It gives a troubling twist to the cliche "don't let the bed bugs bite." A national pest control company has found that Buffalo is 26th in the nation for the number of treatments provided to battle bed bug infestation.
Orkin, a company that provides pest control services in every state, said the number of treatments jumped 12 percent in Buffalo last year, making it one of only seven cities out of 50 studied that witnessed a double-digit increase.
Still, nearly half the cities in the survey showed an increase in bed bug treatments, said Ron Harrison, an entomologist with Orkin.
"Fifteen years ago, there was no service for bed bugs," Harrison told WBFO. "Now, anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of pest control service to customers is bed bugs, so it's substantial."
Chicago topped the list of Orkin's bed bug cities for the third year, followed by Detroit, Columbus, Ohio and Los Angeles.
Harrison offers some tips for preventing bed bugs. They include decreasing clutter in homes and being vigilant when visitors arrive with suitcases -- including college kids who trek home for the summer. Harrison also cautions people who frequently purchase second-hand goods. Acquiring a bargain-priced treasure from a flea market could also harbor tiny blood-sucking hitchhikers.
"If you enjoy yard sales, used furniture and things like that, just be careful. Sometimes you can pick up something that looks really good, and then you have infested your home," he said.
It's possible to rid properties of bed bugs without calling an exterminator, Harrison said. Steps include clearing infested rooms of clutter, aggressive vacuuming and careful monitoring.
Experts say bed bugs rarely spread disease to humans like many other pests, but they can leave bloody welts on skin that cause itching.