Chicago may be known as the Second City, but in one category of rankings, it has defiantly proven an unflattering No. 1 status yet again. For the third year in a row, Chicago has topped the list of Orkin's top 50 worst cities for bed bugs.
Orkin ranked U.S. cities by the number of bed bug treatments they performed from January to December in 2014. In Chicago, treatments were reported in a number of skin-crawling locations, including public transit vehicles, downtown office buildings, police headquarters, a fire station, a school, a library and a movie theater, according to Orkin.
This year's bed bug ranking comes only a few months after Orkin named Chicago the "rattiest city" for the most rodent treatments performed in 2013.
"Bed bugs are a serious issue across the country, and they're very difficult to control," Ron Harrison, an Orkin entomologist and director of technical services said. "Bed bugs are not limited to any level of cleanliness or income, which means they can be found in any home or hotel. They're great hitchhikers, and people often bring them inside on their clothes or in their luggage."
Overall, there was a nationwide increase in bed bug treatments over the last year. Orkin reported an 18 percent increase in bed bug business with nearly half of the cities on the list showing a higher number of treatments than the year before.
After Chicago, the top cities are Detroit; Columbus, Ohio; Los Angeles; Cleveland - Akron - Canton, Ohio; Dallas - Forth Worth; Cincinnati; Denver; Richmond, Va.; and Dayton, Ohio.
To accommodate for the increase in bed bugs in recent years, the Orkin study showed that Americans are spending significantly more to eliminate bed bugs. In 2013, Americans spent $446 million on bed bug treatment compared to just $70 million in 2004.
Bed bugs are not known to spread human disease like other insects, but they can leave an affected person's skin itchy and covered in bloody welts.
To prevent bed bugs, home owners should regularly inspect their homes, checking underneath and behind furniture, bed sheets and bed frames. Decreasing clutter also helps keep the pests away.
Anyone who is traveling should search their hotel room for an infestation before they settle in and examine their luggage while repacking and again when they are back home.