Fact: America is teeming with creepy, crawly predators. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, 57 poison control centers in the United States received over 66,000 calls for bites or venom poisoning in 2011 alone—and these numbers are only increasing. Additionally, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that bites and stings from insects, spiders, or bees caused 25 deaths in the same year. So, while many of us may not think twice about the occasional bee sting or mosquito bite, a growing number of the population is dealing with more high-risk critter situations in cities across the United States.
In order to better prepare you for summer travels (or equip your home with better bug defenses), we’ve compiled a list of the cities in the United States afflicted with the worst bug bite epidemics, using statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau and Orkin’s list of worst bed bug and mosquito-ridden cities. With that said, these are the buggiest cities in America—grab your fly swatter and can of Off! spray, and try to remain calm. And for more fear-inducing content, check out these 20 Childhood Fears That Stick with You Until Adulthood.
If scorpions make you squeamish, it might be a good idea to skip to the next slide. According to the National Park Service, around 600 people place an emergency call concerning a scorpion sting in a typical three month period of time during the offseason. However, during peak season in July and August, thousands of calls are placed—and thousands more attempt to treat these stings at home. So, as you can see, there is a reason why Phoenix is called the scorpion sting capital of the country—with 45 species and one in particular, the Arizona Bark Scorpion, whose sting can actually kill you if left untreated.
Also, unfortunately for homeowners in the city, these are the scorpions most likely to be hiding underneath your comforter or in your shower, as they prefer dark, damp places to nest. So, yeah—check underneath your covers before you hop into bed at night. And if you happen to be living in or around Phoenix, keep the scorpions away with these 27 Ways to Clean Your House Like a Pro Housekeeper.
San Antonio, Texas
Due to its similar dry and dusty climate, San Antonio, Texas has their fair share of scorpion stings, as well—though certainly not as frequently. Other bites that top the list come from Black Widows, Brown Recluses, Lichen Orb Weavers, and Blister Beetles (they get their name from the blisters their bites leave on human skin). In addition to these lovely insects, San Antonio residents need to keep an eye out for cockroaches, as they enjoy inhabiting the same space as their human friends. And finally, if you weren’t already canceling any travel plans to this fair city, be warned that the deadly “kissing bug,” or triatomine bug, carries a deadly disease that when left untreated, can cause sudden death, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In Texas, multiple people have already died from the kissing bug bite.
Kansas City, Missouri
To begin with, there is some bad news to report: unfortunately, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the kissing bug has also been discovered in Kansas City, Missouri. However, the good news is that, while being one of the worst bug-infested cities in America, the bugs in Kansas City are relatively harmless—or at least their bite is. The most potentially dangerous bites come from Black Widows and Brown Recluses. And for those of you looking to face your fear of insects head-on, check out these 5 Amazing Benefits of Eating Bugs.
Though much of the bug-bites in Houston are from pesky critters like mosquitos, bees, and the occasional Black Widow spider, Houston (and, well, all of Texas) is more well-known for a series of incredibly terrifying insects. Perhaps the most fear-inducing one of all, nicknamed the “cow killer” (though their sting can’t actually kill a cow), the Red Velvet Ant’s sting will most likely send you to the hospital. While the females are the ones that most resemble ants, since they are wingless, the males appear more like a wasp and tend to be more aggressive when disturbed.
While many claim that the bugs in Austin help to keep the city weird, we’re guessing that a vast majority of Austin residents would rather not deal with these strange critters, like the Africanized Killer Bee (yes, just as scary as the name might suggest). Though not the major culprits of reported bug bites (that distinction belongs to the mosquito), bugs like the Texas Redheaded Centipede and the Southern Flannel Moth appear harmless, but are actually incredibly venemous and should be avoided at all times. And for more ways to avoid mosquitos this year, check out these 15 Genius Ways to Outsmart Mosquitoes This Summer.
Fayetteville, North Carolina
Recently, Fayetteville made the list of the worst cities in the country infested with bed bugs—and these generally awful, biting critters aren’t the only nuisance to look out for while in the area. Paper wasps, a breed of wasp most prevalent in North Carolina and the surrounding temperate region, is one of the more common stings here, though a relatively painless sting unless the afflicted is allergic to the insect.
As you’ve most likely noticed, Texas is not the place to be if you’re afraid of the insects that go bump in the night—and all throughout the day. Topping the list of terrifying creatures is…the mosquito. Well, to clarify, it’s the increased population of mosquitos carrying the Zika Virus. From January 1, 2015, through April 26, 2017, the Centers for Disease Control reported that 326 people had been diagnosed with the virus—just in the state of Texas alone. This has especially been an issue in the Dallas area, as the mosquito population has continued to rise, and with it, threats of the disease.
