Bed bugs are crawling all over Michigan: How to spot the stealthy blood-eaters

They almost never hide in plain sight, and they sneak out while we’re sleeping to feast on our blood. Bed bugs are everywhere in Michigan, with four cities across the state ranking among the worst in the country on Orkin’s Bed Bugs Cities List for 2023.

Detroit ranks as the 6th worst city in the country for bed bugs, with Grand Rapids ranking 12th. Flint is at number 21 and Lansing comes in at 42. The rankings are based on treatment data from the metro areas where Orkin says it performed the most bed bug treatments from December 2021 through November 2022.

Bed bugs can actually survive for several months without eating as they wait to feast on a human or animal. Here are ways you can identify the insects and prevent them from infesting your home or hotel room.

IDENTIFY Bed bugs are small, about 3/16 of an inch long. They are red to dark brown in color and mostly nocturnal insects. Blood is their only food source and, according to Orkin entomologist Ben Hottel, even though bed bugs are excellent at hiding, contrary to popular belief, they are visible to the naked eye.

“Bed bugs are extremely resilient, making them difficult to control,” said Hottel. “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.”

HOW THEY TRAVEL Bed bugs can easily travel from place to place, typically latching onto things like luggage, bags, purses and other personal belongings. You should examine your clothing and luggage regularly while traveling. That can help catch a bed bug infestation in the early stages.

“While it’s important to be aware of bed bug infestations within hotels, practicing precautions in other aspects of travel are also important,” added Hottel. “Taxis, buses and airplanes are also common bed bug hiding places, allowing these pests an opportunity to hitch a ride with unsuspecting travelers.

HOME INSPECTION According to Orkin, you should look around your home for bed bugs regularly, checking places where they often hide like mattress tags and seams, behind baseboards, headboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.

You should inspect when you move to a new home, come home after a trip or when someone visits your house.

TRAVEL INSPECTION Orkin says while traveling, you should remember the acronym SLEEP to inspect for bed bugs.

  • Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Keep your eye out for tiny, ink-colored stains on mattress seams, in soft furniture and behind headboards.
  • Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots like the mattress, box spring and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
  • Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. Orkin says the best places are in the bathroom or on counters.
  • Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and once you return 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 after you return home.

If you detect bed bugs, Orkin recommends calling a professional to rid your home of the pests.


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