Survey: Chicago No. 5 city for bed bugs

August 24, 2010 (CHICAGO)

New York City tops the list followed by Philadelphia, Detroit and Cincinnati.

Bedbugs are mostly nocturnal. They are small, but visible to the eye and when they bite it's painful. These creepy crawlers are elusive and they are forcing homeowners to spend thousands of dollars to get rid of them.

Armando Martinez of Pest Control Chicagoland spends his days wiping out public enemy number one: the bed bug. Martinez says it's annoying for his customers but great for business.

"We're extremely busy. I would say about 80 to 90 percent of the work we're doing right now is bed bugs. We get so many calls. All the jobs I did today were for bed bugs," said Martinez.

Meghan Leahy has been a victim. After researching and learning about the blood sucking creatures, she's finally getting some relief.

"I have been getting bit for three weeks. And finally, I just couldn't take it anymore. I ripped my room apart and found maybe just a handful of bed bugs in the box spring," said Leahy.

The problem has gotten so bad that last week representatives from government agencies, including the Department of Defense, met in Ohio to talk about these parasites that like to hide in mattresses and box springs and other places where people sleep. They also prefer cracks and crevices like electrical outlets.

Experts say the bugs tend to hitch a ride from one location to the next so they are particularly fond of hotels, motels, airplanes and cruise ships.

Travelers should use the following tips to protect themselves: check headboards and mattresses for dark blood spots these insects leave behind; avoid storing clothes in hotel furniture drawers; store baggage on luggage racks and vacuum luggage after trip.

"The most effective technique to eradicate these things is chemical treatment," said Martinez.

The bed bugs were eradicated from the U.S. around the end of World War II but in the last decade they've been making a comeback. They are not limited to beds. Theaters have been shut down as well as several retail stores after the bugs were discovered.

Serious bed bug infestations can cause anxiety, stress and insomnia.

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