Ultra Safe Has Another A.C.E Up It’s Sleeve!

Ultra Safe Pest Entomologist

Jeff Kilian is the company’s newest Associate Certified Entomologist!

Choosing a Board or Associate Certified Entomologist provides you with the peace of mind that you are getting a professional who stays current in their field and on top of the latest research and insect science.

Jeff recently became Ultra Safe’s 4th pest professional to complete the ACE Certification. Way to go Jeff!

2019 Super Service Award

Ultra Safe Pest Management is proud to announce that it has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award (SSA). This award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2019.

“Service pros that receive our Angie’s List Super Service Award represent the best  in our network, who are consistently making great customer service their mission,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These pros have provided exceptional service to our members and absolutely deserve recognition for the exemplary customer service they exhibited in the past year.”

Angie’s List Super Service Award 2019 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The SSA winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List and undergo additional screening.

Ultra Safe Sentricon Certified!

Sentricon Termite Specialists


Sentricon® is the No. 1 brand in termite protection. Developed through extensive research on termite behavior, Sentricon targets the whole termite colony. Installed and maintained by a Certified Sentricon Specialist™, Sentricon stations are placed in a protective ring around the perimeter of the home. Termites eat the bait in the stations and share it with the rest of the colony, eliminating the entire colony, including the termite queen. No queen. No colony. No problem.

PCT Magazine State-of-the Rodent Market – By Bell Labs


Managing rodent populations in city environments can be particularly challenging, whether you’re working solo or in collaboration with municipalities. Here, two PMPs share a glimpse into their own experiences in urban settings, which have helped them come away with unique rodent control insights and strategies.


It’s nothing new for Vic Palermo to be approached by the media about rats these days. Boston is among the U.S. cities with sizable rat populations, and Palermo and his team at Ultra Safe Pest Management have been able to turn this trend into new business opportunities.

As rodent populations have increased throughout the decade, Ultra Safe has grown its rodent work to roughly 30 percent of total revenues, and now offers advanced rodent-related add-on services: custom exclusion methods to stop rodents from entering structures and specialized rodent debris clean-up services. (See “Hazardous Clean-Up Services” article on page 4.) “I saw it coming seven or eight years ago and predicted that rats would become the new bed bugs in Boston,” he says. “We’ve seen rats proliferate here over the past four or five years.”

Public health is of utmost concern to Palermo and his team. The company website warns the public about rat-borne diseases — plague, jaundice, rat-bite fever, cowpox virus, trichinosis, salmonella, etc. — and of the health risks of fleas, ticks and mites that rats can carry into a home or business. Taking that concern one step further, Ultra Safe works with city agencies to help control rodent populations in public parks, schools and neighborhoods.

“Municipal work can be challenging because there continues to be a low-bid procurement mindset, which doesn’t typically align with our customized, integrated approach,” explains Palermo. “To stay profitable and deliver desired results, we have to be selective about which projects we bid on. Generally, when circumstances include a serious infestation and there’s a lot of pressure from citizens — parents at a school, for example — municipalities are more receptive to an aggressive plan of action. We encourage our customers to break out of that lowest-bidder mindset and commit to a customized, integrated program that will actually work.”

Palermo’s team starts these engagements off with a meeting of the various stakeholders and people in charge — e.g., city officials, property managers, community leaders and residents. “The more leaders we can get involved, the better, because then everyone shares a common set of expectations and works toward the same goal,” he says. Local pest management professionals also work hand-in-hand with various health departments throughout the Boston area to educate restaurants and businesses that aren’t managing trash or other conducive conditions properly.

“We make sure our technicians are well-versed in public health protocols as it relates to pest management,” Palermo says. “We’re always incorporating new programs like the NPMA QualityPro Public Health Certification into our ongoing training. We recognize the importance of maintaining a high level of knowledge and expertise while utilizing the latest information and technology available.”


Exclusion and rodent-proofing services are part of the standard rodent protocol for many pest management companies. But PMPs often draw the line at hazardous cleanup. In part, that’s because it requires an investment in equipment and insurance. What can be most cost-prohibitive, though, says Vic Palermo, president and entomologist at Ultra Safe Pest Management, is the time a cleanup crew needs to sink into the effort.

