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It’s Fall and Bed Bugs Are Back in School!

By Chris Williams on October 29, 2015.

To keep up with pests in the news, I subscribe to an online notification service called Google Alerts. I was wondering why there were suddenly so many news items about bed bugs in schools. Then I remembered, kids are back in school and the same thing happens every year about this time.

It makes sense. A certain percentage of children in a school live in a home that has bed bugs, and they may not even know it. When these kids head back to their schools in the fall, there’s always the chance that bed bugs are going to hitchhike to school with them. It’s not just the kids though, school staff and visitors are just as likely to be the ones responsible for bringing bed bugs into a school. No home, facility or public place is immune from bed bug introductions.

Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices during the day, most often in cracks and crevices in and around beds. But in heavy infestations, bed bugs can end up hiding in all kinds of objects, including backpacks, tote bags, purses, books, notebooks, even in shoes and clothes. Bed bugs are inadvertently, and easily, carried from place to place.

But Schools Don’t Have Any Sleeping Humans!

But here’s the good news. When bed bugs are introduced into a school, the infestation is usually limited and temporary. Because there are no sleeping individuals to feed on, bed bugs can’t feed regularly and can’t easily establish a breeding population in a school. Two possible exceptions are boarding schools and classrooms with sleeping mats and naptime. In any case, isolated but scattered bed bugs in a school can be picked up on items and carried home to families that did not have a bed bug problem.

Just as with head lice (see Don’t Confuse Head Lice and Bed Bugs), it’s important that schools have a bed bug action plan in place and react quickly when there is evidence of bed bugs. Fortunately, bed bugs have been around long enough now that all schools are well aware of the issue and will alert parents with instructions if a situation arises. In some cases, when a particular student or staff home has been identified as a bed bug focus, school systems will arrange for an exterminator to treat the home.

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