During a time when so many countries across the globe have some kind of social distancing or lockdown procedures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been some unintended consequences. One of these consequences is that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of pest sightings across the world, in particular rats. There have been reports of unusually large groups of rats, which are nocturnal creatures, being spotted out in broad daylight in cities like Sydney, New York, Washington DC, London and many more. What’s more, a rise in the number of cockroaches has also been reported.
Why is this Happening?
There are two reasons for the unusual numbers of pests. The first and biggest reason is that pests like rats and cockroaches scavenge food and sustenance from rubbish bins and scraps on the street, especially in urban areas. With the hospitality and tourism industries sitting at a standstill in many countries, these pests no longer have easy access to their usual sources of food and so they are forced to wander further afield in order to scope out other options.
Hungry pests like rats can often travel long distances in search of food ending up in a totally different neighbourhood or suburb. What’s more, they will neglect their nocturnal routine if necessary. Pest specialist Robert Corrigan told the BBC, “They’re global, they’re everywhere, and they didn’t get to be completely global if they weren’t very skilled at being masters of adaptation”. In fact, when rats are desperate for food they go into panic mode and begin eating one another which at least means that cities are unlikely to become overrun with these pests.
The second reason that there has been a reported increase in the number of pests is that there has been such a drastic drop in the number of people on the streets and out in public. Pests like rodents, cockroaches, possums and birds tend to avoid areas with a high density of people and prefer to linger in the shadows but now that everyone is staying at home, these pests have much more free reign.
What Action Should we be Taking?
With pests being deprived of a lot of their usual food sources and feeling braver due to the lack of human beings around, they may be more likely to start invading your home which is far from ideal. During a time, when everyone is prioritising hygiene, these pests often carry diseases and germs, for example, rats have been found to carry around 55 different pathogens.
Ensure that any cracks, gaps or holes in your home are sealed so that pests don’t have a point of entry and make sure that you aren’t leaving any scraps of food out or spilling crumbs. There are even some DIY methods of pest control that you can use if you’re trying to avoid going to the shops at the moment. You can place a ruler across a container with a piece of chocolate on top to trap a mouse or rat and you can also rub peppermint oil around your kitchen surfaces to keep ants away. However, if you suspect that you have a serious issue with rodents or other pests, then it’s time to call in the professionals.