Jayne Clark, USA TODAY
Start scratching. Terminix has just issued its annual list of top bed-bug infested cities. In a twist this year, the exterminator has identified the 15 top cities with the largest increase in infestations.
We'll get to that, but first, a look at where the most bed bug-specific calls from anguished (we presume) customers are coming from. Terminix has 300-plus branches nationwide.
Cities with the top number of calls related to bed bugs through May of this year:
The same cities have tended to pop up in various spots on the list since it debuted in 2010. Tallies for previous years are on the company's website.
The 15 cities with the greatest increases in bed bug complaint calls to Terminix:
Sacramento, Calif. -- 54%
Milwaukee - 53%
Las Vegas - 50%
Columbus, Ohio - 47%
Baltimore - 46%
Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif. - 41%
St. Louis - 40%
Cleveland - 36%
Louisville, Ky. - 31%
Denver -- 28%
Los Angeles - 27%
San Francisco - 26%
Dallas/Ft. Worth - 25%
Nashville, Tenn. - 17%
Houston - 15%
The Terminix press release quotes one of its entomologists as saying bed bugs have been associated with anemia, can lead to problems related to excessive scratching and can have a "psychological impact."
I stay in a lot of hotels and I've never seen a bed bug, nor have I been victim to any of the maladies mentioned here, save for occasional bouts of bed-bug hysteria triggered by reading lists like this one.
The condition causes me to whip off the top bedding for closer inspection of the sheets. I also attempt to look behind the headboard for telltale specks on the wall (though that's more often than not futile, since headboards in the grade of hotels I stay in tend to be bolted to the wall).
But more often than not, I don't think twice about these tenacious little suckers I keep reading about
Am I playing bed bug roulette? Are you on the lookout for bed bugs and, if so, have you ever seen one?