Chicago No Longer the Bed Bug Capital of America

By Doc. RNDr. Josef Reischig, CSc. (Author's archive) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Doc. RNDr. Josef Reischig, CSc. (Author’s archive) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The good news for Chicago residents is that according to pest control service Orkin, the Windy City is no longer the bedbug capital of America. Following its four-year run at the top, Chicago dropped down to number three on Orkin’s 2016 “Top 50” list of cities in which it performed the most bed bug treatments.

The new leader in bed bug infestations is Baltimore, which jumped up nine slots to make its debut in the top five. Also in the top five are Washington, D.C., New York City, and Columbus, Ohio.

While 20% of homeowners in a recent survey cited termites as their main pest concern, bed bugs are becoming more and more prevalent in both residential and commercial buildings in the United States.

“We have more people affected by bed bugs in the United States now than ever before,” said Ron Harrison, Orkin entomologist and director of technical services. “They were virtually unheard of in the U.S. 10 years ago.”

Major metropolises aren’t the only communities affected, either. Mid-sized cities throughout the U.S. made the top 50 list this year, including Syracuse, New York, Dayton, Ohio, and Tacoma, Washington.

8984432_20161213_8881566Furthermore, Harrison explained that bed bugs are not an indication of poor hygiene or lack of cleanliness. Bed bugs simply need blood to survive and they are exceptional travelers, attaching themselves to luggage or purses, and laying eggs as they go.

“Anyone can get bed bugs in their home. We have treated bed bugs in everything from million-dollar homes to public housing,” said Harrison.

Bed bugs are often found hiding out in furniture, which is why purchasing these items from yard sales or online used-goods marketplaces (like craigslist or Facebook buy/sell/trade groups) can be a big risk. You are much better off buying home furnishings, including mattresses and sofas, brand new from a retail store. Fortunately, the luxury furniture market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 4% between 2015 and 2019.

In addition to carefully selecting your home furnishings, you can also avoid infestation by inspecting hotel rooms for these little, round, flat, reddish-brown bugs. Check box springs, bed skirts, mattresses, baseboards, and even behind pictures and torn wallpaper. The safest spot to store your luggage while you are traveling is in the bathroom, where insects have fewer places to burrow and hide.