“This kind of remediation is extremely labor-intensive, plus it’s not the most pleasant kind of work,” he says. “We offer technicians incentives to make it worthwhile for them, but they really have to put extra effort into it, from training to the actual experience of prepping and cleaning the area. We don’t offer this to customers as a mainstream service, but some circumstances require us to go this extra mile.”

Here’s what Palermo has invested to equip Ultra Safe staff for cleanups:

  • Training to educate technicians about protecting themselves and decontaminating areas without causing cross-contamination.
  • Specialized insurance policies to cover technicians faced with the unique hazards associated with this type of work.
  • Large HEPA vacuums (smaller, portable vacs often aren’t enough).
  • PPE including full-body protective suits and full-face respirators.
  • Air cleaning machines and scrubbers to filter dust particles and recycle the air.
  • Disinfectants

Additionally, Palermo has worked to build relationships with disposal companies to ensure his team has options for dumping waste materials. “The key to making a profit on cleanup is having the right equipment, staff and training, and setting clear expectations with the customer of our capabilities and what’s required to complete the job,” he says. “If they see the value, then we take the job.”


Tom Sieminski didn’t become “PMP to the stars” by getting mediocre results. His high-profile clients in the five boroughs of New York, as well as the Hamptons and New Jersey, have the utmost confidence in his long-term rodent control strategies, carefully honed since he opened Team Pest Control in 1991. In addition to these celebrity homes and oceanfront properties, Team Pest Control services government and business buildings, restaurants, and multi-million-dollar apartment and condo complexes — many in the heart of the city.

“The growing human population drives growing rodent populations, because there’s more food, garbage and harborage,” says Sieminski, who reports that 30 percent of his business is rodent “In some of the condos we service, the garbage is out of control. Residents dump their trash down a chute, where a compactor bags it, and then it’s stored until it goes out to the curb. So we have three hot spots for rats — the compactor room, the storage room and the curb.”

Adding to this particular challenge is the fact that Sieminski has to do his work “secretly,” because residents don’t want to be aware of potential rodent activity. So while he goes all-out with bait stations, tracking powder, glueboards and snap traps in the compactor room, where no one visits, he carefully hides bait stations in the curb area, inside the 4×4-foot square patches of soil where trees are planted. He baits in the storage room as well, but says that’s a tough spot: “The rodents aren’t too interested in the baits because they want what’s in the bags,” he says. Restaurants in the city pose an interesting challenge as well. “The back of the house tends to be an afterthought to a lot of operators; as long as they don’t have a front-of-the-house problem, they don’t want to hear about the need for sanitation in the back,” Sieminski says. “We’ll go in at midnight after they close and put out glue boards in a gigantic ‘X’ or ‘T’ in the kitchen and dining room, and then send technicians in at 5 a.m. to clear them out before the restaurant reopens. We do this night after night until we get to zero, but the issue inevitably starts up again because, no matter how many times we try to communicate the vital importance of kitchen sanitation, operators just don’t prioritize it.” Sieminski also has experience with tiny “ghost kitchens” located away from their parent restaurants. Teams come in at night to power wash the floors, walls and stainless steel equipment in these production facilities, he explains; unfortunately, rodent control devices can get washed away in the process. “I’ve learned to collaborate with these cleaning crews so we’re placing the glueboards after they’ve finished sanitizing.” “There’s no other restaurant culture in the world like New York,” he adds. “This city is its own animal.”


The PCT 2019 State of the Rodent Market survey was
sponsored by Bell Laboratories and compiled by Readex Research, a privately held research firm based in Stillwater, Minn. A sample of 8,713 owners, operators, executives and technical directors of pest control businesses was systematically selected from the PCT database. Data was collected from 459 respondents — a 5 percent response rate — via an online survey from July 30-Aug. 8, 2019.

To best represent the audience of interest, 20 respondents who indicated their companies do not offer rodent control services were eliminated from the survey. The margin of error for percentages based on the 439 respondents who indicated their company location offers rodent control services is ±4.6 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. Charts
may not equal 100 percent due to rounding.

