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Baltimore and Washington sit atop ‘Bed Bug’ cities listing

Baltimore and Washington are No. 1 and No. 2 respectively in the Top 50 Bed Bug Cities ranking by pest-control company Orkin.

For Baltimore, it’s the city’s third straight year in the top slot, while the District was in second place last year, as well.

Some cities crawled to new spots on the list: New York moved up two slots to No. 6, and Atlanta and Philadelphia entered the top 10, bumping Dallas and San Francisco. Here’s the full list of the top 10 cities:

  1. Baltimore
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Chicago
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Columbus, Ohio
  6. New York
  7. Cincinnati
  8. Detroit
  9. Atlanta
  10. Philadelphia

Other cities that moved into the top 50 this year, include Davenport, Iowa; Lansing, Mich.; Orlando; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Youngstown, Ohio.

Orkin said the list is based on data from the metropolitan areas where the company did the most bed bug treatments from December 2017 to November 2018 at both residential and commercial properties.

Bed bugs are most often found in single-family homes, apartments and condominiums, and hotels and motels. An interesting statistic, hotels spend an average of $6,383 per bed bug incident to get rid of them, according to the 2018 survey “Bugs without Borders” by the National Pest Management Association.

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“Bed bugs are the number one urban pest in many cities today,” said Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist, in a statement.

"They are master hitchhikers, so no one is immune,” she added, noting that “sanitation has nothing to do with prevention.”

“From public transit to five-star resorts, bed bugs have been and can be found everywhere humans are,” Hartzer said.

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They’ll attach to backpacks, coats, purses, luggage and other items and move often to another carrier. They’re often hard to get rid of because they multiply fast, as an adult female lays two to five eggs a day and up to 500 in her lifetime.

Bed bugs are typically nocturnal insects, according to Orkin. They come out of hiding to take “blood meals from sleeping or quietly resting humans.” And because they’re small — about the size of an apple seed and reddish brown — they can be hard to see in the daylight.

One tip on finding them, Orkin said, look for “black, ink-like stains they can leave behind.” If you think you have an infestation, get a professional right away.

Penny, a 2-year-old rat terrier, finds bed bugs by scent at American Pest Control in Rockville. The company says its bed bug-related business has grown dramatically since 2005. (Video: The Washington Post)

Here are a few suggested ways to prevent a bedbug infestation:

  • Get rid of clutter at your home, which makes it easier to spot bed bugs.
  • If you think you have bed bugs in your home, dry bed linens, curtains and stuffed animals on the highest temperature the fabric allows.
  • If traveling, don’t store luggage on a bed or near a wall. The best spots to put it are in a bathroom or on counters. And when you get home, put all your clothing that can go in the dryer on high heat for 15 minutes.

You won't believe where you might encounter bedbugs these days