Montgomery Co. warns residents rat infestations could follow in wake of Brood X cicadas

As if being invaded by cicadas wasn’t enough, Montgomery County, Maryland, is now warning residents that a wave of rats could follow in the wake of the onslaught of bugs.

County health officials warned that once the cicadas begin to die off, rats that had become accustomed to the readily-available food source may start looking around for other things to eat, and that could bring them into residents’ homes and properties.

Those who don’t take proper precautions to keep their house from becoming a safe haven for rats could face legal repercussions. Chapter 39 of the county code states: “it shall be unlawful for anyone to allow their property to be infested with rats or to be in such condition as to contribute to an existing or potential rat infestation.”

There’s a precedent for the county’s concern: In June 2004 (the last time Brood X emerged), residents lodged 436 complaints about rats, compared to 60 in June 2003 and 31 in 2020.

The county said residents can better prepare for the possibility of rats by not putting out food for stray animals, using a catch-tray under bird feeders, keeping pet food indoors in tightly sealed containers and reducing clutter on their properties.

Rats like to burrow under bushes and shrubs, in case you needed extra motivation to clear those weeds out of your garden.

Those who suspect there is a rat infestation on their property, or an adjacent property, can contact the Montgomery County Health Department’s Licensure and Regulatory Services section. They will conduct an inspection to determine is there is a rat infestation and give homeowners a written notice of the inspection’s findings and steps detailing how to go about getting rid of the problem.

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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