Ample evidence suggests that New York is, if maybe not the, than at least a bedbug capital of the world: Your building, your friends’ buildings, local movie theaters, the public transit system (both buses and trains), the airports, the United Nations, City Hall, that hotel room you booked to escape the infestation in your apartment, this scourge has its hooks in everyone and everything, and unless we take drastic measures, the bedbugs will run this city within the decade. It could not possibly get worse than this—unless maybe you moved back to Ohio. Apparently, the bedbugs are worse there! Who in the hell knew?
According to a new data analysis, five other U.S. cities outrank NYC in the competition for most bedbugs. However, the metric for measuring “most bedbugs” assumes everyone calls the same pest control service—Orkin—to vanquish the blood-sucking beasties. Notably, this company does not surface when I Google “bedbug exterminator brooklyn,” so please take the following numbers with a few grains of salt.
Orkin has posted figures for residential and commercial treatments in the country’s 50 most bedbug-ridden metropolitan areas between December 1st, 2017 and November 1st, 2018. Let’s take a look at the top 10:
1. Baltimore, Maryland
2. Washington, D.C.
3. Chicago, Illionois,
4. Los Angeles, California
5. Columbus, Ohio
6. New York, New York
7. Cincinnati, Ohio
8. Detroit, Michigan
9. Atlanta, Georgia,
10. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Suspicious—but also, is it?! In October, we reported that the Department of Housing and Preservation had issued fewer and fewer bedbug violations to landlords over the past five years. And while we should acknowledge that NYC did move up two spots in this year’s Orkin ranking, maybe the bedbugs simply prefer Ohio’s slower pace. (Cleveland-Akron, Dayton, and Youngstown also made the list, I’m just saying.)
Perhaps there exists no method to the bedbug madness, though: Per Orkin (emphasis mine), “Bedbugs are normally nocturnal insects that come out of hiding to take blood meals from sleeping or quietly resting humans. They are always in motion and do not have a regular hiding place. Bedbugs will attach to luggage, purses, backpacks, jackets and other belongings, dropping off almost anywhere to find a new carrier.”
In other words, bedbugs are chaos agents bent on driving humans mad as they feast on their blood, deprive them of sleep, and then shit all over of their beds. Scrambling after a motive or behavioral pattern or preference is futile. According to Orkin entomologist Chelle Hartzer, bedbugs “are master hitchhikers, so no one is immune.” Please excuse me while I burn my bright red luggage.