Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!!!

What Every School Community Needs to Know - by Dr. Susan C. Jones

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Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite!!! 2017-06-14T18:07:33+00:00

Bed Bugs
(Cimex Lectularius)

  • External parasites
  • Blood feeders
  • Typically feed at night
  • Prefer to feed on humans
  • Also may feed on
    • Rodents
    • Bats
    • Birds
    • Pets (cats, dogs, etc.)

Bed bugs are very good hitchhikers!

  • Luggage
  • Furniture
  • Bedding
  • Clothing
  • Backpacks
  • Purses
  • Books
  • Other items carried into schools

Schools typically have bed bug problems when students or staff introduce bed bugs from infestations occurring in their homes.

    • Educate the school community on bed bugs
    • Promptly respond to a bed bug case

Fact? Or Fiction?


Fact: Bed bugs are small, but they can be seen without a microscope. It helps to know what you are looking for.


Fact: Even the best housekeeper can have a bed bug problem. However, clutter can greatly interfere with control efforts.

Bed bugs have plagued humans for thousands of years!!!

Bed bugs are mentioned in:

  • ancient Egyptian papyrus
  • Greek literature in 419 BC
  • Bed bugs were introduced to North America by colonists from Europe

Bed bugs are an emerging pest throughout the U.S.!!!

New York bedbug complaints increase 34% in a year

Screenshot (144)


New York’s bedbug infestation is getting worse, with almost 10,000 complaints to the city last year – one-third higher than the year before…

New York City Department of Education:

“Although, at present, there is no evidence of a major infestation or harborage within NYC school buildings, these tiny insects have been occasionally showing up, mainly on clothing.”

Read more

Bedbugs bite into schools

By A. Montefinise and K. Boniello / New York Post April 1, 2007

34 bed bug cases at 24 public schools in Oct. and Nov. 2006
72 bed bug cases at 43 public schools in Jan. and Feb. 2007

Some Reasons For the Resurgence of Bed Bugs

  • International travel and commerce
  • High tenant turnover
  • Pesticide use has changed
  • Pesticide bans
  • Baits to control ants and cockroaches
  • Insecticide resistance

Bed Bug Complaints to Hamilton County Public Health Department

Screenshot (146)

Bed Bug Complaints to Cincinnati Health Department

cincinnati health complaints


  • Beak-like mouth parts
  • Oval shaped
  • Body flattened (unfed bed bug)
  • Body swollen after feeding
  • Adults: ~1/4 – 3/8 inch long
  • Young nymphs (immature bugs) are tiny (<<1/10 inch long)


  • Very young nymphs:
  • Almost colorless (unfed)
  • Crimson (fed)
  • Adults and older nymphs:
  • Various shades of brown (unfed)
  • Reddish brown (fed)
bed and bat

Developmental Stages


  • 1 – 12 eggs / day / female
  • Glued in place
  • Hatch in 6 – 17 days

Nymphs (immature bugs)

  • 5 nymphal stages
  • Require a blood meal in order to grow


  • Can live 12 -18 months
  • Can survive for months without food
bb life cycle

Identification Services

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH)

  • A free service to Ohioans (including schools)
  • ID insects, spiders or other arthropods of medical or public health significance (e.g., bed bugs, wasps, flies, maggots,…)
  • ODH submission form available online
  • ODH Zoonotic Disease Program ID Service: (614) 752 – 1029
Online Form
The Ohio State University

  • Fee for identification services ($20 for insect sample)
  • ID wide variety of insects and arthropods and plant diseases
  • OSU submission form available online
  • OSU Pest Diagnostic Clinic: (614) 292 – 5006
Online Form

Bed Bug Habits

  • Cannot fly
  • Can walk very fast
  • Can cling tightly to surfaces

Not caused by bad housekeeping!!! Not a sign of uncleanliness!!

