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Pests and Bed Bugs

It's no fun if insects take up residence in your housing. Help is available if you find yourself in this situation, though it's better to take preventative measures so that bugs aren't attracted to your space.

Please consult our Cleaning Tips for suggestions on how and how often to clean your housing.


Inspections and Exterminations

All of UVA's residence halls are on a regular extermination schedule. Apartments/houses are inspected by Facility Management's exterminator following a 30/60/90 day schedule.

What should I do if I have a pest problem?

If you have pest problems in your room, bathroom, suite, or apartment, place an online work request or call the Facilities Management Service Desk at 434.924.3053 with any questions.

If, in the exterminator's opinion, treatment is necessary, the area of concern will be treated. Areas most often treated are baseboards, closets, or behind the stove and refrigerator.

The specific space reported will be sprayed. If there is a problem in the closet, please remove shoes and clothes from the floor and the side walls of the closet. Your personal belongings will not be sprayed. The maintenance staff will not move your belongings in order to spray.

There will be a note in your room or suite indicating that the space you reported was sprayed.

Preventing Infestations

Treating a room or apartment will not keep pests away if the space continues to provide an environment that is conducive to their survival. Once you move in, prevention becomes your responsibility.

What can attract pests?

  • Ants are attracted to food and drink, as well as toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, perfume, soap, and detergent.
  • Bugs are also attracted to empty pizza boxes, soda cans, and other food packaging.
  • If any room in your suite/apartment has bugs, your room is likely to have bugs.
  • Most bugs go away once it is cold outside, but it's best to try to avoid attracting them if at all possible.

What can I do to prevent pest problems?

Your role is to maintain your room, suite, or apartment in a clean and sanitary condition.

Below are some suggestions which will help keep your housing free from roaches and other unwanted pests:

  1. Keep the suite, your room, and the bathroom free of food, clutter and open personal hygiene items.
  2. Encourage others in your area to keep rooms and common spaces clean.
  3. Sweep and vacuum the floors regularly.
  4. Keep food covered and/or refrigerated. Eliminate as much grease and crumbs as possible.
  5. Do not allow dirty dishes to remain on tables, counter tops, or in the sink overnight, let alone for a prolonged period of time.
  6. Keep the tops of kitchen cabinets clean.
  7. Clean appliances regularly, especially around the stove and refrigerator.
  8. Keep the shelves and drawers clean and dry.
  9. Do not keep garbage under the sink. It is the perfect habitat for roaches.
  10. Daily removal of trash is strongly recommended. Do not allow your garbage and recyclables to accumulate.
  11. Report all leaking/dripping faucets or pipes immediately so that Facilities Management can repair them. Do not provide roaches with possible water sources.
  12. Limit accumulation of dirty laundry.

Bed Bugs

For more information about bed bugs:

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small brownish insects of approximately half a centimeter in length that have an ovular shape with a pronounced abdomen. They feed on blood, and their bites often lead to painful or itchy lesions on the skin. However, in about 50% of cases no visible sign of a bite is present.

Unlike other insects that feed on blood, bed bugs are not known to transmit any pathogens, so catching any disease from bed bugs is highly unlikely.

Bed bug habitat is not determined based on cleanliness, even if clutter makes them harder to get rid of. Bed bugs can be found nesting in hotels, motels, airports, resorts, apartments, barracks, buses, cabins, churches, community centers, cruise ships, homes, hospitals, laundromats, moving vans and trucks, nursing homes, office buildings, restaurants, schools, public transportation, theaters, subway stations, used furniture stores, or any other public place.

Bed bugs are easily carried by humans from place to place because they "hitchhike" on personal belongings such as luggage, furniture, mattresses, and clothes. If you believe that your room has bed bugs or if you are concerned about potential infestations, please use this information to help identify bed bugs and know what to do should you discover them.

How do I know if I have bed bugs?

Because of their small size and nocturnal life habits, identifying the presence of bed bugs can be very difficult. Most of the time, bed bugs will hide in crevices and seems in mattresses making them hard to spot. Often it is easier to spot the indirect evidence of a bed bug presence: bites, fecal spots, blood smears on sheets, molts, and eggs.

I think I have bed bugs. What should I do?

First, contact the Facilities Service Desk via work order or by phone at 434.924.3053. We will send someone as soon as possible.

However, there are several things you should absolutely not do:

  • Do not throw away items or remove them from your room. If you incorrectly remove infested linens, clothing, luggage, or other items you may inadvertently spread the infestation to other areas.
  • Do not attempt to control them on your own. Bed bugs are very difficult to exterminate and are impervious to most commercially available insecticides. You may also endanger fellow students, University staff, and the environment as most of these commercial-grade chemicals are highly toxic.
  • Do not relocate yourself to another room. Bed bugs are master "hitchhikers" and are likely to travel with you and spread to the new location.

There are also several things that you can do to help us to identify and eradicate bed bugs:

  • Do clean up clothes and general clutter from your room. Bed bugs can hide in clutter, and any bed bug service you receive will need easy access to areas that may have bed bugs.
  • Do bag and launder your clothes and linens in hot water using the following procedure:
    1. Place clothes and linens that could have been infected in plastic garbage bags and take them directly to the laundry facility.
    2. Dump the contents of the bag in the washer and wash using hot water. The heat and exposure will kill the bugs and eggs.
    3. As soon as the garbage bags are emptied, immediately place the used bag inside a new clean bag and dispose in an outside dumpster.
    4. Any clothing or linens you do not need in the next month should be re-bagged in clean bags so your items will be bed-bug free once the problem is eliminated from your room. Items you need immediately should be kept in an organized fashion so they can be easily inspected.

Please leave everything else to the certified professionals. With your assistance we can contain bed bugs and ensure that they do not return in the future.

I am going to be traveling soon. Can I do anything to avoid bed bugs?

While doing your pre-trip research, check any hotels or hostels where you might stay on websites like TripAdvisor and Bed Bug Registry. There are no guarantees that a traveler will report a bed bug infestation at a hotel or hostel, but you do reduce the chances by doing some research ahead of time.

To avoid picking up bed bugs when traveling, consider using hard, smooth-sided suitcases if possible. Also pack a flashlight, rubber gloves and magnifying glass to inspect the room, bed, and furniture. You may want to use resealable plastic bags for items in your luggage as well.

When I travel, what can I do to prevent bed bugs from "hitchhiking" with me?

When traveling, you can take the following steps to avoid unwanted bed bugs:

  1. Put bags in bathtub or shower upon arrival while checking your room.
  2. Use a metal luggage stand, and set it up away from walls and furniture.
  3. Leave lamps and lights turned off while checking the room. Use a flashlight.
  4. Inspect beds and box springs in motels/hotels/hostels or other accommodations. Take the sheets off and look at the folds and seams of the mattress where bed bugs often hide. Check the linens and mattress pads for blood spots about the size of a pencil point.
  5. Don't use hotel drawers without inspecting them first.
  6. When you are packing to leave, check your clothing and luggage for signs of small insects.
  7. If you are bitten while staying anywhere, look very carefully around the mattress and bed for bed bugs. If you are in a hotel or motel, report the situation to the staff immediately. Request to be moved to a non-adjacent room, or switch hotels.
  8. If you do discover bed bugs in your belongings, wash them in hot water and dry them in the dryer as described above.