Bitter cold and outrageous snowfall may have wreaked havoc on the city’s transit system and collective mood, but the record-breaking winter was good for Boston’s bug and rodent control companies.
Whether you’re walking past the historic bricks on Beacon Hill, the old factories along the waterfront or the student-infested apartments in Allston, odds are rat holes abound in alleyways near trash receptacles.
“I don’t care if you’re a human or any other creature. When it’s snowing two to three feet or it’s in the single digit temperatures, you’re heading indoors,” said John Bozarjian, owner of Johnny B’s Pest Control.
Headquartered in South Boston, Johnny B’s is a division of the 30-year-old family owned B & B Pest Control Company in Lynn, MA.
“Usually, if we break even from Thanksgiving to April 1, we had a good winter. We usually have our busiest months from April to September,” said Bozarjian. “But between last year’s Polar Vortex and the snow this year, we had more calls for mice than we’ve had in last 15 years.”
Bozarjian said customers that never experienced mice infestations called for service during the driving ban and in the middle of blizzards. Impassible roads and sidewalks were of no concern to the pesky pests, but it made for frustrating dispatches.
“We probably hit every other block in Southie in February,” Bozarjian said. “We mostly work in Dorchester, Southie and JP. We were crazy busy, which wasn’t easy with all the snow, but I’m not complaining at all."
The types of pest problems residents encounter depends on where you live. Vic Palermo of Ultra Pest Control in Allston said they received most of their calls in Beacon Hill and the Back Bay where there are basement apartments and even dirt floor basements.
“You might think that the Allston and Brighton area would be our biggest target area, but the rat population there mainly stays outside in the landscape near dumpsters,” Palermo said. “We had to shift from pest removal to snow removal in order to clear out traps and bait stations. The animals were certainly more aggressive in trying to get in doors.”
While customers called in complaints for rats and mice at a higher than normal volume, there are creatures who are unaffected by the extreme temperature or weather patterns. Cockroaches, termites, bed bugs and any other structural pests came and went as they pleased without a decrease in population or an increase in calls for service.
“Their success can be attributed to civilization,” Palermo said. “Bed bugs and roaches are a very manageable problem if people are paying attention. The huge bed bug outbreak from 2009 to 2011 was due to people not knowing what to look for. After that, people became more aware of warning signs.”
Palermo said that as the weather warms up, more rodents will be out and about but not necessarily trying to claw their way into houses in search of shelter.
“The cold put a lot of pressure on creatures, but it’s a case of the strong surviving,” Palermo said. “Most of the rats and mice in the city are strong and will survive extreme cold and heavy snow.”