Bedbugs Call Student Housing Units Home

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For the past few months, several apartment units in one of UC Berkeley's student family housing complexes have been home to not just students and their families, but also to bedbugs living in the apartments, according to campus housing officials.

Three apartment units at the Smyth-Fernwald Complex near Clark Kerr Campus could have been infested with bedbugs as early as March, according to Jeff Urdahl, campus director for housing operations, maintenance and environment.

"There is no certain way of saying where the bedbugs came from," Urdahl said. "The incidence of bedbugs is on the rise and has been for a number of years, not just at Cal. It can happen anywhere."

The campus' Pest Management Services is currently inspecting a fourth apartment unit for bedbugs and will inspect any units whose residents are concerned about an infestation, Urdahl said.

Urdahl said a combination of manure pesticides and heat and cold treatments will be used in the infested apartment units.

"We try to relocate the residents and make sure whatever belongings they have are treated before they go," Urdahl said.

According to Urdahl, bedbug infestations both on-campus and off-campus have become more prevalent due to a number of factors. The infestations could be partly attributed to a decrease in pesticide use and increases in the use of second-hand materials and world travel.

"It's not a statement about somebody's housekeeping habits," he said. "Bedbugs aren't something that the university provided with the housing."

Smyth-Fernwald Resident Advisor LaKisha Bradley said despite some residents' frustration over the bedbugs living in their area, many residents have not complained about the bedbug infestation.

"Of the 74 apartment units, only five have addressed concerns about how it might spread," Bradley said.

Urdahl said that, although he cannot be certain about where the bedbugs came from, residents could take steps to prevent future infestations from occurring.

"Residents should not buy articles of clothing or furniture for their unit if they are not certain they know where it came from," he said.


Desiree Matloob covers housing.Contact her at [email protected]

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