Tip Sheets

Curbside compost will help fight NYC’s ‘most notorious pest’ – the rat

Media Contact

Kaitlyn Serrao

Starting Monday, October 2, New York City will expand its curbside composting program to Brooklyn. The program requires residents to separate food waste and yard scraps from trash.

Matt Frye

Community IPM Extension Area Educator

Matthew Fryecommunity educator for New York State Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University, says this program is key for controlling rat populations in the city.

Frye says:

“The single most important step in limiting urban pest populations is to remove the food source. New York City's new composting law builds on previous legislation to containerize commercial garbage in a continuing effort to minimize pest populations that affect city residents and businesses.

“Rats are NYC's most notorious pest, and their populations are directly related to food availability. Historically, cities have taken a ‘war on rats’ approach, which attempts to reduce rat numbers through lethal eradication. However, a recent synthesis of the rodent management literature determined that this approach has not produced long-term successes, resulting in the need for ongoing, intensive rodent control. Combining garbage containerization and removing organic materials from trash with lethal control methods could help NYC reduce the city's rat population.

“Containers used for organic collection must be pest proof. In addition to rodents and their ability to gnaw through a variety of materials like plastic, thin and soft metals, containers that are not airtight will serve as breeding sites for flies and cockroaches. Residents must be vigilant about cleaning containers to eliminate residue after bins are emptied.”

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