Los Angeles has reached a dubious honor. The top 10 list for cities with the most bedbugs in the country.
In the ickiest news so far this week, a national pest-control company has made a list of the cities with the most bedbugs.
Terminix said Tuesday that New York ranks No. 1 in bedbug infestations, followed by Philadelphia and Detroit. Four Ohio cities make the top 14.
Los Angeles is No. 10. We edged out No. 11 Boston, presumably in a microscopic basketball game.
The report comes as exterminators and doctors say bedbugs and irritating bedbug bites are on the rise nationwide, probably because increasing numbers of world travelers spread the apple seed-size insects and environmental restrictions on pesticides make the rascals harder to fight.
"Five years ago, we did one (bedbug eradication) a year, and now we get five to 10 calls a week," said Bill Biers, owner of Conquer Pest Control in Granada Hills. "It's definitely a problem in the San Fernando Valley."
But, Biers said, it's nowhere near as big a problem in the Valley as in lower-income areas of Los Angeles, where residents are more likely to reuse bedbug-ridden furniture and mattresses.
There were some (apartment) units in L.A. a couple of years ago where the infestation was so bad, kids were popping the bugs and splattering blood all over the wall," Biers said. "It looked like a murder scene."
Anyway, it's the biggest thing Doctors emphasize that as irritating as the bites might be, the bugs themselves don't spread disease or bring serious health risks. Scratching them could be a bigger problem, because that can cause infection.
Hotel furniture can be a haven for bedbugs, as can other tourist destinations like airplanes, cruise ships and theaters.
Popularity with travelers might explain the high bedbug rankings for Los Angeles, Chicago (No. 5), Denver (6) and Washington (9), if not Cincinnati (4), Columbus (7) and Dayton (8).
"It may be a little surprising we're not higher," said Dr. Doug Webber, a Los Angeles physician who is chairman of medicine for Glendale Memorial Hospital.
Dr. Michael Lewis, a family-practice physician at Northridge Hospital Medical Center, said he hasn't seen a major outbreak. Lewis said there could be worse things for L.A. to rank No. 10 in. Still, nobody likes the thought of sleeping with someone with six legs.
"I hate telling people (with bites) it might be bedbugs," Lewis said. "It freaks them out."