If you’ve lived in New York City long enough, you have most likely experienced bed bugs. According to Orkin, the to-go for pest control, New York City ranked sixth in the country for the most bed bug infestations. The flat, brown insects have a distinct look that is hard to miss once you know what you’re looking for. While small bed bugs pack a punch (or a bite), with adult bed bugs about the size of an apple seed, millions can infest an entire building in no time. Adult females can lay anywhere from two to five eggs per day. This quickly reproducing parasite is the most difficult insect to eradicate, according to 76% of pest control professionals.
A bed bug infestation can happen anywhere but is the most prominent in highly populated areas. The insects are “hitchhikers” and can easily hide in hotel rooms, schools, public transportation, and other populated areas. Bed bugs attach themselves to suitcases, purses, clothing, and other fabrics like sheets and upholstery. It only takes one infected item for an infestation.
There is no way to stop bed bugs, and tracking the source of an infestation is near impossible. The parasitic insect feeds on the blood of animals–mainly humans and occasionally birds. Humans are their primary source of food. Naturally, bed bugs thrive in New York City. Bed bugs can infest anywhere, mainly in homes, apartment buildings, and hotels. However, certain boroughs in NYC have a higher number of bed bug infestations.
Read on to find out which borough is the bed buggiest.
The hip New York borough continually holds the top spot for bed bug infestations in NYC. Considering Brooklyn is the fastest-growing borough in NYC–with a population increase of 5.3% from 2010 to 2016–it makes sense that bed bugs, along with the coolest people you know, flock to Brooklyn. The population of Brooklyn, both human and insect, shows no signs of slowing down.
Brooklyn is projected to become the most populated borough by 2040. Unsurprisingly Flatbush, the neighborhood with the most bed bug infestations in Brooklyn is densely populated and continues to grow. Home to a diverse population, Brooklyn College, and a thriving arts community, Flatbush is on its way to becoming one of New York’s hottest neighborhoods–bringing in even more bed bugs with new residents.
Like Brooklyn, the Bronx is no stranger to massive bed bug infestation. The Wakefield neighborhood in the Bronx has the highest number of violations. Late last year, the borough made news when Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into a government-subsidized apartment building in the Bronx for unresolved bed bug complaints. Multiple residents experienced severe bed bug bites and property damage.
In 2010, the New York City government passed the Bedbug Disclosure Act that requires landlords to inform tenants in writing about bed bug infestations in the property during the past year. Another law, passed in 2017, requires landlords of multi-family buildings to report a year’s worth of bed bug infestations to the city’s Housing Preservation and Development office. The reports must be for each unit within the building.
While there are more laws requiring landlords to report bed bug infestations, there are no requirements for landlords to inspect or exterminate the bed bugs. Earlier this year, it was reported that New York Housing Authority residents filed 60,000 work orders for bed bugs and roach infestations in Bronx public housing properties.
The center of New York City is a mainstay on lists of boroughs with the most bed bugs. With millions of residents, travelers, and commuters visiting Manhattan daily, bed bugs are a regular occurrence. West Harlem regularly tops the list in Manhattan neighborhoods with the most bedbug reports. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, an average workday in Manhattan saw the population grow from 1.6 million to 3.1 million as commuters from different boroughs and nearby states. Doubling the population five days a week, along with mass use of public transportation where fabric seats are a must, is a recipe for bed bug disaster.
Since the pandemic was declared in March and major cities across the country were forced into lockdown, bed bug infestations are expected to stay low in 2020 compared to previous years.
Queens doesn’t have as many reports as the other boroughs, but no place in NYC (or the world) is immune to bed bugs. With a population of 2.25 million, roughly on par with Manhattan-Queens should statistically have more bed bug infestations.
The total number of violations reported might not accurately reflect infestations, meaning that Queens and Staten Island–the boroughs with historically the least amount of bed bug violation reports–could have much more. In January 2020, multiple bed bug reports shut down the Forest Hills-71st Avenue subway station in Queens.
If you’re wanting to avoid bed bugs in New York City, hop on the Staten Island Ferry. What residents call “the forgotten borough”, Staten Island is the least populated NYC borough. With only about 476,00 residents, Staten Island is sparsely populated compared to its neighbors with more of a small-town feel. Compared to other boroughs, over 52% of commuters on Staten Island work in the borough. The limited travel helps the bed bug population of Staten Island remain low.
If you suspect your building might have bed bugs, there are several resources to help you find out for sure.
No one wants to find bed bugs either in their own home, apartment, or hotel room. Finding bed bugs can be a shock. Remember not to panic and do anything rash or act out of anger. Clearing an infestation requires patience and usually requires the work of a professional.
Here are a few steps to take when you find bed bugs.
Just as their name suggests, bed bugs love a sleepover. While the parasites are found on other fabric surfaces, many tend to find them in various parts of beds. Bed bugs can burrow deep inside mattresses where females can lay eggs that can hatch and cause another infestation. Signs of bed bugs in or on your mattress are brown, blood-like stains, egg casings/shells, and bites. If you believe you have bed bugs, there are some DIY extermination methods like certain essential oils, heat, and coarse brushes. However, it is best to call a professional to deal with bed bugs. It is perfectly fine to try these methods while waiting for an exterminator.
Disposing of your entire bed including the frame is not necessary. Those dealing with bed bug infestations might not feel comfortable sleeping on a mattress that has survived an infestation. A survey conducted by the National Pest Management Association found that 30% of those who had bed bugs purchase a new mattress. Want to purchase a new mattress after a bed bug infestation? SleePare can help! Head over to our website to schedule a showroom visit. We are taking appointments at both our New York City and Tysons Corner locations.
Emily Stringer is a Content Writer at SleePare. Emily has over five years of experience writing and conducting research for different industries. When she’s not writing, you can find Emily with her dogs in Lexington, Kentucky.