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Campus Showdown Between Bedbugs and Stink Bugs: Students Caught in the Crossfire

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by Brody K. Truce
Senior Staff Writer

For years, the northeast has been plagued by an infestation of stink bugs. Because the bugs have no natural predators, residential communities are often overrun with the insects. Parker Gates College, a small private school in Parker, New Jersey is no exception. During the summer months, members of the facilities management team struggled to stay ahead of swarms of stink bugs that covered campus buildings.

Pentatomoidea [stink bugs] are certainly annoying, but really pose no physical threat,” said Dr. Steven Shenk, professor of entomology at Parker Gates College. “Bedbugs, however, are another story.”

Once a problem in large cities like New York, bedbugs (Cimex lectularius) have now wiggled their way into suburbia and quiet college campuses like Parker Gates. The nocturnal parasites live in mattresses during the day and feed on the blood of humans during the night.

Recent plummeting temperatures have driven the stink bugs at Parker Gates College indoors in search of warmth. Residence hall space—already at a premium on the small campus—has now become a breeding ground for these two species of bugs as they vie for control of this new territory. It is a turf war that has left dozens of students caught in the crossfire.

“I was sound asleep when I felt something crawling in my hair,” bemoaned college junior Carly Madison. “I don’t know if it was a bedbug or a stink bug, but I was so freaked out that I couldn’t get back to sleep. I got a C on my exam the next morning.”

Carly’s story is not unique. In the past two months, the Residence Life staff at Parker Gates has received over 200 insect-related complaints. “It’s so bad that we’ve revised our online reporting log to include a checkbox for insect complaints,” explained Leslie Sheffield, Director of Residence Life. Current casualties of this conflict include:

  • Britney Sinclair: Withdrew from Parker Gates after rumors that she allegedly passed bedbugs to seven other students during intimate encounters.
  • Carissa Winters: Placed on leave of absence due to bug-related anxieties.
  • Jonah Richmond: Self-admitted to student infirmary after mistakenly eating two stink bugs. Mr. Richmond allegedly mistook them for sunflower seeds after attending a fraternity party.
  • Chastity Behnard: Filing a lawsuit against the college due to a bedbug related rash. In the lawsuit, she blames the rash, which she described as “disfiguring,” for her inability to meet men.
  • Mitchell Ashmont: Transferred to another college due to bug infestation after his resident assistant refused to help kills bugs in his private suite.

The Residence Life office has teamed up with the Office of Admissions to tackle the problem. “We’re obviously concerned about the bug problem,” said Dan Ober, Dean of Admissions. “But since the threat is only psychological, our main concerns is getting this situation under control before it begins to impact next year’s enrollment numbers.”