New York may have Pizza Rat and David Letterman’s constant barrage of jokes about the city’s infamous vermin, but The Big Apple has nothing, apparently, on Atlanta, Miami and Washington, D.C., among others.
Atlanta earned the dubious distinction of having the highest combined rat and cockroach sightings — 166 per 100,000 residents — over the course of 2021, according to a study by Doctor Sniffs, a New York-based pest inspection company.
First, some caveats about the study, which used 2021 census data and focused solely on rats and cockroaches: some cities have easier methods to report vermin than others (New York residents, for example, can call 311); there are other notable pests, such as bed bugs, which were not part of the study; and a city’s size and housing density could skew the results as well. For example, while New York had the highest number of rat sightings (1,226) and cockroach sightings (1,165), it barely cracked the top 10 per capita at 27.2 per 100,000 residents.
Miami (141/100,000), Washington, D.C. (84/100,000), Boston (73); Riverside, California (71); Houston (50), Dallas (46), Philadelphia (44) and San Francisco (28), in addition to Atlanta, ranked ahead of New York City.
Interestingly, New York was the only major city where cockroach and rat sightings were relatively even. Atlanta and Houston had far more cockroach sightings (712 and 957, respectively) than rats (115, 202, respectively), while Washington, D.C., and Boston skewed the other way, with more rats (348 and 418, respectively) than cockroaches (228 and 74, respectively) spotted.
Northern cities tended to have more rat sightings compared to southern cities, which typically had more cockroaches.
All of which isn’t to say that New York City is going to lose its title of Pest Capital of America any time soon.
Indeed, even the city’s mayor, Eric Adams, struggles with his share of pestilence. Adams was fined last year for a rat infestation at one of his rental properties, and he announced the creation of a new position — the director of rodent mitigation — to exterminate plenty of rats.