Single bedbug gets lots of attention at Ross School

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bedbug MARGATE – It’s amazing how one tiny critter can get an entire school community riled up.

A single bedbug was found in a classroom at the William H. Ross Elementary School and administrators quickly took steps to ensure the discovery does not escalate into an infestation of bedbugs.

According to Principal John DiNicola, a child complained to a teacher about being itchy a few days after the spring break. The teacher saw the bedbug on the child and captured it on a piece of tape. She brought it to Director of Facilities Curtis Woodrow, who contacted the district’s exterminator. Erlich Pest Control, which inspects the school on a monthly basis, identified it as a bedbug and went to the school within 24 hours to investigate.

“They found one bedbug and some shellings and eggs in a concentrated area,” district Superintendent Theresa DeFranco wrote in a letter to parents on Wednesday, May 7.

DiNicola said he notified district parents of the discovery along with the actions the district took and steps being taken to handle the problem.

“This is an isolated incident and we inspected all the classrooms where the child would go to, including the library,” DiNicola said.

Custodians did a special cleaning and vacuuming of the area, and a second visual inspection that was done the following day revealed no more bedbugs.

“There was some initial concern, but Erlich has done a good job following up,” he said.

The child’s parents are taking measures on their own and have contacted an exterminator, DiNicola said.

A canine capable of sniffing out the less than 5-millimeter critters will be at the school on Saturday, May 17, to inspect the common areas and several classrooms.

If there is an infestation, which district officials did not feel is the case, Erlich would not use chemicals to treat it. Instead, a unique heating process would be used to kill the bugs.

“We hope the canine inspection will put an end to it,” DiNicola said.

“We’re in good shape with all we’ve done. We inspected twice and did not see anything,” DeFranco said.

Erlich will make a special presentation for parents at the next Board of Education meeting starting at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 14, DeFranco said.

“We’ll have our district physician and school nurse there along with our facilities director so people understand what they can do if they have an infestation at home,” she said.

The program will include a question and answer session, DeFranco said.

Through the week, most parents have been “wonderful,” although some expressed concern, DeFranco said.

“We did have a few calls, but they realize that a problem like this does not necessarily deal with cleanliness. Our schools are clean. This is something someone brings in,” DeFranco said.

The first paragraph on the bedbug page of Erlich’s website,, states, “Discovering bed bugs in your home can be a very emotional and highly stressful experience – not least, because of the ‘social stigma’ associated with this creepy insect.”

“Margate has a very mobile population, who travel often, and something like this can happen to anyone,” DiNicola said.






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