Pest control company Orkin recently announced its 2012 list of the top U.S. cities for bed bug problems. According to a news release, Orkin’s parent company, Rollins Inc. ROL +0.33% , which operates eight pest control brands nationwide, saw a nearly 33% increase in 2012 in what the company called “bed bug business,” compared with 2011. The cities are ranked in order of the number of bed bug treatments Orkin performed from January to December 2012 along with their shift, if any, in ranking compared with January to December 2011. No. 10 on the list? New York, ranking slightly better than its No. 9 spot last year.
The Dallas-Fort Worth region improved slightly over the previous year’s rankings, where it was No. 7 in the U.S. “This list shows that bed bugs continue to be a problem throughout the U.S.,” Orkin entomologist and Technical Services Director Ron Harrison said in the news release. “Based on the diversity of cities on the list, we all need to be very cautious when we travel — whether it is business or pleasure, or to visit family, friends or vacation. We need to be vigilant wherever we are and take the proper precautions.”
The Cleveland region moved up five spots on the list this year. Seattle/Tacoma jumped 14 spots in 2012, to No. 13 on the list. Other cities making significant jumps include Indianapolis, Omaha and Milwaukee. Orkin noted that sanitation isn’t a factor when it comes to the development of bed bugs. Other common misconceptions are that they can only be found in bedrooms. They can be found in kitchens and bathrooms, and not only are homes a potential risk, but they can infest hospitals, movie theaters, planes, office buildings and gyms.
Political jokes aside, the nation’s capital rose from No. 8 on the list in 2011 to No. 7 last year. People may believe bed bugs transmit diseases, but according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, bed bugs can carry more than 30 different human pathogens — but there is no evidence that bed bugs can transmit diseases.
Columbus held steady in the rankings, year over year. The common bed bug (Cimex lectularius) has long been a pest — feeding on blood, causing itchy bites and generally irritating human hosts. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) all consider bed bugs a public health pest.
Cincinnati remains in the top five, but that’s down four spots from last year’s list. According to the EPA, it is believed that the recent increase in bed bugs in the U.S. may be due to more travel, lack of knowledge about preventing infestations, increased resistance of bed bugs to pesticides, and ineffective pest-control practices.
Denver also held steady in its No. 4 spot on the list. The EPA notes that controlling bed bugs takes time and patience. There are a variety of nonchemical approaches that have been shown to be effective. In addition, pesticides are available to aid in the control process. Combining chemical and nonchemical treatments in a unified approach often makes the most sense, according to the EPA.
Los Angeles moved up two places in this ranking. Orkin’s Harrison said, “education and prevention are key. Inspect your bedroom regularly, and be cautious when traveling. Adult bed bugs resemble apple seeds in size and color, while newly-hatched babies can be about the size of a pinhead and pale in color. Check mattress seams, sheets and furniture, behind baseboards, electrical outlet plates and picture frames.” According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, the risk of encountering bedbugs increases if you spend time in places with high turnovers of nighttime guests — such as hotels, hospitals or homeless shelters.
Detroit moved up one spot in the year-over-year rankings. Cities that dropped off the top 50 list altogether for 2012 include Philadelphia; Des Moines/Ames, Iowa; Salisbury, Md.; Salt Lake City and West Palm Beach/Fort Pierce, Fla.
Replacing Cincinnati as the No. 1 spot for bed bug business in 2012: Chicago. For more information on bed bugs, the health hazards they may pose and prevention and treatment of infestations, check out information from the Mayo Clinic ; and the EPA’s Bed Bug Information Clearinghouse , which includes related material from universities and federal, state and local agencies.