Fight the Back-to-School Bite

We’ve survived another hot summer in the Lowcountry, and now it’s time to get the kids ready for school! Whether you are preparing to send your child off to kindergarten or to college, there is one thing that is a guarantee – you have a lot on your mind, and pest management is most likely not one of them. Unlucky for residents in our area, pests do not differentiate their environments. If they have food, water, and shelter they will continue to breed and thrive. There are a few bugs that more easily spread through schools and into homes at the beginning of every school year. Let us help you fight the back-to-school bite!

Here is what you need to know to make sure back-to-school season doesn’t end in a pest infestation!

LICE

Lice live by the mantra "sharing is caring".

If you suspect your child has lice, it’s important to act quickly.

If this pest had a mantra, it would be “sharing is caring”. Lice easily move from person to person, so if your child is in an environment where items are shared you need to be extremely cautious. Unfortunately, there are not a ton of preventative measures you can take against lice, and while they’re gross and highly contagious, thankfully they don’t spread disease or cause any major health concerns.

Pro Tip: Teach your children that sharing is great, but they should keep hats, brushes, hair ties, and clothing items to themselves! And avoid any games that might involve heads brushing together.

Encourage smart food practices within your kids to keep them safe and healthy.

Improper storage of leftover food is a prime target of fruit flies.

FRUIT FLIES

These nuisance pests most likely won’t hitchhike home from school with your kids; rather what your kids bring home from school with them can create a major fruit flies’ problem. School lunch can get a little sticky when fruit flies find the food you put in your child’s lunchbox. Fruit Flies can pass along bacteria and pathogens which can be harmful down the road.

Pro Tip: Put your child’s snacks in ziplocked bags and ask your child to discard half eaten food rather than putting it back in the lunchbox. Be sure not to leave any open, standing containers out and unwashed. Also, make sure things smell good – use a fabric spray or toss stuff in the washing machine once in a while – because flies are sometimes just attracted to smelly things, not necessarily food or residue itself.

BED BUGS

Dorm rooms are a prime target for bed bugs.

Bed bugs don’t limit their living quarters to beds. They thrive in/on anything with cracks and crevices, including backpacks and bus seats!

Just because the kids are bringing back homework from school every day again doesn’t mean they need to bring bed bugs home with them! Bed bugs don’t discriminate when trying to find their next home, so it doesn’t matter how often you clean; they just want to go where there are plenty of people. They live up to their name and can be found in beds, especially dorm room beds. These critters can also live anywhere there are cracks and crevices, meaning backpacks, clothing items, even bus seats! Thankfully bed bugs don’t transmit diseases. However, they can cause a lot of unwanted stress and itching (so…much…itching!).

Pro Tip: Always inspect your child’s belongings, especially if you hear of bed bugs going around in your school and inspect their bodies as well. You’ll notice rather large bites if there’s an infestation. College students should check for bed bugs when they move in to their dorm!

Your child's smelly sports bag is the perfect home for spiders!

Routinely check your child’s sports bag, before it leaves the home and when it returns, for spiders.

SPIDERS

You might not like your child’s smelly sports bag, but spiders don’t mind. These creepy crawly pests are inventive, and somehow, they always find their way into new places … including sports equipment, cleats or athletic shoes, and helmets.

Pro Tip: Look through your child’s sports bag before they bring it to school each morning. Ask your child to double check their bag and sports gear for pests like spiders every day before bringing them inside. Better yet, have them leave these items in the garage where it won’t stink up the house OR transport pests inside!

SILVERFISH

Your garage is the perfect home for silverfish because it is dark and damp.

Use cinnamon or another spice-scent to keep silverfish at bay.

These gross little critters love dark, damp places and enjoy eating books. If any of your children are in college and came home for the summer, chances are you stored their extra belongings in the attic, basement, or garage. Silverfish thrive in these damp and dark areas and would love nothing more than to hitchhike a ride back to campus with your child!

Pro Tip: Check through anything that’s been put in an attic or basement before you move it to a new location. You don’t want your child bringing silverfish to their new dorm! If you do discover silverfish, give this common trick a try: get (or make) cinnamon or spice-scented sachets to place in and around your books. Also toss them into closets and dark corners where you store things. Silverfish can’t stand the smell and will avoid the area at all costs!

This back-to-school season doesn’t need to end in a pest infestation! Follow the Pro Tips outlined above to prevent creepy crawlies from making your home theirs.

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