Behind The Scenes Look At Ultra Safe Pest HQ

Ultra Safe Pest HQ
Ultra Safe Pest Management HQ – North Andover Ma

Providing customers with ‘best in class service’ starts behind the scenes. Companies that offer a truly great customer experience, start by providing the people working hard everyday, a ‘Best In Class Work Environment’ and all the tools they need to succeed.

Behind every great company is a great staff, great materials and equipment, and most of all, a high-quality work culture. Ultra Safe Pest Management is a Boston based pest control company that takes a quality first approach in every aspect of the business.


Professionally Discreet Fleet!

Maintaining a fresh fleet of vehicles is a benefit to both staff and customers. Ultra Safe service vehicles are equipped with the latest equipment options to maximize driver safety and comfort. Advanced safety features include custom ventilation systems that keep drivers safe from chemical fumes and spill resistant floors that insure any leak is contained and wont end up in the environment or as a stain on a customers driveway.

No alt text provided for this image

Best In Class Pest Control Facilities

Modern offices with advanced technologies, quality furniture and amazing views, are a few of the ways Ultra Safe shows staff that it cares. Customers rarely see these spaces, but happy comfortable employees are more productive and provide better customer service.

A Well Taken Care Of Staff!

Onboarding staff are often amazed, even overwhelmed at times at the way Ultra Safe values and rewards it’s amazing staff.  Best in class benefits like low cost, top tier health and dental plans, free life insurance, free short-term disability, 401k plans with a 5% company match, and performance/incentive bonuses are just some of the benefits offered here.

In addition to these core benefits, Ultra Safe Staff Members are rewarded with perks that are rarely seen in the Pest Control Industry. Extremely flexible and weekend-optional work schedules, company Bruins Tickets and paid getaways to world-class professional training events and conferences around the country, provide staff access to advanced training in a more social, team bonding type of environment. 

         No alt text provided for this image

Go B’s! Ultra Safe employees experience Bruins games in the company’s premium club seats. The new Garden Society Club offers our staff an exclusive experience. Last year, some of the top-performers got to enjoy Stanley Cup Playoff action including that heartbreaking game 7!

The Payoff!

This type of work environment has paid off ten-fold in the way our staff services our customers. There is nothing more rewarding than getting thank you messages from both staff and customers alike, thanking you for a truly great experience.

Ultra Safe Rat Exterminators Featured In Boston Magazine

Boston’s Rats Are in Charge. We Just Live Here.

They nest in our homes. They feed on our garbage. They breed faster than rabbits and can clear out a restaurant like a four-alarm fire. Boston Rat Exterminators battle a growing problem!


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Boston Rat Exterminators

It’s approaching midnight on a blustery Friday in late fall, and Boston Common is nearly silent. The golden dome of the State House gleams in the moonlight as the nabobs of Beacon Hill doze in their multimillion-dollar homes. Nearby restaurant workers are lugging heaps of trash into alleyways. And me? I’m in hot pursuit of a burly brown rodent that’s hauling ass through the park.

In the beam of my flashlight, the rat looks to be as long as a grown man’s slipper and as agile as a sports car. It veers left across a paved walkway before scampering under a bench and then hugging a stone curb in an all-out sprint. As the little guy nears an ailing oak tree, three more rats dart out from the shadows, and together they vanish, like magic, into the gnarled roots.

Rats! “Rulers Of The Night”

On any given night, thousands of rats are running wild through Greater Boston, gnawing their way into historical brownstones, defecating in popular eateries, and having ungodly amounts of sex in our public parks. Every time you walk through the Common, for instance, you’re stepping on top of a hidden world, complete with pecking orders, partnerships, and rivalries—just like us. Unlike people, though, rats use pheromones in their feces and urine to identify one another and communicate, and they smell each others’ breath to know which food is safe to eat and which isn’t. They decorate their nests with candy wrappers, memorize shortcuts to zip around the park unnoticed, and fortify escape tunnels for when exterminators come calling. It may sound whimsical, like something out of Ratatouille, but believe me—it’s not.

