Baltimore and Washington ranked as the top two cities for bed bugs in a list put out by one of the leading pest control companies in the country.
Orkin ranked major cities based on data of where the company performed the “most bed bug treatments” from December 2015 to Nov. 30, 2016.
The ranking includes commercial and residential properties, the company said in a statement. The list came out Tuesday.
The top five cities include Baltimore, Washington, Chicago, New York and Columbus, Ohio. Portland, Ore., ranks 50th. In Orkin’s study done last year, Chicago ranked No. 1 for the fourth year in a row and Washington ranked third. Baltimore ranked 10th. The Hampton Roads area, including Norfolk, Newport News and Portsmouth, was 20th, up from 30th last year.
A full list of this year’s bed bug rankings by Orkin can be found on the company’s website.
In 2015, another pest-fighting firm – Terminix – ranked Detroit and Philadelphia as leading the list of most infested bedbug cities. In that list, Washington, D.C., didn’t rank in the top 15.
Known sometimes as “hitchhikers” by pest control experts, bed bugs can be carried easily in purses, luggage and other items. They can be found in homes, hotels, subway trains, libraries, offices and movie theaters. Their favorite food: blood.
“Anyone can get bed bugs in their home,” said an Orkin entomologist. Often people worry that having them is a sign of an unclean home, but bug experts say that’s not the case.
“Bed bugs only need blood to survive,” Harrison said, noting that his company has treated bed bugs in million-dollar homes and in public housing.
What makes catching bed bugs hard is that they are small – typically about the size of an apple seed when fully grown – and can live for up to a year without feeding, experts said.
Bed bugs are also good at hiding, including in cracks and crevices of headboards, on beds and in mattress seams. They can be in as far as a five-foot radius of a bed, according to Orkin, and they multiply fast.
The National Pest Management Association said in 2015 that nearly 99.6 percent of its professionals across the country “have treated bed bugs in the past year, up from five, 10 and 15 years ago,” the Orkin statement said.
In a statement, Harrison said bed begs are a growing problem, noting that 10 years ago it was a “virtually unheard-of” issue.
“We have more people affected by bed bugs in the United States now than ever before,” he said. Orkin noted that four cities that had not been on its list in previous years were on it for the first time – Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem in North Carolina; Salt Lake City; Portland and Las Vegas.
Orkin experts said the first signs of bed bugs are often seeing the critters or the small dark stains that they leave.
The company recommends checking frequently for them and not having piles of clutter around the house.
When traveling, Orkin recommends keeping luggage away from beds and walls. The safest place for stuff, they said, is the bathroom. And once a traveler has returned home, checking all items is recommended.
Putting clothes into a dryer for at least 15 minutes on a high setting also helps.