SAN JOSE, Calif. - While humans have been adjusting to an altered state of reality over the last few months, we are certainly not the only living organisms that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. According to the CDC, there have been reports of increased rodent activity during this time as pests adapt to decreased public activity and search for new food sources. With social distancing measures in place and many restaurants, cafes and food suppliers having limited business, there is less availability of food scraps in public spaces. Due to many people now staying home more, has the pandemic caused pests to emigrate to American homes?
Smith's Pest Management, San Jose, Calif., conducted a survey of 3,160 households across the U.S. to find out if they have seen an increase in pest activity over the last few months. It was found that 24% of households in Illinois say they have noticed more pests than usual – living rent-free – in their homes since the start of the pandemic! Download an interactive map
Naturally, because many people have been working and schooling from home during social distancing, the waste they produce on a daily basis is condensed to the household in which they live. Therefore, a household consisting of more people working or schooling remotely is bound to produce more garbage than usual during this time. In fact, nearly a third (32%) of survey respondents admit they have noticed a substantial increase in their own garbage since lockdowns began.
This could also have to do with the fact that over a quarter (26%) admit they have been cleaning their homes less thoroughly since spending more time indoors. When you are working, living, eating and exercising in the same space every day, it can be difficult to keep things in order. After all, not all homes are built to function simultaneously as a gym, office and living space!
Additionally, because many Illinoisans have been dining in instead of going out during the pandemic, it is likely they are cooking more. However, due to limited visits to the grocery store (to minimize risk of contracting the virus), it may be that people are buying more food than they can consume. Over 1 in 10 (11%) Illinoisans say they have noticed an increase in food waste since the start of lockdown, which could be another reason why pests are pandering to people’s homes.
Given the current circumstances, it is perhaps unsurprising that the survey found that over three-quarters (75%) of respondents say they would complain if they noticed an increase in rodents coming from their neighbor’s property. Moreover, nearly 1 in 3 (32%) say they would move home if they had a persistent pest problem. Perhaps staying home more often due to the pandemic has highlighted the great importance of a healthy home environment.