When bed bugs appear in a school, it can generate a tremendous amount of fear. These bugs have a reputation—one that has been rightfully earned. They are home-infesting, blood-feeding insects that are extremely difficult to eradicate. But a bed bug sighting is not a reason for panic.
If a school has a bed bug action plan that includes clear communication with parents and a well-defined response for bed bug threats, fears can be calmed. Here are some key facts you should know about bed bugs as you develop your action plan.
Why Bed Bugs Are Common In Schools
Understanding the unique threat bed bugs present to schools in lower education requires an examination of the way bed bugs spread. These insects don't live in the woods, nor do they explore school grounds and playground areas, they live almost exclusively with humans, moving from one structure to the next through passive dispersal.
If a home is infested with bed bugs, the occupants of the home become the primary means by which these insects spread to new locations. Students and faculty alike can bring bed bugs into a school, but there are many factors that make children more likely to spread bed bugs.
- Students always need to be supervised and are more likely to come into close contact with other people. This allows bed bugs to transfer from one person to the next. Though bed bugs prefer to move around in the darkness, this transfer can happen in the middle of the day, especially in rooms with low lighting.
- Many schools have cubbies or lockers for children to store their bags and clothing items. If these spaces are dark or there are holes for bed bugs to travel from one locker to the next, bed bugs can spread.
- Younger children are often given sleep time, which is the perfect time for bed bugs to feed. When students lie down in a dark room near other sleeping students, it creates the ideal environment for bed bugs to transfer. Along with darkness and proximity, sleeping children produce carbon dioxide, which lets bed bugs know it is feeding time.
- Students tend to be less observant than adults. When bed bugs crawl around on their skin or clothing, they may just brush them off and not think twice about it. An adult is more likely to consider the insect, detect that it is a bed bug, and respond appropriately to the threat.
- Children are messier than adults. Though bed bugs aren't attracted to filth, they are able to thrive in a dirty or cluttered environment. The reason for this is that bed bugs leave their excrement, shed skins, and eggs around. Clutter covers these warning signs and makes it difficult for parents to detect an infestation.
- Kids play outside a lot. This exposes them to many bugs that can bite their skin and cause raised bumps. When bed bugs begin to bite a child, the bites can be overlooked, and an infestation can grow in a home without being detected. Often, parents don't even realize they have an infestation when they send their kids off to spread bed bugs at school.
Bed Bug Prevention For Faculty
Stopping the spread of bed bugs and preventing school infestations begins with the education of school administrators, teachers, and staff. Here are some prevention steps faculty can take to detect and respond to bed bugs.
- Detection is vital. Learn to identify bed bugs in all stages of development. Newly hatched bed bug nymphs are 1 mm in length, pale white and transparent with two antennae and six legs. As they develop, they become tan and eventually brown. Adult bed bugs have distinct horizontal crease lines on their abdomens, but at full size, bed bugs are still quite small. These insects are no more than 4.5 mm long. Keep in mind that several adult bed bugs can fit on your thumbnail. You're going to have to look close to see them.
- Learn to recognize the pattern of bed bug bites. While bed bug bites can be mistaken for bites from other pests, these insects leave bites in a pattern that is often recognizable. Mosquitoes, ticks, horse flies, and other biting pests bite once and fly away. Bed bugs bite several times as they crawl across the skin. This makes bites look as though they are a bumpy red path on the skin, sometimes in straight lines.
- Keep in mind bed bugs are not associated with cleanliness and are not a problem that is specific to low-income families. Calm fears and prevent a child found with bed bugs from being ostracized by informing all students that the school recognizes there is a national resurgence of bed bugs and that bed bugs are a threat for everyone. These bugs are equal-opportunity pests that will infest any environment.
- When bed bugs are detected, don't send the child home. Missed school days can have a negative impact on students and it can take several days, sometimes even weeks, for a bed bug infestation to be resolved. Furthermore, once the bed bugs are in the building, removing the child will not insure bedbugs will be removed faster. Have the school inspected by a pest professional and contain the child's backpack, lunch box, and other items in plastic bags and keep them isolated. Whenever possible, be sure to secure a sample for positive identification.
- Samples should be placed in a sealed container in rubbing alcohol to prevent escape and ensure that the insects are dead. An alternative method is to collect them on a piece of tape and then stick the tape on a piece of paper. This does not guarantee the bugs will not escape so we recommend any samples collected this way should be double bagged and sealed tightly.
To assist in educating your faculty, students and parents on the importance of bed bug safety, send a factsheet to parents to help them with this difficult topic. Use the factsheet provided by clicking the picture or button on this page or simply click HERE. You can disperse this to parents anytime there is a sighting, or at the beginning of each school year to educate them on the pest.
Why Educators Turn To American Pest For Bed Bugs
American Pest is a pest control leader. Our staff includes pest control experts, board-certified entomologists, and fully credentialed pest management professionals. The methods and products we use to control bed bugs are the most advanced available in the industry. Our use of Integrated Pest Management methods is your assurance that a limited and targeted use of least toxic chemicals will be the last resort when we deal with your bed bug infestation.
We make use of K-9 bed bug inspectors for fast and efficient bed bug detection and our team is geared with advanced heat remediation equipment and heat sensors to make heat treatments effective and reliable. Most of all, we have the experience and education to guide school administrators in the proper development of a bed bug action plan.
The threat of bed bug infestations in the United States is growing. No school should be without a plan. Contact American Pest today to schedule a consultation. We can help you protect your students and reputation from these invasive pests.
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