‘No way to prevent the spread of bed bugs,’ university spokesperson said after Cabell cleared last week

The library was cleared of bed bugs on Sept. 18 after a full building inspection. Photo by Jon Mirador

Katie Hollowell, Contributing Writer

Cabell Library is free of bed bugs after last week’s inspections, but a university spokesperson says there is “no way to prevent the spread of bed bugs.”

“They are carried into public spaces in the folds of clothing, suitcases, backpacks, etc. So the focus is on treating spaces once there is a report of a bedbug,” said university spokesman Michael Porter.

The Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, created a list of things to do to control the spread of bed bugs. Here are a few notes from the agency’s website:

  • Make sure you really have confirmed a bed bug outbreak, not fleas, ticks or other insects.
  • Before turning to pesticides, consider all treatment options.
  • Clean up clutter to reduce the number of hiding places.
  • Wash and dry your sheets, blankets and clothing.
  • Use a thermometer to accurately check temperatures when using do-it-yourself freezing methods.
  • Be careful when killing bed bugs with heat.
  • Don’t hesitate to contact professionals, if needed.

Facilities management used a subcontractor of Orkin to bring in the dog that inspected the library on the night of Sept. 17.

The update came several days after it was first reported and confirmed Sept. 13 that there were bed bugs in the computer workstation by the first-floor entrance.

VCU Libraries closed off locations where bed bugs were reported, enlisted treatment the same day and reported the issue to VCU Facilities Management. Following treatment, more reports came in on Sept. 15 saying there were bed bugs at the security desk, seating booths at Starbucks and the blue chairs on the second floor overlooking the Compass, according to the library’s news release.

Twitter user @zaynolimit wanted to know why VCU didn’t close down the library to prevent people from spreading the bed bugs outside of Cabell.

“On a serious note why can’t vcu close the library bc endless heads gotta be leaving wit bed bugs,” the tweet read.

Two more inspections were completed early morning Sept. 16 and late Sept. 17 through the next morning. The first inspection was conducted by an Orkin pest exterminator. The second inspection enlisted the help of a canine sniffing dog to detect small traces of the insects. Neither found evidence of bed bugs.

The library news release said the Starbucks seating area was reopened today after a “routine deep cleaning not related to the bed bug inspection.”

VCU student Alyssa Carter tweeted her frustration with the presence of bed bugs.

“The lib has bed bugs AGAIN i’m so done with vcu,” Carter said.

In November 2017, there were reports of bed bugs on two separate occasions. VCU Libraries removed the second-floor booths and had them cleaned and exterminated. After the second report almost two weeks later, VCU Libraries had the entire library inspected by the canine scent-sniffing dog, and nothing was found.

University Librarian John Ulmschneider sent out a letter to students after the November 2017 reports, saying bedbugs are common at universities.

“We believe these steps have addressed the problem. Occasional bed bug incidents are common on university campuses,” Ulmschneider said in the letter, “and VCU retains an exterminator on contract in part to respond quickly to such incidents.”

Cabell Library closed sections of the library after reports of bed bugs
Sections of the library were closed on Friday, Sept. 13 after reports of bed bugs. Photo by Jon Mirador
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