Washington, DC, has a bloodsucker problem—and it’s not just the shady lobbyists and corrupt politicians from both sides of the aisle.
The nation’s capital just earned a new distinction: the capital of bedbug infestations. Ewww! The DC metropolitan area nudged out Baltimore to be named 2020’s top city for the bloodsuckers by exterminator Orkin. The tiny pests typically nest in couches and beds (hence the name) and bite people as they sleep, leaving itchy bites all over the body.
The list is based on the metro areas (which include the surrounding suburbs) where the company performed the most residential and commercial bedbug treatments from Dec. 1, 2018, through Nov. 30, 2019.
“It has nothing to do with the niceness or the cleanliness with bedbugs,” says Orkin entomologist Chelle Hartzer. And everyone is affected differently by their bites—if at all.
“It’s like mosquito bites. There are some people who actually don’t react to bedbug bites at all. But there are other people who have the intense itching, the welts, and that kind of reaction.”
Washington, DC was followed by Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Columbus, OH. Rounding out the top 10 were New York City, Detroit, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, and Atlanta.
The insects are only about 4 or 5 millimeters long, making them hard to discover when they’ve hitchhiked in a purse, luggage, or other portable bag. That’s why folks need to be particularly careful when staying in a hotel or short-term rental. They may also want to perform home inspections once a guest leaves their abode.
“Once you know what to look for, they’re not too hard to find,” says Hartzer. “They’re about the size, shape, and color of an apple seed. You don’t need a microscope.”
She recommends folks check around the headboard, the creases in the mattress, and in the box springs for the bugs or any brown or black spots left behind by the nasty bugs. And travelers should never put their bags on the bed—because, of course, that’s where the bedbugs are.
Hartzer recommends putting luggage and purses by the door of the room.
“Keeping that bag away from the bed prevents them from getting into your suitcase.”
Folks with an infestation want to act quickly and call in the professionals. The little monsters breed quickly; the females can lay one to five eggs a day.
Clothing, sheets, and towels can be thrown in the dryer on high heat, which kills the bugs. Bedbug-resistant mattress covers and other paraphernalia are also available.
“Be vigilant,” says Hartzer. “Finding them early makes them a lot easier to treat.”
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