NYC Nation's Most Bedbug-Infested City: Study

New York City fielded 11,000 complaints last year, according to city officials

Tuesday, Aug 24, 2010  |  Updated 4:00 PM EDT
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New York City has scratched its way to the top of a list of the nation's 15 most bedbug-infested cities, according to a new report from a leading pest control company. Philadelphia and Detroit round out the top three.

Terminix is releasing its report Tuesday, basing it on an analysis of call volume to 350 service centers the Memphis, Tenn.-based company has throughout the country. New York City fielded 11,000 complaints about bedbugs last year.

Ohio has three cities in the top 10 -- Cincinnati is fourth, Columbus is seventh and Dayton is eighth.

Different pest control companies found different results when it comes to determining the most bed-bug infested city. Orkin, for example, a pest control company based out of Atlanta, Ga., found New York City ranked seventh in terms of most infested cities. In Orkin' s study, Cincinnati and Columbus, Ohio, came in first and second, respectively, followed by Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Washington, New York City, Philadelphia, Dayton and finally, Baltimore. That study considered only the number of Orkin treatments, not factoring in whether individuals took care of the pests on their own or used other services.

Bedbugs can be found in mattresses, furniture and clothing, and they feed off animal and human blood. Insect scientists say bedbugs are appearing on a scale not seen since before World War II, when they were nearly eradicated. Increasing international travel and other factors, however, have allowed these pests to regain a foothold in the U.S., and high-traffic areas such as hotels, airplanes and cruise ships are especially prone to infestations, Terminiz says.

The creepy crawlers have invaded practically every area of New York City, most recently making their way into the basement of the Empire State building and into two Manhattan movie theaters. Several clothing stores have had to close, including Abercrombie & Fitch and Hollister, and employees of the high-fashion glossy Elle had to work from home while their office got treated.

The bed bug outbreak has many New Yorkers concerned -- and wondering where to go to help should they be struck. The city says tenants whose landlords do not promptly respond to bed bug complaints can call 311 and file a complaint with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, and may also hire their own professionals.

Here's a roundup of useful links and tips to help keep your posessions safe or to deal with an outbreak if the bugs come after you.

"It’s no surprise that highly trafficked cities such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles are on the list," said Paul Curtis, entomologist for Terminix. "It’s the bedbug problems in cities like Dayton and Louisville that prove bedbugs are back and can pop up anywhere. The bedbug problems in these cities outpace markets of far greater size despite their having a fraction of the population and typically fewer travelers and hotels."

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