Cold weather likely to boost pest activity, report says

DOVER — If you’ve noticed more rodents in your home this winter, it’s no coincidence.

They’ve been driven indoors statewide because of excessively cold regional temperatures, says a new report by the National Pest Management Association.

“After experiencing its eighth coldest November on record, rodent populations in cities like Wilmington were likely driven indoors early to escape the cold, and expected snowfall through the end of February will keep them there until warmer temperatures return in the spring,” said Brittany Campbell, an NPMA entomologist.

An inordinate amount of rain in the run-up to the winter will also have lingering affects in the spring as well, noted Ms. Campbell.

“Periods of cold temperatures and snow followed by warmer temperatures could create stagnant pools of water around the home, with excess moisture creating an ideal habitat for a number of pests to multiply including cockroaches and ants,” she said.

Ahead of spring would be a good time to for Delawareans to give their homes a quick once over with a focus on finding pest issues.

“Throughout the entire state, residents should take time to assess the structure of their home to ensure it hasn’t been compromised due to extreme winter weather, like cracks in the foundation, clogged gutters, etc.,” said Ms. Campbell. “With Wilmington also experiencing its wettest November ever on record, moisture buildup throughout the winter could potentially leave homes vulnerable to termite infestations come spring. If an infestation is suspected, be sure to contact a licensed pest control professional to help assess and treat the situation.”

NPMA’s bi-annual “Vector Sectors” winter report lists the top ten U.S. cities with the greatest risk for increased pressure from vector pests — organisms that can transmit disease to humans — including rodents and cockroaches.

Specifically, house mice and deer mice are capable of spreading salmonella and hantavirus, respectively. Norway rats and roof rats can spread salmonella, plague, typhus, jaundice, rat-bite fever, cowpox virus

and trichinosis, the report says. Cockroaches reportedly are capable of spreading at least 33 kinds of bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella as well as six kinds of parasitic worms and at least seven other types of human pathogens.

“They are also known to trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, especially in children, making awareness and prevention vital to protecting public health,” the report reads.

Though no cities in Delaware made the top ten list, but both Baltimore and Washington D.C. were in the top ten carrying the same caution about sustained freezing temperatures driving rodents indoors.

Other cities that topped the report for myriad reasons — usually related to climate conditions — were Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York and Tampa.

The NPMA also provides a list of common-sense prevention measures:

•Store food in airtight containers and dispose of garbage regularly

•Clean up food spills and vacuum regularly to eliminate attractive food sources

•Fix leaking pipes, clogged drains to avoid moisture problems,

•Seal potential pest entry points such as cracks, gaps or areas where plumbing pipes and utility lines enter the home

•Contact a pest control professional if an infestation is suspected

Staff writer Ian Gronau can be reached at 741-8272 or igronau@newszap.com

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