National Bed Bug Awareness Week 2021 is June 6-12. Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are the top three worst cities for bed bugs, according to a 2021 ranking by pest control company Orkin. (Shutterstock)

Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. are the top three worst cities for bed bugs, according to a 2021 ranking by pest control company Orkin.

ACROSS AMERICA — Most U.S. cities can claim bragging rights for at least a few things. Maybe it has good schools or a lively music scene. Maybe the city is rich in history or has a booming economy. Perhaps it’s just a great place to live.

One thing you probably don’t associate with your city? Bed bugs. Turns out these tiny hitchhiking pests are quite fond of our city, according to the latest numbers available through Atlanta-based Orkin, a company that specializes in pest control services.

In fact, Baltimore ranked second on the 2021 list for the second year in a row, according to Orkin.

Cities were ranked according to where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments between Dec. 1, 2019, and Nov. 30, 2020. The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

1. Chicago, Illinois
2. Baltimore, Maryland
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Detroit, Michigan
5. Columbus, Ohio
6. Cleveland, Ohio
7. Indianapolis, Indiana
8. Cincinnati, Ohio
9. Los Angeles, California
10. Grand Rapids, Michigan

See the full list of top cities for bed bugs.

So, why share this creepy crawly revelation now?

In just a few days, the National Pest Management Association kicks off Bed Bug Awareness Week, which runs June 6-12. The goal of the campaign is to help people recognize a bed bug infestation and know how to curb it.

Also, the number of people itching to travel is growing as more Americans become vaccinated against COVID-19.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the Transportation Security Administration screened about 7.1 million people at U.S. airport checkpoints. On Sunday, about 1.9 million people traveled — eight times more than on the same day in 2020.

Since bed bugs are widely associated with travel, people must stay vigilant, according to Cindy Mannes, executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance — especially after months of coronavirus-related restrictions and lockdowns.

“Bed bugs can survive for several months without a blood meal and could be hungry if they have survived unnoticed after decreased travel amid the pandemic,” Mannes said in a news release.

What is a bed bug? These insects are tiny in size — just under a quarter-inch long, according to Orkin. They’re usually dark brown or red in color and are hematophagous, meaning blood is their only food source. Bed bugs take blood meals from sleeping humans and can travel from place to place with ease, stowing away in things such as luggage, purses and other personal belongings.

If you plan to travel this summer, there are a few things you can do to prevent bed bugs from coming home with you. Orkin recommends people follow the “SLEEP” method to crack down on possible bed bug infestations:

S: Survey the room for signs of an infestation. Be on the lookout for tiny, black, ink-colored stains on mattress seams, in soft furniture and behind headboards. Bed bugs can even hide out in electrical outlets and picture frames.

L: Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.

E: Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest places are in the bathroom or on counters.

E: Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and once you return home from a trip. Always store luggage away from the bed. Be sure to also examine all secondhand furniture and clothing before bringing it in your home and inspect after guests visit.

P: Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 45 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.

If you need more guidance on eliminating bed bugs from your home, the Environmental Protection Agency has a step-by-step guide for evaluating and treating the infestation.

— By Megan VerHelst and Elizabeth Janney to see article: Got Bed Bugs? Orkin Ranks 2021’s Top Cities For Bed Bugs | Across America, US Patch

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