As the new school year nears, parents have more to consider than just school supplies and schedules. This season often brings an increase in pests like bed bugs and ants, which can easily be brought home by children.

To keep your home in Iowa City, IA, and the surrounding areas pest-free, we’ve gathered essential back to school pest prevention tips. These strategies will help you protect your home from these unwelcome intruders.

Recognizing Common Pests in Schools

Before we outline our back to school pest control tips, it’s important to know the most common pests in Iowa City, IA, and why schools are so appealing to them.

Common Pests in Schools and Daycare Centers

Due to the high volume of people, plentiful food sources, and many hiding places, schools and daycare centers often attract pests. Identifying these pests is crucial for effective pest management in these environments.

Head lice crawling on a school desk - Back to School Pest Prevention


While not a traditional pest, head lice are a common issue in schools. These small, parasitic insects live on the scalp and feed on human blood. They spread easily through direct contact or by sharing personal items like hats and hairbrushes.

Although head lice don’t carry diseases, they cause itching and discomfort, which can be distracting for affected children.

Bed bug crawling on a sofa


Bed bugs often travel on students’ items like backpacks and clothing. These pests can easily move from one student to another, causing infestations in both classrooms and homes.

These tiny, reddish-brown insects survive by feeding on human blood, leading to itchy bites and significant discomfort.

ants in a house - Back to School Pest Prevention


Ants often invade schools, attracted by food. They can be found in classrooms, cafeterias, and playgrounds, leaving trails as they search for food.

Most ants are harmless, but some species can bite or sting, causing discomfort. Their presence can also signal broader hygiene issues within the school.

Cockroaches lying on a floor


Cockroaches are often attracted to schools, particularly kitchens and cafeterias, because of the abundance of food and water. These pests can spread bacteria on food and surfaces, posing health risks to students and staff.

Their ability to hide in small, hard-to-reach places makes them especially difficult to eliminate.

Mouse chewing on a house wire


Schools attract mice and rats due to the abundance of food, water, and shelter. These rodents can cause significant damage by gnawing through wires, books, and structural materials.

Furthermore, they carry diseases and can contaminate food and surfaces with their droppings, posing serious health risks.

Understanding these pests is crucial. Now, let’s explore why schools are particularly vulnerable to these unwanted visitors.

Why Schools are a Unique Pest Environment

Schools are especially vulnerable to pest issues due to several distinct factors.

  • Firstly, the continuous flow of students and staff creates numerous chances for pests to be brought in and spread. Busy areas like hallways, cafeterias, and classrooms experience a lot of movement, making it easy for pests to remain undetected.

  • Secondly, schools offer numerous hiding places that make pest control for schools challenging. Locker rooms, storage areas, and cluttered classrooms provide many nooks and crannies where pests can hide without detection. The diverse use of these spaces means keeping a pest-free environment requires continuous vigilance and regular inspections.

  • Additionally, the communal nature of schools, with students sharing desks, lockers, and personal items, facilitates the spread of pests like head lice and bed bugs. Shared areas like gyms and libraries are common hotspots for pest activity, bringing large groups of people together.

  • Lastly, schools often struggle with cleaning and maintenance, particularly over weekends and holidays, allowing pests to establish themselves during these times. The challenge of maintaining such a large space free of food scraps further exacerbates the issue.

Understanding these unique characteristics of school environments helps in developing more effective pest prevention and control strategies tailored specifically for these settings.

Vital Pest Control Tips for Parents

Understanding the common pests in schools and why these environments are prone to infestations is essential. Here are some practical tips for parents to help keep pests away and ensure a healthy home. Using these back-to-school pest control methods can have a significant impact.

Keep Backpacks Clean and Well-Stored

  • Backpacks can harbor pests like bed bugs and lice. To minimize this risk, regularly clean and inspect your child’s backpack.

    Empty the backpack daily, shake it out, and vacuum inside to remove any hidden pests. Store backpacks in a specific area away from bedrooms and living spaces to prevent pests from spreading throughout your home.

Change and Inspect Bedding Regularly for Bed Bugs

  • Maintaining a clean sleeping area is vital to prevent bed bugs. Ensure your child’s sheets and pillowcases are washed and changed weekly.

    While doing this, inspect the mattress and bed frame for signs of pests, such as small dark spots or shed skins. Using protective covers for mattresses and pillows provides an added layer of security.

