Orkin labels Champaign 11th-worst ‘Bed Bug City’ in nation


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

View of a bed bug nymph ingesting blood from a voluntary human host. Bedbugs are not a massive concern for the CU community but precautions should still be held.

By Michael Bales, Staff writer

Highly resistant, transported to the U.S. through international travel, exponential population growth — these sound like descriptors for a virus. But in reality, these are phrases used by University entomology professor Brian Allan to describe one of our prominent household pests: bedbugs.

In Orkin’s annual ranking of “Bed Bug Cities,” Champaign moved up two spots from the year prior, entering 2023 as 11th in the nation.

Support the Daily Illini in College Media Madness!

Help the Daily Illini take back the top spot in the College Media Madness fundraising competition! See the current ranking here.

learn more
donate now

Orkin said their list is based on “treatment data from the metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments from December 1, 2021 – November 30, 2022.” This information gave Allan ideas about possible reasons why Champaign is so highly contaminated with bedbugs.

“So, if you picture a transmission network for an infectious disease, it’s actually a really similar concept,” Allan said.

As with infections and diseases, bedbugs travel via humans. 

“They get into people’s clothes, and that’s how they get transported to new places,” Allan said. “So, when somebody with a bedbug infestation in Chicago packs up their suitcase and comes down to Champaign, they could bring bedbugs with them and start a new infestation here.”

Chicago is considered by Orkin to be the top city for bedbugs, and with common travel from the Chicago area to the University and back, Allan considered this as a possible reason bedbugs could spread in Champaign.

“It could be that we have a lot of bedbugs simply because Chicago has a lot of bedbugs,” Allan said. “There’s a lot of travel back and forth between the two places, and bedbugs are literally riding up and down the highway in people’s suitcases.”

Despite Orkin’s high ranking of Champaign and Allan’s theory, the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District claims that the city “does not have a bedbug problem.”

“I don’t think it’s scientific in the sense that they’re not controlling for things like population size and stuff like that,” Allan said about the accuracy of Orkin’s list.

Allan also mentioned “(a factor) could be that there’s just more reporting coming out of Champaign, and it could be because you have a more educated population that’s more likely to report bedbugs.”

An Orkin entomologist did not respond to requests for a comment.

Whether or not bedbugs are a problem, there’s no denying that they exist, so it’s important to know how to treat them.

Allan said that because bedbugs are so accustomed to the human environment, the best way to get rid of them is by altering the temperature of the home, making it either too hot or too cold for the bugs to survive.

“So if you’ve traveled, and you’re worried you got exposed to bedbugs, you can put all your clothes into a trash bag and throw the trash bag in the freezer,” Allan said. “That should kill any living stage of bedbug if you leave your clothes in the freezer for a period of time.”

At the end of the day, Allan recognizes that when it comes to bedbugs, the infestations are “really upsetting” for those living with them. To try and combat infections, the CUPHD has a page of resources for those who may be affected locally.

If you have concerns with bedbugs or want to learn more, visit the CUPHD website for further information.


[email protected]