It’s not all bad: Baltimore is no longer the No. 1 bed bug city in the U.S.

For the past three years, Baltimore has held the dubious honor of being the No. 1 bed bug city in America.

No more.


Washington, D.C., surpassed Baltimore in Orkin’s 2020 “Bed Bug Cities List,” a ranking of the 50 most-infested cities based on the pest-control company’s annual tally of its residential and commercial bed bug treatments across the country. The company does not release the number of treatments it performed in each city, but says the rankings were based on the time period from Dec. 1, 2018 until Nov. 30, 2019.

Rest (un)easy, though, Baltimore: Charm City fell only one spot in the rankings, to No. 2.

Chicago; Los Angeles; Columbus, Ohio; New York; Detroit; Cincinnati; Indianapolis and Atlanta, where Orkin is based, rounded out the top 10.

Bed bugs are typically 4-5 mm in length and red to dark brown in color, and can travel from place to place with ease, including luggage, purses and other belongings, Orkin says. The bugs are normally nocturnal and will come out of hiding to take “blood meals" from sleeping or quietly resting humans, the company says.

The bugs can live for more than 300 days, and females can lay one to five eggs a day and may lay as many as 500 eggs in their lifetimes, according to Orkin.

“While bed bugs have not been found to transmit any diseases to humans, they can be an elusive threat to households,” said Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist. “They are excellent hitchhikers, and they reproduce quickly which makes it nearly impossible to prevent bed bugs. Sanitation has nothing to do with where you’ll find them.”

Orkin’s tips to preventing an infestation are as follows:

  • Inspect your home for signs of bed bugs regularly. Check the places where bed bugs hide during the day, including mattress tags and seams, and behind baseboards, headboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.
  • Decrease clutter around your home to make it easier to spot bed bugs on your own or during professional inspections.
  • Inspect your residence regularly — when you move in, after a trip, when a service worker visits or after guests stay overnight.
  • Examine all secondhand furniture before bringing it inside your home. This is a common way for bed bugs to be introduced into homes.
  • Wash and dry your bed linens often, using the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.