It probably isn't much of a surprise, but bedbugs are taking a
bigger bite out of the Big Apple so far this year, according to one
For the second consecutive year, Terminix ranked the city
first in the nation for bedbug infestations, edging out Cincinnati,
Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia. (In better news for New
Yorkers, a rival ranking by competitor Orkin ranked the city
only the seventh worst for bedbug cases.)
Terminix's city rankings are based on the number of customer
complaints and infestations discovered by employees of the
company's 350 U.S. branches. The company wouldn't release
specific data on just how many bedbug complaints it gets, but it
said the problem is multiplying.
Bob Young, an entomologist and Northeast and Midwest division
manager for Terminix, estimated that he has logged two to three
times more bedbug calls over last year, following high-profile
cases in which bedbug invasions forced several
Manhattan businesses to close temporarily.
Is any borough of New York more infested than the others?
"Manhattan," said Young, who is based in New York. He the added:
"Clearly, Brooklyn and Queens. The Bronx. Even in the rural areas.
They're all over the place. These things, they hitchhike."
Business for bedbug exterminators boomed last year. Bedbugs
start at $500 a room, and off-site fumigation of personal
belongings can add another $1,000, Young told WSJ columnist
Anne Kadet last year. High-end residential jobs involving art and
antiques can cost as much as $20,000.
This summer projections for bedbug activity probably won't help
New Yorkers feel more at ease. "It's a larger and larger
problem each day," Young said. "College students seem to bring them
home with them."
Young, who has been with Terminix for 15 years, said he
started seeing the critters hit New York in the early 2000s. Since
then, complaints have risen ten- to fifteenfold, he said, as the
public becomes more aware of their presence.
Last year, bedbugs shut down the flagship Niketown store on East
57th Street, the Hollister Epic store in SoHo and a Victoria's
Secret on the Upper East Side, among other locations. And the
insects made a debut at the Lincoln Center for the Performing
This year? "They're even in police-department squad cars," Young