Champaign crawls onto list of top 50 bed bug cities in US


Karley Crady

Source: Orkin

By David Ruvinsky, Staff Writer

Although insects aren’t usually seen in the winter, Champaign might not be immune to bed bugs in the cold weather; it is ranked 24th on the top 50 bed bug cities in America by Orkin, a company that provides pest control services.

According to an article by FOX 55/27 Illinois, Champaign moved up two spots on the list from last year.

However, Susan Ratcliffe, program manager in crop sciences, said students should view Orkin’s list as a snapshot of the company’s research due to the inevitability of spreading bed bugs in mobile populations such as Champaign.

“It only moved up two points, and since we don’t know how they aggregated the data for this list, it’s very hard,” Ratcliffe said. “But it could be as simple as a few extra people in the Champaign-Urbana area decided to call Orkin rather than another treatment company. That’s why it’s so hard to look at this data with any real significance because of the fact that we don’t see the raw data.”

Nick Seiter, research assistant professor in crop sciences, said people do not typically feel the bite of bed bugs, causing the infestation to spread quickly. Students can identify bed bugs by looking for the flattened shape and burnt reddish color of the insects themselves.

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However, because students can easily confuse bed bugs for other insects with a flattened shape, such as cockroaches, students should also look for red spots on their sheets or clothing, identifying that bed bugs have fed on them overnight.

Seiter said although some people may experience a rash after being bitten by a bed bug, the insects are merely a nuisance.

“Nobody wants to have a bed bug infestation, but one of the important things if you do find that is to not panic,” Seiter said. “They’re a part of our environment, and again, very unpleasant in nature, but they’re not dangerous in any way.”

Since travel from one living quarter to another is the primary way bed bugs are spread, Seiter and Ratcliffe said vigilance is the best method for students to protect themselves against bed bugs. For example, students can visually inspect their rooms when staying in a hotel or keep their suitcase in the bathtub or shower area to prevent potential bed bugs from spreading.

Chelsea Hamilton, senior assistant director for communications and marketing for University Housing, said in an email that University Housing strives to educate residents and professional staff about preventing and detecting bed bugs early on.

“We are always working to improve our monitoring and treatment methods as the science changes,” Hamilton said.

As students search for apartments during this time of year, Ratcliffe thinks students should research the measures realtors take to manage pests. If realtors manage pests on their own, students should make sure realtors use certified applicators since various chemicals used to treat bed bugs require a license.

“Spring break is right around the corner, and the best advice we can give students is inspect your hotel rooms when you check in, and take precautions when you return, and hopefully you won’t bring any unwanted visitors,” Ratcliffe said. “It’s just life, but it’s a pain.”

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