For centuries, Boston has been waging war against these vermin. In recent years, though, it appears that the rats have gone on the offensive, growing their ranks at an unsettling rate. In 2016, the city’s Inspectional Services Department logged more than 3,500 rodent-related complaints—a nearly 30 percent increase over the previous two years. Then a Jamaica Plain restaurant made headlines when one of its workers came down with a case of leptospirosis, a potentially fatal infection usually caused by exposure to rat urine (a disease rarely seen in so-called first-world countries). But the most shocking news—and what sparked my curiosity to check out the Common in the first place—arrived this past summer when Governingmagazine dropped a bombshell report showing that Boston had officially surpassed New York City in the number of in-home rat sightings, putting us in second place nationwide for this dubious distinction, trailing only Philadelphia. Culled from U.S. Census data, the findings revealed that about one in six Boston homes had disclosed close encounters with the rodent kind.

When I mention the study to a friend who lived on a particularly ratty street in Brooklyn before moving to Boston, he’s hardly taken aback. He currently lives across from the Public Garden and tells me that stepping outside for a nightly cigarette often leads to a stare-down with our furry fauna. “Boston rats are way more brazen than any New York City rats I’ve ever known,” he tells me. “Twice I’ve actually run away from them. Twice!”

Nor does news of the city’s rat problem surprise Bobby Corrigan, an internationally recognized expert with a PhD in urban rodentology who consulted on rodent-control programs for the Big Dig. Corrigan has studied infestations around the world and says old port cities like Boston have some of the worst. The nest I found near the retaining wall, he explains, is probably home to a family of 10 or so rats. That family is part of a colony, which can have between 60 and 100 members. In an area the size of the Common, Corrigan estimates that there are likely four distinct colonies. Like the Hells Angels and the Pagans, these colonies engage in turf wars, clashing over resources. “They’re very aggressive toward one another,” Corrigan says. “And as that park becomes too crowded, the rats of Boston Common become the rats of Beacon Hill.”

It’s easy to dismiss rats as just another cost of city living, but make no mistake

They’re shockingly destructive pests, teeming with harmful, disease-spreading bacteria and, according to one study, inflicting $19 billion worth of damage across the U.S. each year. Their relentless burrowing can erode a building’s foundation; their urine spoils tons of food each year; and their front teeth are like diamonds, strong enough to gnaw through wood, brick, and cement—not to mention live electrical wires, which can spark costly fires.

In response, Boston has ramped up its extermination efforts, while Cambridge and Somerville have formed special rodent task forces. City employees and private exterminators regularly hit the streets before dawn with buckets of poison, bait boxes, and snap traps. Though these tried-and-true methods may be effective, none is foolproof—and attempts to build a better rat trap have faced unexpected setbacks. One of Boston’s most recent experiments—which involved using dry ice to suffocate the little buggers—proved highly successful before the Environmental Protection Agency shut the program down.

While Boston is no stranger to rats, suddenly it seems like the little critters are staging the greatest comeback of their career. Many suggest that the development boom—with its endless groundbreakings, jackhammering, and excavations—has unleashed a biblical swarm of rodents and driven them toward the light. Others pin it on the mild winter of 2017. Or perhaps, as city officials insist, the uptick in sightings is merely the result of better reporting and data collection. The bigger question, though, is can anything be done to stop them? Because at this point, the only thing that seems certain is that as Boston keeps growing, so will its rat problem.

Talking About Rats

When it comes to talking about rats, combat metaphors often abound. And as anyone who understands the principles of war can tell you, rule number one is to know thy enemy.

In this case, that’s Rattus norvegicus, known better as the Norway rat or brown rat. At first glance, it is an entirely underwhelming animal: A typical adult measures up to 15 inches from snout to tail and weighs about a pound and a half, and these rodents live only about a year in an urban environment. Otherwise, though, it’s arguably Mother Nature’s most successful beast.

Behavior Of Norway Rats In Boston

Rats spend most of their life scurrying through the streets in search of water and food; an adult can consume as much as one-third of its body weight in a single day. Because they need to eat so much, they can’t afford to be picky and will feast on roaches, doughnut crumbs, week-old Chinese takeout—anything they can get their tiny mitts on. Rats are also highly intelligent, able to master puzzles, run through mazes, and express empathy to fellow rats—all reasons why scientists often use them in psychological experiments to learn about humans. Believe it or not, rats are exceedingly clean, keeping their nests tidy and fastidiously grooming themselves like cats. They’re also super-breeders.

