Philadelphia ranks No. 2 in letting the bed bugs bite

While Temple remains unscathed, high-traffic living areas are hotspots for the bedborne pests.

While Temple remains unscathed, high-traffic living areas are hotspots for the bedborne pests.

Photo Illustration COLIN KERRIGAN TTN

They could be living in the mattress, in the sofa or in the carpet. They could be lurking wherever one decides to lie down for a little post-class rest and relaxation. They are bedbugs, and according to a report released by Terminix in August, Philadelphia has more of them than anywhere else except New York City.

“The number of calls for bedbugs has grown every year in the last three to five years,” said Shawn Hunter, a district manager for Ehrlich Pest Control. “We have technicians taking calls for bedbugs every day.”

The pests hide in furniture and suitcases, so incoming students could be bringing more than just clothing in their luggage.

Bedbugs can also crawl between walls to infect neighboring rooms. In dense living areas, such as dorms and apartment buildings, bedbugs can turn into a nightmare overnight.

“Bedbugs are extremely disgusting,” said Alyssa Pouleson, a sophomore psychology major. “But they do seem befitting of college. You get exposed to so many different things here.”

Temple has not reported an outbreak, but it is always good to know how to spot the nasty bugs and how to get rid of them if they should ever appear.

Bedbugs look like miniature cockroaches. They are nocturnal, feed off blood and tend to live in anything that is used frequently, so that they can be close to their food source. Common hotspots are beds, sofas and rugs. They have also been found in unusual hiding places, too, such as books and telephones.

“Bedbugs tend to congregate in little pockets in mattresses,” Hunter said. “When we do an inspection, we check in the seams, near the tag on the mattress, in the headboard, the box spring and other places. Bedbugs like to live 5 to 10 feet from their host.”

The bugs come out about once a week to feed, making their appearance just before dawn to drink their fill. Bedbugs can live anywhere from six months to a solid year without feeding, which makes them very difficult to get rid of. Even if you think they’re gone, they might not be.

Their bark is nothing compared to their bite, though. These creepy little bugs sink their teeth into humans, and then inject a chemical to clot the blood and stop the bleeding. This chemical is what makes the bites itch so badly.

“I’ve dealt with bedbugs once,” Augusta Greenfield, a sophomore nursing major, said. “I was staying at my aunt’s house, and I had to sleep on the couch. I woke up the next morning with a bunch of bumps on my skin. They itched, and then when I scratched them they got hard and turned red.”

The bites look like most other skin irritations. There is nothing distinctive about them, so it can be difficult to determine if the bites are actually from bedbugs.

Sometimes people don’t realize they have a problem because they attribute the bites to other things. The bright side to the bites, if there is one, is that they have not been found to pass diseases.

The bites might be the only reliable sign of an infestation. These bugs are only active at night, and they hide well, so it is nearly impossible to catch them in the act.

The other way to detect them is to set traps. You can line your mattress with double-sided tape, and check it after a few days. If they’re there, a few of them will likely be stuck to the tape.

If you discover you have bedbugs, the first step is to get a mattress cover. You should completely seal off the mattress so nothing can get in or out. The ones caught inside will eventually die without food.

Wash your sheets and your pillowcase regularly to get rid of any bugs that may be hanging around outside the mattress.

“We always recommend an inspection by a professional because the process to get rid of the bugs can be very labor intensive,” Hunter said. “The most effective methods for eliminating these bugs are fumigation and heat treatment.”

Kate Hartman can be reached at



    We need more reliable information out there, information that will make people scared about the reality of bed bugs, not this fluffy crap put out there to ease people’s mind even more! The reason they are spreading is because of misinformation and lack of concern/vigilance.

    Bed bugs are not only active at night. This is only true if they are only harbouring in your bed and you only go there at night to sleep. They will be active whenever and where ever you are available.

    They do not look like cockroaches. In fact, the nymphs can be impossible to see because they are so small and unless they’ve have a blood meal, they can be nearly translucent. They are also very fast and good at hiding and can fit in impossible places where you may not be able to see them so not seeing doesn’t and usually won’t mean you are in the clear.

    While mattresses are the first place people inspect, not seeing them on a mattress also isn’t a guarantee.

    This article fails to mention lecture halls, waiting areas, and carpeted classrooms. I believe Ritter Hall is infested. The computer lab is carpeted, warm, always full of sitting bodies who drop their piles of jacket and bags anywhere near other people’s stuff. Multiple people in my class said they heard rumours that one of the sub-classrooms in the technology lab has bed bugs.

    I think Temple is doing whatever they can to sweep any presence under the rug, literally, to keep from a campus-wide panic. A friend of mine who lived in Temple Towers told me she had them there.

    Temple students are so careless and lazy in everything they do, like leaving their personal garbage laying around bathrooms despite trash receptacles in the stalls, that I don’t doubt a great many are actively spreading bugs wherever they go. The Tyler students dumpster dive for interesting art-making materials, talk about student. Bringing North Philly garbage home to where you live?

  2. “The Tyler students dumpster dive for interesting art-making materials, talk about student. Bringing North Philly garbage home to where you live?”

    Meant to say, talk about student negligence.

  3. I went to Miami for Labor Day last year, and brought back Bed Bugs with me…smh. Bed Bugs are getting worse in Philly, and the prices to exterminate them are thru the roof, but I was able to get really good pricing thru a place called Enterprise Exterminating, they website is GREAT service and really afforable pricing, and they work with you on the price, so i would def check them out if I was u.

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