In a recent article posted on its company website, Orkin, a pest control company based in Atlanta, released its list of the Top 50 Rattiest Cities in the United States. Once again, Chicago tops the list as the city with the biggest rat problem. Finishing behind Chicago in second place was New York City. Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose also finished in the top five.
The 2016 Top 50 Rattiest Cities list was based on the total number of rodent treatment calls Orkin received in each city from October 1, 2015 to September 30, 2016. Chicago was one of 13 cities in the Midwest region to be named to the list. The Midwest region had more cities on the list than any other region.
The timing of the list’s release is not a coincidence. As Orkin explains in the article, fall is the time of year that rodents start to become most problematic. Colder temperatures force rodents, such as rats and mice, to seek shelter in warm places in order to survive the winter. According to John Kane, an entomologist who works for Orkin, it doesn’t take much of an invitation for a rat to enter your house. Rats are capable of squeezing through holes as small as a quarter. Once they enter, rats can damage property and pose serious health threats. The article lists several measures that people can take to prevent rodents from entering their homes and businesses.
Chicago’s rat problem over the past year has been especially bad. In an interview with WBBM’s Steve Miller, Jennifer Martinez, a spokeswoman for Chicago’s Department of Streets and Sanitation, estimates that the city has received 30% more calls about rodents this year than it did in the previous year. Martinez attributes the increase of rats to the particularly mild winter Chicago experienced this year. According to Martinez, Chicago has adopted the use of dry ice as a way to kill rats. Dry ice converts into carbon dioxide, a gas that is fatal to rats.
The use of dry ice is not the only measure Chicago has taken to deal with its rat problem, In an article for CNN, Jen Christensen explains several ways Chicago has waged an all-out war on rats. In April 2016, Chicago hired 10 more employees to work on its rat patrol. Another thing Chicago did was post public awareness signs letting people know the importance of controlling their food so they don’t attract rats. The other measure in Chicago’s war on rats involves the use of a natural pest control, cats. The Tree House Humane Society started a project called Cats at Work. The Cats at Work program dispatches colonies of cats to places that have rat problems. As Christensen explains, rats are highly sensitive to the smell of cats and will not go places where cats are present.The colonies cost $600 and the owners must feed the cats and take care of their vet bills.
Earning the title as the “Rattiest City” is a dubious distinction. Nevertheless, Chicago is taking many measures to fix its rat problem. While there are some factors, such as the weather, that contribute to rat problems and can’t be controlled, there are many things people do to be proactive in preventing rats. It’s important for people to become educated on how to keep their homes and businesses free of rats.