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How Chicagoans Can Deal With Bedbugs

Sidney Madden
Sidney Madden
Posted on October 23
A person holds a container of bedbugs.

Bedbugs at the Bedbug University North American Summit 2010 in Rosemont. (Brian Kersey / Getty)

Worried you’ll bring bedbugs home after traveling? Ergh, they are already here: Chicago was ranked the No. 1 U.S. city for bedbugs for the third consecutive year in early 2023 by pest control company Orkin. That’s why we’re sharing how you can protect yourself.

Why Are Bedbugs Hard to Spot?

Because bedbugs are small and nocturnal, they can be hard to see.

At night, they come out to feed on animals’ blood. During the day, they can hide between mattress tags and seams as well as behind baseboards, electrical outlets, picture frames, and more, Orkin said.

But the reality is they can be anywhere people sleep, sit, or lay down.

How Do You Check for Bedbugs?

  • Rusty stains on bed sheets or mattresses from crushed bedbugs
  • Tiny dark spots (pictured above) are bedbug excrements
  • Bedbug eggs and eggshells (which are small and pale yellow)
Bedbug bites

Bedbug bites. (Nick de la Torre / Houston Chronicle / Getty)

Bites are another sign; though, not everyone will have a reaction. Some bites might become red, swollen, and itchy as well as appear in a linear pattern, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.

What to Do if You Get Bedbugs?

Under city ordinance, Chicago renters are required to notify their landlords within five days. A landlord then has up to 10 days to have an exterminator inspect the apartment.

Landlords in Illinois are required to provide bedbug-free apartments and are required to pay for the treatment unless they can prove the tenant brought the pests onto the property, according to state law.

Condo unit owners should notify their respective governing associations, which are supposed to have a plan, city law says.

  • Using heat to kill bedbugs — wash and dry your clothes and bedding on the highest setting
  • Sealing clean clothes in plastic bags
  • Vacuuming your home every day
  • Cleaning up clutter (where bedbugs like to hide)
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