Bed Bugs At UNL – What do bed bugs cost a University?

An adult bed bug (Cimex lectularius) with the ...
An adult bed bug (credit: Wikipedia)

Recently the University of Nebraska-Lincoln underwent extensive investigation into its Bed Bug problem.  The University hired a K9 Inspection company to bring in the dogs to search 3,256 rooms and of those rooms they only found bed bugs in 197 rooms. Considering the major problems that we are having with Bed Bugs this number isn’t too bad and it’s encouraging to see that the university is doing what is necessary to keep this problem from becoming a nightmare to its students and staff. Although the numbers above are encouraging I’m sure the numbers associated with the cost are more discouraging to the universities bottom line especially when budget cuts and higher tuition are already concerns for educational institutions across the country.

What does a bed bug problem cost a University? $100,000+

With bed bug inspections ranging from $25 to $55 per room (3,256 rooms) and treatments ranging from $300 to $600 per room (196 rooms), it’s estimated that the total cost for bed bugs at Nebraska-Lincoln will be in the hundreds of thousands.  When treating for bed bugs the costs for eradication are high. With the particular pest, 100% control is expected its unacceptable to have even one living bed bug remain after treatment. One female bed bug can lead to an entire new infestation. Because of this, more aggressive methods have been called upon to treat bead bugs such as fumigating an entire structure. To fumigate an entire structure an exterminator must put a massive tarp over the whole building being treated and fill it with a viakain gas. The gas will penetrated the walls of the structure and kill the bed bugs no matter where they are hiding. Beyond the price of the tarp alone, the man hours and equipment cost are not cheap. Cost of a bed bug fumigation service is expensive. For the University this type of service is less likely of an option because the problems are more than likely in a dorm room environment and with fumigation you have to tent the entire structure so in this case the better option would be Thermal Remediation. Thermal remediation is also a very effective service for treating bed bugs especially in a dorm room or hotel environment. A good heat system can treat a problem in this type of environment easily and with only a few hours. But this method is not cheap either due to equipment costs and man hours. With the bed bug problem at an all time high and is expected to continue to get worse Universities and other types of facilities that offer housing should expect this problem to continue.

Is Bed Bug Prevention the Better Cure?

Clearly, a fool proof prevention plan could prevent costly fumigation or heat treatments, the problem is that there is no fool proof prevention program for bed bugs. The is no pest control treatment that can be applied regularly to a structure that would prevent a bed bug infestation. The best prevention against bed bugs is vigilance. Knowing how to spot problems, how to steer clear, and how to report problems is a University’s best plan of action to keep bed bug costs to a minimum. So we encourage continuing education to both students and faculty and to maintain regular inspections at the dorms. This will help prevent future outbreaks and keep costly treatments down. Hiring a bed bug dog to assist with the inspections is a must. The dogs can do the work in a much shorter span than a human inspector alone.

Saving Enrollment Cost

While we have outlined treatment costs, lets not forget the potential enrollment cost. Having a bed bug problem in your dorms will cost the University occupants. It could cost future enrollments. Having had bed bugs will leave it mark on the school. The University must not only devise a plan to prevent bed bugs and stay vigilant to keep them out, but they must now express these measures to students, potential students, and parents as to regain faith and save enrollment. Having a future and on going plan for prevention is the only way to restore confidence and keep this a non-issue for enrollment. This shouldn’t just apply to UNL, this should be the case for every college and university out there. ASU has had it’s share of bed bug problems as well. All schools should take a proactive stance a develop a preventive program now to save them from future costs of treatments and enrollment.

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