Chicago once again has eschewed its "second city" status to top the list of "rattiest cities" in the country.
For the third consecutive time, Chicago ranked first on Orkin's list of the most rat-infested cities in the United States. And it's not exactly getting better.
The pest control company, which bases its assessment on the number of residential and commercial rodent treatments the company performed during the past year, noted a 32 percent increase in Chicago treatments from 2016 to 2017.
This despite the city of Chicago budgeting $5 million for rodent control operations and supplies, including public outreach campaigns.
“Rats and mice begin looking for warmer, more insulated places to get through the winter, and these too often happen to be our homes or businesses,” said John Kane, entomologist and technical director of Orkin’s Midwest Region, said in a statement. “Rodents like to chew on wood and electrical wires, increasing the fire danger behind your walls and potentially damage to your home."
New York claimed second place this year, followed by Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington D.C.
Kane noted that rats can "squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter, while mice can fit through a hole the size of a dime. Even if they can’t find an opening, they can often chew their way in."
Rodents damage property, spread food contamination and pose a significant health threat with potential to cause serious illnesses, according to Orkin.
To help residents avoid the health and safety risks associated with the pests, here are some tips from the company:
- Inspect both inside and outside the home for rodent droppings, burrows and rub marks along baseboards and walls. The more quickly rodents are detected, the better.
- Look for possible entry points outside the home and seal cracks and holes if any are found.
- Install weather strips around entryways, especially under doors, to help block rodents from sneaking inside.
- 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.
- Clean up crumbs and spills as soon as they happen to avoid leaving food residue or sugary substances that can attract rodents.
- Cut back trees and bushes to at least three feet away from homes to avoid giving rodents a “jumping off” point to access the gutters, roof or other hidden openings.