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New York City creeps to height of bedbug ratings

| Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010

New York has more unwanted nocturnal guests than other urban areas and has been named the most bedbug-infested city in the United States.

It surpassed Philadelphia, Detroit, Cincinnati and Chicago, which rounded out the top five cities, according to extermination company Terminix, which compiled the list based on call volume to its offices around the country this year.

"In the past, offices might get a couple of calls a month for bedbug eradication," spokesman Clint Briscoe said. "Now, some of them are getting several dozen a week."

The company blamed global travel for the bugs' return 60 years after they were thought to have been eradicated in the United States. But it said the appearance on its list of smaller cities shows the insects -- which live in furniture, clothing and luggage -- are getting a grip on the heartland.

"It's the bedbug problems in cities like Dayton and Louisville that prove bedbugs are back and can pop up anywhere," said Paul Curtis, a Terminix entomologist, referring to No. 8 and No.13 on the list.

Briscoe said over the last three years the company's commercial bedbug business has more than doubled, while calls from householders are significantly higher.

New York City Councilwoman Christine Quinn admitted last month that the Big Apple had been hit hard by the blood-sucking insects after the city announced it would spend $500,000 raising awareness about the pests, which don't carry disease but are difficult to eliminate.

Former President Clinton has battled an outbreak in his Harlem office, as has lingerie outlet Victoria's Secret, clothing store Hollister and numerous hotels, which have lost thousands of dollars in revenue fighting the bedbug.

Terminix said the bugs tend to hitch a ride from one location to the next, so are fond of hotels, airplanes and cruise ships.

People who suspect they have bedbugs were advised to check mattresses for dark blood spots and to avoid picking up used mattresses or furniture left out on the street.

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