Chicago Tops Bedbug ‘Cities’ List: 5 Ways To Keep The Critters at Bay

For the second year in a row, Chicago has topped the list of cities with bedbug infestations, according to a just-released report by pest control company Orkin. The list ranks cities by the number of bedbug treatments the company performed there from January to December 2013. Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, Detroit, and Cincinnati round out the top five worst bedbug cities, according to Orkin.

We’ve compiled information from the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) to offer five steps you can take if you suspect bedbugs are present in your home or apartment.

1. Contact a pest control company, or, if you rent, your landlord.

Most pest control infestations aren’t do it yourself projects; bedbug bombs, foggers and pesticides do not work, the IDPH says. Bedbugs can hide in many places, particularly bedding. Some signs that bedbugs might have invaded your place:

  • Brown, black or red specks in bedding
  • Amber-colored “shells” in bedding
  • Waking up with bites
  • A musty, sweet odor in heavily infested areas

If you suspect a bedbug infestation, consider these IDPH guidelines on finding a pest control company.

2. Encase your mattress, move the bed.

Mattresses and box springs are hot spots for these pests (but not the only places they can live). So if you suspect bedbugs, seal your mattress and box spring with zippered covers. The IDPH also recommends moving your bed away from the wall and keeping your bed covers from touching the floor.

3. Wash, eliminate clutter. 

Dirty living conditions don’t attract bedbugs, IDPH says, but removing clutter and cleaning regularly will help you see and better control them. Some tips:

  • Reduce clutter by removing unwanted or unused items from bedrooms
  • Put bedding and other items in the dryer on high heat for at least 30 minutes
  • If you vacuum, IDPH says to do it carefully to avoid spreading the pests. Empty canisters and bags into plastic bags that you seal tightly, and check brushes or attachments for any signs of the bugs.

4. Seal up hiding places.

Caulk around windows, baseboards, light fixtures, electrical outlets and other gaps to eliminate as many bedbug hiding places as possible, the IDPH says.

5. Be considerate of your neighbors.

Bedbugs can hitch rides on baggage, clothing, furniture and bedding. The IDPH suggests labeling any items that you throw out, so others won’t bring infested items into their home. Additionally, if you need to travel to a laundromat, keep any dirty clothes in a sealed bag or container on the train or taxi.

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