MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Bloodsucking bedbugs are biting in New York, and Philadelphia, and all over Ohio.
The pest control company Terminix released Tuesday a list of the 15 most bedbug-infested cities, based on an analysis of call volume reporting bedbug infestations and of confirmed bedbug cases reported by sales professionals in 350 of the company's service centers.
The Big Apple topped the list, followed by Philly and Detroit. Ohio has four cities in the top 15 — Cincinnati is fourth, Columbus is seventh, Dayton is eighth and Cleveland is 14th.
Bedbugs can be found in mattresses, furniture and clothing, and they feed off animal and human blood. Insect scientists say bedbugs are showing up on a scale not seen since before World War II, due to the rise in international travel and the elimination of certain chemicals once used to fight them. High-traffic areas such as hotels, airplanes and cruise ships are especially prone to infestations.
Bedbugs have been found in the Empire State Building, along with theaters, clothing stores, office buildings, housing projects and apartments in New York. An outbreak of the quick-breeding bedbugs brought an early end to a 4-H science camp on the campus of North Carolina Wesleyan College earlier this month. And, in northern Kentucky, the Boone County Public Library brings in a dog four times a year to sniff out the pests.
In Ohio, the Department of Agriculture is seeking federal approval for its residents to use Propoxur, an industrial-strength pesticide, to attack bedbugs. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it's concerned about children being exposed to Propoxur, because EPA research has found their nervous systems could be harmed.
Terminix recommends that travelers check headboards and mattresses for bedbugs and the dark blood spots they leave behind. Baggage should be stored far from the bed and clothing should be hung rather than placed in hotel drawers or left lying on hotel furniture.
After a trip, people should vacuum suitcases and wash clothes in hot water.
The EPA, which held a summit on the critters in April, warns consumers not to treat the problem on their own or use strong outdoor pesticides to get rid of bedbugs.
Other cities rounding out the list are Chicago, fifth; Denver, sixth; Washington, ninth; Los Angeles, 10th; Boston, 11th; Indianapolis, 12th; Louisville, 13th; and Minneapolis, 15th.
"It's the bedbug problems in cities like Dayton and Louisville that prove bedbugs are back and can pop up anywhere," said Paul Curtis, an entomologist for Terminix. "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."
Terminix, and its parent, The ServiceMaster Company, are both based in Memphis.