Bedbugs: A Student’s Worst Nightmare


by Grant Rodgers & Maggie Grenko

Goodnight, sleep tight. The bed bugs won’t bite—at least not yet.

From New York to Missouri, bedbugs have spread in residence halls, in housing units and in apartments, according to an article from Inside Higher Ed. The good news: Simpson College has no confirmed reports of the pests on campus.

“It is definitely something we are concerned about, but something we haven’t seen,” Director of Residence Life Luke Behaunek said. “Hopefully it doesn’t become too much of a story.”

While it may frighten students and parents, Behaunek says widespread media coverage of the issue should not be cause for alarm.

“There’s been discussion on action plans and what steps we could and would take if the issues seen on other campuses start showing up at Simpson,” Behaunek said. “Also we have regular extermination every semester.”

So how should students deal with the issue? Behaunek says that prevention is better than a cure.

“The most important thing is maintaining a clean environment,” said Behaunek. “Regularly washing your clothing and bedding, not leaving piles of clothes or bedding unwashed for long periods of time, being careful of the types of furniture and bedding students bring from home…and being cognizant of where students go and visit are the main things.”

A recent Des Moines Register article reported that metro apartments and buildings have experienced infestations, causing frustration among local leaders. However, Simpson students can enjoy some peace of mind, as no bedbug infestations have been reported in the greater Indianola community or Warren County.

“A retirement home called and asked for information on how to handle bedbugs awhile ago, but we have not heard of any issues since,” Curt Coglhan, director of Warren County’s environmental health department, said.

The residence life department has fielded complaints and suspicions, but all have turned out to be negative – making proper identification of the bugs important for students.

“We’ve heard of a few people who’ve suspected, but we’ve had those places checked out by a professional company,” said Behaunek. “We actually had a sample of a bug looked at but it was not a bedbug.”

The wingless bugs, which resemble ticks and feed on human blood, are attracted to body warmth and odor according to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Signs of the bugs can be spotted by small bloodstains left by crushed bugs on sheets or by the presence of small droppings.

In rooms where students suspect the presence of bedbugs, a community advisor should be contacted immediately.

“Contact a CA and we’ll contact facilities,” sophomore CA Keely Goshia said. “Students are encouraged to come to their community advisor with any problems regarding their rooms.”

The situation may change as the year continues, but for now Simpson students can sleep easy and staff will keep watching.