Roaches and Rodents — How to Successfully Deal With NYC’s Pests


Over 50% of households report seeing cockroaches every day and mice within the last three months in some New York City neighborhoods, according to NYC Health. While the city is well known to be home to an abundance of pests like roaches and rodents, health issues such as asthma, food contamination, and the spread of diseases highlight the importance of addressing the matter as soon as possible. Whether you’ve been a longtime resident of the Big Apple, you’ve just moved and seen a pest or two, or you’re considering living in NYC in the future, here’s what you should know regarding the issue of pests.

Understanding the issue

New York City is the second “rattiest” city in the U.S., according to pest control company Orkin. Larry Bernhardt, who works for Top Notch Pest Control, has been an exterminator for about 13 years. In an interview with Business Insider, he explains the pest issues within the city, and why pests like roaches and rodents seem to gravitate to the Big Apple. “Most pests will reproduce according to food, and, unfortunately, New York is severely overpopulated. So there’s an abundance of food and shelter for them to just keep reproducing,” Bernhardt tells Business Insider.

Bernhardt further goes on to explain how certain locations can be more prone to pests than others, stating he’d never want to live next to old, multi-unit buildings (pre-war buildings), or next to a park. Bernhardt also notes that the worst floor to live on in terms of encountering pests is the ground level, or first floor, as pests typically go from the ground up (especially where rodents are concerned). However, aside from location, it’s important to note that there are additional factors that can contribute to a pest infestation as well — such as leaving food/garbage out, dirty dishes in the sink, or even the presence of moisture in the home.

Successfully navigating a pest problem

Encountering a pest issue in NYC can cause many to panic, though there are a few tried-and-true ways that one can get rid of the issue. Regarding cockroaches, the New York State Department of Health notes that you must take away their food, hiding places, and water — this can involve a variety of steps, from keeping food sealed away, keeping a clean kitchen, removing clutter and doing home repairs (to seal cracks/openings), and fixing leaks, to name just a few key tasks. A variety of these steps can also be applied to rodents as well, with The Spruce explaining that rats are attracted to homes that make food and shelter accessible to them, going on to state that like mice, rats typically enter a home via holes/cracks around the basement, foundation, or garage. While a variety of pest control products are available — such as bait stations for roaches and traps for rodents, calling in a professional may be necessary should you have an infestation on your hands — or if your efforts to tame the matter are unsuccessful.

Prevention made simple

When looking to prevent pests in the home, maintaining a clean and tidy space is just one simple yet impactful place to start. The kitchen plays a major role in attracting both roaches and rodents, so taking care to keep dirty dishes out of the sink, spills wiped up, and food stored/sealed properly can all help. It’s important to note, however, that certain foods attract pests more than others, making it essential to take extra care when tidying up. For example, rice, flour, grain, and processed foods — including bread — is known to attract rats in particular, making it vital to keep any crumbs swept up. On the other hand, a study has shown that peanut butter attracts more German cockroaches than any other oily human food, highlighting the importance of keeping even the outside of the jar clean of any residue. While residents can do their part in preventing pests, it’s important to note that there are some significant changes on the way that will work to address the matter on a larger scale. Starting on April 1st of 2023, for instance, New Yorkers will be fined for putting their trash on the curb before 8 p.m., notes one NPR post, an effort that aims to minimize the amount of time that garbage is sitting outside.

While pests are quite common in NYC, finding a roach or rodent in your home can make for an unwelcome surprise. However, by addressing the matter by making food and shelter inaccessible to pests and treating the matter via products or with the help of a professional, proper prevention methods will help ensure that pests are kept at bay in the future.


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