spring break

Two NYU Co-eds, Bring Home Unwelcome Guests from their Spring Break Trip

By Marcia Anderson

I just got a panicked call from Amanda, a mom whose daughter and roommate came home from a spring break trip to Panama City, Florida, with bed bugs. Amanda told me that a recent cold front brought temperatures down to near freezing in Northern Florida, so instead of partying on the beach, 20 or so students crammed into a beachside motel where some friends were staying and they returned to New York City with more than they bargained for.

Luckily, New York University has extensive experience with bed bugs and has a lot of useful information on its website.

Here is some additional advice for Amanda and other parents of traveling students if they suspect that their offspring came home with a few hitchhikers:

Upon arriving home, never place luggage or clothing directly on the bed. Sprinkle a little talcum powder on the bottom of the bathtub and have your student drop their luggage in the bathtub along with all of their outer clothing. A bathtub provides a slippery surface hindering the bed bugs from climbing out and crawling around. The talcum powder makes even less traction for the bed bug.

Heat dry all clothing, including sneakers, sandals and jackets, in a clothes dryer set on high for a half hour. Use a large garbage bag to transport the clothes to the dryer. Dispose of the bag, and place the clean clothes in a clean bag.

Inspect and wipe down all other items, such as packages, very carefully. If you are unsure about some items, like books, place them in a zip-lock bag and freeze for a week.

Don’t forget to vacuum your student’s path from the front door to the bathroom drop site. When finished, vacuum up a little talcum powder as well. It will make the insides of the vacuum too slippery for vacuumed bed bugs to crawl out. Place the vacuum bag and contents in a plastic bag, knot it or seal it tightly and dispose of it properly.

Take your time and do a thorough job, as bed bugs can hide in the tiniest of cracks or crevices and can live for over six months without a meal. In addition, it only takes one pregnant female bed bug to be responsible for creating 32,000 additional bed bugs in six months.

What about the car that transported her home? A steam cleaning of the interior should take care of any unwanted hitchhikers.

Still worried? Purchase bed bug interceptors and place them under all bed, couch and upholstered chair legs. Keep the interceptors in place for at least six months. Move the bed a few inches away from the wall, so that these tiny vampires can’t find a way up onto the bed to feed on a sleeping victim. Remove anything stored under the bed. You can also sprinkle a little Diatomaceous Earth (DE) under the bed, couch or recliner. Follow all label directions. DE works to kill bed bugs physically, not chemically.

Amanda, next year for spring break, send your daughter and her friends with the EPA Bed Bug Traveler card. It’s the size of a credit card, but packs a lot of important information.

About the Author: Marcia is the bed bug and vector management specialist for the Pesticides Program in Edison. She has a BS in Biology from Monmouth, second degree in Environmental Design-Landscape Architecture from Rutgers, Masters in Instruction and Curriculum from Kean, and is a PhD in Environmental Management candidate from Montclair – specializing in Integrated Pest Management and Environmental Communications. Prior to EPA, and concurrently, she has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology and Oceanography at Kean University for 14 years.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Spring Break Reading List

By Jeffery Robichaud

If you have kids like my wife and me, Spring Break is probably coming up. However, if you are lucky enough to be heading somewhere warm with a hammock, consider tossing these tomes into your tote.

COD – Sorry video gamers, this doesn’t stand for “Call of Duty”, rather Cod as in the book’s subtitle, A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World. I was born on the seacoast of New Hampshire and remember visiting the Isles of Shoals, so named because in the 1600s monster schools of cod frequented the islands churning up so much water that the entire area looked like waves were breaking on shallow rocks. How can you pass up a book about history, economics, science, and VIKINGS. Long before Deadliest Catch and Lobster Wars there was Cod Wars. I don’t eat fish, but as an extra bonus there are recipes for Cod-lovers.

Where Underpants Come From – Think Bill Bryson meets Milton Friedman. I always enjoy chuckling while I’m learning something, and this book weaves (poor pun intended) a tale of the global economy from a pair of underpants back through the supply chain to China.

Live from Cape Canaveral: Covering the Space Race, from Sputnik to Today –This might not be the most in-depth history of the space program, but it was written by the only correspondent who has covered every manned space mission and is an extremely quick read. As we approach Earth Day, it is easy to forget that just 50 years ago, when John Glenn circled the Earth, we still had no idea what it looked like. Thanks to NASA our first full picture of earth was one for the ages.

Bartholomew and the Oobleck – No it is not the Lorax. It is not even my favorite, the 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. But if you pick up this lesser known Seuss work for your kids, you can also be a science hero and kill a couple more hours of Spring Break by making your own non-newtonian fluid based on the story.

I’m still trying to work through a backlog on my e-reader , but any recommendations that you Care to Share?

About the author: Jeffery Robichaud is Deputy Director of EPA’s Environmental Services Division in Kansas City. He is a second-generation scientist with EPA, who began his career in Washington, DC in 1998.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.