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Don't Let Bedbugs Bite, Dallas — How to Keep A Critter-Free Home

Patch logo Patch 6/4/2021 Kevin Phinney
a insect on the ground: These sneaky little buggers like warm and cozy spots — just like your bed. But there are ways to disinvite them from sleeping over. © Image Credit: Shutterstock These sneaky little buggers like warm and cozy spots — just like your bed. But there are ways to disinvite them from sleeping over.

DALLAS, TX— Good night? Sleep tight? How do you do that when there are only 15 cities in the entire country with a worse bed bug problem than you have?

That's right, Dallas/Fort Worth — home to barbecue, the Dallas Cowboys and Mavericks, the place where you can get a great Tex-Mex meal on any commercial block throughout the metroplex, has a substantial problem with a little pal who likes to cuddle up when the lights are low: bed bugs.

Turns out these tiny hitchhiking pests are quite fond of our city, according to the latest numbers available through Atlanta-based Orkin, a company that specializes in pest control services.

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Cities were ranked according to where Orkin performed the most bed-bug treatments between Dec. 1, 2019, and Nov. 30, 2020. The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

So, why share this creepy crawly revelation now?

In just a few days, the Professional Pest Management Alliance kicks off Bed Bug Awareness Week, which runs June 6-12. The goal of the campaign is to help people recognize a bed bug infestation and know how to curb it.

Also, the number of people itching to travel is growing as more Americans become vaccinated against COVID-19. Don't scratch, as your Mom would say. You'll only make it worse.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the Transportation Security Administration screened about 7.1 million people at U.S. airport checkpoints. On Sunday, about 1.9 million people traveled — eight times more than on the same day in 2020.

Since bed bugs are widely associated with travel, people must stay vigilant, according to Cindy Mannes, executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance — especially after months of coronavirus-related restrictions and lockdowns.

"Bed bugs can survive for several months without a blood meal and could be hungry if they have survived unnoticed after decreased travel amid the pandemic," Mannes said in a news release.

Still want to travel? Here's a look at the top 10 bed bug cities of 2021, according to Orkin:

  1. Chicago, Illinois
  2. Baltimore, Maryland
  3. Washington, D.C.
  4. Detroit, Michigan
  5. Columbus, Ohio
  6. Cleveland, Ohio
  7. Indianapolis, Indiana
  8. Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. Los Angeles, California
  10. Grand Rapids, Michigan
  11. Charlotte, N.C. (+9)
  12. New York (-6)
  13. Atlanta (-3)
  14. Philadelphia (-2)
  15. Champaign, IL (+1)
  16. Dallas-Ft. Worth (+1)

See the full list of top cities for bed bugs.

So, what is a bed bug, anyway — and why do they like you so much? These insects are tiny in size, just under a quarter-inch long, according to Orkin. They're usually dark brown or red in color and are hematophagous, meaning blood is their only food source. Bed bugs take blood meals from sleeping humans and can travel from place to place with ease, stowing away in things such as luggage, purses and other personal belongings.

If you plan to travel this summer, there are a few things you can do to prevent bed bugs from coming home with you. Orkin recommends people follow the "SLEEP" method to crack down on possible bed bug infestations:

  • S: Survey the room for signs of an infestation. Be on the lookout for tiny, black, ink-colored stains on mattress seams, in soft furniture and behind headboards. Bed bugs can even hide out in electrical outlets and picture frames.
  • L: Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
  • E: Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest places are in the bathroom or on counters.
  • E: Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and once you return home from a trip. Always store luggage away from the bed. Be sure to also examine all secondhand furniture and clothing before bringing it in your home and inspect after guests visit.
  • P: Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 45 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.

If you need more guidance on eliminating bed bugs from your home, the Environmental Protection Agency has a step-by-step guide for evaluating and treating the infestation.

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