Bed Bug Series: Protecting your Kids

By Josh Kattenberg

bed_bugs_in_schools“Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite! If they do, beat them with a shoe, until they’re black and blue!” I have said this little litany to my kids for years, never with actually thinking what I would actually feel if bed bugs actually DID bite them. For those of your tenants with children, they will likely be concerned about how bed bugs will affect their children if there is an infestation.

If bed bugs are indeed a problem, one of the signs for the parents might be bed bug bites on their children’s skin. It’s typical for kids to be covered in mosquito bites in the summertime, so if the bed bug infestation happens in the summer, a parent may wonder how to distinguish between bed bug bites and mosquito bites. Bed bug bites do have a distinct pattern: the bite marks are likely to be in a line. If parents notice this pattern of bites on their child, they should search their kid’s room for signs of bed bug presence. They can look for dried blood spots on the sheets (evidence of night time bites), and can also look in typical bed bug hiding spots, such as behind the headboard and pictures. To treat the bites, anti-itch cream can be applied to the bites. While bed bugs do not carry disease, one concern for parents is that their children may get infection from scratching the bites too much.

Bed bug infestations are still quite rare in Sioux Falls, so parents should be more concerned at this point with preventing bed bug infestations, rather than worrying about detecting an actual infestation. Parents can educate their kids about bed bugs; while not wanting to scare them, kids can help with the prevention or early detection of bed bugs. Kids can be taught that a bed bug looks like an apple seed, and that they should tell their parents immediately if they see any. Kids can keep their rooms tidy (bed bugs love to live in clutter on the floor), and they can vacuum their room weekly. Kids can watch for bed bugs at school, too. While bed bugs don’t thrive in schools, some students may be carrying bed bugs from home into school. Parents can instruct their kids not to borrow jackets and backpacks from other kids at school. Even in Sioux Falls, a school has reported bed bugs on students’ backpacks.