Pennsylvania is slowly discovering millions of unwanted guests. Bed bugs – a strain of insect that was previously eliminated in the United States – have come back with a vengeance. Reports from major population centers in Pennsylvania have made it clear that the pests, which have become an annoyance in New York City, have spread west into Pennsylvania’s biggest cities and major towns.

The bugs are fairly harmless – they sleep during the day in the mattress of a bed, the cracks of home walls, and the comfortable pockets of space left during construction. But during the night, they exit the mattress and spend their time feasting on the home’s inhabitants. Serious outbreaks of the bugs can lead to hundreds of bugs, and that’s just in a single night.

Residents of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh have been reporting the bugs at increased levels over the past twelve months, with reported cases increasing on a near weekly basis. Pest control businesses in the state have been working overtime on their bed bug cases, as the small bugs are particularly difficult to remove. Just ten years ago, they were unlikely to receive a single case annually.

While other states have experienced bed bug outbreaks on larger scales than Pennsylvania – New York City and San Francisco are major hotspots – the bugs have become more common in cities such as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Small towns have also been affected by the annoying pests, although their lower residential density makes it less likely that the bugs can spread easily.

We’ve gone in-depth in Pennsylvania, searching for the state’s largest bed bug infestations and news on the control of the bugs. Please see below for specific information on the cause of bed bugs, ways to remove the bugs from your residence, and the most frequent areas for bed bug reports in the state.

How are bed bugs spreading through Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania is a fairly diverse state. Home to both highly dense cities and a largely rural farm area, it’s not the perfect environment for bed bugs to spread easily. However, due to its large cities and its links to interstate transportation, bed bugs have spread from one area to another. The most common reason for the spread of bed bugs is travel, particularly from international tourists and local hotels.

Bed bugs are also spreading from other major cities on the East Coast. New York City is currently the country’s most frequently reported bed bug area, with hundreds of apartment complexes found to contain the pests. Due to unintentional transport in luggage, clothes, and other furniture, it’s now believed that Philadelphia – Pennsylvania’s largest city – is the country’s second bed bug center.

Which cities are most at risk for bed bug infestation?

Pennsylvania’s bed bug capital – and one of the United States’ bed bug capitals – is Philadelphia. A total of almost five-hundred bed bug cases have been reported over the last twelve months – a large increase from previous levels. In 1990, pest control companies were unlikely to receive more than two or three calls annually. In 2010, many companies are tending to several cases on a daily basis.

The second-most likely area for bed bug activity is Pittsburgh, the state’s secondary city and one of its most important industrial centers. As one of the state’s major business and travel centers, hotels and short-term accommodation options make up a large portion of Pittsburgh’s bed bug complaint count. Several regional hotels have been forced to temporarily close in order to remove the bugs.

Why are bed bugs appearing so frequently in Pennsylvania?

The state’s temperate climate isn’t an advantage when it comes to bed bug infestations. The bugs are relatively hardy and can live in even the chilliest of temperatures, although extreme heat has proven effective during eradication. Pennsylvania’s largely urbanized population centers allow for the bugs to easily transfer from one person to another, particularly on public trains and busses.

Bed bugs in Philadelphia

Due to Philadelphia’s fairly public bed bug problem, businesses in the hotel industry have taken to fighting the pests head on. A recent conference at the Marriott Downtown explained the problem in simple terms to hoteliers, encouraging cleaning staff to examine mattresses and use dissolvable bags for laundry. While New York’s hotels are faring worse, Philadelphia appears to be improving.

However, many of the city’s residential areas are still home to bed bugs and other common pests. In contrast to previous decades, the amount of call outs for bed bugs has steadily risen over the past ten years in Philadelphia. New treatment options such as high-heat air blasting are proving effective, as the pests are immune to most chemical treatments and require repeated doses of commercial sprays.

Bed bugs in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh has experienced bed bug outbreaks for the last six years. The small bloodsuckers have appeared on and off the radar for the better part of a decade, with occasional outbreaks annoying both residents and apartment complex owners. While high-profile lawsuits have been filed in San Francisco and New York City aimed a major hotels, Pittsburgh’s hotel industry has yet to suffer.

However, the bugs are still a major annoyance for residents. While fewer apartment buildings and residential homes in Pittsburgh are infested, the severity of the infestations are as high as those in New York City and other large metropolitan areas. No commercial outbreaks have been reported this year, although several unnamed hotels have been affected by the pests.

Recent outbreaks and news coverage in Pennsylvania

Recent outbreaks in Pennsylvania have been relatively minor. The few cases that are reported on are from small residential buildings and isolated buildings, with commercial buildings and offices fairly free of the pests. While a number of hotels within the city are said to contain bed bugs, local media outlets have not named any specific chains, independent operators, or bed bug hot spots.