How Do Bed Bugs Get Into Schools?

There are many ways bed bugs can be brought into a school. They can come in on students, faculty, staff, and visiting parents who have an infestation at home. There are one or two stages of development that bed bugs will be in. They will either be inside unhatched eggs, or they will be an adult insect crawling around. It is vital that parents learn to identify both.

Bed Bug Eggs

The eggs left by bed bugs are about 1 mm in length, white, and pill-shaped. They may be by themselves or in a tiny batch of about five eggs. If you find bed bug eggs on an item that can be washed, throw it in the washer and set it to the hottest temperature. This will kill those eggs and any bed bugs that are hiding in the item.

Bed Bug Identification

When bed bugs hatch, they are 1 mm long, white in color, with six legs, two antennae, and three body parts. The abdomen may be bright red if the insect has had a blood meal. As a bed bug develops, it becomes tan and then brown in color. It develops creases in its abdomen that look like horizontal lines and even though a bed bug becomes less transparent as it develops, it is never fully opaque. You should be able to see internal components in its abdomen that have been coated by the bugs black feces. If you or your kids see a bed bug, it is important to take steps to inspect all items that may have been exposed to bed bugs and wash any items in hot water that can be washed. Items that cannot be washed should be left outside your home until they can be treated by a professional pest technician.

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How Bed Bugs Spread In School

Here are a few ways a bed bug might go from one student to the next, or from a teacher to a student:

  • If a batch of eggs hatch in a transportable item that has been brought into a school, those newly hatched nymphs can get into the belongings of your children.
  • If a batch of eggs is attached to a sweater or shirt, children can share these eggs when they come into contact with each other.
  • If bed bug nymphs or adults are carried in, they can crawl from one item to the next. This is likely to happen in a dark location.
  • Since children share close spaces at school, it is possible for bed bugs to use a school as a way to spread from home to home, but it is more likely that kids will pick bed bugs up when they go to a friend's house.

When Bed Bugs Appear At School

Your student's school should have a Pest Management Professional (PMP) who oversees an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan to protect the school from pest threats. This plan should include educating faculty, staff, parents, and also students. It is important that everyone knows how to identify these bugs and what to do when they see them. It is especially important that any child found with bed bugs be protected from being made to feel as if they are dirty because they have these bugs. Bed bugs are not drawn to dirt or bacteria. They are drawn to blood. They can establish themselves in the cleanest of homes.

The PMP will apply bed bug treatment measures when these insects appear. This may include the use of targeted EPA-approved insecticides or heat remediation. These treatments should be followed up by a detailed inspection, preferably with K-9 bed bug detectors.

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