Whether in a single-family home or an apartment building, pretty much every homeowner has had that moment: when in the middle of the night, he or she turned on the kitchen light to see a huge water bug scurrying across the counter, or heard the sound of tiny rodent feet scampering behind the wall. It’s a feeling that makes one want to jump, recoil, or shiver. In Brooklyn they have a word for it — skeeve — where you can literally feel your skin crawl.
Contrary to what most of us would like to believe, bugs, vermin, and other pests are rarely the result of uncleanliness — although that can be a factor. They are a fact of life, or rather a fact of human coexistence. They’re even directly responsible for the presence of certain furry companions in human homes. While dogs became domesticated as an assistant to man in hunting food, cats — certainly the preferred pet of many a city dweller — eliminated pests such as mice from human habitats. And so was born one of the great interspecies relationships.
Adept as they are at keeping many kinds of pests at bay, cats aren’t the final word. Today we have exterminators, along with a much better understanding of how to minimize (if not entirely eliminate) the presence of unwanted critters in our homes. But different seasons bring different types of pests, so knowing what to expect and when can give us higher mammals an edge in keeping our homes pest-free.
All pests are not the same. Different pests may become more common at certain times of year, primarily due to climatic conditions. Rodents, on the one hand, are warm-blooded animals. They don’t want to be out in the cold, so they seek shelter often in homes and buildings for the winter. Insects crave a consistent water source, so they will seek that source inside in both cold and hot conditions, but especially during dry periods.
Then there is the matter of nesting. Though birds evolved in natural environments that provide cover and a food source, not all birds live in forests or countryside. Any city dweller will easily recognize a pigeon. While that pigeon may live an urban lifestyle, it will still instinctively seek out environments for nesting that mirror its historical nesting environment, i.e., ledges, overhangs, and other nooks and crannies shielded from the elements. Rodents are similar; while the country mouse may burrow in a grassy field or forest, its citified cousin will seek out environments that mirror that field or forest in an urban landscape.