The mere thought of bed bugs probably makes your skin crawl. These tiny insects can be hard to detect and even more challenging to get rid of. Although you can take action to ensure bed bugs don’t nest in your home, it’s more difficult to know if a hotel or rental house you’re staying in doesn’t have them—and that’s especially the case in a handful of popular U.S. vacation destinations, including one that was recently named the most bed bug-infested city in the country.
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On Sept. 9, pest control company Terminix released a list of the top 50 most bed bug-infested U.S. cities, which they calculated by compiling data from Terminix branches throughout the country from Jan. 1, 2021, to Aug. 20, 2021.
“Bed bugs go where people go, so they can be virtually anywhere,” Rick Cooper, senior director of bed bug services at Terminix, said in a statement. “Bed bugs move from infested structures—whether that be hotels, airports, schools, or college campuses. They can tag along on someone’s clothes or backpack.” But they tend to cause problems in populous areas, which is why some vacation destinations can lead to you bringing home these unwanted souvenirs.
A spokesperson from Terminix advised doing your research before selecting a destination or booking a room. In addition to the company’s list of the top bed bug-infested cities, you can search for a hotel on the Bed Bug Registry to see if there have been reported incidents from fellow travelers. The database compiles self-reported bed bug sightings and breaks them down by state, city, and hotel.
Once you’ve arrived at a destination, you should also do your part and check for any bed bugs. “Bed bugs are reddish-brown, oval-shaped, and the size of an apple seed and tend to hide in the carpet, sheets, and mattresses. If found, it’s best to alert the front desk and discuss protocol,” the Terminix spokesperson said. Once you return home, Terminix recommends washing your clothes immediately and drying them on high heat because bed bugs can’t survive in high temperatures.
But it’s always good to know where you’re most likely to encounter bed bugs, and based on Terminix’s report, the fact is that some cities are plagued by more of these pests than others. To see which spot in the U.S. has the biggest bed bug problem, read on.
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This southern city found itself in the top 10 of Terminix’s list this year, holding the same spot that it did on Orkin’s bed bug list in 2020.
According to the Bed Bug Registry, Georgia has 716 reports of bed bugs, about 125 of which are in Atlanta-area hotels.
Ohio has 1,440 bed bug sightings, according to the Bed Bug Registry. Many Cincinnati hotels have reportedly hosted the pests, accounting for approximately 80 of those statewide reports.
The bed bug situation may be improving slightly in this midwestern city, though—Cincinnati held the No. 8 spot on Orkin’s 2020 list.
Unlike Cincinnati, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse in Indianapolis in terms of bed bug infestations. It was No. 9 on Orkin’s 2020 bed bug list and got one step closer to the No. 1 position on Terminix’s 2021 list, now at No. 8.
Indiana has at least 478 bed bug reports in hotels, per the Bed Bug Registry, about 80 of which were in the Indianapolis area.
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According to Orkin’s bed bug city ranking from 2020, Dallas didn’t even make the top 10; it was way up there at No. 20. But Terminix’s ranking shows that bed bugs are now abounding in this Texas hub.
More than 1,470 reports of bed bugs have been filed in Texas, over 70 of which span hotels in Dallas, according to the Bed Bug Registry.
Bed bugs may be blowing further away from Chicago—The Windy City was No. 3 on Orkin’s 2020 list, but is now sitting at the No. 6 spot, just shy of the top 5 most bed bug-infested cities in the U.S.
Based on the registry, Illinois has had 982 reports of bed bugs, and almost 60 of those were in Chicago hotels.
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New York City, New York
It’s probably no surprise to find the Big Apple on this list, which is seeing things turn in the wrong direction a little bit. On Orkin’s 2020 ranking of bed bug cities, it was No. 6 and now, Terminix has it in the No. 5 position.
New York City alone has 4,490 bed bug reports listed on the Bed Bug Registry, nearly twice as many as all other areas of the state combined.
Detroit moved from No. 7 on Orkin’s 2020 list to No. 4 on Terminix’s 2021 ranking, which isn’t a good sign if you’re planning a visit to the Motor City. The Bed Bug Registry has seen almost 670 bed bug reports in Michigan, with nearly 60 of those alleged incidents of the pests being in Detroit hotels.
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Philadelphia didn’t even make the top 10 of Orkin’s 2020 bed bug cities list, let alone the top 5. But now, says Terminix, it’s the bronze medal holder for the worst bed bug cities in the U.S.
The state of Pennsylvania has 1,117 bed bug reports, and more than 28 hotels in Philadelphia have had bed bugs, per the Bed Bug Registry; those account for more than 120 of the statewide sightings.
Cincinnati isn’t the Ohio city with the worst bed bug problem, according to Terminix. Of the state’s 1,440 bed bug sightings on the Bed Bug Registry, 50 have been in Cleveland.
The city was just shy of the top 10 on Orkin’s 2020 bed bug city list, so it’s taken the biggest turn in the wrong direction, year over year, and is now the runner-up, per Terminix.
Los Angeles, California
In 2020, Orkin had Washington, D.C. in the No. 1 spot and Los Angeles at No. 3, but things seem to have changed. According to Terminix, D.C. is at No. 15 now, while the City of Angels topped the 2021 list of the 50 cities with most bed bug infestations.
Los Angeles has had at least 403 bed bug sightings reported on the Bed Bug Registry, while the state in total has 2,616.
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