Chicago Tops Bed Bugs Cities List for Third Consecutive Year

The Windy City was followed by New York and Philadelphia in having the most bed bugs.

January 11, 2023

For the third year in a row, Chicago topped the list of Atlanta-based pest control company Orkin’s top 50 bed bugs cities for 2023.

New York, Philadelphia, and Cleveland ranked in second, third, and fourth place, respectively. Los Angeles saw the largest jump from last year, moving up seven spots to rank fifth.

The list is based on the metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments from December 1, 2021–November 30, 2022. The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

Although bed bugs are usually considered problem for tourist lodging, the fact is that bed bugs themselves can travel and set up home anywhere, making them a problem not only for hotels, but also for other businesses and commercial facilities, as well as residences and public transit.

“Bed bugs are extremely resilient, making them difficult to control. As people begin to ramp up their travel plans this year, it’s important they know how to protect themselves through pest identification and proper control,” said Ben Hottel, Orkin entomologist.

Identifying Bed Bugs

According to Orkin, bed bugs are roughly a quarter of an inch in length and red to dark brown in color. They tend to be nocturnal, coming out of hiding at night to feast on blood from unsuspecting humans while they sleep. Bed bugs are hematophagous, which means blood is their only food source. They travel easily from place to place by clinging to items such as luggage, purses, and other personal belongings. 

A population of bed bugs can grow rapidly. Female bed bugs can deposit one to five eggs a day and might lay as many as 500 eggs in their lifetime. They can survive for several months while waiting for their next blood meal and will emerge when a food source—that being a human or animal—becomes available.

“Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are visible to the naked eye, but are excellent at hiding,” Hottel explained. “While it’s important to be aware of bed bug infestations within hotels, practicing precautions in other aspects of travel are also important. Taxis, buses, and airplanes are also common bed bug hiding places, allowing these pests an opportunity to hitch a ride with unsuspecting travelers. Examining clothing and luggage regularly while traveling can help to catch a bed bug infestation in the early stages.”

Preventing a Bed Bug Infestation

As Americans prepare for their leisure and business travel for the new year, it’s important to be proactive about possible bed bug infestations. Orkin recommends taking the following steps to help prevent bed bugs at your hotel or facility:

  • Inspect your facility regularly for evidence of bed bugs. Remember the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to inspect for bed bugs:
    Survey the room for signs of an infestation. Be on the lookout for tiny, ink-colored stains on mattress seams, in soft furniture, and behind headboards.
    Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots, including mattresses, box springs, and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures, and torn wallpaper.
    Elevate bags and luggage away from beds and walls. The safest place to store luggage is actually in the bathroom or on counters, rather than on beds or chairs.
    Examine luggage carefully while repacking and after returning home from a trip. Always store luggage away from the bed. 
    Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 30–45 minutes at the highest setting possible after returning home. 
  • Decrease clutter in rooms to make it easier to spot bed bugs on your own or during professional inspections. 
  • Examine all secondhand furniture before bringing it inside your business or home. 

Because bed bugs can be found just about everywhere—even in a facility’s fitness center—you’ll also want to check out How to Keep Bed Bugs Out of Hotel Fitness Centers

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