PhotoPest control giant Orkin periodically ranks America’s cities for specific pest problems, from bed bugs to mice.

This week, the company released its list of the Top 50 Rattiest Cities. Once again, Chicago claims the top spot, with Minneapolis and Atlanta moving into the top 10. The top 10 cities include:

  1. Chicago

  2. Los Angeles

  3. New York

  4. Washington, DC

  5. San Francisco

  6. Detroit

  7. Cleveland

  8. Minneapolis

  9. Philadelphia

  10. Atlanta

Orkin compiled the list by counting the number of new rodent treatments performed from September 15, 2018 – September 15, 2019. The ranking includes both residential and commercial treatments.

Winter’s the worst

The problem with rodents gets worse when the temperature drops. Mice and rats look for warm areas in colder weather, especially where there are readily available supplies of food and water. National Pest Management Association statistics show 24 percent of homeowners ask for help with rodent problems during the winter months.

"Unfortunately, residential properties offer the ideal habitat for rodents because of access to food and water sources, potential entry points and hiding places," said Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist. "A rat can squeeze through an opening as small as a quarter, while a mouse can wedge its way into a hole smaller than a dime."

Rodent infestation can be a lot more than simply disgusting. Mice and rats can cause severe structural damage with their strong jaws and ability to burrow into the ground. They’ve been known to chew through electrical wires and even gas lines. According to Orkin, around 25 percent of unexplained fires may have been caused by rodent activity.

"Beyond structural damage, there are multiple health issues associated with rodents including food poisoning, rat-bite fever, hantavirus, and even the bubonic plague,” said Hartzer. “Rodents can easily spread diseases in a home or commercial site in a short period of time." 

What to do

Orkin provides a few tips so your city doesn’t end up on its list. For starters, carefully inspect both the inside and outside of your home for droppings. If you see tell-tale signs, take action.

Check for possible entry points on your home’s exterior and seal them up; even the smallest holes need to be caulked. Make sure you also have good weatherstripping around doors and windows.

Clean up crumbs and spills as soon as they occur, and don’t leave a tempting feast around. Consumers should store food properly by keeping it sealed tightly in rodent-proof containers like plastic bins or metal canisters. Otherwise, rodents may smell food and break into weaker containers.

For more information on which pests are causing consumers the most trouble, check out ConsumerAffairs' recent survey here.

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