The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

D.C. area ranks No. 1 on ‘Bed Bug Cities’ list, ending Baltimore’s three-year reign

Bedbugs are seen in a container from a lab at a National Pest Management Association summit in Washington.
Bedbugs are seen in a container from a lab at a National Pest Management Association summit in Washington. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Though the District’s population has grown by more than 100,000 people in the past decade, it’s not clear how many bedbugs have come to town in that time. Whatever the number, it was enough for the District to bump Baltimore from the top spot Monday in a survey of the bed-buggiest cities.

Each year, pest-control company Orkin ranks the “Top 50 Bed Bug Cities” based on treatment data. Though Baltimore topped the list for three years in a row, the District took the prize from Charm City after Orkin declared it performed more bedbug treatments in the Washington area — from Dec. 1, 2018, to Nov. 30, 2019 — than anywhere else. The report includes treatments in suburban areas.

From 2019: Baltimore and Washington sit atop ‘Bed Bug’ cities listing

Baltimore still finished strong at No. 2, with Virginia’s Norfolk (No. 15) and Richmond (No. 21) trailing further behind. After the District and Baltimore were Chicago, Los Angeles and Columbus, Ohio, with New York coming in at No. 6.

Bedbugs are up to five millimeters in length, Orkin said in a statement, and red to dark brown in color. They catch rides on luggage and in purses before emerging at night to take a bite from sleeping humans, the company said.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, each female may lay up to three eggs per day and 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime of about six to 12 months.

“While bedbugs have not been found to transmit any diseases to humans, they can be an elusive threat to households,” Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist, said in a statement. “They are excellent hitchhikers, and they reproduce quickly which make it nearly impossible to prevent bedbugs. Sanitation has nothing to do with where you’ll find them.”

Those who fear bedbug infestations should search for them in mattresses and behind baseboards during daylight hours, eliminate clutter and inspect secondhand furniture before bringing it inside, the company said. When traveling, luggage should be stored elevated, away from beds and walls. Clothes should be dried in a dryer upon return.

Here are Orkin’s top 10 bedbug cities and how their ranking changed from last year:

1. Washington, D.C. (+1)

2. Baltimore (-1)

3. Chicago

4. Los Angeles

5. Columbus

6. New York

7. Detroit (+1)

8. Cincinnati (-1)

9. Indianapolis (+5)

10. Atlanta (-1)

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