TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – You’ve heard the saying, “sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite?” Well, they’re biting. And, they’re doing a lot of damage in the Sunshine State.
In honor of Bed Bug Awareness Week, 8 On Your Side spoke with experts on the matter.
“Personally, what comes to mind is my skin getting a little crawly, like ewww,” said Matthew Miller from Arrow Environmental Services.
Miller tells us bed bugs are becoming an increasingly large problem in Florida due to tourism.
He advises travelers to be extra vigilant, especially in hotels, where tourists are most likely to spot the teeny, tiny insects.
According to Miller, there’s one spot in particular where bed bugs seem to live, thrive and multiply.
“When you get into that hotel room, one of the things you want to do is inspect the mattress,” said Miller. “Particularly the cracks and the crevices in the mattresses. I very commonly find them in the labels on the mattress, as well.”
Miller says the bugs are often hard to spot, as many of them are as small as a match head and thin as a credit card.
“So, it’s a good thing to pull off the sheets and look there to see if you have any type of activity,” Miller added.
Pest control business Orkin actually tracks data on residential and commercial bed bug treatments performed in metro areas across the country.
Below are the cities that made Orkin’s 2018 list of top 50 cities with the highest bed bug concentrations. The Tampa-St. Petersburg area is included in this year’s list. A city’s increase or decrease from the previous year’s rankings is listed in parenthesis:
2. Washington, D.C.
4. Los Angeles (+2)
5. Columbus, Ohio
6. Cincinnati (+2)
8. New York (-4)
9. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
10. Dallas-Fort Worth (+5)
13. Atlanta (+3)
14. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio (-1)
15. Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (-3)
16. Richmond-Petersburg, Va. (-5)
18. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va. (+2)
19. Charlotte, N.C. (-3)
20. Buffalo, N.Y. (-2)
21. Knoxville, Tenn.
22. Nashville, Tenn. (+1)
23. Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Mich. (+4)
25. Greenville-Spartanburg, S.C.-Asheville, N.C.
26. Champaign-Springfield-Decatur, Ill. (+4)
27. Phoenix (-1)
28. Denver (-6)
30. Hartford-New Haven, Conn. (+1)
31. Charleston-Huntington, W.Va. (+5)
32. Boston (-4)
33. Syracuse, N.Y. (+7)
34. Dayton, Ohio (-2)
35. St. Louis (+2)
36. Seattle (-2)
37. Miami-Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (+9)
38. Flint-Saginaw-Bay City, M.I. (new to list)
39. Omaha, N.E. (-6)
40. Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Dubuque, Iowa (-2)
41. San Diego (new to list)
42. Lexington, Ky. (+1)
43. Honolulu, Hawaii (+5)
44. Louisville, Ky. (-3)
45. Las Vegas (+4)
46. Greensboro-High Point-Winston Salem, N.C. (-4)
47. New Orleans (new to list)
48. Myrtle Beach-Florence, S.C. (-9)
49. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla. (-14)
50. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, N.Y. (new to list)
Bed bugs are not necessarily a sign of uncleanliness. They have been found in upscale homes and hotels, movie theaters, schools and on public transit.
Orkin recommends homeowners, tenants and travelers all over the world should take the following precautions to help prevent bed bugs:
Bed bug tips for home:
- Inspect your home for signs of bed bugs regularly. Check locations where bed bugs hide during the day, including furniture, mattress seams and bed sheets, as well as behind baseboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.
- Decrease clutter around your home to make bed bug inspections and detection much easier.
- Inspect and quarantine 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 red or brown spots on sheets.
- Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring, sheets and furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
- Elevate luggage on a rack away from the bed and wall. The safest places are in the bathroom or on counters.
- 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.
- While bed bugs are not known to spread human diseases like many other pests and some people have no reaction to bed bug bites, others may experience itchy red welts and swelling.