Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia residents should inspect their mattresses and duvets as experts report the cities now rank first, second and third for bed bugs.
The three metropolises were found to have the most pests among a list of 50 other cities, which included Las Vegas, Miami and Houston.
Greensboro, North Carolina leapt up 25 spots in the new rankings, entering into the list of the top 20 most bed bug-infested places in America.
The uptick in travel since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, according to the report, has led to an escalation in new bed bug infestations — reconfiguring the map of where these bloodsuckers are most commonly found.
However, the cases are not on par with what occurred in France where an estimated 11 percent of households were infested from 2017 through 2022.
But it wasn’t the only major metropole facing a new influx of the blood-sucking insects: Milwaukee, Wisconsin moved passed fifteen cities on the list to the #25 spot; and Tampa, Florida moved up by ten to the #31 spot.
The uptick in travel since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, they report, has led to an escalation in new bed bug infestations — reconfiguring the map of where these bloodsuckers are most commonly found.
Chicago, New York and Philadelphia residents should inspect their mattresses as experts report their cities ranked first, second and third for bed bugs in 2023. The new findings were built off economic data from both residential and commercial bed bug treatments
‘I think the pandemic really crashed the spread of bed bugs,’ pest control expert Richard Cooper, a research associate at Rutgers University’s Urban Entomology Lab, told Scientific American last year.
The insects ability to pass even between apartments in the same building had become dramatically halted by the culture of social distancing and widespread remote work and schooling policies, Cooper noted.
But the media frenzy over October’s high profile wave bed bug infestations Fashion Week was a sign that it’s back to business as usual for the bugs.
A-listers like Paris Hilton, Gigi Hadid, and Kendall Jenner reported seeing the crawling insects during the event.
‘I always thought it was going to be about a two- to three-year lag from when we started traveling again,’ according to Cooper, who also runs the pest management firm, R. Cooper Consulting.
The uptick in travel since the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020 and 2021, experts report, has led to an escalation in new infestations — reconfiguring the map of where bed bugs are most commonly found. Above, a scanning electron micrograph image of such a bed bug
The new rankings draw on data compiled by pest control giant Orkin, which calculated the total number of bed bug treatments for each major US city from from December 1, 2022 to November 30, 2023.
‘The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments,’ the company said in a statement.
This is Chicago’s fourth year in a row at the top of Orkin’s bed bug rankings, but other metrics exist for American’s looking to get a second opinion on which region should be most vigilant about the blood-thirsty parasitic insect.
But it wasn’t the only major metropole facing a new influx of the blood-sucking insects: Milwaukee, Wisconsin moved passed fifteen cities on the list to the 25th spot; and Tampa, Florida moved up by ten to the 31st spot.
Other cities that jumped up the rankings included Washington DC, Atlanta Georgia, Houston, Texas and Florida’s Davenport and Orlando.
San Francisco, California ranked 41st, but fell 19 spots on the hotspot list, while Buffalo, New York also dropped 13 spots to 42nd.
The insets hide in mattress fabric and crevices before emerging at night to bite their sleeping victims. The bugs can also hide in clothing, furniture, and even books. In France, people were tossing out infested mattresses
A November 2023 analysis of Google search data from all 50 US states, conducted by bedding and ‘sleep wellness’ company PureCare, found that Oklahoma residents were the most concerned about bed bugs, scoring 99/100 by their search
‘Using the search volume data from Google Trends,’ PureCare explained, ‘ we determined a ‘Bed bug search score.”
The score codified each state’s average volume of searches across all ten of the top ten bed-bug related Google queries.
Professor Dini Miller, who specializes in urban pest management at Virginia Tech, told Scientific American that deep reservoirs of bed bugs were building during pandemic lockdowns — ready to explode once travel restrictions lifted.
Examining seats is a crucial way to make sure you are somewhere on a bus or train that has not had any bed bug exposure. Above, a single mother in the UK resorted to sleeping in her bath last November due to a bedbug infestation that left she and her children bloodied and scarred
She noted that lower income and elderly people are the most at risk from bed bug infestations, which are largely just a nuisance to those with more resources.
‘Let’s say the middle class and above will pay whatever it takes to get rid of [bed bugs in] their home,’ Professor Miller told the magazine, regarding the pandemic era trends.
‘If they’re not traveling, and their kids aren’t sleeping over at other people’s houses,’ she said, ‘then, yes, we did see a decline in that situation.’
‘But one of the upticks that became very, very apparent was with elderly and disabled people.’
At issue, according to both Cooper and Miller, is the high cost of treating a bed bug infestation, particularly as these insects have grown increasingly more resilient to pesticides over the past few decades.
Bedbugs are not disease carriers, but being bitten by one causes itchy red welts on the skin similar to poison ivy
It can also be a laborious task for the working poor, the old or the infirm, as fully eradicating a bed bug infestation involves repeated loads of laundry, furniture inspections and wall-to-wall home cleaning.
‘While bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, they are excellent at hiding,’ according to Ben Hottel, an Orkin entomologist.
Not only can they hide, Hottel noted, but an infestation can get out of hand quite quickly: female bed bugs can lay one to five eggs a day and are capable of producing 200 to 500 eggs across their whole lifetime.
Worse, the insect can lay dormant, unfed for several months as they lie in wait for their next meal of blood.
‘Bed bugs are extremely resilient, making them difficult to control,’ Hottel said.
While travel can add bed bug risks, the company entomologist noted that ‘It is also important to take precautions at home.’
‘Second-hand items such as clothing and furniture are also common bed bug hiding places, allowing pests an opportunity to hitch a ride home with new consumers,’ ,” said Hottel.
‘Examining any new items before they enter your home will help to catch a bed bug infestation sooner, rather than later.’