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County Health Officials Caution Residents About Cicada Emergence and Rat Population

For Immediate Release: Thursday, May 13, 2021

The 2021 Brood X cicadas are emerging in Montgomery County, and County health officials are urging residents to take steps to prevent an increase in the rat population. During the last cicada invasion in 2004, health inspectors noted a large increase in the number of residential and commercial complaints received about rats. They theorize that cicadas are a popular food source, and when the cicadas are gone, the rats continue to seek out other food sources. During June 2004, there were 436 complaints compared to 60 in 2003 and 31 in 2020.

The Brood X cicadas burrow near the roots of trees and emerge by the millions (or billions by some estimates) every 17 years to mature, mate, lay eggs and die over several weeks.

Homeowners and property-owners are urged to take steps so as not to provide additional food sources and hiding places for rats. Rats have an average of three to six litters of six to 12 offspring each year.

  • Do not put food out for stray animals, use a catch-tray under bird feeders and keep all pet food indoors and in tightly sealed containers.

  • Get rid of clutter on your property. Clutter can provide places for rats to hide, sleep, nest and reproduce. Control weeds and shrubs so that rats cannot burrow under bushes and plants.

  • Manage your garbage by bringing garbage cans and bags to the curb as close to pick up as possible. Leaving them out overnight can invite rats. Make sure that you have enough trash cans to store trash between weekly pick-ups and use hard, plastic or metal cans with tight-fitting lids.

According to Montgomery County Code, Chapter 39, “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.” Rats are known carriers of disease and, when living near humans, a public health problem can develop. 

If you suspect that there are rats on your property or an adjacent property, call the Licensure & Regulatory Services (L&R) section of the County’s Department of Health and Human Services at 240-777-3986 or call 311. If a rat infestation, or other rat-related issues are identified, the owner of the property or tenant will be given written notice of inspection findings and the notice will outline what is required to eliminate the problem. L&R inspectors do not bait or provide bait to property owners.

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Release ID: 21-353
Media Contact: Mary Anderson 240-777-6507