Ick! Top 50 U.S. cities for bed bugs

by Dr. Eowyn

According to Orkin, here are the top 50 U.S. cities where the pest control company performed the most residential and commercial bed-bug treatments from December 1, 2018 to November 30, 2019. The ± numbers in between brackets indicate how the particular city’s rank compares to a year ago, with a + number signifying a higher rank than a year ago, and a – number signifying a decline in rank from a year ago.

To no surprise, the top 10 cities in bed bugs are all governed by Democrats:

  1. Washington, D.C. (+1)
  2. Baltimore (-1)
  3. Chicago
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Columbus, OH
  6. New York
  7. Detroit (+1)
  8. Cincinnati (-1)
  9. Indianapolis (+5)
  10. Atlanta (-1)
  11. Cleveland, OH
  12. Philadelphia (-2)
  13. San Francisco (-1)
  14. Raleigh, NC (-1)
  15. Norfolk (+2)
  16. Champaign, IL (+7)
  17. Dallas (-2)
  18. Grand Rapids (+2)
  19. Pittsburgh (+6)
  20. Charlotte (-1)
  21. Richmond, VA (-5)
  22. Greenville, SC (-4)
  23. Knoxville, TN (-1)
  24. Buffalo, NY (-3)
  25. Greensboro, NC (-4)
  26. Charleston, WV (+5)
  27. Denver
  28. St. Louis (+2)
  29. Nashville (-5)
  30. Lansing (+2)
  31. Flint (+16)
  32. Miami (-3)
  33. Milwaukee (-3)
  34. Tampa (+1)
  35. Omaha (+2)
  36. Orlando (+5)
  37. Davenport, IA (+5)
  38. Houston (-12)
  39. Syracuse (-6)
  40. Boston (-2)
  41. Cedar Rapids, IA (+3)
  42. Myrtle Beach (new to list)
  43. Seattle (-4)
  44. San Diego (+5)
  45. Phoenix (-11)
  46. Fort Wayne, IN (+2)
  47. Las Vegas (-7)
  48. Hartford, CT (-5)
  49. Dayton, OH (-3)
  50. Toledo, OH (new to list)

According to the 2018 “Bugs without Borders Survey” by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), the top three places where pest professionals  find bed bugs are single-family homes (91%), apartments/condominiums (89%) and hotels/motels (68%). Hotels spend an average of $6,383 per bed bug incident.

Bed bugs, which are typically 4-5 mm in length and red to dark brown in color, can travel from place to place with ease, including luggage, purses and other belongings. Normally nocturnal, bed bugs will come out of hiding to take blood meals from sleeping or quietly resting humans.

Bed bugs are known for rapid population growth. Females can deposit 1-5 eggs a day and may lay 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime. Under normal room temperatures and with an adequate food supply, they can live for more than 300 days, often making treatment challenging.

Orkin entomologist Chelle Hartzer said: “While bed bugs have not been found to transmit any diseases to humans, they can be an elusive threat to households. They are excellent hitchhikers, and they reproduce quickly which make it nearly impossible to prevent bed bugs. Sanitation has nothing to do with where you’ll find them. The key to preventing a bed bug infestation is early detection. “When one or more bed bugs enter a space, we call it an introduction. During an introduction, bed bugs probably haven’t started reproducing yet, but they could soon. Vigilance is key to stopping bed bugs before infestation levels.”

Tell-tale signs of a bed bug introduction include small black spots indicating bed bug feces or nymph bed bugs in places such as mattress seams, bed frames and furniture. Their small size and ability to hide make them difficult to see during the day, so it’s important to look for the black, ink-like stainsthey can leave behind.

Here are proactive tips Orkin recommends for homeowners and travelers:

At Home Tips To Prevent Bed Bugs:

  • Inspect your home for signs of bed bugs regularly. Check the places where bed bugs hide during the day, including mattress tags and seams, and behind baseboards, headboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.
  • Decrease clutter around your home to make it easier to spot bed bugs on your own or during professional inspections.
  • Inspect your residence regularly—when you move-in, after a trip, when a service worker visits or after guests stay overnight.
  • Examine all secondhand furniture before bringing it inside your home. This is a common way for bed bugs to be introduced into homes.
  • Wash and dry your bed linens often, using the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.

During travel, remember the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to inspect for bed bugs:

  • Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Be on the lookout for tiny, ink-colored stains on mattress seams, in soft furniture and behind headboards.
  • Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
  • Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest places are in the bathroom or on counters.
  • Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and once you return home from a trip. Always store luggage away from the bed.
  • Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.

~Eowyn