This City Has the Worst Bed Bug Infestation in America

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Hint: It's in the Midwest

This is one superlative no one wants their city to win. Pest control company Orkin recently released its annual Top 50 Bed Bug Cities list, compiled with data from the places Orkin performed the most treatments for bed bugs from Dec. 1, 2021, to Nov. 30, 2022. So where’s the worst bed bug infestation?

For the third year in a row, Chicago took the top spot on Orkin’s list—looks like bed bugs can’t get enough of the Windy City. The Big Apple hopped up one spot on the list, from No. 3 to No. 2, bumping Philly down to the No. 3 slot. And making its way into the top 10 this year is Los Angeles; LA climbed a notable seven spots from last year and currently sits in the No. 5 space.

Here are the top 10 cities on Orkin’s 2023 list:

  1. Chicago
  2. New York City
  3. Philadelphia
  4. Cleveland-Akron
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Detroit
  7. Indianapolis
  8. Baltimore
  9. Washington, D.C.
  10. Columbus, Ohio

Cleveland-Akron jumped four spots on the list, while Baltimore fell three spots and Washington, D.C. fell two spots. The only city that exited the top 10 this year was Cincinnati, which now sits at No. 13.

If you live in or are visiting any of these cities, it’s wise to be a little more vigilant about your susceptibility to bed bugs—and maybe stock up on some bed bug killer.

What is the main cause of bed bugs?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, bed bugs often come into contact with people by way of luggage, bags, clothes, bedding, furniture or anything else that lets them easily hide and hitch a ride. That means that if people travel somewhere with a bed bug infestation, they can bring home unwanted souvenirs. Long story short: Always inspect hotel rooms or any place you might be staying while traveling—here’s how to do so properly.

Bed bugs have a long and pesky history that dates back to ancient Egypt. Colonists brought them to the United States, but by the 1950s, they had been pretty much eradicated, due to modern cleaning products (thank you, vacuums and washing machines) and new pest-control products. They made an unfortunate comeback in the late 1990s, due to an uptick in international travel and a lack of public awareness for pest prevention.

How long do bed bugs live?

According to Orkin, bed bugs typically live between four and six months. But some bed bugs could live for up to a year in the right conditions. Bed bugs thrive in cluttered spaces, where they can go unnoticed. (Yuck.)

It’s natural to want to remove bed bugs and other insects from your home, but leaving certain crawlers alone can actually be helpful. Read up on why you shouldn’t kill a centipede or a spider if you see them in your space.

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Kelly Kuehn
Kelly Kuehn is an associate editor for Reader’s Digest covering entertainment, trivia and history. When she’s not writing you can find her watching the latest and greatest movies, listening to a true crime podcast (or two), blasting ‘90s music and hiking with her dog, Ryker, throughout the Finger Lakes.