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ST. LOUIS – As we enter year three of the COVID pandemic, Americans are likely itching to travel again. But with flights and hotel stays on the upswing, it’s important to make sure you don’t encounter unwanted guests eager to hitch a ride back to your home.

Pest control company Orkin released its annual Top 50 Bed Bug Cities List on Monday, along with advice to prevent bed bugs.

Unfortunately, the Midwest dominates the upper tier of the list. St. Louis is one of nine cities in the region to make the top 20. Chicago tops the list for the second year in a row.

St. Louis has been on an upward trajectory these last couple of years. The Gateway City ranked 28th on Orkin’s 2020 list and 25th in 2021.

You can see the top 50 below. Orkin’s list is based on residential and commercial treatment data from metro areas between Dec. 1, 2020, and Nov. 30, 2021. The list includes each city’s rise or fall in the rankings compared to the year prior.

  1. Chicago
  2. Philadelphia (+12)
  3. New York (+9)
  4. Detroit
  5. Baltimore (-3)
  6. Indianapolis (+1)
  7. Washington, DC (-4)
  8. Cleveland, OH (-2)
  9. Columbus, OH (-4)
  10. Cincinnati (-2)
  11. Grand Rapids, MI (-1)
  12. Los Angeles (-3)
  13. Champaign, IL (+2)
  14. Atlanta (-1)
  15. Charlotte, N.C. (-4)
  16. Dallas-Ft. Worth
  17. Denver (+3)
  18. St. Louis, MO (+7)
  19. San Francisco (+3)
  20. Pittsburg (-1)
  21. Greenville, S.C. (+2)
  22. Charleston, W.V. (-4)
  23. Flint, MI (-2)
  24. Raleigh, N.C. (-7)
  25. Norfolk, VA (-1)
  26. Richmond, VA
  27. Omaha (+3)
  28. Buffalo, N.Y. (+1)
  29. Knoxville (+7)
  30. Cedar Rapids, IA (+5)
  31. Toledo, OH (-4)
  32. Dayton, OH (-4)
  33. South Bend, IN (+8)
  34. Nashville (-3)
  35. Davenport, IA (+3)
  36. Ft. Wayne, IN (-3)
  37. Youngstown (+3)
  38. Milwaukee (-6)
  39. Miami (+8)
  40. Tampa (-1)
  41. Houston (-4)
  42. Harrisburg (new to list)
  43. Greensboro, N.C. (-9)
  44. Seattle
  45. Peoria, IL (+4)
  46. Orlando (-1)
  47. Lexington, KY (-4)
  48. Lansing, MI
  49. Louisville, KY (-3)
  50. Lincoln, NE (new to list)

Bed bugs feed on blood and can survive for several months between feeding. Females can lay anywhere between 200 to 500 eggs in a lifetime, making them a difficult pest to contain.

Orkin offers the following bed bug tips for travelers:

During travel, remember the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to inspect for bed bugs:
Survey the hotel room for signs of an infestation. Be on the lookout for tiny, ink-colored stains on mattress seams, in soft furniture and behind headboards.
Lift and look in bed bug hiding spots: the mattress, box spring and other furniture, as well as behind baseboards, pictures and even torn wallpaper.
Elevate luggage away from the bed and wall. The safest places are in the bathroom or on counters.
Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and once you return home from a trip. Always store luggage away from the bed.
Place all dryer-safe clothing from your luggage in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting after you return home.