Over the course of their short lives, male rats will hump just about anything in sight, including other males and dead rats, in hopes of procreating. But it’s the female rats that have among the most remarkable reproductive capabilities in the animal kingdom. After reaching sexual maturity a few months into life, their gestation period is only 21 to 24 days, and they can have up to a dozen pups in a single litter. Then, within 24 hours of giving birth, a female rat can ovulate, have intercourse, and become pregnant again. In other words: In a single night, two amorous rats can single-handedly trigger a domino effect that will spawn generation upon generation of offspring in a matter of months. “If everything is perfect, if you do the math, exponentially you can get up to 15,000 descendants in one year,” says Brandy Pyzyna, vice president of scientific operations for the pest control company SenesTech. “That’s why infestations can rebound so quickly.”

The brown rat’s origin story begins somewhere near Mongolia about 2 million years ago, long before the dawn of human history. Once Homo sapiens entered the picture, wherever people went, rats followed—eating their debris and garbage along the way. They trailed nomadic shepherds on the Grain Road through Central Asia and followed the merchants of the Silk Road west toward Europe. They even hitched a ride to the New World as stowaways on ships carrying early European immigrants.

History Of Rats In The US

The first reports of brown rats in the American colonies date to 1775, and the animals quickly became regular residents in filthy, crowded industrial centers such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. They weren’t the first rat species on the scene, however: Rattus rattus, the smaller black rat—historically loathed as a transmitter of bubonic plague—had arrived more than a century earlier. But the larger and more-aggressive brown rat, better suited for cold winters, easily bullied the black rat out of town and before long claimed the Northeast as its own.

Rats Living Underneath Boston

Beneath Boston today is a veritable graveyard of colonial-era rats, says city archaeologist Joe Bagley, who’s found evidence of rat tunnels on Paul Revere’s property and once even unearthed the skeleton of a rat in the North End that died next to a 19th-century Catholic Miraculous Medal. Nothing, however, can compare with the grisly discovery Bagley’s team made in a garden at the Old North Church in August 2016. They were digging six feet below ground near a cistern when the first rat skull surfaced, followed in quick succession by a second, a third, and a fourth. “We couldn’t quite figure out what was going on,” says Liz Quinlan, a zooarchaeologist who was on site that day. “We were essentially pulling out buckets of rats.” By the end of the project, they had removed 747 rat bones (“which is insane,” she assures me). While Quinlan suspects that the rats drowned in the latter half of the 19th century, she can’t yet say if they all perished at the same time.

Until the late 1800s, the most sophisticated way to kill rats was to set dogs on them. By the turn of the century, however, Americans had finally started using technology to get serious about extermination. As cities grew, so did rat populations, and pest control emerged as a social justice and public health issue. The opening salvo came in 1894, when the U.S. government issued the first patent for a spring-loaded trap. While a welcome addition to any Victorian exterminator’s arsenal, the design had one glaring flaw: Each trap could kill only a single rat.

Soon, Bostonians began taking matters into their own hands. In 1917, the Boston Women’s Municipal League, for instance, sponsored a derby-style competition, dubbed “Rat Day,” in which participants earned cash in exchange for dead rodents. The winner, a Mr. Rymkus of Brighton, slaughtered a remarkable 282 rats (and earned $150 in prize money, the equivalent of $3,100 today).

It wasn’t long until poisons entered the picture, and in the 1940s scientists discovered that warfarin (which today is best known as the heart medication Coumadin) was great at killing rats by thinning their blood to the point where they essentially drowned. Today, these anticoagulant poisons remain a popular choice for pest control, along with neurotoxins and other deadly chemical compounds. Yet in the fight against vermin, Boston is still trying to make a dent. Yes, the problem is less visible than a hundred years ago, but that doesn’t mean we’ve solved it. Not only are the rats still here—they’re flourishing.

