Bed bug problem growing in Atlanta

Bed bugs are becoming more of a problem in Atlanta, according to the latest figures from a company in the business of getting rid of them.

Orkin said Atlanta now ranks 21st among the top 50 cities where it is seeing the problem the most. That’s up from No. 45 two years ago.

The Atlanta-based pest control company based its findings on the number of bed bug treatments it performed from January to December 2011.

Overall, the company saw a 33.6 percent increase in bed bug business between 2010 and 2011.

The Top 2 bed bug cities for treatment for the second year in a row were Cincinnati and Chicago, respectively. Rounding out the Top 10 were Detroit, Denver, Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas/Fort Worth, New York and Richmond/Petersburg, Va., respectively.

Ron Harrison, an Orkin entomologist, says big cities that have busy airports could be seeing more of a problem because of increased travel.

“The changes could also be because the bed bug population is increasing overall, or even because the public is becoming more aware of bed bugs and has become better adept at identifying them," Harrison said.

Harrison said the bugs tend to settle where people sleep but are nocturnal. When they bite, the bugs leave itchy welts and sometimes red marks and swelling. The bugs also aren’t picky when it comes to hotel accommodations. Both 5-star and 1-star locations can have them.

He advises spring break travelers to look for signs of bed bugs, such as tiny rust-colored spots on bed sheets. Look underneath mattresses, put luggage on racks away from the bed and keep luggage off the bed, and put clothing in the dryer for at least 15 minutes on the highest setting after returning home.