By Kristina Jarvis
Student Housing Services attacks bed bugs with gas, bumps students to other rooms in either residence.
Several Pitman Hall residents were forced to move last Wednesday after a resurfacing bed bug problem required Ryerson housing to call in a pest control company.
The rooms, located on the eighth floor, were fumigated Friday afternoon and will remain empty for at least 14 days before students can move back in. The pesticide treatment is expected to cost Ryerson housing almost $1,000.
Angela Kovacs, a first-year journalism student, said she and her roommates were moved after a meeting with Ryerson housing direction Glen Weppler on Wednesday night, when the bugs were found by maintenance.
“They waived all of the fees for moving,” she said.
“They said that if we wanted to, we could move back in afterwards.”
Bed bug infestations appear to be on the rise in Toronto and around the world. A study released in October by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention says pest control businesses in Toronto treated over 1,300 bed bug infestations in the GTA in 2003. Exact causes are difficult to determine, but one theory is that global traveling allows the blood-sucking critters to hide in the backpacks and luggage of travellers.
Purity Pest Control owner Mike Goldman, blames the government’s heavy restrictions on pesticides. Goldman said there are only two chemicals pest control companies can use to fight bed bugs.
“The government has taken away a number of tools,” he said. “For every product we have, the U.S. gets five or 10 more.”
Instead, he uses a dog named Inspector Kody to sniff out bed bugs. He said Kody is capable of smelling out bed bug hotspots that a visual inspection may not find, which he said makes killing bed bugs easier.
Kody can sniff out bugs within 60 seconds, he said.
Weppler said only one bed bug was found on the eighth floor, but that one bed bug was a good enough reason to call in pest control.
Weppler said that the housing department steam cleans all the rooms at the start of the school year, and uses sticky insect traps to catch any bugs that may crawl into the residence. But even if all of the bugs are gone, the students who were moved out are not obligated to return to their former room, and may choose to stay in their new digs instead.
Despite the offer from housing to move back, Kovacs will be the only student from the group to return to the suite. She will probably be alone there until January, when a new batch of students may arrive.
“I have no reservations about it, especially now that it’s been sprayed.”