ST. LOUIS, Mo. – Florida has a bad reputation, at least when it comes to bugs. In a national survey, homeowners ranked Florida as the state with the worst bug infestation problems – including ants, termites and cockroaches. Louisiana and Texas were runners-up.
Bugs clearly are widespread across America: A whopping 90 percent of homeowners said they have experienced an insect infestation, according to the recent telephone survey, conducted by Infogroup | ORC, sponsored by BASF Pest Control Solutions.
When it comes to bed bugs, respondents agreed New York has the worst problem. California and Florida were first and second runners-up for bed bugs, respectively.
Ant infestation was rated the most common insect annoyance by homeowners interviewed. Nearly 60 percent of those questioned said ants were “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to infest their homes. In contrast, about a quarter (27 percent) of respondents said they were “likely” to suffer from a termite infestation.
“The survey findings mirror what we see in real life,” said Dr. Bob Davis, Chief Entomologist at BASF. “Ants are pervasive throughout the United States, while termites tend to be most prevalent in the West, South and Southeast.”
Sales of insecticides also validate homeowners’ beliefs about the “overall buggiest states.” Researchers compared the survey results with sales of Termidor termiticide/insecticide along with sales of over-the-counter products containing permethrin, a major ingredient in many insecticides sold at home-improvement and hardware stores.
“What’s really impressive is that homeowners’ perceptions of the states with the worst bug problems as shown by the survey results are very accurate, especially with regard to the top 10,” Davis said.
Here are the top 10 overall buggiest states, as ranked by homeowners and confirmed by product sales data:
1. Florida 6. New York
2. Louisiana 7. Mississippi
3. Texas 8. Alabama
4. California 9. Missouri
5. Georgia 10. South Carolina
While they can’t necessarily be called the “least buggiest” locales, the following ranked in the bottom 10 of the survey, in terms of respondents’ perceptions:
50. Washington, DC 45. Delaware
49. South Dakota 44. North Dakota
48. Connecticut 43. Illinois
47. Idaho 42. Utah
46. New Hampshire 41. New Mexico
The survey also provided insight on the debate over “doing it yourself” versus calling a professional. Among the 90 percent of homeowners who have had a bug infestation, 63 percent of them tried to treat it themselves and only 23 percent called a professional right away. Forty-percent of those who tried to treat it themselves had to call in a professional anyway and 86 percent of those who called a professional reported success.
“Calling a professional pest control expert really makes a difference when dealing with a structural infestation,” Davis said. “Most homeowners don’t know exactly what bugs they’re dealing with or how best to treat the structure. Pest management professionals are equipped to deal with just about everything.
“Homeowners need to be vigilant,” Davis cautioned. “Some species of ants and termites are wood-destroying pests and termites alone cause $5 billion in property damage each year. If you think your house is infested, you need to call a pest management professional.”
For more information about identifying bug infestations or preventing and eradicating insects, consumers should visit termiteinstitute.com, antinstitute.com or bedbuginstitute.com.