15 Free City Resources for Pest Problems
Nobody wants pests in or near their homes. Pests are unseemly, unsanitary, and at many times dangerous. Pests like termites, for example, can damage the structure of your home over time. Others, like rats, can chew on wires and damage your electrical systems. And the droppings pests leave behind can be dangerous to both you and your pets.
And once you have pests, those pests attract more pests, making them even harder to get rid of. If you discover you have pests, it can be overwhelming to know what to do to rid yourself of them for good. Fear not, though, many cities have free resources to help you better understand what needs to be done, and in some cases even deal with the pests.
If you live in the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District, there's a great website available to help you understand mosquitos, and even help you get rid of them.
Mosquitos, beyond being annoying, can transmit diseases. While not all of them do, their potential to infect people makes them a public health nuisance, according to the Greater Los Angeles Vector Control District.
The district is working to reduce the number of mosquitoes in the area to prevent them from spreading diseases.
Mosquitos need dirty water to complete their life cycle, particularly because female mosquitos lay their eggs in dirty water. Larva comes out of the eggs and feeds on bacteria in the dirty water. Eventually, it will emerge as an adult. The females are the ones that drink blood.
Mosquitos can go through their life cycle in as little as a week meaning if you see mosquitos, you need to act fast before the number of mosquitos gets out of hand.
To help combat the issue, the Los Angeles Vector Control District will do inspections to determine where mosquitos are coming from and do treatments for free. The services can be requested on their website.
EPA: Bed Bugs
Okay, this isn't technically a city but the EPA has a ton of advice on how to deal with bed bugs, including links to websites for various areas to help people facing bed bugs.
Bed bugs, as their name implies, are bugs that often camp out on beds, but they can make other furniture their home as well. Bed bugs are small and oval-shaped and feed on the blood of animals and people.
Bed bugs travel from one infested area to another. This includes luggage and purses, not just furniture.
If you have noticed bloodstains on your sheets or pillows, dark or rusty spots on sheets and mattresses, feces, eggshells, or a musty odor, you may want to get your home checked for bed bugs.
If you do have bed bugs, deal with the issue immediately before they spread elsewhere. If you live in a shared living situation, notify the others in the area immediately.
In addition to the EPA, Contra Costa and New York City both have excellent tools online instructing on how to deal with bed bugs. So do some state websites like the California Department of Public Health website.
If you are renting an apartment, you should check with your landlord as soon as you find bed bugs. Chances are they will have to take care of the pests and may even need to fumigate the surrounding units as well.
If you own your own spaces, financial assistance is not offered by most areas for bed bugs. Still, it is worth it to check with your local jurisdiction to see if they can do anything to offset the cost associated with ridding yourself of bed bugs.
Various Cities: Wildlife Removal
If wildlife like coyotes are running rampant in your area, don't attempt to deal with the animals yourself. Instead, call your city and county animal services and ask if they can help with the issue at hand.
If animal services won't help, talk to your local police or fire station. If the animals are a risk to public safety, they will often intervene.
A wildlife rehabilitator or animal sanctuary may also be able to help, and will make keeping the animal safe during the process a top priority.
New York City: Tenant Protections with Pest Control
If you are a tenant in New York dealing with insects or rodents, the NYC Health website is a great resource to help you understand what to do.
The site says that building owners are responsible for making sure properties are maintained correctly, residents also need to keep their spaces clean and report issues to their landlord in a timely manner.
When it comes time to eliminate the pests, remember that pesticides can cause issues if not used properly and be harmful to both you and your pets. Pesticides should be used only by licensed pest control professionals as a result. Do not take on this task yourself. Resist the urge to use these chemicals, especially in areas where you prepare food as they can seep into your meals.
Once you get rid of pests, you will need to make sure they do not come back. To do so, block the entrance points to your dwelling and make sure pests do not have easy access to food and water.
Things like water leaks and cracks in the floors allow pests access to your space. If you have either of these issues, report it to your landlord who should deal with it right away. If they're not, you can call 311 to file a maintenance complaint.
Also, make sure you keep trash and food in sealed containers and dispose of unwanted items promptly.
If you or your children have been diagnosed with asthma and live in a rental with pests, you are eligible for a free home assessment by NYC Health Department's Healthy Neighborhoods Program. The program's staff will find asthma triggers in the home and work with the owner of the property to correct the issues.
San Francisco: IPM
In 1996, San Francisco passed its Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, ordinance. The ordinance sets rules for how pests are dealt with on city-owned properties. It does not, however, apply to private properties.
The ordinance applies to everything from insects to rodents to birds at properties owned by the city or leased by the city.
