You probably think of bed bugs infesting houses and hotel rooms, but these resilient pests can make a home almost anywhere, including in schools – primarily daycares and colleges. For about 40 years, bed bugs were mostly absent in the United States, but they have been experiencing a resurgence since the late 1990s believed to be in part to an increase in travel.
Bed bugs are great hitchhikers, so how can you help keep your kids from bringing them home? Read on to learn more about bed bugs and some important bed bug prevention tips.
What are Bed Bugs?
Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown, oval-shaped insects roughly the size of an apple seed. They are most active at night, and they feed on blood. When they’re inside a home, they can be attracted to sleeping humans by cues such as carbon dioxide and body heat.
They may emerge from their resting spots under mattresses, around headboards or in furniture to find their next meal, sometimes leaving small bites, which may resemble mosquito or flea bites. Generally, bed bugs feed every 5 to 10 days.
Why are Bed Bugs a Concern in Schools?
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), bed bugs are one of several pests that are a concern in schools. Luckily, they are not known to carry pathogens that cause disease, and they don’t infest people. They do, however travel in luggage, backpacks and other belongings, meaning it’s easy for them to make their way from the school to your house.
Aside from potential stress and loss of sleep, bed bugs can cause minor skin irritations. These irritations can itch (scratching can lead to secondary infections) and mild to moderate allergic reactions. However, many people who are bitten by bed bugs show no signs or reaction at all.
How to Deal With Bed Bugs
Following some simple prevention tips can help you (and your children) avoid bringing bed bugs home.
Parents can help prevent the spread of bed bugs in their home by:
- Limiting the number of items children bring home from school
- Checking your kid’s backpacks, jackets and clothing after they return home and keeping these items in a separate area of the house
- Inspecting your car for signs of bed bugs, like shed exoskeletons and blood stains.
As a parent, it's important to be vigilant when it comes to bed bugs and know the signs of an infestation, including reddish stains or yellow flakes (shed bed bug skins) on sheets or clothing.
Call the Professionals
Treating bed bugs is not something you want to do yourself. It can be costly and ineffective, and bed bugs are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
If bed bugs have found their way into your home, or you think they might have, Terminix® offers a FREE bed bug inspection and customized treatment plans backed by the Terminix Bed Bug Guarantee. All treatment plans are designed to help eliminate bed bugs from the infested room or area.