Baltimore may want to omit its latest superlative from the tourist brochure: The city with the most bedbug treatments.
Orkin ranked the city atop its annual Top 50 Bed Bug Cities List, a ranking of metro areas based on the number of bed bug treatments the pest control company performed. This year's list, released Tuesday, is based on visits from Dec. 1, 2015 to Nov. 30, 2016.
The nation's capitol, Washington, D.C., came in second followed by Chicago and New York.
The pests are starting to become a real problem, said Ron Harrison, Orkin entomologist and director of technical services. And they aren't limited to mammoth metropolises. Mid-sized cities in the South, Midwest, West Coast and even Hawaii made this year's top 50 list. In fact, nearly all of the nation's pest professionals have had to deal with the little buggers.
"We have more people affected by bed bugs in the United States now than ever before," Harrison said. "They were virtually unheard of in the U.S. 10 years ago."
But bed bugs aren't evidence of poor hygiene or cleanliness, Harrison explained. Anyone can get them. All they need is blood to survive and they're also good travelers, often latching onto luggage, purses and other items during travel. Besides bedrooms, the critters are spotted at movie theaters, in public transportation, offices and libraries.
"We have treated bed bugs in everything from million-dollar homes to public housing," Harrison said.
Bed bugs are hard to spot. At full growth, they're the size of an apple seed. The first signs of an infestation are the bugs themselves or the small dark stains they leave.
Here's how you can combat bed bugs:
- Inspect your home, especially around the bed. Decrease clutter. inspect furniture before it enters your home and dry linens on high heat.
- Survey hotel rooms while traveling. Peek in hiding spots in the mattress, box spring and other furniture. Keep luggage away from the wall. Examine your luggage while repacking and place dryer-safe clothing in the dryer on the highest setting when arriving home.
- If you suspect an infestation, call a pest management professional.
The top 20 on Orkin's Bed Bug Cities List:
2. Washington, D.C.
4. New York
5. Columbus, Ohio
6. Los Angeles
10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif.
11. Richmond-Petersburg, Va.
12. Raleigh-Durham, N.C.
13. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, Ohio
15. Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas
18. Buffalo, N.Y.
19. Charlotte, N.C.
20. Norfolk-Portsmouth-Newport News, Va.