They could be hiding anywhere. (Photo: Corbis Images)
No one wants bed bugs around. No one. Unfortunately, new data found that the ugly little critters are showing up anyway.
Pest control company Orkin just released a list of the top 50 cities with bed bugs, proving the blood-sucking insects are pretty much everywhere. Orkin based the list on where they performed the most bed bug treatments from January to December 2015.
Unfortunately for Chicagoans, their city is No.1 for the fourth year, followed by Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and New York City. Here’s the full list:
2. Los Angeles
3. Washington, D.C.
4. New York
5. Columbus, Ohio
9. Richmond-Petersburg, Va.
11. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
12. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio
13. Dallas-Ft. Worth
14. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
16. Charlotte, N.C.
20. Buffalo, N.Y.
21. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.-Asheville, N.C.
22. Nashville, Tenn.
24. Knoxville, Tenn.
27. Dayton, Ohio
30. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.
31. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.
32. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Crk., Mich.
33. Lexington, Ky.
34. Hartford-New Haven, Conn.
35. Charleston-Huntington, W.Va.
36. Omaha, Neb.
37. San Diego
38. Orlando-Daytona Beach-Melbourne, Fla.
39. Louisville, Ky.
40. St. Louis
41. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Dubuque, Iowa
42. Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Ill.
43. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
44. Kansas City, Mo.
45. Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, Calif.
46. Syracuse, N.Y.
47. Colorado Springs-Pueblo, Colo.
48. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y.
50. Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C.
It looks like bed bugs can show up anywhere — and they can, John Kane, an entomologist with Orkin, tells Yahoo Health. “Just about anywhere where people are traveling, there is definitely a risk,” he says.
If you visit a hotel room that has bed bugs, they can hitch a ride on you, your clothing, or your luggage, and then infect your home. While it sounds scary, Kane says people should get perspective about them: “No one likes the idea of being fed on while they’re sleeping, but, for most people, they’re more of a psychological terror than something actually threatening to their well-being.”
To reduce the odds the critters will end up at your place, Michael Potter, PhD, a professor of entomology at University of Kentucky, recommends inspecting your hotel room when you travel. That means pulling back the bed sheets and using your phone’s flashlight to look for brown or black dots on the mattress, especially up by the headboard.
Potter also advises keeping your suitcase zipped up at night and making sure to not have your clothes scattered around the room. If you suspect you may have been staying in a room with bed bugs (namely, if you woke up with inexplicable red welts at some point), put your clothes in a trash bag before you leave and throw them in a clothes dryer for 10 minutes. “That should take care of them,” says Potter.
If you’re moving into a new place, search the address on BedBugRegistry.com to see if bed bugs were ever an issue there. If they were, demand answers and verification that the place is now bed bug-free.
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It may seem obvious, but Potter says it’s also really never a good idea to bring a mattress or couch from the curb inside your home, since they can be bed bug carriers.
Since bed bugs have a way of just showing up — especially if you live in an apartment building — Potter says there’s only so much you can do.
So, what should you do if you spot bed bugs in your home? Stay calm, and call a professional — but don’t panic. “Most people have grown up with mosquitos and we’re not afraid of them, even though they’re much worse than bed bugs,” says Kane. “They’re not going to be a physical threat to you.”
While you’re waiting for help, you can get out your vacuum. “The vacuum is a very important tool,” says Kane. Suck up the critters and then either throw away the bag immediately or vacuum up a teaspoon of baby powder or corn starch right after. This coats the bugs and kills them.
Above all, Kane stresses that you shouldn’t panic. “Bed bugs really can cause a lot of hysteria,” he says. “But with the help of a professional, you probably don’t have to throw anything away.”