Bed bugs have been one of the most talked about pests over the last several years. Bed bugs can be a traveler’s worst nightmare, but they are not only found in hotels. They can find their way into offices, shopping malls, movie theatres and even schools and daycare centers.

Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and thrive in heavily populated places; this makes classrooms and daycare centers the perfect settings for bed bugs to take up residence. In a school setting, bed bugs are most commonly found in schools housing younger children, such as elementary schools or daycares. This is because of the practice of bringing snow suits, shoes, backpacks or clothing to and from school. When not hanging in the halls or classrooms, these items, especially backpacks, are frequently stored in bedrooms near beds. This makes them an easy vehicle for picking up bed bugs and transporting them to school. When infested backpacks are stored at school, they can easily transfer to another child’s belongings, or take up residence in the classroom itself.

A study conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky found that bed bug infestations are on the rise in many different types of dwellings, including schools. According to the survey, 41 percent had reported bed bug infestations in schools and daycare centers in 2013.

What do bed bugs look like?

Bed Bug

Many people think that bed bugs are too tiny to be seen, but this is not true.
• Adult bed bugs are as big as an apple seed and are easily seen with the naked eye. They are flat and oval shaped and are about ¼ inch in length. Adult bed bugs are mahogany to reddish brown in their natural state and red after a blood meal.
• Nymphs (or babies) are the size of a pinhead and translucent in color. Nymphs are difficult to see when they first hatch from the egg.
• Bed bug eggs are about the same size, shape and color as a half grain of rice.

When looking for bed bugs, you may also find bed bug external skeletons or “cast skins” as these pests molt five times in their lifetime. These skins will be lying around where the bed bugs have been. Another sign of bed bugs is the dark spots, or fecal stains, they leave behind on bedding and furniture. These spots will look like ink stains and will seep into fabric.

Where can I find bed bugs?
Just as the name suggest they are most commonly found on the bed. They will nest primarily on the piping of the mattress and box spring. They are also commonly found on furniture especially couches and chairs. You may also find them or their external skeletons near baseboards, electrical outlets, wall voids, behind wallpaper, pictures frames, and headboards, as well as upholstered furniture.

What does a bed bug bite look like?
Bites may not be visible for some people. For others, a small, red, irritated and/or itchy spot will appear that may resemble a mosquito bite. Bed bugs are not known to carry diseases and their bites usually do not require medical treatment unless symptoms are severe or persistent.

How can I prevent bed bugs?
Bed bugs can crawl into purses and bags, move into furniture and transfer via close contact. Wil-Kil Pest Control recommends the following tips to protect your children and families from bringing bed bugs into the home:
• Parents should regularly inspect their children’s belongings (especially backpacks) for hitchhiking bed bugs
• If the school has reported an infestation, consider housing all related items in a sealed plastic bin
• Wash and dry cloth items returning from school in hot temperatures
• Ask school administrators whether they have bed bug detection and elimination plans

Inspect your home for bed bugs:
• Pull back all of the bedding at the head of the bed near the head board to look for bed bugs and fecal stains
• Check the underside of the mattress piping and tags
• Check the seams and piping of the box spring
• Lift up on the head board and remove it from the wall. Inspect the back of it for bed bugs or bed bug eggs.
• Inspect all areas where people sleep and relax as well as picture frames and other items on walls

What to do if bed bugs are found?

If bed bugs are found on belongings:
• Wash all clothes (even those items that were not worn) in hot water and dry on high heat to remove any bed bugs or eggs
• Place shoes, backpacks and dry clean only clothes in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes
• Seal these items in bags and call a professional to perform an inspection and determine if bed bug treatment is needed

If a bed bug infestation is detected, there are a variety of treatment methods, including heat treatments and canine inspections, which can eliminate the issue. Bed bug treatments are not simple and can become expensive quickly if a problem isn’t discovered promptly. For this reason, the best way to stop bed bugs is to prevent them from becoming established in the first place.

What have you done to prevent or treat bed bugs?

For more information on bed bugs, please visit

Shane McCoy is an Associate Certified Entomologist with 17 years of experience in pest management and is the Director of Quality and Technical Training for Wil-Kil Pest Control, servicing the Upper Midwest. To learn more about Wil-Kil, visit or contact your local office at 800-236-8735. Follow Wil-Kil on Facebook and Twitter (@WilKilPest).

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