Toronto’s smallest residents are embracing condo living. Rodents, bed bugs and cockroaches are all adapting to the urban environment and becoming resistant to commonly used pesticides.
In recent years rat infestations have become more prevalent as they have become better able to change and thrive. Bed bugs, virtually unknown 40 years ago, are now being found around the world as they evolve and become resistant to pesticides used against them.
Research from the University of Toronto and published in the Journal of Science sheds some light on how these populations evolve. Having survived thousands of years, they know how to adapt. They travel with humans and adapt to our environment to obtain food and shelter.
Condo buildings are a fertile source of food and shelter. People create garbage that can feed large populations of pests and rodents. As people travel from one building to another so do bed bugs. Pesticides work at controlling these populations but only for a short period. Species targeted by pesticides have been able to quickly evolve and develop a resistance.
A new generation of pesticides are being developed. These are more lethal single-dose treatments intended to kill pests and rodents so there is no opportunity to adapt. Thus far there has been some success against rodents. Cockroaches and bed bugs have been found to have greater resistance and been able to evolve.
Integrated pest management may be a more effective solution that eliminates poisons which are also harmful to humans. This entails taking preventative measures to avoid the occurrence of pest and rodent problems. Seal vents and cracks. Eliminate open food sources. Make the living areas less hospitable for those that enter it by setting live traps.
Technology offers partial solutions. Dry ice can suffocate rodents. Ultrasonic devices that emit high pitch sounds only heard by rats may not offer a long-term solution. High levels of heat can kill bed bugs. Pheromones, which attract pests so they can mate, may offer a way to direct pests so they can be destroyed or moved safely away.
When pesticides are used, it is best to use multiple products thus making it harder for pests and rodents to adapt.
For the foreseeable future, the best approach to dealing with pests and rodents in high-rise communities requires an integrated approach and the best products available to pest control professionals.