Bed Bug Feeding Habits

  • Blood feeders
    • Humans (preferred host)
    • Rodents, bats, birds, pets
  • Attracted by carbon dioxide and body heat
  • Typically feed at night

Recognizing Bed Bug Bites

  • Resemble bites from other insects & arthropods
  • Typically no red spot at the center (such as with fleas and black flies)
  • Typically occur on exposed skin
    • Neck and face
    • Shoulders and arms
    • Etc.
  • Rarely occur on the palms or soles (such as with scabies mites)
  • Often occur in rows or groups
  • Confirmation based on finding bed bug evidence

Injury From Bed Bugs

  • Initial bite is painless
  • Bite reactions vary from person to person
  • Some people have an allergic reaction to the injected saliva
    • Swelling
    • Welts
    • Severe itching (hrs to days)
  • Scratching of bites increases inflammation, can lead to secondary bacterial infections

Injury From Bed Bugs

  • Sleeplessness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • No conclusive evidence of disease transmission

Bed Bug Habits

  • Hide during the day
  • Hide in dark, protected sites
  • Prefer fabric, wood, and paper surfaces

Bed Bug Hiding Places

  • Mattress, box springs
  • Bed frame
  • Furniture
  • Carpet tack strips
  • Baseboards
  • Window frames and door frames
  • Electric outlets and switch plates
  • Wall hangings
  • Drapery pleats
  • Peeling wallpaper
  • Ceiling moldings
  • Etc.

Bed Bugs Can Infest:

  • Hotels and motels
  • Dorms
  • Shelters
  • Apartment complexes
  • Private homes
  • Planes, buses, trains, ships
  • etc.

Recognize the Telltale signs of bed bugs!

  • Welts on exposed skin
  • Black fecal spots
  • Shed skins and eggshells
  • Live bed bugs (nymphs & adults)
  • Blood stains from crushed bugs

Bed Bug Prevention

Recognize the telltale signs of bed bugs
Take measures to reduce the risk of bed bug infestation
Prevent bugs from spreading to new sites

Did you check for signs of bed bugs in your hotel/motel room when you last traveled?

Bed Bug Prevention for Travelers

Make it STANDARD PRACTICE to check for bed bugs in hotel/motel rooms!

  • Pull back the bedding and look for black fecal spots on mattress and box springs (especially along seams)
  • Carefully examine the underside of the bed skirt
  • Look for bed bug signs along bed frame
  • Open nightstand drawers and look for bed bug signs along inner/outer edges
  • Look for bed bug signs along baseboards

Reduce the chances of getting bed bugs from hotel/motel rooms!

  • Keep clothes in your sipped suitcase
  • Don’t keep clothes in hotel chest-of-drawers
  • OK it hang clothes in closet
  • Keep your suitcase on the luggage rack (after first inspecting it for bed bug signs)
  • Don’t store your suitcase on the bed, floor, or upholstered furniture

Bed Bug Prevention at Home

Don’t bring infested items home!

  • Inspect clothing and luggage of travelers
  • Inspect secondhand beds, bedding, furniture, & clothing

Screenshot (153)

Fact? Or Fiction?


Fact: Even the best housekeeper can have a bed bug problem. However, clutter can greatly interfere with control efforts.


Fact: If untreated, the bed bug problem will become MUCH worse.

Management Tips

If bed bug evidence is found: STOP!!!

Immediately contact a professional pest control company for treatment.
Use a licensed, reputable pest management professional that has considerable experience treating for bed bugs.

Verify that potential pest control co. or individual is properly licensed to apply pesticides

ODA website lists licensed pest control companies and applicators

OH Dept. of Agriculture Pesticide Regulation Section

(614) 728 – 6987 or 1 (800) 282 – 1955

ODA Website


Management Tips

If bed bug evidence is found: STOP!!!


  • Use a professional pest control company for treatment
  • Licensed professionals can apply restricted use pesticides
  • Treating for bed bugs is time-intensive and labor-intensive
  • Team-approach is useful for locating and treating bed bugs
  • Treat any active bug harborage as soon as it is located, then continue the in-depth inspection.

If bed bug evidence is found: STOP!!!


