One of the nation’s most annoying pests are spreading throughout Michigan. Bed bugs have caused headaches for East Coast residents over the last decade, with major outbreaks hitting Philadelphia, Boston, and most famously, New York City. The bugs have taken over entire apartment complexes in ultra-dense Manhattan, affecting thousands of residents and causing million-dollar removal fees.

For the better part of a decade, Michigan residents sat back and watched as other states contended with the parasitic pests. Cities such as Detroit and Ann Arbor were almost completely free of them, as only the occasional outbreak featured on television shows and online reports. It’s been this way until 2007, when the bugs started taking over the state at truly unbelievable speeds.

Today, Detroit ranks among the ten most infested cities in the United States, with a wide variety of hotels and apartment buildings reporting issues with the bugs. Pest control companies are working overtime to ensure that the bugs can’t spread further, using new chemical cures and innovative heat and ice-based methods to keep the city clean. It’s working, although not as quickly as many hope.

While Detroit’s bed bug problems are minor next to those seen in other major cities, they’re enough to cause severe trouble for its residents. An apartment building in the inner city has had mail service dropped after a major outbreak was reported, and several other buildings within the city have been forced to temporarily house their residents in hotels, serviced apartments, or even family homes.

How are bed bugs spreading through Michigan?

As with other major metropolitan areas, it’s travel that’s to blame for Detroit’s surge in bug-related problems. With one of the country’s most active international airports and a direct road linking the city to nearby Canada, the bugs are easily able to spread into Michigan from other regions. Cities outside of Detroit have also seen outbreaks due to short-term hotel guests and their luggage.

The bugs are surprisingly athletic, able to crawl at a rate few humans would expect. As such, they can easily move from bedding to luggage without being noticed, particularly during the night-time hours when they’re most active. Pest control experts have stated that the bugs move into luggage, clothing, and other possessions during the night and are subsequently transported to new cities.

They’re also fierce hair residents, able to take refuge in human hair during the daytime. The bugs can cause skin irritations and severe itching, making them a fairly easy pest to spot when on your person. However, their fairly small size and tendency for compact spaces makes them difficult to spot on clothing, as they can easily burrow into seams and collars in order to avoid detection.

Which cities are most at risk of bed bug infestation?

Michigan’s economic center – Detroit – is most at risk of infestation due to its busy international airport, road link with Canada, and its relatively large population. Hotels in the city have played host to the bugs for years due to high turnover and limited staffing, with cleaning staff unable to detect the bugs in between guests. Most infestations are noticed by guests during the night.

Smaller cities such as Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor are also at risk, although due to their smaller travel appeal the two are less likely to experience outbreaks than Detroit. Several infestations in small towns have been reported, although due to the lower population density they are generally dealt to quickly and more effectively.

What steps can Michigan residents take to eliminate bed bugs?

Resident of Michigan – and also travelers in Michigan – should take steps to ensure that personal items don’t come in contact with the bugs. Bed bugs are infamously tough, and removing just one infestation can cost thousands of dollars and several weeks worth of spraying. Keep your clothing and suitcases away from bedsheets or carpet by storing it in the bathtub or using plastic cases.

Secondly, check mattresses, bedsheets, and pillow cases for any traces of the bugs before sleeping in a hotel bed. A story by Connect Michigan outlines the most effective ways to avoid catching the bugs in luggage or clothing, and even solutions for removing them from an infested home. There are numerous pest control services in the state, most of which offer a bed bug removal service.

Bed bugs in the Detroit Metropolitan Area

The Detroit area is the center of the state’s bed bug outbreaks, with several apartment buildings no longer able to receive mail due to the pests. The parasitic bugs have been spotted most often in the city’s numerous highrise tower blocks, where the small gaps between units allow them to shift from one apartment to another at rapid speeds.

A variety of pest removal services are available in the city, many of which offer a heat-based bed bug extermination system. The cost of removing the bugs, however, isn’t particularly friendly – a small extermination effort can cost hundreds of dollars, with long-term treatment routinely costing upwards of $1,000 in spraying and heat-based elimination services.

Bed bugs in the Grand Rapids Area

Grand Rapids has seen numerous outbreaks in the last two years, including one case in an apartment block that serves as an example of the pest’s hardiness. Office spaces have also been infested, giving businesses a headache and resulting in record callouts for pest control businesses.

Michigan’s Emerging Disease Issues department has issued a report on the bugs, along with a series of brochures on how to eliminate them. Cases in the Grand Rapids Metropolitan Area are featured, giving residents an idea of outbreak locations and how the bugs can be avoided.

Recent outbreaks, media coverage, and its effect on the local economy

Coverage has increased significantly over the past two years as the bugs have grown from a minor issue into a lingering problem in the state. One report from WWMT highlights the state’s efforts in removing the bugs from homes, featuring prominently a report that’s designed to help homeowners eliminate the parasitic pests from furniture and home fittings.

On a national scale, Michigan tends not to be featured in bed bug stories. Major centers like New York City and San Francisco have experienced greater outbreaks than Detroit, making the state a minor target for pest control teams and government health departments. Few investigative features have targeted hotels, resulting in very little downturn for the state’s tourism industry.