The ordinance also has strict limitations on pesticide products used to clear pest infestations. Allowable pesticides can be found on the city's "Reduced Risk Pesticide List." Even the approved pesticides are only supposed to be used after other means to eliminate pests are attempted. A lot of the pesticides are only available to professionals.
New Orleans: Rodent and Mosquito Control
To control rats in the Big Easy, the city has been surveying for rodents and taking service requests when residents see rodents. The city provides rodent control for city-owned buildings and green spaces, as well as areas with lots of tourists like the famed French Quarter.
New Orleans' large amount of rainfall, according to the city, makes it a desirable area for mosquitos. The New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board surveys mosquitos on a weekly basis. It lays gravid traps with fish oil emulsion bait to collect some mosquitos. The ones that are caught are tested for diseases.
Dallas: Report Wildlife Issues
Like many other cities, Dallas has a hotline people can call to report wildlife issues. If you come across a dangerous animal, a lost animal, a dead animal, or an injured animal, you can call 214-670-6800 or 512-389-8092 to report it.
The services to deal with these issues are completely free.
Miami-Dade County has mosquito control inspectors that not only inspect for mosquitos, but also treat areas with them in an effort to cull them and prevent diseases from being spread by mosquitos.
Problems can be reported on the county's website or by calling 311. There is also a 311 mobile app that can be used to report problems. Inspections are usually done within five business days of an issue being reported but can take longer at busy times of the year.
Inspectors check yards for any type of container holding water that mosquitos may be breeding in. If a source is found, the water is dumped.
In some cases, the county will also deploy insecticides to treat large areas where mosquitoes are laying their eggs, like pools.
To prevent storm drains from becoming an issue, the county also treats storm drains with larvicides.
Chicago: Rodent Control
The city of Chicago has a website designated to helping people understand how to deal with rodents. One of the best things people can do is use heavy-duty plastic garbage cans with tight-fitting lids. This means that rats won't be able to get food and will find somewhere else to go. These free garbage bins are distributed by the Bureau of Sanitation.
According to the city, more than 1.5 million garbage carts with tight-fitting lids have been supplied to residents in the area. If you find rodents you can call 311 for rodent baiting. Rodenticide is placed in rat burrows by the Bureau of Rodent Control to eliminate rat nests.
If you see rats, you should alert the city immediately. An inspector will be sent to examine how to bet get rid of rats from the area.
San Diego: Report Mosquitoes and Rats
On the county's website, you can request a rat or mosquito inspection. The inspections are free of charge. In addition to the website, requests can also be made by calling 858-694-2888, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, faxing a complaint form, or using the Tell Us Now! app.
If you are in Austin and are having an issue with rats, you can call 512-978-0370 to report the issue. According to the city, tall weeds, trash, and debris, all of which are code violations, can contribute to rodents being in your area. Code violations can be reported by calling 311.
Landlords are legally required to keep their rented properties free of rodents and insects.
Seattle: Insects and Pests Must be Dealt with By Landlords
Seattle has a strict housing code dictating that all rental units must be free of insects and rodents. Under the law, property owners must control all insects, including bed bugs and cockroaches, in addition to rodents and other pests.
When pests are found, a property's owner must hire an exterminator to safely get rid of the pests. If landlords do not deal with pests, they can be fined $150 to $500 per day, as well as the cost of inspection charges.
For renters, knowing your rights is helpful. When you approach your landlord about an issue, make sure they take care of it promptly. If not, alert the city of the problem.
Portland: Rodent Control
All new buildings in the city need to be constructed in a way that's rat-proof. Knowing this may better help you understand your rights when it comes to the way in which a property was constructed.
Boston: Mosquito Control
According to the city's website, the risk of West Nile Virus, which is transmitted by mosquitos, is high in Boston. To combat the issue, the Boston Public Health Commission and the Suffolk County Mosquito Control Project collect mosquito samples in traps every week which are tested for diseases. This helps the city determine what to do to keep people safe, which can include aerosol spraying.
The city's website provides information on where and when spraying will be completed. When a truck is in the area, you should go inside so you are not subject to the fumes. If you do not want your property sprayed, you can ask to have your property excluded from spraying.
Philadelphia: Bed Bugs
If you find bed bugs in a rental property, you must report the issue to your landlord within five business days. If you report bed bugs, a landlord must hire a pest control professional to investigate and eliminate the unwanted pests. Landlords must also hire a professional service for follow-up inspections.
If a landlord does not respond to a tenant's notice about bed bugs within 10 business days, tenants can file a complaint with the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections. This can be done online or through the mail.