Survey: Detroit 7th worst city for bedbugs

Charles E. Ramirez
The Detroit News

Still can't scratch Detroit from the list of the worst U.S. cities for bedbugs.

Bedbugs can survive extreme heat and cold.

The Motor City kept its place as the seventh-worst city in America for the creepy crawlers, according to Orkin, the Atlanta-based pest control company. Orkin released its list Monday.

Detroit's slot on the list is based on the company's ranking of the top – or worst – 50 cities. The rankings are based on the number of bedbug treatments it performed from Dec. 1, 2016, through Nov. 30, 2017.

"The number of bedbug infestations in the United States is still rising,” Tim Husen, an Orkin entomologist, said in a statement. “They continue to invade our homes and businesses on a regular basis because they are not seasonal pests, and only need blood to survive.”

Bedbugs are oval-shaped insects with flat bodies that are reddish-brown in color. Typically, bedbugs don't get bigger than about a quarter-inch in length.

The insects have piercing, sucking mouthparts to feed on the blood of sleeping humans. Their saliva has agents that desensitize the skin around bites, which can turn into itchy welts.

There are currently no known cases of disease associated with bedbug bites, according to the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Bedbugs also have sensors that detect heat and carbon dioxide to find meals and use antennae and mouths to smell hosts.

They are also difficult to kill, able to survive in temperatures as high as 120 degrees or as low as freezing. They've also been known to live for up to a year without feeding.

Last month, three people were hurt and 10 were left homeless in Cincinnati after a woman accidentally started a fire while trying to kill bedbugs with rubbing alcohol.

Officials with the Michigan health department said the best way to deal with bedbugs is to discuss with a licensed pest control operator options that pose the least risk to humans and the environment.

Bedbugs can hide in clothing, luggage, bedding and mattresses.

“Any type of home is prone to bud bugs," Husen said. "It has nothing to do with sanitation. We have treated for bedbugs everywhere, from newly built upscale homes to public housing."

Baltimore topped the list for a second consecutive year, according to the company. Washington, D.C., came in second and Chicago was third, again repeating their rankings for the second year.

The Albany-Schenectady-Troy area of New York came in 50th on this year's list and made its first-ever appearance in the rankings.

According to Orkin's rankings, Miami-Fort Lauderdale made the biggest jump in the survey from 28 to 37. Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla., saw the largest drop, falling from 35 to 49.  

Two other Michigan areas also made the list: Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek came in at 23 and Flint-Saginaw-Bay City came in at 38. Last year, the Grand Rapids-area was 29th. The Flint-Saginaw-Bay City-area is new to the list.

Founded in 1901, Orkin operates more than 400 locations with almost 8,000 employees.