Bed Bugs

Many early education and child care professionals have heard reports about bed bug infestations in children's homes. Many fear the bugs will infest the program's facility. Learn about bed bugs and the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) approach to control of this bug.  Lyn Garling, Manager of Programs, PA IPM Program, Penn State University contributed the following expert content and links to credentialed websites where you can learn more. Handouts are available in English and Spanish.

Learn About Bed Bugs!

Bed bugs are increasing in all environments in the US, especially cities. Anyone – anywhere can get bed bugs. Bed bugs cannot fly. They can hitchhike easily from place to place on our belongings. During the day, bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices near sleeping areas. At night, bed bugs feed on blood by biting people as they sleep. Bed bugs do not cause or spread any disease. However, no one wants to be bitten!

Sometimes bed bugs hitchhike to group care settings with children from homes heavily infested with bed bugs. If you suspect that a child has brought bed bugs in his or her belongings, don’t panic! This does not necessarily mean that the group care facility is infested. First, make sure that the critter is in fact a bed bug. Many other small “bugs” have been mistaken for bed bugs. If they are bed bugs, you will need to identify the families involved and provide education for them on getting rid of bed bugs at the home. Lastly, you will need to have a method for helping the children enter the group care facility while stopping bed bugs at the door. This may involve keeping their backpacks or belongings in a plastic bag or even providing a second set of clothes at the school. Bed bugs on clothes or backpacks are easily killed by drying in a dryer set at the highest setting for 30 minutes.

Simply spraying a facility with chemical pesticides is not necessary or effective against bed bugs. Exposure to these chemicals may also be harmful to children. If you suspect your facility has an on-going problem with bed bugs being brought in, consider contracting a competent pest control professional who practices Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM focuses on preventing pests as a first line of defense. If pests do cause problems, IPM uses many different tactics to eliminate them, not just pesticides. If pesticides are needed, practitioners of IPM chose products least hazardous to humans.Proper identification of bed bugs and their exact location is critical to control. They can generally be killed with a combination of steam, heat and non-toxic dusts.

For fact sheets and flyers, some in Spanish, go to  

For more information on bedbug bites, visit

Other resources: 

To read more about bed bugs and to educate staff and families, use the Quick Reference Sheet from Managing Infectious Diseases in Child Care and Schools: A Quick Reference Guide, 4th edition, 2017. You can purchase this publication from the American Academy of Pediatrics bookstore. If you need help to locate the specific Quick Reference Sheet about lice, e-mail your request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Content contributed by Lyn Garling, Manager of Programs, PA IPM Program, PennState University.  ECELS encourages you to copy Health Capsules (unaltered) into your own newsletters, bulletins or other communications to distribute this information as widely as possible.  – Susan S. Aronson, MD, FAAP, Pediatric Advisor for ECELS-Healthy Child Care PA

Reviewed and reaffirmed 6/2021