Bed Bugs Rank Most Feared in Apartment Renter Survey

Orkin survey reveals residents see flies more than any other pest, but fear bed bugs the most.

A new survey of apartment residents reveals two key findings about the most common and most feared pests inside apartments: flies are the most common pest cited in apartments and bed bugs are the most feared.

Most Common Pest: Flies

Eighty-five percent of survey respondents said they have encountered a pest in the past year and flies were the most common, followed by ants, cockroaches and rodents. While flies may appear harmless, they can, every time they land, leave behind thousands of germs that can cause serious illnesses such as diarrhea, food poisoning, meningitis and bloodstream infections.

“Many may not be aware that house flies are absolutely filthy – in fact, twice as filthy as cockroaches. The survey results we released earlier this summer show that the health threats flies pose are often underestimated,” says Orkin entomologist and Technical Services Director Ron Harrison, Ph.D. “It’s important that everyone understands the magnitude of these health threats so that they can help prevent the transmission of dangerous diseases and bacteria.”

To prevent fly activity, apartment residents should:

  • Remove trash and wipe countertops regularly.
  • Clean food and beverage spills immediately.
  • Submit a maintenance request for any cracks and crevices on the building exterior, as well as missing or broken door and window screens.

Most Feared Pest: Bed Bugs

Thirty-nine percent of survey respondents stated they would least like to see bed bugs in their apartment, followed by rodents, cockroaches, ants and flies.

Bed bugs feed only on blood and some people who are bitten experience itchy red welts and swelling. Bed bugs are not only in bedrooms, but can settle wherever people sleep. They are great hitchhikers and travel in personal belongings and luggage.

“Bed bugs can reproduce quickly, so it’s important that apartment residents notify property managers of any evidence that causes them to suspect bed bug activity,” says Paul Rhodes, National Maintenance and Safety Instructor of NAAEI. “Early detection is key to help prevent a much larger infestation from setting in. To help prevent their occurrence, properties can be active in removing furniture abandoned at onsite trash locations, and ensure that residents are aware of dangers associated with bringing home ‘found’ items.”

Unlike with other pests, sanitation is not an influential factor in bed bug infestations. For this reason, it is important that apartment residents practice vigilance within their apartment units, as well as when they travel, by following these steps:

  • Lift and look underneath the mattress, bed frame, headboard and furniture. Watch for live or dead bugs or tiny rust-colored spots.
  • When travelling, elevate luggage on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall.
  • Examine luggage carefully while repacking and upon returning home from travelling.
  • Place all clothing from travel luggage in the dryer immediately for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting permitted for the items upon returning home.

Earlier this year Orkin released a list of Top Bed Bug Cities, ranked by the number of bed bug treatments Orkin performed from January to December 2013:

  1. Chicago
  2. Los Angeles
  3. Columbus, Ohio
  4. Detroit
  5. Cincinnati
  6. Cleveland/Akron/Canton
  7. Dayton
  8. Washington D.C.
  9. Denver
  10. Indianapolis
  11. Richmond/Petersburg, Va.
  12. Raleigh/Durham/Fayetteville, N.C.
  13. Dallas/Ft. Worth
  14. Syracuse, N.Y.
  15. Atlanta
  16. Houston
  17. New York
  18. Seattle/Tacoma
  19. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
  20. Boston
  21. Milwaukee
  22. Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
  23. Nashville
  24. Pittsburgh
  25. Charlotte
  26. San Diego
  27. Baltimore
  28. Phoenix
  29. Cedar Rapids/Waterloo, Iowa
  30. Charleston/Huntington, W. Va
  31. Knoxville, Tenn.
  32. Louisville, Ky.
  33. Grand Rapids/Kalamazoo, Mich.
  34. Hartford/New Haven, Conn.
  35. Champaign/Springfield, Ill.
  36. Greenville/Spartanburg/Asheville, S.C.
  37. Omaha, Neb.
  38. Buffalo, N.Y.
  39. Lincoln/Hastings/Kearney, Neb.
  40. Lexington, Ky.
  41. Sacramento/Stockton/Modesto, Calif.
  42. Colorado Springs/Pueblo, Colo.
  43. Albany/Schenectady/Troy, N.Y.
  44. Minneapolis/St. Paul
  45. Honolulu
  46. Toledo, Ohio
  47. Peoria/Bloomington, Ill.
  48. Davenport, Iowa/Moline, Ill.
  49. New Orleans
  50. Kansas City

To help reduce pest activity, apartment renters should also report pest sightings immediately to their property manager and request educational materials from their property manager to learn more about their role in pest control.

The survey was released by Orkin, polling apartment renters across the United States. View the full results of the apartment renter survey.