It’s about that time again! Back to school sales are starting, and you or your new college student are gearing up for classes. We know the learning hasn’t started yet, but here are some quick bug tips you should know to help you out with potential dorm room pests.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are quick to hitch rides on secondhand furniture, old rugs, and luggage.

Bed bugs are all over the news and all over the US. Unless you are highly sensitive to insect bites, these pests are pretty harmless, but they can bite and leave itchy welts behind. The bites paired with the fact you’re sharing your bed with bugs can give you the heebie jeebies. In college, 8 AMs should be your biggest struggle, not bed bugs. Unfortunately, a lot of dorm room inhabitants will bring in these pests without even knowing it.

Bed bugs are so pervasive because they can hitch a ride on just about anything and go unnoticed until they become a problem. Before bringing in that secondhand futon you got from a yard sale, inspect it. Check the seams for any bed bugs and the fabric for any excrement or reddish brown splotches. If traveling by plane to your college dorm, check your luggage before you set it in your dorm room, and whatever you do, DO NOT put your luggage on your bed until everything has been thoroughly checked! Another way to keep bed bugs off your mattress is through a bug-proof mattress protector.


Silverfish like to hide out in dark, damp places. (Photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Silverfish are also pretty harmless, but when you see them in the middle of the night (or even in broad daylight), they look like something straight from a horror movie!

Silverfish like damp and dark places. Wet clothes, towels and wash cloths should not be balled up and left in the floor or even in the laundry hamper. If you aren’t going to wash these items right away, hang them to dry, then place them in the laundry basket. Balling these damp items up can cause mildew and a haven for lots of pests, not just silverfish.

Silverfish are nocturnal, so they typically won’t come out in the day. They like moisture and warmth which is why they like those damp hampers. These pests have carrot shaped bodies with thread like hairs coming out of the abdomen. They get their name from the silvery-gray coloring, but they can also come in other colors like brown and black. Their diet consist of paper, glue, and any starchy items you might have left hanging around.

Flies and gnats

Flies can spread disease and be an altogether nuisance.

We all know what flies and gnats look like. Their six legs and buggy eyes follow you around the room and that persistent buzzing can make studying (or Netflixing) really difficult. You might want to add a flyswatter to that dorm room check list!

Flies and gnats are pretty hard to get rid of once they invade. Flies like to swarm around decaying organic material so it’s a good idea to take out the trash every night to keep these guys away. Even if you take out the trash on a regular basis, they can still live off bits of food that fall to the wayside. Sweep or vacuum over the floor and dust frequently to deter pests from making a home in your dorm.

Gnats are similar to flies in their buzzing and overall annoying tendencies. They thrive off moisture, so get rid of standing water like that cup of water or Coke that’s been on the windowsill since last week. Make sure not to overwater plants, because damp soil can also be a prime breeding spot. If you have a sink in your dorm, make sure there are no leaks. Cockroaches, gnats and silverfish all love the moisture given off by leaky faucets.

If you have any windows in your dorm, check the screens. Window screens are meant to provide protection from pests, but their protection is minimal if there are holes and tears. Contact your maintenance faculty to get a replacement screen if necessary.


Ants and other pests can sneak in through tears on window screens.

Ants are another common dorm pest. Ants do not pose an immediate danger, but they can bite or sting. They are likely in your dorm because they have found a reliable food supply, especially foods high in sugar. A good first step to getting rid of these ants is by removing any easily accessible food and wipe down the counter tops to remove any trace of the spill. Gather any food products and place them in heavy duty, tightly sealed plastic containers and make sure to have maintenance seal any openings to the outside if possible.

What to do if you spot these dorm room pests

If you do see these bugs in your dorm, notify your resident assistant (RA) or maintenance faculty immediately. Don’t try to get rid of the bugs yourself with DIY pesticides. Your institution has likely partnered with a professional pest control company that can take care of the problem more effectively than a DIY product can. You also don’t know what kind of treatment your room has undergone. A DIY product can react badly with the already placed product and pose a threat to your health.

Have questions? Feel free to contact us!