The expression "don't let the bedbugs bite" is more true now than ever -- a bedbug epidemic is sweeping the country. And it's not just sleazy, rundown motels that are infested -- clean, normal people have the problem, as well as popular retail stores.
Bedbugs were pretty much under control in the United States for decades, when in the 1990s the EPA banned the use of a chemical called propoxur for in-home use. It was very effective in killing bedbugs, but tests show it could have harmful effects.
"We believe the window between a safe dose and a dangerous dose for a toddler is very small," says EPA pesticide chief Steven Bradbury.
So the bedbugs saw their opening and regrouped, and now it is an epidemic. To demonstrate how bad it is, the National Pest Management Association conducted an international study earlier this year, revealing that 95% of the 521 U.S. pest-management companies surveyed encountered a bedbug infestation in the last year. Before 2000, just 25 percent of companies surveyed had encountered bedbugs.
In addition to being in homes, bedbugs were found in retail stores such as Victoria's Secret and Abercrombie & Fitch in New York City in July. Victoria's Secret said in a statement:
"As a proactive measure, we tested our Manhattan stores. When we found small, isolated areas that may have been impacted, we immediately took action to resolve the situation."
Increased travel, in which people can bring bedbugs back home in their suitcases, is also being blamed for the spread.
For some reason the state of Ohio has been particularly hard hit. (We blame LeBron James leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers.) It petitioned the EPA to allow it to use propoxur again, but the agency denied the request.
The Daily Beast asked the nationwide bug-killing company Orkin which cities have been hit the hardest. Here is its list:
1) Cincinnati, OH
2) Columbus, OH
3) Chicago, IL
4) Denver, CO
5) Detroit, MI
6) Washington, D.C.
7) New York, NY
8) Philadelphia, PA
9) Dayton, OH
10) Baltimore, MD