Trouble in Paradise…From Hawaii to Florida and back

Bed bugs found in Campus Center

November 30, 2015 | By Bianca Smallwood | Kaleo The Voice

Foreign visitors have made a home alongside University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa students – and they are not from another country.

A photo posted to Facebook on Oct. 19 by UH Mānoa student Chris Wehc showed a bed bug he discovered on the second floor lounge area of Campus Center.  Originally unsure if the creature was a tick or bed bug, Wehc said he crushed the bug with his finger and later found out from an internet search that the insect on his pants was indeed a bed bug.

“It freaked me out because the fact that bed bugs are … really tenacious so I couldn’t be taking that home at all because my mother is sick,” Wehc said.  “So it was just really shocking for me that the couches had them because there’s no way I could have brought it from home…”

Nothing new

Reports of bed bugs in Campus Center are not a first for UH Mānoa, as reports of the pests in Hamilton Library were also made in 2013.  Associate University Librarian Ann Crawford, said the reports were made in October and November after staff members noticed bed bugs.

Still, if a student with a bed bug allergy were to be bitten by a bed bug, the effects could be dangerous.

“Some people can be bitten and they just get a little red spot,” Helen Spafford, associate professor of applied entomology, said in a phone interview.  “Other people get bitten and they have huge welts and the more serious reaction would be an allergic reaction similar to what somebody who is allergic to bee stings might have.”

Bed bugs around campus 

Having received two reports of bed bugs in the Campus Center seating area during the time of the Facebook posting, Student Life and Development (SLD) staff said in an email that due to a previous bed bug outbreak that occurred throughout the country, a specialized cleaning program was established to monitor and rid the facility of bed bugs as needed.

SLD staff said that while they are not pleased with the recent discovery, they have increased the specialized cleaning program, including bug treatments, from once a month to twice a month.

The program includes daily inspections and monthly chemical and heat treatments.

However, Spafford said that even with daily inspections, more needs to be done.

“Good bed bug inspections take time, and the custodial staff on campus have a lot of tasks to complete in a short time…I doubt that they really are able to conduct effective searches on a daily basis,” Spafford said.

“We are confident that through our aggressive anti-bug program we have not had any infestation within the Campus Center and that the findings or incidents were isolated and are being properly addressed,” Shawn Kyono, SLD associate director for operations, said in an email interview.

When bed bugs were found in the library, Crawford said three chairs were infested, and custodians wrapped chairs in black plastic and left them on the roof to kill the pests with heat.  Custodians also thoroughly cleaned the cracks and crevices in the area where the chairs were located.

“Since bed bugs do travel easily on clothing and bags, we cannot be sure they will not return,” Crawford said in an email.  “We are vigilant and fortunately have not had any reports since then.  If they do reappear, we will take similar steps to our process in 2013.”

#SayNOtoPesticides

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