Study: D.C. bed bug problem increasingly worse

Bed bugs make excellent hitchhikers, so check baggage before returning home from a trip. (Courtesy Erie.gov)

WASHINGTON – Yet again, D.C. ranks high among cities that leave its visitors with a souvenir they’d rather forget.

A new Terminix survey lists D.C. as the sixth-most bed bug-infested city in America. This marks a decline from a previous commercial study that put the District at No. 8.

The City of Brotherly Love took top honors, with Cincinnati and the Big Apple right behind.

The list was created using information from 300 Terminix branches throughout the country. The extermination company then ranked cities based on calls from customers and confirmed reports by their exterminators, according to PRNewswire.

Check out the top 10:

   1. Philadelphia
   2. Cincinnati
   3. New York City
   4. Chicago
   5. Detroit
   6. Washington, D.C.
   7. Columbus, Ohio
   8. San Francisco
   9. Denver
   10. New Haven, Conn.

These standings show bed bugs continue their reign as scourge of the American public, with five new cities in the top 15 this year: Cleveland, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami and New Haven, Conn.

D.C. was among five other cities that have seen a growing population of the bloodsuckers, along with Columbus, Dallas, Philadelphia and San Francisco. the District was ranked seventh in 2011.

The prevalence of bed bugs has increased as much as 500 percent in the last decade, according to a study from Ohio State University, whose home state has three cities with the worst incidence of the problem pests.

That study also shows over-the-counter foggers or “bug bombs” commonly used by consumers do not work to kill bed bugs.

“Bedbugs are among the most difficult and expensive urban pests to control. It typically takes a professional to do it right,” says Susan Jones, an urban entomologist with the university’s Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and a household and structural pest specialist.

“The nature of these foggers is such that they don’t penetrate in cracks and crevices where most bedbugs are hiding, so most of them will survive,” she says. “If you use these products, you will not get the infestation under control, you will waste your money, and you will delay effective treatment of your infestation.”

The Environmental Protection Agency offers 10 tips for those who think they have bed bugs, including washing and heat-drying sheets regularly, as well as cleaning the hamper where the pests can hide.

Travelers visiting a hotel should check under the bed sheets and behind the headboard for signs of bed bugs, including droppings and skin casings. Putting bags in the bath tub before performing this spot-check can also help prevent picking up any unwanted hitchhikers.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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