RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Richmond, we may have a problem and they bite. Orkin Pest Control just announced the Richmond and Petersburg area ranks number nine in the nation when it comes to cities fighting bed bugs. That ranking is up two spots from last year.
It's a pesky problem that's all too real for many in our area. Martin Beall became familiar when his son went away to college.
"His frat house, of all places, they had bedbugs. So we didn't let him bring that mattress back home when he graduated," Beall said.
It's a situation Orkin Pest Control deals with more than many may realize. The company just ranked Richmond among the top 10 cities with the most cases of bedbugs.
"In this area, every day were responding to some type of bedbug issue," said Benjamin Hill.
It's an issue that's showing up everywhere.
"Movie theaters, airports, public transportation, office buildings, call centers…The places where people sleep - homes, apartments, that kind of stuff, hotels," Hill said.
He goes directly to the source.
"Bedbugs tend to be crack and crevice creatures so they are going to look for places to hide. They're primarily nocturnal. So you've got to go hunting for them. Obviously you need a flash light sometimes to do the inspections. You're looking for eggs and their shell as they grow, or the actual insect," Hill said.
Sometimes the bugs are hard to find, but the damage is not. They can leave itchy welts that often appear in a zigzag pattern.
"When your kids go to a friend's house and come home with red marks all over them, it's a problem," said Brooklyn Brookshire.
"He was getting bitten by them. He even put the mattress in a plastic bag, which was supposed to control it a little bit," Beall said.
If you find you've actually been bitten, experts say you can use soap and water to wash the bite. That can prevent infection and minimize itching. But a more serious infection may require medical treatment.
The Richmond metro area falls below Denver, but above major cities like Washington and Houston. Chicago is number one on the list. Orkin compiled its list based on its calls for service.