August means back to school for most families in South Carolina. This means your child will be exposed to several pest issues they probably haven’t had to face at home. Pest problems you and your child may have to deal with this year are lice, nits, cockroaches, and even bed bugs.
Lice & Nits
While nits can be combed out of the hair, lice require a little more work. Remember, lice are a live insect that moves around while nits are the eggs that lice lay. They do not move around, but when they hatch, a live insect is released. You can tell if the nit has hatched or not by the color. If the nit is white, it has hatched and is empty. If it is light brown, it has an insect still inside ready to hatch.
The life cycle of a louse is seven to eight days. Repeated combings are necessary to be sure you get them all. Using a proper nit comb, make sure to work in sections, from one side of the head to the other. Comb slowly from the scalp all the way to the end of the hairs. Use a tissue to wipe off the comb with each pass. Continue combing until the nit comb starts coming up clean. This process should be continued with each family member. Clean your comb with rubbing alcohol, vinegar, or boil for 10 minutes. Repeat this process daily. You will also want to wash all pillows and bedding during this process. Ask a doctor for recommendations on products to use on the hair to kill the lice that aren’t removed by combing. You may also be able to find natural oils that will work.
Cockroaches can easily get into backpacks and lunchboxes. Most of the times these items are stored in classrooms all in one area. This makes it easy for a roach to hitch a ride and transfer from a strangers home to yours. Remember it only takes one cockroach to turn into hundreds. German cockroaches are especially difficult to get rid of on your own. They can easily infest a home in just weeks. One German cockroach ootheca (egg sack) carries up to 50 eggs in it. It only take about 100 days, on average, for a German cockroach to reach full adulthood. One of these egg sacks is produced approximately every 6 weeks.
If you notice cockroaches try to identify the type. Some cockroaches prefer outdoors but will occasionally make their way inside. If you have German cockroaches though, you will want to get on top of them as fast as you can. Baits and IGR’s (insect growth regulators) can be used together to effectively bring them under control. If the problem gets too big seek professional help.
Bed bugs have, unfortunately, made a huge comeback over the last 5 -10 years. The Greenville/Spartanburg area ranks in the top 25 areas of the country for bed bug activity. Parents should open a dialogue with teachers about bed bug prevention. It only takes the transfer of a single bed bug or bed bug egg to turn into a massive problem for your family. Bed bug treatments can be costly. Costs for bed bug heat treatments can reach several thousand dollars. These treatments are based on square footage, and the average cost in South Carolina is about $1 per square ft. A 2500 sq ft home would cost roughly $2,500 to treat. Work with your child’s teacher to have a plan in place to stop the problem before it happens.
- Educate children, parents, and teachers on the identification of a bed bug.
- Understand that bed bugs do not care where you come from, how much money you make, or how clean your home is.
- At school, place backpacks, jackets, lunch bags, and purses inside large resealable plastic bags. Do not let these items be piled up in a corner, stacked in a closet, or kept hanging right beside each other.
- When you child gets home from school, empty the backpack completely outside of the house, inspect for any bed bugs before bringing contents inside the home.
- While at home, store backpacks inside sealable totes, or plastic bags. Store these items in an area away from the bedroom or living areas.
- Keep communication open between parents and teachers. If bed bugs have been found at school, parents should be notified. Upon notification of activity, have children remove clothes immediately when they get home, and place the clothing in a sealed plastic bag. Take the bag to the dryer and run through a high heat cycle for at least 30 minutes. Throw away the plastic bag, in an outside trash bin.
If you are a teacher in Upstate South Carolina area, and would like more information about bed bugs, please contact us at [email protected].