Here’s what the modern war on rats looks like from the front lines with Boston Rat Exterminators

It’s a few minutes past 8 a.m. on a cold Wednesday in November, and Jeff Kilian is pulling on a pair of black latex gloves outside of a Brighton gas station. Before heading inside, he grabs a paint bucket full of rat poison—it looks like red-speckled chunks of Play-Doh—and begins pointing out signs of rat activity. Once you know what to look for, he says, you see the signs everywhere: black droppings the size and shape of fennel seeds; dark, greasy streaks on the pavement that indicate a favorite path; and plastic trashcans with holes gnawed through the bottom. He steps into the convenience store, slides a black plastic bait box from under the soda cooler, pops it open, and reveals a handful of desiccated rodent carcasses. It’s an olfactory nightmare. Over in a storage room, he pulls out two snap traps, each of which has a furry dead rodent in its clutches, and drops the corpses in a plastic bag. “Think about what my truck smells like at the end of the day,” he says.

Then it’s on to the next assignment. As Kilian, a Boston Rat Exterminator who works for Ultra Safe Pest Management, weaves through Storrow Drive gridlock on his way to South Boston, he politely informs me that “exterminator” is something of “an archaic term.” After all, he’s licensed by the state, takes continuing education courses, and can talk in exquisite detail about the life cycles of bedbugs, Asian long-horned beetles, and, of course, rats.

Rat Exterminator Boston Magazine

Pest-control expert Jeff Kilian of Ultra Safe Pest Managment / Photograph by Jeff Brown

Kilian shows off the arsenal of weapons he uses against rats in alleyways and basements across Boston. / Photograph by Jeff Brown

Jeff Kilian Of Ultra Safe Pest Management

Thirty-seven years old, with hazel eyes and a goatee, Kilian didn’t grow up dreaming of a life in pest control. He was born in South Boston, worked construction with his father as a young man, and took odd jobs along the way. Then, about 15 years ago, he came across a help-wanted notice in the classifieds. The listing was short on details, but said applicants should be comfortable with heavy lifting and digging. “That’s me all day,” Kilian thought. He called the number, only to find out it was a pest-control company. A few days later, he had a phone, a truck full of poison, and a list of needy clients.

At first, Kilian says he suffered a crisis of conscience. Killing creatures all day long took its toll. Rats began polluting his dreams. For a while, he couldn’t walk into a restaurant without scanning it for telltale signs of infestations. Today, though, having spent most of his adult life in the trenches of urban-animal warfare, he’s got the thousand-yard stare to match.

As far as rat stories go, Kilian’s can hang with the best of them. Some of his most harrowing moments have come after getting a call from a fancy restaurant. He claims he’s caught a 5-pound rat at an eatery on Beacon Hill and seen a whopping 7-pounder in the sewers beneath a Back Bay dining room. But the craziest thing he says he’s ever seen? That occurred in the early 2000s along the seawall that separates the North End from Boston Harbor. Hundreds of rats had set up shop and were constantly raiding nearby restaurants, chewing through the floors and walls. One day, as Kilian was making the rounds by the waterfront, he glanced over and saw a swarm of rats overtaking a seagull. “It was eaten alive,” he says, matter-of-factly. “I saw it get devoured.”

After battling traffic for another 20 minutes, we finally arrive at the next job: a massive industrial brick building in South Boston. Kilian is no stranger to this address. “I’ve killed so many rats here, it’s ridiculous,” he says. Before going inside, he leads me over to an alleyway near the loading docks and starts stomping on the muddy gravel, the best way to find his quarry. Sure enough, his construction boot sinks through the ground and he’s ankle-deep in a rat burrow. Properly rat-proofing a business is akin to a small-scale construction project, requiring concrete work and retrofitted doorways with stainless steel sweeps. Oftentimes, though, getting commercial property owners to commit to that type of work is difficult, if not impossible.

Kilian’s client, who works below the ground floor, is in the food-services industry. He understandably doesn’t want to be identified, but he keeps a vigilant line of defense against rats, fearful that a smattering of turds could compel a health inspector to shut down his businesses indefinitely. Yet no matter what he does, he feels as though countless forces are working against him. The landlord, he says, is responsible for repairing the loading dock and patching the building’s foundation but hasn’t done it. Meanwhile, he tells me, the tech company upstairs has no rodent control in place, as evidenced by the rat that ran across its floors earlier this morning.

