Worst cities for bed bugs: Here’s where New York City ranks

STATEN ISLAND, NY — As more Americans begin to travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, bed bugs are also hitchhiking across the country — and some cities are seeing an increase in bed bugs more than others.

Orkin, a company that provides basic pest control services, has ranked the cities where bed bugs have been reported the most. The list is based on treatment data from the metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments from December 1, 2020 to November 30, 2021. The ranking includes both domestic and commercial treatments.

So where does New York City rank on Orkin’s 2022 list of 50 Best Bed Bug Cities?

New York is third according to the list — nine spots ahead of the 2021 list.

Chicago and Philadelphia took first and second place, respectively.

As consumers look to travel this year, Orkin reminds Americans that bed bugs are still a major threat. And given the staffing shortages in the hospitality industry, it’s possible bed bugs aren’t being monitored as often as desired, which is why careful investigation is key, says Orkin.

Bed bugs are typically 3/16 inches long, red to dark brown, and mostly nocturnal insects that come out of hiding to take blood meals from sleeping humans, according to Orkin. They are hematophagous, meaning blood is their only source of nutrition. You can easily travel from place to place and hold on to items like luggage, purses, and other personal belongings.

“Bed bugs are a problem for everyone because they are masterful hitchhikers, traveling home with people when they probably aren’t aware,” said Ben Hottel, an Orkin entomologist. “Their nature of hiding in hard-to-find cracks and crevices can make them difficult to control, which is why it’s recommended to consult a trained professional when seeing an introduction.”

The pests are known for their rapid population growth, as females can lay one to five eggs per day and can lay 200 to 500 eggs in their lifetime. They can survive for several months while waiting for their next blood meal, so they’re likely to emerge when a food source like humans becomes available.

Here are the top 10 bed bug cities, according to Orkin. Numbers in parentheses indicate whether a city ranked higher or lower than last year’s list.

  1. Chicago
  2. Philadelphia (+12)
  3. New York (+9)
  4. Detroit
  5. Baltimore (-3)
  6. Indianapolis (+1)
  7. Washington, D.C. (-4)
  8. Cleveland, Ohio (-2)
  9. Columbus, Ohio (-4)
  10. Cincinnati (-2)

Orkin also shared some tips for homeowners and travel to prevent bed bugs.

Check your home regularly for signs of bed bugs. Check spots during the day, including mattress labels and stitching, and behind baseboards, headboards, electrical outlets, and picture frames. Check when you move in, after a trip, when a service representative comes to visit, or when guests stay overnight, Orkin says.

You should also reduce the clutter in your home to make bed bugs easier to spot on your own or during professional inspections. And examine any used furniture before bringing it into your home.

During the trip, Orkin says to remember the acronym SLEEP to check for bed bugs.

  • SSearch the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Look for tiny, inky stains on mattress seams, in upholstery, and behind headboards.
  • LCheck inside bed bug hiding places: mattresses, box springs, and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures, and even torn wallpaper.
  • ELift the luggage away from the bed and the wall. The safest places are in the bathroom or on countertops.
  • EExamine your luggage carefully when repacking and upon returning from a trip. Always keep luggage away from the bed.
  • PWhen you get home, tie all of the clothes in your luggage that are suitable for tumble drying into the dryer for at least 15 minutes on the highest setting.


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