What are small, parasitic animals that creep around at night to feed on human blood? They are called bed bugs — and Cal Poly had them.
As recently as this summer, there have been multiple occurrences of bed bugs in the on-campus dorms and apartments at Cal Poly. So far, there have been at least three incidents, said Associate Director of University Housing Alan Pepe.
“The bed bug incidents began during winter break last year,” Pepe said. “Santa Lucia, Poly Canyon and Cerro Vista had them, but they have all been treated.”
For the students who were not around campus this summer, a large, circus-like tent covered Santa Lucia Hall.
“It was completely tented to make sure we eradicated the problem,” Pepe said.
Tenting and professional treatment are the best way to get rid of the pesky bugs, said a representative from pest control and extermination company Terminix who asked to remain anonymous.
“Those over-the-counter treatments don’t work — a pest control professional is needed.”
That is why Cal Poly Housing called Terminix.
Although Terminix cannot speak directly about specific clients or the extent of the problem at each location, Pepe confirmed that Santa Lucia was tented by Terminix.
Although a nuisance, bed bugs are not known to cause disease, said the Terminix representative. The small pests are reddish-brown and can be up to one-fourth of an inch in size. Bed bugs come out at night, inject a small amount of anti-coagulant into (in most cases) an unsuspecting, sleeping person and feed on their blood.
Despite past incidents of the pests on campus, business administration freshman Skylar Dammers who lives in Tenaya Hall, is not concerned.
“I’m not really worried about it, I wash my sheets and I don’t really think it’s that big of a deal,” he said.
For the time being, Dammers and other students living on campus should have nothing to fear.
However, bed bugs can be found throughout the nation in places like dorms, apartments, movie theaters and hotels. They are not limited to one particular state, city or town — they are everywhere.
“They are nationwide problems,” said the Terminix representative. “Also, they are not a reflection of cleanliness.”
Since bedbug infestations are a nationwide problem, Dammers isn’t sure if it’s a bad reflection on the university.
“It’s just something that happens,” he said.
Bed bugs are hitchhiking pests and with the mobile society that we live in today, it puts dorms at risk for the bugs.
“When students do a lot of traveling, we tend to get them in the dorms,” Pepe said. “It always happens after break.”
Cal Poly is not the only place struggling to keep the bugs in check. In a press release on Aug. 23, Terminix named the top 15 bed bug infested cities in the nation — topping the list was New York City. In addition, Detroit, Los Angeles and Chicago were also on the list.
According to the Terminix website, bedbugs were extremely common in the United States before World War II . After that, the population of bed bugs in homes decreased immensely. As a result of an increase in international travel within the past few decades, bed bugs have regained the title of a “national pest.”
In order to educate Cal Poly students about the possibility of bed bugs, letters and e-mails are sent out to students whenever bed bugs emerge on campus. There is also what Pepe called a “Bed Bugs 101” portion on the Cal Poly Housing and Business website under “Pest Control.”
“Bed bugs have become something of a national pest,” said Pepe. “But we are all clear (at Cal Poly).”