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cleveland bedbug problem
According to an annual ranking survey, Cleveland has more bedbug infestations than any other city in the US. It isn’t the first time we’ve topped this chart either, unfortunately. In recent years bedbug infestations have become so bad that the Cuyahoga County government is spending $200,000 next year on bedbug extermination. The Ohio State Department of Agriculture even requested the EPA let them use industrial-strength insecticides in homes. Needless to say: Cleveland has a significant bedbug problem. But why here? Why now? What is it about Cleveland that makes it such a haven for everyone’s least favorite bedfellow? Is there anything you can do to safeguard your home against them? Here’s everything you should know about Cleveland’s bedbug problem, and what you can do about it.

What do bedbugs want?

First, some myth busting: despite their name, bedbugs don’t infest beds exclusively. The bloodsucking pest loves any warm, dark, hidden or inaccessible location where they can access prey easily. Beds fulfill all those requirements, but plenty of other places do too. Any residential or commercial building with dark, warm, cramped spaces can have a bedbug infestation. Bedbugs enter homes and businesses looking for one thing: food. The pest feeds by sucking the blood of a host until it’s completely engorged. Bedbugs have to stay latched on and feeding for five to ten minutes to get a full meal. After feeding, bedbugs hide and rest until they can digest their meal. This process takes several days, so bedbugs spend most of their lives resting in dark, hidden places like beds. Bedbugs can survive without feeding for up to a year, but they’ll try to feed every five to ten days.

Where do bedbugs come from?

Ironically, the same characteristics that make bedbugs prone to motionless hiding make them frequent travelers. The most common way bedbugs spread is when they’re accidentally moved. Bedbugs are only the size of an apple seed, and they spend all day hiding. Consequently, they hitchhike from place to place with the people moving them in boxes, bags, furniture, or bedding. If bedbugs hide in a traveler’s suitcase, then that traveler might bring the pests home with them! According to most experts, increased travel is to blame for the recent proliferation of bedbugs country-wide. Once they’ve moved, new bedbug infestations establish themselves quickly and tend to be difficult to get rid of. A single bedbug can lay 200-250 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs hatch within 6-10 days. Bedbug nymphs begin looking for food immediately. Like bedbugs themselves, these eggs are tiny and usually well-hidden. Many people may not realize they have a bedbug infestation until it’s severe.

Why are bedbugs such a problem in Cleveland?

Despite being the 34th largest US state, Ohio is the 7th most populated state, and the 10th most densely populated.  Approximately 11 million people live in Ohio, and many of them live in or near one of several major cities. Ohio’s relatively small size means all of its major metro areas are relatively close to one another. Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus are all directly connected via I-71. Millions of commuters move between these cities every day--often transporting their belongings with them. If there happen to be bedbugs in these belongings, then they’ll find new homes along pretty much every exit. In fact, some experts believe that’s exactly what happened. According to Cuyahoga County Board of Health member Tom Barsa, data suggests that bedbugs travelled from Cincinnati up through Columbus before finally arriving in Cleveland around 2014. Long story short, the more bedbugs get to travel, the more they’ll spread. The little bed-biters hitchhiked their way all over the state before coming home to roost in Cleveland--and it shows.

How can you prevent bedbug infestations?

First, the bad news: without professional help, it’s really tough to get rid of bedbug infestations. If you’re concerned about already having an infestation, give us a call. If you want to make sure you never get an infestation, however, you’re in luck. That’s the good news: no matter how prevalent bedbugs are, there are ways to prevent them. Carefully inspect bags, furniture, bedding, and other bedbug hiding places before bringing them into your home. Wash bedding frequently, and take the time to examine your bed while stripping it. Keep your clothing hung up and, ideally, in plastic bags when you’re not wearing it. When you travel, keep your belongings off the floor and in sealed bags or boxes. When you get home from a trip, carefully inspect everything you took with you. Consider throwing anything dry-able into the dryer for a 30 minute cycle before you unpack. Wash all the clothing you packed, even if you didn’t wear it.   Take it from us: you don’t want bedbugs to be something you don’t worry about until you have them. Preventing bedbugs only takes a little bit of proactive preparation, and it’ll save you from some really stressful nights. Whether you live in Cleveland or not, bedbugs are (unfortunately) something we should all be aware of. Don’t worry, though: we’re not just here to scare you with the bugs that go bump in the night. We’re also here to help. If you ever need help with a bedbug infestation, in Cleveland or virtually anywhere else in the Midwest, you can call Varment Guard anytime. We’ll make sure you can sleep tight, without… well, you know.

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