Today we're featuring a special guest blog from our friends at the non-profit organization Safer Pest Control Project about how to handle bed bugs in schools without harsh pesticides.
By Holly Thompson, Safer Pest Control Project
What do you do if you get a letter from the principal saying that bed bugs have been found in your school? Well, first of all, don’t panic, because bed bugs in schools do not mean there is an infestation, only that some bugs have been found.
Overreaction to bed bug sightings in schools can cause panic and lead to bad decisions that can put your child at risk for unnecessary pesticide exposure. For instance, a school in Brooklyn, NY made headlines for making a decision to spray everything in the school with a liquid pesticide without notifying parents or staff. (See the full story here.) Not only was this dangerous, but spraying for bed bugs in schools is not typically considered an effective treatment.
What to do instead? Make sure your principal and school staff know how to properly respond to bed bugs in the school. We’ve created a school and childcare specific fact sheet [pdf] that can help you and your school make good decisions on proper bed bug management.
One might expect a “bed” bug to remain largely confined to bed areas, but in fact they're excellent hitchhikers and pop up just about everywhere, including office buildings, movie theaters, department stores and, yes, schools and childcare facilities. Bed bugs do not live on people as lice do, but they sure like to travel! One bed bug can easily latch onto a backpack or jacket and fall off in any number of places between home and school.
To minimize frustration, headaches and paranoia, your school or childcare facility can address this potential problem now, before it happens. Education is the key to bed bug prevention and control. We have great resources on our website that you can use for free to help you get the ball rolling. Educating faculty is a priority because they should know what to look for in school in order to identify a potential infestation at home (bites on student, lots of itching) as well as educating parents to know how to identify a problem at home (droppings or stains, eggs, bugs, bites).
If you think a student is bringing bed bugs to school or has a problem at home, don't panic. Notify the parents immediately to discuss your concerns. If confirmed, the parents, students and faculty should take precautions to ensure no bug unwittingly comes to school.
For more information and materials to educate staff and parents, check out Safer Pest Control Project’s website: www.spcpweb.org.
Thanks to Safer Pest Control for contributing this blog!