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Houston crawls to surprising spot in ranking of buggiest U.S. cities

Houston crawls to surprising spot in ranking of buggiest U.S. cities

Mosquito that carries chikungunya virus
Data from the web suggests Austin has more bugs than Houston. Our official city bird may beg to differ.  Photo courtesy of CDC

There’s some buzz going around Texas: Houston may not be the buggiest city. 

Thumbtack, a home management app that connects owners with service providers, took note of its bug-related service requests, and ranked Austin the fourth buggiest city in the United States, followed by Houston at No. 5. In what may shock anyone who has actually visited both cities, Dallas topped Houston and made the No. 1 slot.

A quick note about methodology: While many in tropical Houston may (rightfully) feel that Bayou City should own this top spot, Dallas and Austin may be more bugged by insects than buggy overall. This data came entirely from consumers on Thumbtack, requesting “pest control, pest inspection, bed bug extermination, and outdoor pesticide application.” Those numbers were adjusted for population and ranked across an unspecified number of states.

Perhaps, Dallas and Austin have fewer bugs than Houston, and just want to get rid of them more.

Thumbtack calculated a national average of $50-200 per household on extermination services, but before spending that, residents can consider cheap, nontoxic solutions like diatomaceous earth (fossilized plankton) and neem oil. Be gentle on spiders and pollinators — which includes lots of flying insects that aren’t bees — and don’t panic when the heat sends a few more buggies into your air-conditioned home.

“Keep bugs out all summer by turning on a dehumidifier, eliminating standing water in your yard and garden and by keeping screenless windows shut,” said Thumbtack home expert David Steckel in a press release. Bug control doesn’t always mean waging war, either. “Hiring a bug control professional can help identify areas for improvement and provide you with regular maintenance to avoid problems down the line.”

The Top 10 Buggiest Cities in the U.S., according to Thumbtack, are:

1. Dallas
2. Atlanta
3. Washington, D.C.
4. Austin
5. Houston
6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale
7. West Palm Beach, Florida
8. Baltimore
9. Orlando, Florida
10. Tampa, Florida

Texas towns are slightly outnumbered by those in Florida on the list, yet Texas still fell far below Florida on a CNBC list of best places to live, where the Lone Star State ranked second-to-last