The state of Delaware is home to not just any water bug, but the Giant Water Bug, nearly spanning the size of your entire finger. These bugs are also known as “toe-biters,” as they are known to clamp down on your toes in a rather painful clashing of skin and tight pinchers. Aside from these creepy crawlies, the city of Dover is relatively tame despite their frequent run-ins with bed bug epidemics.
The small town of Lima, Ohio, is crawling with bugs. According to a report by Thumbtack, an online marketplace that connects homeowners with local services like pest control, Lima is the 8th “buggiest” city in the country. The report cited an overwhelming amount of bed bug infestations, along with a number of problems with fleas and ticks.
Year after year, Indianapolis has maintained its prominent place on the list of the most bed bug infested cities in the country—and they aren’t going anywhere. Most recently, at the beginning of 2018, Indianapolis jumped forward three spots to claim their 11th spot on the list, in a move which shocked no one in the city. Congratulations, Indianapolis.
Welcome to Chicago, home of the stink bug. Just last year, it was widely reported that Chicago was in the midst of a battle with the bugs, whose presence has only seemed to increase in the year following. According to experts, if you see a stink bug in your home, you should never attempt to squish it, as the bugs release a foul-smelled liquid that can actually stain.
Los Angeles, California
While you may think of the ant as the most harmless of the insect species, think again. As it turns out, the little Red Imported Fire Ant has become a big issue in the Los Angeles area in the recent years. According to the Los Angeles County West Vector & Vector-Borne Disease Control District, red ants are one of the most aggressive insects when disturbed—and their bite is much worse than their bark.
If you’ve spent any time at all in Atlanta, you may know firsthand about the cockroach problems the city has been struggling with, especially in the last decade. There are five different types of roaches living in the city, with the most prevalent one being the American Cockroach. This infestation is mostly due to the warm, damp weather in Atlanta, providing the optimal living conditions for the pests. While it is somewhat rare, being bitten by a cockroach can be extremely painful. According to several studies, the roaches are “capable of generating a bite force that is fifty times stronger than their own body weight.” But, other than the pain, there’s no reason to be alarmed if one of these critters has clamped onto your skin, as they are one of the only bugs not capable of transmitting disease.
As you might’ve already guessed, the further south you travel, the bigger and more prevalent the bugs become. To begin with, a vast majority of bugs in the area are in fact invasive species that arrived in Florida by accident or were intentionally introduced—meaning that Floridians are suffering from bug bites that should have never even occurred in their natural habitat. After the American Cockroach, species of flies are the most common culprits of insect bites in Miami. In particular, the Yellow Fly and Stable Fly are quite vicious (especially the female Yellow Fly, who needs regular blood meals in order to raise her babies). Unlike other bugs on the list, they often seek out human victims—though their bite is relatively harmless.
According to an article published in January of 2018, Washington, D.C., had one of the worst bed bug infestations in 2017, maintaining their number 2 spot on Orkin’s annual list of the top bed bug cities in the country. It looks like these hungry critters aren’t going anywhere.
New York, New York
Perhaps the only thing scarier than the cost of your rent in New York City is the daily threat of cockroaches. But, perhaps more terrifying than the daily threat of cockroaches, is knowing that most of New York City—even City Hall—has been infested with bed bugs. And, to make matters worse, the bugs have actually grown thicker skin here in the city, making them that much harder to kill.
According to a recent report, Detroit ranks sixth in the nation for the peskiest mosquito population. And even more recently, earned its place on Orkin’s list for the cities with the worst bed bug infestations, coming in at seventh.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Though Raleigh ranks at a semi-respectable 15th on Orkin’s list of mosquito-ridden cities in America, it’s the other creepy crawlies that make this city—and state—such an interesting, bug-infested place. For example, did you know that scorpions exist in North Carolina? Neither did we. According to the News & Observer, Pseudoscorpions, while bearing no stinger, are still a shock to most of the population in North Carolina. Though they are relatively harmless (except for the occasional bite), the scorpions tend to hunt in packs of up to 175—which is indeed a startling image to conjure.
According to The Harris Poll conducted by TruGreen last year, Hartford, Connecticut is the most bug-infested city in the entire United States. This distinction is due in part to the overwhelming increase in the tick and mosquito population in the entire state. And, to make matters worse, tests by scientists at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station “found a higher-than-average rate of the Lyme Disease spirochetes.” And, finally, the West Nile Virus, transmitted by mosquitos, has been found in the area’s horses, wild birds, and people since 1999—all thanks to the pesky bugs.
Columbus, Ohio comes in at 5th on Orkin’s list of most bed bug infested cities, and they’ve really worked hard to earn their keep. The issue doesn’t seem to see any improvement as the area’s hotels (and even shopping centers) are constantly threatened by the presence of these biting adversaries. And for more bed bug assistance, check out these 20 Ways to Eliminate Bed Bugs Forever.
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