I read with interest the article about the possibility of bedbugs at the Murray Library. I hope that my experience with these pernicious pests might help allay some fears, and I offer some suggestions on how students can prevent bedbug problems from occurring in their homes.
Fortunately, my wife and I were able to trace the probable cause of the infestation in our home to one of the many library books that we routinely take out of the Saskatoon Public Library, as the SPL had previously admitted in the StarPhoenix that they had found bedbugs in the spines of several of their hardcover books at one branch.
The good news is that bedbugs, unlike fleas, cannot jump onto a person. The adults are clearly visible to the naked eye. I don’t think students need to worry about carrying an adult bedbug home on their clothes.
The bad news is that bedbugs are incredibly tenacious; like vampires from folklore, they can remain in a dormant state within the spines of usually older hardcover books for up to a year, until they sense blood and are rejuvenated.
I am, of course, not an expert on bedbug behaviour. However, from what I have been told by true experts, while there is probably no harm in students reading an older hardcover book within the Library, it would not be wise for them to take older books out of the Library to their homes without fumigating equipment to spray the spines with.
For students worried about an infestation of these insects, I strongly suggest Poulin’s Pest Control on Idylwyld Drive North. Getting rid of bedbugs is a time-consuming process, but if you follow Poulin’s instructions — involving a few cans of bedbug killer — it works. We’ve had no problem since.
One advisory to students: don’t purchase any generic can of bug-killer that lists all sorts of insects, as this simply dilutes its effectiveness.
One other note: having bedbugs is no sign that your household hygiene is deficient or anything to be embarrassed about. Bedbugs can be found in five-star hotels.
I hope this helps. If students are right, the U of S has a big problem.
Professor Emeritus, Department of English
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