12/05/2016 | The Biggest & Baddest Pest Infestations in NYC History
Last month, we armed you with the tools needed to respond to obnoxious relatives inquiring about New York City’s pest troubles. As you were hitting them with some truth, your curiosity grew. We get it: there’s something about a really good, gross story that gets under your skin and won’t let you stop thinking about it.
You want to hear the big kahunas. The “alligator in the sewers; sentient rat king” stories. Well, hold onto your hat, because here they are. These are four of the wildest pest infestations ever heard of in our great city. Sorry if you get itchy reading these.
A 2.9 Million Dollar Problem
Last year, our newly elected administration responded to the increasing pressure they were feeling from a justifiably impatient public… forcefully. Expanding on our intrepid former deputy mayor and “rat czar” Joseph Lhota’s “Rodent Task Force,” de Blasio’s administration devoted 2.9 million dollars to their new rat eradication plan.
This new program is focused on hunting down “rat reservoirs,” areas where rats live and reproduce in such large numbers that surface-level pest control have virtually no effect. Instead, the city is adopting an integrated pest control approach--something we definitely approve of here at Assured Environments.
It’s too early to know if these expensive efforts have paid off, but early reports are somewhat promising. Public response still remains skeptical. However, not many cities can say they have almost 3 million dollars worth of pest problem.
The Bed Bug Invasion
You’ve heard the scandalous stories about the upscale hotel invaded by bed bugs in their rooms, or the businessman who comes home from a trip filled with bitey pests in-tow. This is not one of those one-off stories. In 2010, there were something like 24,000 complaints of major bed bug infestations in New York.
Entire stores were forced to close. People avoided movie theaters for fear of being eaten alive while trying to enjoy their escapism. No one was safe; even the upstate Bloomington’s reported bedbugs, and Google’s New York headquarters was forced to admit to an infestation after an employee voiced his frustrations on social media.
The infestation got so bad that the then-mayor Bloomberg set up a special bed bug advisory board and even appointed a “Bed Bug Czar” (another czar!). One of the reasons for the infestations’ severity was that the bed bugs were using New Yorkers as taxi cabs to get around the city. Hitchhiking bed bugs can quickly turn one unchecked infestation into 10, then 100, then… you get the picture.
If you live in the Bronx, this section might revive some painful memories for you. If you live outside the Bronx, be nice. NYC’s rat problem was probably at its all time worst in the Bronx during the 1990s. “They’re just one of us,” Bronx resident Jasmine Diaz was quoted by the New York Times as explaining, “They live here with us. They’re our neighbors.”
Rats were in Bronx apartments, kitchens, bathrooms, and even babies’ cribs! At night, walking outside meant stepping through a veritable furry sea. Opening garbage cans was an untenable proposition; you were almost sure to get a face full of rodent for your effort. It got so bad that living in the Bronx became a highly stressful--not to mention unhygienic!--experience.
The Bronx’ rat problem reached this fever pitch following several years of budget and staff cuts to the city’s pest control force. The general lack of city organization against pests is also partially to blame. If there’s a silver lining to “the dark days of the Bronx,” it’s that it serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of professional pest control with a plan.
Night of the Cockroach
Warning: The rest of the stories were just warm ups for this one. The year was 1979. One night in Schenectady, New York, police responded to routine noise complaint. According to the complaint, the neighbor’s dog wouldn’t stop barking. The officers responding noticed the reason why before they even stepped out of the cruiser.
A legion of cockroaches had spilled from the noisy house from the doors and windows. There were so many they covered the streets in front of the house. They were climbing the trees and overtaking parked cars. By the time the police had reached the inside of the house, they were “ankle deep,” and cockroaches rained down from the walls in sheets. The local exterminator called to the scene estimated the roaches numbered “in the millions.”
The two elderly women living in the home were charged with cruelty to animals. One woman had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for bites. To control the infestation, a three-block radius around the area had to be fumigated, and the house had to be demolished.
We hesitate to tell these stories, because we don’t want to badmouth our city. NYC has its pest problems, but guess what; it also has some of the best pest control experts in the world to handle those problems. Many of those experts work with us at Assured Environments! So the next time you’re nervous your business might be dealing with a pest infestation, give us a call. We’ll come to you with a customized, integrated plan for dealing with your pests and making sure they can’t trouble you again. Unless the pests you’re worried about are your extended family...then you’re out of luck.