Prepare to get grossed out: Top 15 towns for bedbugs in the...

Prepare to get grossed out: Top 15 towns for bedbugs in the U.S.

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Find out if your home town is on this list of shame. Then rethink your travel plans.

Don't let them bite: Bed bug infestations are reaching epidemic levels in many U.S. cities. Photo: Courtesy Terminix
Don't let them bite: Bed bug infestations are reaching epidemic levels in many U.S. cities. Photo: Courtesy Terminix

SAN DIEGO, January 9, 2016 – Every time a top ten list of cities comes out, I always check to see if my home town is on it. Friendliest cities, healthiest cities, best craft beer, best weather (we always nail that one in San Diego).

In this case, it was a huge relief not to see San Diego anywhere on this list.

This week the national pest control services company Terminix®  distributed its sixth annual ranking of bed bug-infested cities. Eeww. The list of top cities for bed bugs is created by ranking the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with the highest volume of calls to Terminix from January 1, 2015 to December 17, 2015.

For the first time in four years, Detroit took the “top” spot away from Philadelphia, which has been at the top of the rankings the previous four years. Does that mean Philly has fewer bed bugs, or Detroit bred a lot more last year?

Rounding out the top 15 bed bug cities in the United States are:

  1. Detroit, Michigan (fourth last year)
  2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  3. Cleveland-Akron, Ohio
  4. Los Angeles, California
  5. Dayton, Ohio
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. Columbus, Ohio
  8. Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
  10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California
  11. Denver, Colorado
  12. Toledo, Ohio
  13. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  14. Baltimore, Maryland
  15. New York City, New York
Did your home town make this dubious list? Infographic: Courtesy Terminix
Did your home town make this dubious list? Infographic: Courtesy Terminix

“We’ve seen a steady increase in bed bugs since the 1990s, which has been influenced by increased international travel and infestations left untreated,” said Paul Curtis, manager, technical services at Terminix. “Most of the cities in our top 15 are big tourist and business destinations, making travelers even more at risk for encounters with bed bugs — whether it’s on the plane, at their hotel, in a movie theater or riding in a taxi. The name ‘bed bug’ is deceptive, as these pests can thrive just about anywhere.”

I bet you’re scratching somewhere right now.

Bed bugs don’t only live in beds. This is their number one choice for a home, but they can be found in a variety of environments: airplanes, daycare centers, restaurants, subways, dressers and purses. Terminix reports technicians have found bed bugs in wedding gowns, photo albums, hearing aids, and baseball card collections.

Bed bugs are champions at hiding out of sight thanks to having small, flat bodies. The most obvious way to detect the presence of bed bugs is bite marks to the body after the fact. Since these take up to 14 days to appear, you have to look for other signs such as shells of bed bugs, live bed bugs in mattress seams, a sweet musty odor or small blood spots on mattresses and sheets.

You could be a bed bug victim and have no idea until marks appear. These marks are similar to that of a mosquito, with a slightly swollen, red area that may itch or be irritated. It can even be difficult for a doctor to figure out if those bites on you are from bed bugs or some other kind of pest, because everyone reacts differently. The only way to know for sure is checking for their presence in places you sleep and live.

Don’t blow it off if you find bed bugs. They don’t transmit disease but you can suffer a pretty wicked allergic reaction, to say nothing of the creepiness factor and the stains on sheets and upholstery. Eeww again.

Bed bug control requires an assault on multiple fronts. Bed bug populations in different areas of the country have developed resistance to common pesticides, so, to truly tackle the problem, pest control pros have to take multiple approaches. When bed bugs are discovered during an inspection, a pest control company should devise specific treatments depending on your type of infestation and where the property is located, whether you have children or pets, or anyone with compromised health. Terminix and most pest control companies will schedule a free inspection if you suspect you have bed bugs.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities and writes on popular media. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego. Gayle can be reached via Google +

Please credit “Gayle Falkenthal for Communities Digital News” when quoting from or linking to this story.  

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