Columbus’ bedbug problem bad despite improved ranking
Columbus saw a slight improvement in annual bed bug-infestation rankings by one national extermination company, but local experts said they’ve seen the problem worsening.
Terminix released its 2019 list of most bed bug-infested cities on Monday, and Columbus ranked 11th — down from eighth in 2018. In January, Orkin, another exterminator, ranked Columbus fifth in its 2018 rankings, the same spot it held the previous year. The city rankings are derived from the total number of bed bug-related jobs each company handles in a year.
But John Addair, owner of Stryker Pest Control in Columbus, said he believes the problem in Columbus is as bad as ever.
“We’ve definitely seen an increase in the number of (bed bug) calls,” he said.
Five other Ohio cities were ranked in the latest Terminix ranking: Cincinnati (5th), Cleveland (7th), Dayton (24th), Toledo (28th) and Youngstown (48th).
Susan Jones, an Ohio State University entomologist, said these rankings are far from the complete picture, but the bed bug problem in Ohio is widespread.
“It’s been a long-term problem in Ohio,” she said.
Jones and Addair both said the problem stems from a lack of education people have about how to properly identify and treat bed bugs.
“A lot of people believe that bed bugs are just on a mattress,” Addair said. “People don’t know what they need to do, or not do, to stop spreading the problem.”
To assist in educating people about bed bugs, Jones created a free bed bug app called “Bed Bug Field Guide,” which is available on Android and iOS.
Jones said the app helps people identify bed bugs and provides travel tips to avoid spreading them.
When people do identify a bed bug infestation, they often react in ways that make the problem worse, Addair said.
“I’ll go to a house, and someone will tell me they just threw all their furniture away and they still have the problem,” he said.
The impulse to throw furniture away when bed bugs are discovered is not only wrong, Addair said, it’s one reason the problem spreads.
“When people put furniture outside, a lot of times it doesn’t sit on that curb too long before someone comes up and gets it,” he said.
Instead, calling a professional exterminator is best when faced with an infestation. While do-it-yourself treatments are available, they can be ineffective and dangerous, Addair said.
“There’s a lot of gimmick products out there,” Addair said.
Jones said lower-income individuals often can’t afford treatments, and a community-wide response to bed bugs is needed to truly address the problem.
“We don’t have any magic bullet against bed bugs, and based on my research, we won’t have one in the near future,” she said.