A bed bug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, Wednesday, March 30, 2011.
Los Angeles ranked second in the nation for needing the most bed bug treatments last year, according to a list published Thursday by a nationwide pest control company.
Orkin’s list ranks 50 U.S. cities based on how many residents and businesses called in bug busters in 2013 to get rid of the parasitic insects, which feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.
At the top of this year’s list of 50 pest-prone cities is Chicago, which has a bed bug problem serious enough that city leaders introduced an ordinance last year declaring tiny insects a public nuisance and requiring landlords to hire professional exterminators to get rid of infestations.
Columbus, Ohio, Detroit and Cincinnati follow Los Angeles -- which was No. 3 in 2012 -- to make up the most recent top five.
More: Bed Bug FAQs
Two major southern cities – Nashville and Charlotte – made the biggest leaps year over year, jumping 17 and 18 spots, respectively, on the unsavory list. Kansas City ranked 50th.
Orkin entomologist and Technical Services Director Ron Harrison said bed bugs are continuing to bite their way across the country. He cited a more than 20 percent spike in business since 2012 for Rollins’, Orkin’s parent company, as evidence.
While research into bed bug detection and eradication has made some advancement in recent years, Harrison said vigilance and education are still the best way to protect yourself.
“While studies show that bed bugs do not spread disease, the physical and mental health consequences are well documented and of serious public concern,” Harrison said. “Once bed bugs are inside your home or business, they can reproduce quickly and can travel from place to place in personal belongings and even on people. They can also move from place to place on their own, independently of objects.”
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Harrison said homeowners should inspect their homes for signs of bed bugs regularly, decrease clutter, dry potentially infested bed linens, curtains and stuffed animals on the hottest temperature allowed for fabric, and closely inspect second-hand furniture before bringing it in your home.
Also, keep in mind that there is always a potential for bed bug activity, even if no signs are found.