Bed bugs found in two areas of Student Center



A lounge area outside of room 228 on the second floor of the Student Center addition, and later a TV lounge area close by, was blocked off Monday after a small number of bed bugs were discovered on furniture in the area.

“I discovered the bed bugs after sitting down and finding small, flattened insects crawling around me,” Sean Allen, a graduate health behavior student, said. “After studying entomology and biology at UK, I identified the insects as bed bugs.”

Allen said he immediately contacted John Herbst, director of the Student Center, to alert him of the situation and the immediate attention bed bug infestations require.

“While he was still in my office, I immediately called the Physical Plant Division, who typically schedules our building pest treatments, and they referred me to the UK Housing Office who has a contract with Okolona Pest Control for this type of situation,” Herbst said in an email to the Kernel.

Herbst said the situation occurred around noon on Monday, and a representative from OPC was on site within a half hour of Allen reporting the situation.

The Student Center staff then closed the lounge, per the pest control company’s advice, with caution tape and “Area Closed” signs, and continued the inspection of all other furniture in the lounge area, according to Herbst. Allen expressed that he was satisfied by UK’s efficient response to the issue.

“They responded by isolating the infested area to prevent students’ exposure to the insects and the spread of the bugs to other areas,” Allen said.

After the pest control company took action, Herbst said that he continued to give attention to the issue by contacting Michael Potter, a professor of entomology at UK.

“He was out of town,” Herbst said. “However, he did respond later and confirmed that the action we had taken was the appropriate action to take.”

Herbst said he also researched through publications and periodicals to become more familiar with the issue and preventative measures, and also so he could provide his staff with factual information.

I have asked our custodial staff to continue to do a deep inspection of all lounge furniture in the Student Center buildings, which they have been methodically conducting,” Herbst said in the email. “They found evidence of another bed bug in the Student Center addition TV lounge so we closed that area also, and we are continuing the inspection through the building.”

Allen, who is a student in the School of Public Health at UK, described bed bugs as blood-feeding insects that are most active at night.

“They aren’t easily controlled because they reside in cracks and crevices of furniture,” he said. “They can even go unnoticed for extended periods of time until infestations become severe.”

The bugs look much like ticks, and are about the same size, said OPC President Donnie Blake.

The best way to prevent bed bugs is to remain constantly vigilant, and, if suspicious of them, to be proactive in seeking the advice of a trained professional, Allen said.

Blake said bed bugs have been an epidemic across the country, “particularly in this area.”

Prior to 2003 OPC did one bed bug treatment. This year, the company will do 5,000 inspections and/or bed bug treatments, Blake said.

According to an article written by Potter, a bed bug specialist at UK, bed bugs were a rarity until only recently when they began to make a comeback in the U.S., which is possibly a result of immigration or travel.

The article goes on to say that bed bugs feed solely on the blood of animals, and rely on it to grow; they are effective hitchhikers, being transported in luggage, clothing, bedding, furniture and other items, which is why they are prevalent in places where occupant turnover is constant, such as hotels, dorms and apartments; and because they do not feed on filth like cockroaches, cleanliness does not prevent their presence.

The article can be found at

Blake said Potter, a “leading expert in the country” on bed bugs, is researching different products to help with bed bug eradication.

Herbst said that he and his staff opted for the most comprehensive removal plan the pest company provides, which is a heating process in affected areas that kills the insect, any eggs or larvae. OPC is returning to complete that process on Friday, which is the earliest they could return, Herbst said. Lounge areas will remain closed until then.

Blake said the heating process is expensive.

“We are continuing to inspect each piece of furniture in the entire building, including seats in lounges and theaters, so this takes a lot of time, but we want to make sure we do the most exhaustive investigation and removal as we possibly can,” Herbst said.

“Since bed bugs do not fly or jump on people walking by, we are hopeful that by closing areas affected we will prevent any of the bugs ‘hitching a ride’ on people, backpacks or other items people carry. We are proceeding with the fact that we would rather err on the overly-cautious side.”