The Bayou City sits at number 17 on the list of the top 50 U.S. cities dealing with the bloodsucking creatures.
HOUSTON, TX — Houstonians, this is one time you will be happy to finish behind Dallas. I’m talking about bed bugs.
Yes, Houston was number 17 on Orkin’s list of the top 50 U.S. cities logging the most calls for bed bug service and extermination, but Dallas came in at position 15.
That’s right, Dallas has more of a bed bug problem than the Bayou City does, something in which the thousands of Super Bowl fans who will descend on Houston next month can take solace, because hotel rooms are paradise to the pesky insects, who can survive for as long as one year between feedings.
And yes, bed bugs feed on you, on your blood, and they are thriving in the U.S.
“We have more people affected by bed bugs in the United States now than ever before,” Ron Harrison, Orkin’s director of technical services, said in a news release. The entomologist added that the insects “were virtually unheard of in the U.S. 10 years ago.”
Bed bugs, which are about the size of apple seeds when mature, are hardy creatures, and love to hitch rides on your luggage, clothing, purses, and other belongings. You check into your hotel suite in Manhattan (number 4 on Orkin’s list) and enjoy all New York City has to offer, and, when your trip is over, pack your suitcases as you normally do. Only this time, you have some tiny traveling companions, who are more than happy to accompany you back to Houston and set up house in your bed and other furniture.
“Anyone can get bed bugs in their home,” Harrison said. “They are not a sign of uncleanliness. Bed bugs only need blood to survive. We have treated for bed bugs in everything from million dollar homes to public housing.”
Want to know what a serious bed bug problem is like? Watch this video for an up close and personal look at a Houston woman’s infestation.
There are, of course, things you can do to help keep bed bugs out of your life, at home and abroad. Orkin’s Harrison says that vigilance is key, and his company offers these tips:
Inspect your home for signs of bed bugs regularly. Check locations where bed bugs hide during the day, including mattress seams and behind baseboards, headboards, electrical outlets and picture frames. “I like to inspect every week when I change the sheets to make sure I don’t have a visitor,” Harrison said.
Decrease clutter around your home to make bed bug inspections and detection much easier.
Inspect all secondhand furniture before bringing it inside your home.
Dry potentially infested bed linens, curtains and stuffed animals on the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.
During travel, remember the acronym S.L.E.E.P to inspect for bed bugs:
Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Look for black or brown spots on any furniture.
Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring, bedskirt and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest place is in the bathroom.
Examine your luggage while repacking and once you return home from a trip.
Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.