu Wang, an assistant extension specialist in the Department of Entomology.

Despite the statewide outbreak, officials from University Housing said any bedbug activity at the University is handled rapidly.

“Over the past few years, University Housing has not experienced bedbug infestations in our facilities,” said Steve Dubiago, associate director of Housing Operations. “However, isolated instances of bedbug presence have been confirmed, serviced and resolved.”

Dubiago said the risk of a bedbug infestation is not isolated to University facilities.

“Homes, retail stores, health and daycare facilities, office buildings and hotels have been impacted,” Dubiago said.

He also said bedbugs are not an indication of inadequate sanitation and are usually spread through excessive traveling.

“People come and go from one place to another. You can easily catch bedbugs while traveling or staying at a hotel,” said Jeffrey White, technical director of Bed Bug Central, a Lawrenceville-based online resource.

Bedbugs need five to 10 minutes to feed, which makes people more vulnerable to bites when they are asleep, he said.

“Bedbugs stand a quarter-of-an-inch tall, live where people sleep, feed on blood and reproduce quickly,” White said.

Wang said certain measures can be taken to avoid a bedbug infestation in people’s homes, such as not bringing used furniture inside, looking for signs of infestations in hotel rooms and avoiding unkempt furniture.

“With holidays coming up, there will be more opportunities for people to encounter bedbugs or spread bedbugs along with people’s belongings,” he said. “Be alert when visiting other people’s rooms or moving into a new place.”

Dubiago said it is much easier to deal with an infestation when it is caught early.

“Early detection is extremely important and assists us in gaining control in an efficient manner in confirmed cases,” he said. “The University’s commitment to service, an experienced and innovative pest-control contractor and teamwork all contribute to a resolution.”

In the event of an infestation, Dubiago said University Housing inspects mattress encasement, beds, couches and implements low-impact treatment and traps to isolate bedbug activity.

“In suspected and confirmed cases, we initiate an aggressive and state-of-the-art pest management program,” he said.

The department also shares information about the status of any pest activity with the campus and community, Dubiago said.

“Housing asks that any potential or suspected bedbug activity be reported to their campus Housing and Residence Life office early to help us help students eradicate bedbugs,” Dubiago said.

Victoria Hutchinson, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, dealt with bedbugs at her permanent residence.

“The home I lived at had [them] once and it was terrible,” Hutchinson said. “It took a whole year to get rid of all of them.”

Julian Leal, a School of Arts and Sciences senior, said he hopes the University does everything it can to prevent an outbreak.

“Rutgers should do everything in its control to stop a bedbug infestation from occurring,” he said.

University Housing implements an extensive pest management program, Dubiago said. The program avoids the use of chemicals and pesticides and focuses on inspection, monitoring and pest prevention.

“Our approach is consistent with industry standards, and we remain at the forefront of best practice and innovation,” Dubiago said.

By Richard Conte

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