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Things to know about bed bugs in Chicago

Things to know about bed bugs in Chicago
Photograph: Wikimedia Commons

Let's talk about an old friend: Cimex Lectularius, better known as the common bed bug. It's a gross and unfortunate parasite that's far too present in Chicago residences. Last year, Chicago topped Orkin's list of worst cities for bed bugs for the third year in a row. In 2013, the City Council passed an ordinance aimed at making landlords more accountable for bed bug infestations. Here's what you need to know about preventing and dealing with the nasty little insects in Chicago.

Bed bugs are quarter-inch vampires

Bed bugs fiend for human blood, and they can live up to a year on a single feeding. They typically only bite during the night, and they will hide in cracks, crevices, clothing, furniture and pretty much anywhere it's hard for you to see. Fully grown bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, and their eggs are barely visible. 

Beware of used furniture

Finding a free couch in an alleyway can seem like a steal, but you'll be cursing the frugality gods if it brings an army of bed bugs into your apartment. If you do take your furniture shopping to Craigslist or your local dumpster, be sure to inspect the items for signs of an infestation. 

Your landlord has to provide pest control services

If you find or suspect a bed bug infestation in your apartment, your landlord is required to provide pest control services within 10 days of a written request. They are also required to keep a record of any infestations and inform any prospective tenants of such. A failure to deal with the infestation would put them in violation of city code, and that's a sticky situation. 

You can kill them with heat

If you detect a bed bug infestation, you should wash the hell out of every single thing that you own. Your dry clean only items can go in the dryer on high-heat for 20 minutes. A steam cleaner can do a good job of eradicating them from your carpet and bed. There's no perfect solution for exterminating bed bugs, and a professional is usually the most reliable way to go. Another option is to move, but then you'd be admitting defeat to a vastly inferior species.