Pests generally flock to big cities, where large concentrations of humans produce massive amounts of garbage that attract rats and other pests. Some, however, prefer warmer climates that allow them to live longer and multiply at higher rates, which explains why so many Southern metropolises are popular with pests. But which places have the biggest pest problems? Realtor.com compared cities across the country and found the following 10 to be the most pest-ridden. Click through to find out whether your city is a pest paradise.
A warm climate is partially to blame for Houston’s cockroach problem, where it’s estimated that more than a third of all homes have active cockroach infestations. The bugs thrive outdoors in the city's year-round warm temps, and they can squeeze through impossibly small cracks in foundations to quickly infest an entire home, which means business is always brisk for Houston’s pest-extermination companies.
New York, New York
Despite citywide efforts to trap and reduce the rat population—even going so far as to bring in stray cats to catch them—as many as 15 percent of NYC households have rats as residents. The problem is exacerbated in restaurant districts, where alleyways and dumpsters teem with food waste. Cockroaches are also a common problem in the Big Apple; as many as 16 percent of all households have active infestations.
A constant stream of international travelers (and insect-ridden luggage) may be somewhat to blame for a growing bedbug problem in D.C. The tiny biters have infested homes and public spaces, including public transportation and movie theaters. Bedbugs are not the only problem in the nation’s capital, however. As many as 13 percent of all D.C. households also have problems with rats.
Nearly a quarter of all households in Atlanta are besieged by cockroaches, according to Realtor.com, and residents of the city also have to worry about being bitten by as many as 45 different kinds of mosquitoes. Researchers have found that some mosquitoes in the Atlanta area are known carriers of the West Nile and Zika viruses, so if you're heading down South, don’t forget to apply insect repellent!
Recent warm winters and block after block of row houses that make it easy for rodents to travel from one home to the next are likely to blame for an increase in Philly’s rat population. Nearly a fifth of all households report problems with rats, and the City of Brotherly Love also plays host to cockroaches and a growing bedbug problem.
Heat and humidity are to blame for Miami’s high cockroach population—nearly a third of all households are infested with roaches, and those roaches are almost twice as big as they are in other parts of the country (shudder). All that warmth also creates a perfect environment for a large termite population that is quite content to munch on any wood available, which might very well be part of your house.
Related: 9 Best Buys for a Bug-Free Home
As in other Florida communities, Tampa’s cockroach population is out of control. More than a third of all Tampa homes have cockroach infestations, and the large bugs are also found in public places. As if that weren’t enough, Tampa is also inflected with fleas that hitch rides indoors on unsuspecting pets and then quickly multiply.
Numerous abandoned buildings in Nashville provide the perfect environment for rodents to breed, and from there they've found their way into 11 percent of all households. While the rat population isn't as great as it is in other cities, the rats in Nashville are huge, measuring up to 15 inches in length, which makes them exceptionally creepy.
Cockroaches can be found in as many as 20 percent of Phoenix households, but even more worrisome is the presence of a pest that packs a big sting: the scorpion. Long before the houses were built and the palm trees planted, the hot, arid region that is now Phoenix was brimming with scorpions, and they're still frequently found in yards, parks, and even—eek—in the occasional house.
Like many other New England communities, the nation’s Cradle of Liberty has been battling a rat problem for well over a century. While in temperate weather rodents are content to scurry through alleyways and along the docks, when winter arrives, they seek warmth indoors, which means that as many as 17 percent of Boston homes have a rat problem.
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