Dayton's bedbug ranking drops

Dayton Daily News
Sunday, June 17, 2012

Dayton is no longer among the top 15 most bedbug-infested in the United States, but pest-control experts said that does not mean the problem is easing locally.

Terminix, a pest control company, last week released its annual ranking of the 15 worst cities for bedbugs, and Dayton did not appear on the list for the first time since it was created in 2010.

Dayton ranked 12th in the nation in 2011 and 8th in 2010.

But Ohio remains a hotbed of bedbug activity, and Dayton has not seen a noticeable reduction in bedbug infestations, experts said. Instead, Dayton fell out of the top 15 only because other cities have seen their infestation problems grow.

"If there has been a drop up there in Dayton, it's only been a slight drop," said Chris Brundige, Terminix's region manager for Ohio. "We are still getting a ton of calls out of Dayton."

Terminix created the rankings of worst U.S. cities for bedbugs by crunching data from the company's 300 branches across the country.

The rankings are based on the number of service calls from customers and confirmed infestations by pest-control experts.

The Gem City dropped out of the top 15 this year, but Ohio was the only state to have three cities make the list. Cincinnati ranked second for the second straight year. Columbus ranked 7th, up from 11th in 2011. Cleveland ranked 15th.

Philadelphia ranked worst this year, knocking New York City out of the top spot.

Bedbug problems in Ohio's larger cities continue to worsen, and this could have a variety of sources, including the commerce tied to Interstates 70 and 75, Brundige said. People who travel on the state's major thoroughfares may introduce the bugs into the environment when they stay at hotels, visit shops and attend events.

Brundige said Ohio is home to many major universities, and college students often spread the pests because they live together in crowded dorms and come into close contact in class and at campus events. International visitors can also play host to the bloodsuckers.

Bedbug numbers have risen by as much as 500 percent in the last decade in the United States, and the reasons for this include increasing international travel and commerce and a discontinuation of using dangerous insecticides, according to a report this month from the Ohio State University Extension.

Bedbugs are found virtually everywhere, and pest-removers has discovered them at homes, apartment complexes, hotels, schools, movie theaters and businesses. Brundige said one inspector even found bedbugs in a Redbox movie-rental station. A customer opened their movie and found an unwelcome surprise inside.

In a April 22 article, the Dayton Daily News reported that bedbug complaints in the Miami Valley have remained steady or increased this year. Warren County had 25 complaints through April, more than all of 2011 or 2010.

Bill Wharton, spokesman for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, said his department is averaging about three to four bedbug complaints each week, which is consistent with complaint levels from a year ago.

Although the health department does not take action unless there is a public health concern, Wharton said his team provide people and businesses with information about eliminating the pests and preventing them from spreading.

Wharton said bedbug problems usually stem from clutter, and bedbugs cause the biggest headaches not when they are introduced into a setting, but when they become established and breed.

"They are so difficult to get rid of because they can go long, long times without a blood meal," he said.

Bedbugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, folded clothes, bedding, furniture and overnight bags, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They hide in bed frames, mattresses, box springs, headboards, dresser tables, under clutter and in cracks.

People can protect against bedbugs by inspecting secondhand items for signs of infestation. People should reduce clutter in their homes, and protective covers can eliminate hiding spots for the bugs.

Travelers should check mattresses and headboards before hitting the sack, and they should inspect their luggage when they return home.