TARRYTOWN, N.Y. – Hurricane Sandy caused flooding and power outages throughout the Tarrytown area, but local pest control agencies said the storm also could be causing pests like mice and rats to invade homes near the Hudson River.
Pest control agencies in Westchester and the Hudson Valley said calls have increased 10 to 20 percent in the past three months compared to previous years and that Hurricane Sandy could be the cause.
“We've seen an extreme increase in squirrels and raccoons coming in through roofs damaged by the storm,” said Jim Horton of QuailityPro Pest and Wildlife Services.
Many rats and wild mice live near abundant food sources such as lakes and rivers, according to Critter Control of the Hudson Valley.
Horton couldn't estimate whether the increase in calls was just from Sandy, noting that his company usually sees more calls during the winter. But Horton said Sandy's damage and flooding did have an effect.
“Usually you'll get an increase of calls further inland because the houses closer to water or low-lying areas are flooded,” he said. “It's causing a habitat problem for them, so they're finding other places.”
Errol Fisher, president of Elmsford-based Citadel Pest Control, agreed and said his company has seen more than a 10 percent increase in calls about mice and rats this year.
“When they are displaced from their homes that are in close proximity of the water and it floods, they can move up into homes to try to survive,” Fisher said.
Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow residents have also noticed an increase in stink bugs, although there doesn't seem to be a particular cause. Several residents debated the issue on the 10591 Facebook page.
Pest control experts recommended that residents take several precautions in preventing rodents from entering their homes. They agreed the first step in prevention is sealing all holes that could lead into homes or garages.
“It’s very important that this is done well, because a mouse can fit into a hole the size of a dime, and mice and rats can both chew softer materials to make bigger holes,” Fisher said. “The most effective and humane method of preventing rodents is sealing up all cracks and holes so they can’t get inside.”
While rat traps, glue pads and other rodent prevention merchandise is easily available, Mickey Wright, owner of Critter Control of the Hudson Valley, said the methods are often ineffective.
“Placing traps is not that easy to do right and can be dangerous for little children and pets,” Wright said.
“We get a lot of calls for live trapping, and that’s fine if the mice haven’t made dens in your home. But if they have, it’s very likely they’ll return in the next two days. Overall, trying to trap rodents yourself can be harmful, and bottom line, it’s not effective.”