Dealing with Bed Bugs in Iowa's Pre-Schools and K-12 Schools

Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
Iowa State University

Title of Success Story

Dealing with Bed Bugs in Iowa’s Pre-Schools and K-12 Schools

Public Value (now or future)
(Impact:  Who benefits beyond participants and how?  What conditions changed?)

School staffs have specific guidelines for dealing with bed bugs brought in on students.  Parents have information and procedures to follow to get rid of these important blood-feeding pests in their homes. This information will be used to impact the 473,000 students in Iowa’s K-12 schools (359 school districts) and the 162,000 children in 6,500 registered Iowa child care facilities.

(Why is it important to address this issue with education?  What are the desired changes?)

Child cares and schools must deal with noxious pests to guard student and staff safety and health. Inaccurate information (electronic, printed, verbal) about bed bugs fosters fear, discrimination, unnecessary destruction of personal property and unwarranted pesticide applications. Staffs need to understand the factual information and follow procedures to restrict and eliminate bed bug problems.

(Outputs: activities, numbers reached, publications, products)

Conducted several meetings with constituents to discuss relevant bed bug issues. Developed two documents: 1) K-12 School Guidelines for Bed Bug Management and 2) Child Care Facility Guidelines for Bed Bug Management. Presented “Bed Bugs 101” to Iowa School Nurse Association, Des Moines Chapter (N=25). Requests to conduct training for all child care nurse consultants (N=350). Since the bed bug guidelines have been posted on Polk County Department of Health website, 767 views (625 unduplicated) were made for this information.

RESULTS (Outcomes:  specific changes that occurred in Learning, Actions, Conditions; how outcomes were measured)

Increased school staffs ability to quickly, effectively, and respectfully respond to bed bug incidents in child cares and schools.  Corrected false information about this pest through written and spoken resources. “The work that Mark and Laura put toward the Bed Bug Task Force and technical assistance in writing guidelines was invaluable. ISU clearly had profound technical knowledge of bed bugs and the best strategies for community prevention and control.” Terri Henkels, Director, Polk County Health Department. “They provided expert, yet unbiased opinion in all aspects of helping develop guidelines. Mark was especially helpful in the school nurse CEU program.”  Sarah Boese, Health Educator, Polk County Department of Health. “The documents … are very user friendly, informative, and useful. “ Jean Phillips, Des Moines Public Schools.   

Desired Changes

To learn and apply the bed bug guidelines in child educational settings and in homes.  To give the correct response to noxious pests (like bed bugs) so as to decrease /eliminate negative social stigmatism and to improve the environments of educational sites and homes.

Extension Lead(s)
(name, position, counties served, contact information)

Mark H. Shour, Extension Program Specialist, Campus; , 515-294-5963; and Laura Jesse, Extension Program Specialist, Campus;, 515-294-0581

Your Position

­­­­­_____Field                                        __X__Campus                         _____Both

POW # and Team

 ­­­­­_____100 Corn and Soybean Production and Protection
­­­­­_____ 110 Dairy
­­­­­_____ 120 Farm and Business Management
­­­­­_____ 130 Horticulture: Commercial and Consumer
­­­­­_____ 140 Iowa Beef Center
­­­­­_____ 150 Iowa Pork Industry Center
­­­­­__X_ 160 Natural Resources and Stewardship

ANR Priority (select all that apply)

­­­­­_____Global Food Security and Hunger
­­­­­_____Regional Food Systems
­­­­­_____Natural Resources & Environmental Stewardship
­­­­­_____Food Safety
­­­­­_____Sustainable Energy – Biofuels & Bio-based Products
­­­­­_____Climate Change

Knowledge Areas: (USDA categories)


Continuing Story

__X__ No                _____  Yes (If continuing, what story?)

Major Partners or Collaborators

Polk County Dept. Health, Des Moines Public Health, IA Dept. Public Health, IA School Nurses Association, IA Child Care Nurse Consultants

Where story took place
(Region, campus, multi-regional)

Des Moines, IA
Polk County

Fiscal Year


Multi-state or Integrated (Ext + Research)


Funding Source



Bed bug guidelines, K-12 schools, child care facilities

Page last updated: February 29, 2012
Page maintained by Julie Honeick,