Image: Allie Carl/Axios
Pest control companies and local residents tell Axios there is a rat problem in East Fayetteville.
Why it matters: The animals can infest a home’s attic and walls, contaminate food, transmit diseases, and even start electrical fires.
- They are also known to lodge in car engines, which can lead to costly repairs.
Game Status: The most common rodent in the area is the so-called roof rat (rattus rattus). The bug frequently infests locations from “about downtown” on the south side of Fayetteville, north of Joyce Boulevard and east of College Avenue, said Tim Ware, owner of NWA’s Rid-a-Pest.
- They have been spotted in both residential and commercial properties since about the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The big picture: The pests are a well-known plague in major cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago.
- Complaints related to rats spiked in New York City last spring as commuters returned to work after the peak of the pandemic and renewed opportunities for simple feasting.
- Some urban areas in the US are trying to use technology to deal with the problem.
Zoom in: The City of Fayetteville does not have an office to file pest complaints, so the evidence is anecdotal.
- Resident Jim Mitchel owns two homes, one downtown and one off North Old Wire Road. Rats turned up at both in late 2021, he said – the first time he’s had a problem like this in the 22 years he’s lived in NWA.
- Ware tells Axios that he’s had more rat calls in the past 2.5 years than in the previous 36 years. He recently caught 22 rats in a church.
- “It’s weird,” Ware said. “I don’t think we did a job [recently] in none of the other cities.”
Between the lines: Sources don’t agree on a single reason for the boom, but offered a few possible explanations:
- Some speculate that rats have migrated from the Dickson Street area because restaurants have closed or restricted their operations during the pandemic, restricting access to food.
- Jonathan Curth, Fayetteville development service manager, said the city’s topography meant that retaining walls were often used for stair treads. During his career he has observed the rodents near these devices.
Remarkable: A commercial building at 2424 N. College Ave. and portions of the Hiway Inn at 1140 N. College Ave. – both on the east side of the college – were demolished last year, likely displacing some rodents.
The Intrigue: Ware said there is talk among pest control experts across the country that the rodents are developing resistance to common poisons, although he has seen no evidence of this in NWA.
Be smart: The pesky rodents are attracted to food, water and shelter, Ware said.
- Homeowners should consider removing bird or squirrel feeding sites.
- Pet owners should remove food after meals and avoid food spillage.
- Eliminate holes and crevices in buildings that could be exploited.
- Urban rodentologist Bobby Corrigan suggests wiping hot spots with bleach.
If your home is infested with rats and you don’t have the guts or luck to deal with them, custom extermination services start at around $500.