America's Most Infested Places

By Hamooda Shami, Staff WriterNov. 12, 2010
By Hamooda Shami, Staff WriterNov. 12, 2010, at 3:12 p.m.
U.S. News & World Report

America's Most Infested Places

Have you ever had people over at your home who didn't know when it was time to leave? Next thing you know, they're bringing over friends, and now that you think of it, you don't even remember inviting anyone over in the first place…

This is what it's like to live in an infested place. You're surrounded by irritating neighbors that just won't go away. You either adapt and try to minimize the nuisance that these pests present, or you leave, because you know they're not going anywhere anytime soon.

A better plan is taking the preemptive measure of not moving to places with infestations in the first place. The key here is identifying these spots and avoiding the ones that have residents you'd rather not deal with.

We've put together a list of some of the most infested places in the United States. Although most places are not eager to advertise a pesky epidemic, this list of America's most infested places is based on hard data and/or an unshakeable reputation.

[See a photo recap of America's Most Infested Places]

Insect parasites that like to feed on human blood hiding in your home? Sounds like a bad sci-fi movie, but bedbugs are all too real. And they like hanging out in the Big Apple. According to a recent report from Terminix, New York is the most bedbug-infested city in the country, with Philadelphia as the runner-up. Honorable mention goes to Ohio for receiving the title of most bedbug-infested state.

Mostly active at night, bedbugs often feed on you while you're asleep, leaving you to wake up with rashes or other symptoms. Getting rid of them is no easy task -- consult a pest control professional.

Characterized by their aggressiveness and tendency to sting in numbers, Africanized Honey Bees are more commonly known by their sinister nickname, "killer bees." They made their U.S. debut in Hidalgo, Texas in 1990 amidst the buzz of paranoid news coverage. The city of Hidalgo decided to embrace the publicity, adopting the nickname of "Killer Bee Capital of the World." Whether Hidalgo does in fact have the highest population of killer bees in the U.S. is unknown, but we'll give them props for taking credit for it.

An entire generation of Americans was semi-traumatized by watching Jaws at a young age, resulting in a deep-seated fear of sharks. In reality, shark attacks are extremely rare when compared to the number of people that venture into the waters. But incidents do occur from time to time, and according to the International Shark Attack File, New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County, Florida is our shark attack capital, with 219 documented attacks since 1882.

For allergy-sufferers, walking around a place with a high pollen count can be more than a little uncomfortable. Every year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) ranks the toughest places to live in the country for people with seasonal allergies. Their rankings are based on a number of factors, including pollen scores and the number of allergy medications used per patient. This year, Dayton, Ohio earns the distinction as America's Allergy Capital. Wichita, Kansas placed second while Louisville, Kentucky came in third.

While no rat census has ever been conducted, New York did head a list of American cities most at risk for an infestation of these critters according to the Rodent Risk Assessment report conducted by pest management experts Dale E. Kaukeinen and Bruce A. Colvin in 2007. The report takes a number of criteria into consideration, including population density and climate. Actual estimates on the amount of rats in the city vary widely, from the optimistic 256,000 range to the more troubling figure of almost 100 million. Houston was ranked second and Boston came in third.

In a recent national survey among homeowners conducted by Infogroup, Florida received the unwelcome distinction of being the state with the worst bug problems. Cockroaches, ants, termites -- they're all very comfortable residents of the Sunshine State. Louisiana placed second on the survey, while Texas came in third. When faced with a potential bug infestation problem at your home, it is recommended that you call a pest control professional for assistance rather than going for the do-it-yourself approach.

These large, semi-aquatic rodents know how to wreak some havoc. Nutria (Myocastor coypus) do a lot of damage with their burrowing and feeding habits, devouring copious amounts of river plants and contributing to coastal erosion in the process. In particular, they have been a destructive force in places like the coastal wetlands of Louisiana, even doing considerable damage to levees that are meant to help keep the encroaching Gulf of Mexico from swallowing Louisiana's coast. The problem has gotten so bad that the State of Louisiana has instituted the Nutria Control Program, encouraging trapping and hunting of these pests. For those looking for an alternative career path, the Nutria Control Program will pay $5 per nutria tail…

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