Of all of the pest infestations someone can have, bedbugs are one of the worst. The bloodsuckers often live in mattresses and couches, and wait until someone lies down to attack—leaving red, itchy bumps and welts in their wake. And get ridding of them isn’t easy or cheap.
So which cities have the biggest bedbug problem? For the third year in a row, the Baltimore metropolitan area (which includes the city and surrounding suburbs) topped the list, according to a recent report from pest control company Orkin. In addition, searches on Google for “bed bugs” in the metro shot up 42% from May to October—and spiked 78% in October.
The study was based on the number of bedbug treatments Orkin performed in each metro from Dec. 1, 2017, through Nov. 30, 2018. The company has 400 nationwide locations.
“Bedbugs are the No. 1 urban pest in many cities today,” Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist, said in a statement. “They are master hitchhikers, so no one is immune. Sanitation has nothing to do with prevention: from public transit to five-star resorts, bedbugs have been and can be found everywhere humans are.”
The creepy-crawlies hitch rides on just about anything—luggage and purses, coats, secondhand furniture, etc.—and make their way into homes everywhere. Then they reproduce, with females laying two to five eggs a day.
“With people going back and forth between hotels and homes, you get a hitchhiker on your suitcase and you bring that back into your home,” Hartzer tells realtor.com®. “Or your kids have a sleepover and bring one home.”
She recommends folks check their hotel or guest rooms thoroughly before bunking down. It can be tough to spot the tiny terrorists, as they’re about the size of an apple seed and don’t tend to come out during the day. But telltale signs of a bedbug infestation are black or rust-brown spots on or below sheets and mattresses, and teeny, tiny shells on the floor or in the bed.
When travelers return home, they should leave their bags by the entryways to their homes—far away from their bedrooms. That’s only until they wash and dry their clothes on high heat (which kill the bugs) and then can inspect the empty bags for bugs.
If that doesn’t work and folks discover the icky critters, they should put their clothing, bed linens, towels, curtains, and stuffed animals through the dryer to kill any pests nesting in them. They should also call in the professionals, says Hartzer. The company will make recommendations on what steps to take next, depending on the severity of the infestation.
The top 10 metros for bedbug treatments:
- Baltimore, MD
- Washington, DC
- Chicago, IL
- Los Angeles, CA
- Columbus, OH
- New York City, NY
- Cincinnati, OH
- Detroit, MI
- Atlanta, GA
- Philadelphia, PA