Wash School Clothes Immediately After Returning Home

  • Clothing can harbor unseen pests. When your child gets home from school, have them change out of their school clothes right away and put those clothes directly into the laundry.

    Washing and drying the clothes on a high heat setting can eliminate any pests that might be present. This step is especially crucial after events such as field trips or activities involving close contact with other children.

Avoid Buying or Picking Up Used Furniture

  • While second-hand furniture can be cost-effective, it might also introduce pests into your home. Avoid buying used items like mattresses, sofas, and upholstered chairs, as they can harbor pests such as bed bugs.

    If you must bring second-hand furniture home, thoroughly inspect and clean it before use, and consider treating it with a pest control product.

Stay Vigilant for Pests at Home

  • Being alert to pest activity is key to stopping infestations before they start. Regularly inspect your home, especially in common hiding places like baseboards, cracks, and small crevices.

    Utilize a flashlight to look for evidence of pests, such as droppings, shed skins, or nests. Catching these signs early allows you to tackle issues before they develop into serious problems.

By following these pest control tips, you can maintain a pest-free home and safeguard your family. It’s also important to emphasize pest prevention in schools and daycares, where children spend a significant amount of time. Next, we’ll explore strategies to prevent infestations in these settings.

Steps to Prevent Pest Infestation in Schools and Daycares

Maintaining a pest-free environment in schools and daycares is crucial for children’s health. Effective pest control for schools requires collaboration between parents and school officials. Here are practical steps parents can take to help.

Adopting Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) uses multiple strategies to control pests effectively. Parents can support IPM by:

  • Understanding the school’s pest control methods: Learn about the school’s current pest management practices and suggest ways to improve their pest control program.

  • Participating in health and safety committees: Work with other parents and school staff to address pest-related concerns and find solutions.

  • Promoting staff training: Encourage the school to provide regular IPM training for teachers and maintenance staff, giving them the skills needed to handle and prevent pest problems.

Collaborating with School Authorities

Effective pest control requires teamwork between parents and school authorities. Parents can:

  • Stay informed and engaged: Attend meetings to discuss and voice concerns about pest management efforts.

  • Participate in discussions and awareness sessions: Join and help organize sessions to discuss pest issues and potential solutions.

  • Volunteer for cleanliness drives: Help organize or participate in cleanup events to reduce pest risks.

Educating Children on Pest Prevention

Teaching children about pest prevention can greatly reduce the risk of infestations. Parents can:

  • Emphasize the importance of keeping personal items clean: Advise children to avoid sharing personal items like hats or hairbrushes and to keep their belongings tidy.

  • Teach them to spot pests: Show children how to recognize signs of pests, such as droppings or bite marks, and encourage them to inform an adult immediately if they notice these signs.

By following these proactive measures, parents can significantly contribute to keeping schools and daycares pest-free, ensuring the health and safety of all children.

However, professional help may be necessary for persistent or severe pest issues. Let’s explore how Bobcat Pest Control can provide expert solutions to ensure your child’s environment remains completely pest-free.

Expert Help from Bobcat Wildlife & Pest Control

Maintaining a pest-free home and school can be tough, and professional intervention is often required. Bobcat Pest Control provides a variety of services to effectively and efficiently manage all types of pest issues.

Why Opt for Bobcat Pest Control?

  • For over ten years, Bobcat Pest Control has served the Des Moines Metro area with dependable pest and wildlife management. Our experienced team uses effective and humane methods to tackle pest issues.

    We provide personalized solutions that cater to the distinct needs of your home or school, emphasizing safety and a pest-free environment. With a dedication to customer satisfaction and cutting-edge techniques, we ensure your property remains free of pests.

Services Provided by Bobcat Pest Control

Bobcat Pest Control provides a variety of services to address different pest problems:

Contact Bobcat Pest Control Today for a Pest-Free Home

Stop pests from invading your home or your child’s school in Iowa City, IA, and nearby areas. Schedule a service with us today. Our professionals provide prompt, effective, and reliable pest control solutions tailored to your needs. Visit our website or call us to ensure a safe, pest-free environment for your family and community.

About the Author

Derek Brownmiller, Area Manager at Bobcat Wildlife & Pest Management, leads with 16+ years in wildlife and pest control. Licensed and experienced, his Iowa City-based team excels in comprehensive, customer-focused solutions. Their mission: superior service in Iowa City and beyond, ensuring homes are safe from wildlife and pests.