Houston, We Have a Bed Bug Problem

Houston has long been seen as an epicenter for commerce and new innovations. Yet, perplexingly, it is also now seen as a hotbed of another kind of activity – bed bugs.  Obviously, Houston doesn’t want to earn a reputation for being home to billions of unfriendly bed bugs.  But that is the current state of affairs for one of America’s most iconic cities.

What is happening in Houston that has caused such an increase in the bed bug population?  Surely, it’s more than the old “everything is bigger in Texas” argument?  Let’s dive in and try to determine what exactly is happening in the Lone Star State.

First, it is important to step back and realize that until recently, bed bugs were mostly a thing of the past.  In fact, bed bugs had almost become an urban myth to most people.  Yet, they have returned in force and are hitting Houston pretty hard.

Yet, Texas can rejoice, sort of, as it turns out Houston doesn’t top the list for US cities with the largest population of bed bugs.  A recently compiled “Top 15” list of cities with the most bed bugs indicates that Houston actually comes in 15th.  In fact, even Dallas ranks higher.  Here is the full list, courtesy of  KTRK-TV Houston.

1. Sacramento

2. Milwaukee

3. Las Vegas

4. Columbus

5. Baltimore

6. Riverside-San Bernardino

7. St. Louis

8. Cleveland

9. Louisville

10. Denver

11. Los Angeles

12. San Francisco

13. Dallas-Ft. Worth

14. Nashville

15.  Houston

Travel is a Major Factor in the Spread of Bed Bugs

Confusion remains as to where all of these bed bugs are coming from.  Travel seems to be a major contributor to the problem.  Travelers taking trips overseas have become increasingly common.  While the United States mostly wiped out its bed bug problem in the 1950s and 1960s, the same can’t be said for the rest of the world.

The globalization of the marketplace, coupled with affordable interactional air travel has led to more than people seeing the world.  Travelers are bring home more than stories and pictures, they are also bringing home little friends on their clothing and in their luggage.  Gross, yes, but it is also an old story as people throughout history have brought new diseases and literally bugs along with them when traveling.

Bed Bugs Love to Check into Hotels Too

The Kentucky Director for the Department of Public Health, Guy F. Delius stated recently, “Bed bugs were almost eradicated (in the late 1950s and 1960s) but they are making a comeback now because more people are traveling, riding buses and planes and staying in hotels all over the world and bring things back to the United States with them.”  Hotels are another problem for those who travel, as hotels around the world are having a great deal of trouble dealing with bed bugs.  If you want to report a hotel that is a bed bug hotspot or just check out what hotels may have extra bed bugs to spare, then visit The Bedbug Registry.

Good Precautionary Measures to Prevent Bed Bugs

If you travel and are worried about bed bugs, and you should be, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk.  One step is to place your suitcase, along with travel clothing, in a plastic trash bag and leave these items out in the sun for a couple of days.  This will kill any bed bugs that might have been taking a ride with you.  You will also want to wash your clothing in hot water as well.

Anywhere people congregate, such as school, apartment complexes or hotels, can help breed germs and, as it turns out, bed bugs as well.  Fighting bed bugs might not be something you ever wanted to do and it might not be easy, but with some planning, it is possible.

If you’re concerned that bed bugs might have hitched a ride home with you during your last trip, call a bed bug expert for a free inspection.