Iowa is Crawling With Bed Bugs, 3 Cities Among Most Infested

Bed bugs are small, wingless insects that feed on human blood, causing itchy welts and rashes. Although they don’t transmit diseases, eliminating them from a home or building can be challenging. Bed bugs hide in cracks and crevices of mattresses, furniture, bedding, and clothing, and can travel through luggage, secondhand items, or human contact.

Bed Bug Infestation in Iowa

According to a recent report by the pest control company Orkin, Iowa ranks among the states with the highest number of bed bug infestations in the U.S. The report analyzed the top 50 cities based on bed bug treatments conducted by Orkin from January to December 2023. Three Iowa cities made the list: Des Moines (No. 25), Cedar Rapids (No. 30), and Davenport (No. 35). This indicates a notable rise in bed bug activity, necessitating increased pest control services in these areas.

The report suggested that the COVID-19 pandemic might have contributed to bed bug spread, as people spent more time at home and traveled less. However, with the easing of travel restrictions and the resumption of normal activities, the risk of bed bug exposure may also rise.

Prevention and Treatment of Bed Bug Infestations

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) recommends preventive measures to avoid bringing bed bugs into homes or workplaces. These measures include:

  • Carefully inspecting luggage and clothing after travel, then placing them in a hot dryer for 30 minutes to eliminate any bed bugs or eggs.
  • Examining secondhand furniture, bedding, or beds before bringing them home and rejecting or discarding items showing signs of bed bug infestation.
  • Using mattress covers and box spring encasements to prevent bed bugs from hiding or escaping.
  • Reducing clutter and vacuuming frequently to eliminate potential hiding places for bed bugs.

If bed bugs are discovered, the IDPH advises using integrated pest management, a combination of prevention, sanitation, and pesticide/insecticide use. The IDPH also suggests contacting landlords or professional pest control companies experienced in treating bed bugs and following their instructions carefully. The IDPH warns against using unproven or unsafe methods like rubbing alcohol, kerosene, or gasoline, as they can cause fires, explosions, or health hazards.

While bed bugs pose a nuisance and are challenging to eradicate, proper knowledge and action can control them. Through vigilance and proactive measures, Iowa residents can protect themselves and their families from these unwelcome pests.


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