CHICAGO — Chicago once again sits atop a list it would really rather not be on.

For the third year in a row, the Windy City has officially been crowned the No. 1 city for bed bugs!

The ranking is part of Orkin’s annual Top 50 Bed Bug Cities List and comes just months after the pest-control company named Chicago the Rat Capital of the U.S. for the 8th year in a row.

The rankings are based on both residential and commercial bed bug treatments from December 2021 to November 2022.

The top five cities are Chicago in first, New York City in second, Philadelphia third, Cleveland fourth and Los Angeles ranked fifth.

Whether you’re traveling in an airplane, taxi or bus, staying in a hotel or at home, it’s important to know how to identify and get rid of bed bugs.

What they look like

The pests are red to dark brown in color and around 3/16 of an inch long or the width of a credit card. They are primarily nocturnal and come out of hiding at night to feed on the blood of sleeping humans.

Where they hide

Bed bugs can also travel with ease by clinging to purses, luggage or other personal items according to Orkin.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says they can also hide in the following places:

  • In seams of chairs and couches
  • Between cushions and in the folds of curtains.
  • In drawer joints.
  • In electrical receptacles and appliances.
  • Under loose wallpaper and wall hangings. 
  • At the junction where the wall and the ceiling meet.
  • In the head of a screw.

Precautions to prevent an infestation

The EPA recommends you take these precautions to prevent a bed bug infestation in your home.

  • Inspect the luggage rack in your hotel room for bed bugs.
  • Check secondhand furniture, beds and couches for signs of bed bug infestation before bringing the items home.
  • Use a protective cover to encase the mattress and box spring and eliminate any hiding spots. 
  • Reduce clutter in your home to decrease the number of bed bug hiding places.
  • Vacuum often to remove bed bug hitchhikers.
  • When using shared laundry facilities transport items to be washed in plastic bags. (if you have an active infestation, use a new bag for the journey home). Remove clothes from dryer and put directly into a bag and fold clothes at home.
  • If you live in a multi-family home, try to isolate your unit by:
    • Installing door sweeps on the bottom of doors
    • Sealing cracks and crevices around baseboards, light sockets, etc.

What to do with infested items

  • Wash all infested sheets and clothes in hot water.
  •  After drying the clothes, dry for an additional 20 minutes on the highest heat setting.
  • Un-washable or “dry clean only” items should be put in the dryer on the highest setting for at least 20 minutes.

If a bed bug is found

If you are a tenant and have a bed bug infestation, notify your landlord and alert staff in the building right away. 

Also note, Illinois law requires landlords to provide tenants with bed-bug free apartments. Landlords must pay for treatment to remove the bed bugs, unless they can prove the tenant brought the pests onto the property.