Top 10 Bedbug-Infested Cities

NEW YORK (MainStreet)—Bedbug bedlam is back. The little critters are thriving, populations are exploding and there's very likely at least one crawling on you right now. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

That "one crawling on you right now" thing got your attention didn't it? While perhaps a bit overstated, the fact is, bedbugs aren't bed-exclusive. They latch on to backpacks, purses and pant legs for a free ride. And in addition to hiding in mattresses, bedbugs can also set up shop in desks, baseboards and even small openings in wallpaper.

And they love a good, dank dorm room. It doesn't even have to be a freshman mess to make a cozy home for the blood-thirsty creatures. Bedbugs can thrive in a dorm room even if it's bright, fresh and spotlessly clean. If there is such a thing.

Dorms are bountiful bedbug abodes, because of the juicy human traffic they host – even during the summer months, when rooms often house students or other visitors on campus for various camps and orientations. Although a student may return to the same room he or she left the previous spring, dozens of others could have called the same room home during the summer break. Makes you think, doesn't it?

Terminix, the pest control provider, has reported a year-over-year increase in the prevalence of bedbugs in nearly every area of the country. Close living quarters and frequent visitors give bedbugs plenty to munch on. And since they only come out at night (SFX: scream!) they are difficult to detect. Tell-tale signs include brown spots on bedding, small blood smears on sheets and the development of a strong, musty odor. Though that may describe most dorm rooms.

Even though the bites and resulting welts are annoying, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the little blood suckers are "not considered as a medical or public health hazard."

Earlier this summer, Terminix ranked the cities with the most bedbug activity nationwide. Many of these cities are home to large universities. Cities followed by an asterisk are also among the top 15 cities posting the greatest increase in total number of bedbug customer calls from Jan-May 2013 compared to the same period in 2012.

The top 10 most bedbug-infested cities

  • 1. Cincinnati, Ohio
  • 2. Philadelphia, Penn.
  • 3. Detroit, Mich.
  • 4. New York, NY
  • 5. Columbus, Ohio*
  • 6. Los Angeles, Calif.*
  • 7. Dallas, Texas*
  • 8. Chicago, Ill.
  • 9. Houston, Texas*
  • 10. Baltimore, Md*

Tips for students returning to campus this fall:

  • Use zippered encasements on mattresses and box springs.
  • In the dormitory, hang all jackets or clothing. Leave nothing lying on the floor. (Mom said!)
  • Never pick up and repurpose used mattresses, crates or furniture discarded by others. (Bedbugs could be the least of your concerns.)
  • Inspect items such as used books before bringing them into the living area.
  • Wash (in warm water) any previously-worn clothing from thrift or consignment stores.
  • Don't allow your backpack or purse to sit on the floor or in close proximity to other bags.

--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet

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