There are lots of Top Ten lists for cities: best beaches, most friendly, lowest crime, most bed bugs? Yeah, that’s the last list any city wants to top off, but unfortunately somebody has to – and for the first time in five years, it wasn’t Chicago. Baltimore, the ‘city of 1,000 slogans,’ has a new, unfortunate moniker, the leader of bed bug outbreaks for 2016. Meanwhile, the Windy City isn’t in the clear, dropping just 2 slots on the annual list.
Bed Bugs On the Rise
Just 10 years ago, most people hadn’t even heard of bed bugs, as Cimex lectularius (and its tropical cousin Cimex hemipterus) had been pretty much dormant in the United States since the 1960’s. But shortly after we celebrated surviving the virtual computer bugs of Y2K, very real bed bugs began re-emerging as a significant threat.
What’s worse, bed bug populations are booming so much that they’ve begun spreading from their normal feeding grounds – beds in homes and hotels where humans are at rest for an extended period of time – to office building complexes. In fact, more than 70 percent of people in urban environments have encountered bed bugs.
How Does Florida Rank?
In Florida, infestations are down: the Tampa-St. Petersburg area dropped down to #35 on the list, Orlando-Daytona is #44, and Miami-Ft. Lauderdale dropped to #46.
Experts say that education and preventative measures are the best defense against bed bugs. In the past 10 years, the annual amount spent to treat for Cimex lectularius has increased more than 600 times.
However, the fact that the most popular vacation spots – including most of the Sunshine state – are low on the list, if at all, is a clear indicator that efforts in these areas are making an impact on the increase of the bugs, despite a higher chance of their spread.
Because of their size and the fact that many people don’t react to their bites, bed bugs can be hard to find. They can hide in the smallest of cracks, mattress seams, even thick carpet, and can survive for nearly a year without feeding. The first signs are often the small dark stains the bugs leave behind. And while opinions vary, it seems that black or UV lights don’t make bedbugs any more detectable.
How to Search for Bed Bugs
When traveling, remember the SLEEP acronym:
- Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Look for black or brown spots on any furniture.
- Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring, bedskirt and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
- Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest place is in the bathtub.
- Examine your luggage while repacking and once you return home from a trip.
- Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.
At home, decrease clutter, check your bed and bed clothes regularly and inspect any secondhand furniture before bringing it into your home. And if you find a potential infestation on your bed linens or stuffed animals, run them in the dryer at the highest heat the fabric can sustain for 15-30 minutes. And while you’re waiting on that, contact Good News Pest Solutions to come and treat your home with the safest and most affordable organic pest control on the Gulf Coast of Florida.