The 15 Worst Cities for Bed Bugs

There are many lists of the worst cities for bed bugs in the Unites States.  One recent list was compiled by pest control company Orkin, which ranked the top 15 bed bug cities by the number of bed bug treatments performed from January 2014 through December 2014. What were Orkin’s findings?  Did your city make the list?

Orkin: Chicago Tops Bed Bug List Three Years in a Row

We should preface this article by reminding readers that while Orkin’s list addresses only the worst 15 cities, bed bugs have made their way into every region of the country, including all 50 states.  To give an idea of the increase in infestations across the U.S., Orkin’s parent company Rollins saw an 18% increase in bed bug revenue in 2014.  An annual report on the pest control industry reported that in 2013, Americans spent $446 million to treat bed bugs.

One thing is certain with the rise of bed bug treatments (and the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on those treatments): there are millions of Americans being bitten by bed bugs.  What many people who are bitten do not know is that they may be able to recover compensation for their injuries if their bite were caused by a negligent third party, such as an apartment complex manager or a hotel management company.

We’re sure you’re curious to see where your city stands, so let’s move on to Orkin’s results. Chicago had the dubious honor of topping the 2014 list for the third year in a row, with reports of insects on public transit, office buildings, a fire station, school, a library, a movie theater, and even police headquarters.

While Chicago received exceptionally poor marks, it isn’t the only city with room for improvement.  The following are Orkin’s top 15 worst cities for bed bugs:

  1. Chicago, IL
  2. Detroit, MI
  3. Columbus, OH
  4. Los Angeles, CA
  5. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH
  6. Dallas- Fort Worth, TX 
  7. Cincinnati, OH
  8. Denver, CO 
  9. Richmond-Petersburg, VA 
  10. Dayton, OH 
  11. Indianapolis, IN
  12. Houston, TX 
  13. Seattle-Tacoma, WA
  14. Washington, D.C. — Hagerstown, MD
  15. Milwaukee, WI 

Despite highly-publicized outbreaks in recent years, New York City managed to avoid Orkin’s list.  Major cities like Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Miami are also surprisingly absent.

Exterminator - The 15 Worst Cities for Bed Bugs

What Causes Infestations in Big Cities?

While facts and statistics are interesting in their own right, it’s arguably more important to understand their underlying causes. 

Unfortunately, there is no single factor which has been identified as the sole contributor to the resurgence of bed bugs in the United States.  A few factors that have most likely contributed include:

  • More rapid travel over greater distances on both a local and global scale. 
  • High population density of people in cities and their surrounding suburbs.
  • Lack of accurate bed bug knowledge among the general public, including their biology and efficient control strategies.  This issue has been exacerbated by clever marketers touting generally ineffective DIY methods such as tea tree oil and diatomaceous earth (DE).
  • Changes in available insecticides to less toxic, less persistent, and less effective chemical active ingredients and formulations.
  • Increased resistance of bed bugs to commonly used insecticides.
  • Changes to common construction practices.
  • Furniture design in hotels, motels, and homes being conducive to bed bugs.
  • An increase in ads and websites offering second-hand furniture, including infested mattresses.

In addition to the use of DE and scented oils, other ineffective self-help practices that have helped cause the increase in bed bugs include:

  • Throwing out infested furniture without marking the furniture as infested, at which point the furniture is picked up by someone else.
  • The use of bug bombs in apartments, condominiums and townhouses, which serves only to spread the infestation to neighboring rooms.
  • Inadequate partial or spot treatments by negligent pest control companies.
  • Temperature methods such as placing infested items outside in the hot sun, or below freezing temperatures, in order to kill bed bugs.  Both methods have been proven to be unsuccessful.

When traveling to these cities and staying at a hotel, ask at the front desk if the hotel has had recent reports of bed bugs, and ask specifically about reports in the room the clerk tries to put you in.  Examine the room thoroughly, and immediately report any suspicious bugs, eggs, stains, or blood spots found in the room.

If the worst should happen and you are bitten or discover bed bugs in your personal property after returning home from one of these cities, the hotel bed bug lawyers at Whitney, LLP may be able to help you recover compensation for your bites.  Call us today at (410) 583-8000 for a legal consultation.


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