Bed Bug Panic

Bed Bug

Underside of Immature Bed Bug

An alert teacher at Luzerne County High School in Pennsylvania found a bed bug and reported it to the administration. The students were moved to another room so the room could be inspected. Rumors of bed bugs at the high school quickly spread inducing panic among parents who took their children home from school early. A further inspection of the school found no more bed bugs. The one bed bug likely traveled to the school in a backpack of a student or other type of bag.

The school superintendent says the panic reaction is overblown. Is he correct? Bed bugs are nocturnal and primarily move at night. They are unlikely to leave their harborage during the day. Since the students are only present during the day when lights are bright, the likelihood of a student bringing home an infestation is quite low. Additionally, the school was inspected and treated to eliminate bed bugs as a precaution. The missed class time is harmful to students and disruptive of the school. The administration wants the students to return immediately and threatened to punish students who stayed home due to the bed bug panic.

The unreported question: How did the bed bug get to school?  It most likely came with a student or employee of the school. That person probably has a substantial infestation that needs elimination.  Finding the source of the bed bug infestation and eliminating it would be most helpful to prevent future bed bugs at the school.  Bed bugs are a public health problem and if treated as such, can be greatly reduced or eliminated locally. Treating bed bug infestations as a sign of a personal failure of poor housekeeping or bad sanitation is counterproductive.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in Bed Bugs, by jjneal, News, Pest Management, Policy. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Bed Bug Panic

  1. Pingback: Bed Bug Panic – Entomo Planet

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