  • Typically shouldn’t dispose of furniture
  • Infested furniture usually can be treated
  • Bed bugs can quickly infest replacement furniture
  • Items placed on the curb often are picked up and reused, thereby spreading bed bugs to other households

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Bed Bugs:

Correctly identify the pest
Use sanitation measures
Use non-chemical measures
Apply insecticides to targeted sites


Exterior of the building

  • Remove wild birds, bats, rodents (alternative hosts)
  • Caulk cracks and crevices
  • Repair or screen any openings

Interior of the building

  • Repair plaster cracks
  • Glue loosened wallpaper
Remove clutter

  • Clutter offers many hiding places for bed bugs
  • Clutter makes bed bugs difficult to detect
  • Clutter makes bed bugs difficult to treat
Launder bedding, clothing, etc.

  • Wash in hot water (=120°F)
  • Drier on hot setting (=15 mins.)
  • Dry clean items
  • Bag items after they are inspected/laundered
Steam cleaning

  • Dry stream preferable (less moisture)
  • Provides no residual protection (area is prone to re-infestation)


  • Use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtered vacuum
  • Vacuum up cornstarch or talc afterwards using the attachment
  • Dispose of vacuum bag afterwards
  • Heavy-duty vacuum cleaner useful for cracks and crevices
  • Vacuum prior to chemical treatment

Non-Chemical Measures—Encasements

  • Be sure to encase both the mattress and the box springs
  • Trap bed bugs and eggs
  • May take 1 year to “starve bugs out”
  • Restricts any new bug activity to the exterior of the encasement, where bugs can be more easily treated
  • Useful to protect new mattresses and box springs
  • Be careful not to tear to damage the encasement


  • Residual insecticides (usually pyrethroids)
  • Low impact products (diatomaceous earth, silica gel, insect growth regulators, etc.)
  • Don’t keep using the same insecticide (rotate insecticide use)
  • Spot treat all harborage sites

DO NOT apply insecticides to

  • Human skin
  • Clothing
  • Bed linens
  • Bedding

Products containing DEET have not been shown to repel bed bugs

Buyer Beware

  • Products that “Kill on Contact”
  • Need to spray it directly on the bed bugs
  • Most bugs are hiding and WILL NOT be killed
  • Typically provides only short-term effects
  • Has little or no residual activity (the chemical breaks down quickly)

“Bug Bombs”

  • DO NOT use “bug bombs” against bed bugs few bugs will be killed
  • They will cause the bugs to scatter

Boric Acid Products

  • Boric acid does not kill bed bugs
  • Boric acid is a stomach poison that must be eaten by an insect (remember that bed bugs feed only on blood)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) for Bed Bugs:

✔ Correctly identify the pest
✔ Use sanitation measures
✔ Use non-chemical measures
✔ Apply insecticides to targeted sites

Responding to a Bed Bug Incident at School

  • Obtain samples of the insect for positive ID
  • Arrange for professional inspection ASAP
  • Try to determine who has bed bug infestations at home so that you can offer guidance and suggestions:
    • Provide educational material on bed bugs
    • Communicate the importance of eliminating the bed bug infestation at home
    • Suggest limiting the number of items brought to school
    • Suggest storing school items inside a sealed container away from beds and upholstered furniture at home
  • Have a trained individual (e.g., school nurse) inspect items that are bought into school
    • Be discreet
    • Be respectful
    • Be aware of unnecessary social stigmas
    • Inspect items prior to entering classrooms

Reference: L. J. Pinto, R. Cooper, & S. K. Kraft. 2007. Bed Bug Handbook: The Complete Guide to Bed Bugs. Pinto and Associates, Inc. Mechanicsville, MD.

For More Information

OSU Extension Fact Sheets:
HYG-2105 (Bed Bugs)
HYG-2105A (Bat Bugs)

extension fact sheets

Thank You!

Sleep tight, and don’t let the…
… well, you know the rest.

Photos courtesy of Dale Hodgson, Rose Pest Solutions, Inc.