Ultra Safe Rodent Expert

Photograph by Jeff Brown

When Kilian finishes his inspection, his client, visibly flustered, tells him to go ahead and schedule the necessary concrete work to rat-proof the business, and to take care of it as soon as possible. He’d rather pay out of pocket and hound the landlord for reimbursement than risk a rat breaching his perimeter. As he walks us out the front door, he points to a sprawling construction site directly across the street. It’s a common scene in the city these days: a former industrial site being razed to make room for a new plot of luxury condos. Kilian’s client insists that ever since the bulldozers arrived, the rat problem around his building has gotten worse. “Someone should drop a dime on them,” he says with a smile.

As we pile back into the truck, Kilian begins chatting and says he’s going to stop at the nearest Dunkin’, but it’s all I can do to keep my mind off the stench of dead rodents emanating from inside.

After saying goodbye to Kilian, I couldn’t stop thinking about what his client had said: that construction was stirring up the rats. Over the course of reporting this story, I repeatedly heard that the city’s current building boom is fueling the rat problem. The argument goes that ripping up the streets to make way for our tony new high-rises in the Back Bay, the Fenway, and the Seaport is surely displacing rat colonies and forcing rodents above ground.

It sounds logical—yet William “Buddy” Christopher, commissioner of the city’s Inspectional Services Department, says it’s simply not the case. “We don’t see anything that’s tracking along those lines,” he tells me. “The Seaport is probably the area with the most big-building development, and we don’t see a drastic increase of rat populations over there.”

Corrigan, the rat expert, agrees and notes that construction has long been a scapegoat for cities’ rat problems. “There’s this urban myth that construction causes rats,” he says. That doesn’t mean, though, that rodents aren’t attracted to construction sites. After all, the plethora of debris and building materials provides ample shelter, while construction workers and their lunches produce plenty of garbage for vermin to eat. But Corrigan insists that jackhammering isn’t going to trigger a rat-pocalypse—especially in Boston, thanks to our stringent regulations for new buildings.

In order to begin construction here, builders and developers have to put together a rodent mitigation plan before a shovel ever hits the ground. Also required are monthly reports once construction gets under way, followed by a post-construction report when the project is finished. It’s a policy with roots in the Big Dig, when residents and city officials feared extensive tunneling was going to unleash a rat tsunami. To ease anxieties, city officials developed a systematic strategy that pinpointed where the rats were and attacked them well before construction began. While it might sound like common sense, the idea turned out to be revolutionary, and Boston’s approach has since been heralded, according to one report, as the world’s first “comprehensive and centrally coordinated rodent control program” linked to a major construction project and has served as a model for cities around the word.

So if the construction boom isn’t fueling Boston’s rat problem, what is? Christopher, of Inspectional Services, doesn’t deny there are rat troubles, but he insists that the soaring number of complaints is misleading. The city’s 311 system, which launched in 2015, makes it so easy to report rats, he claims, that it’s not uncommon to get multiple complaints for one location. Before 311 launched, reporting a rat was a cumbersome process, Christopher says. Now, residents can do it from their smartphones within seconds of spotting a scaly tail.

That’s not to say Boston is idly twiddling its thumbs. Every day, teams of pest-control experts hit the streets to bait sewer lines, patrol public alleyways, and follow up on reports. Some nearby cities are pushing the war on rats into uncharted territories. For instance, Somerville recently worked with the company SenesTech to test a new poison that not only kills rats, but also makes it harder for them to reproduce. While the cutting-edge chemicals—which are associated with infertility—proved mostly effective, Somerville has not committed to the approach. After all, as Boston city officials recently learned, deploying new weapons against rats isn’t always easy, and there are rules of engagement.

Dry Ice For Rodent Control

In 2016, Boston Inspectional Services teamed up with researchers at Harvard and MIT and began packing large rat nests with dry ice, which evaporates into carbon dioxide and suffocates the animals. The city tested the method on infestations in overgrown cemeteries and even used it on a massive burrow in the Public Garden. “It was amazingly effective,” Christopher says. “Probably the most humane way to deal with rodents.” But then the federal EPA got wind of what was going on and told the city it was not allowed to use dry ice because it was not an officially registered pesticide. Since then the necessary agencies have been working together to remedy the problem, but it’s a complex process that includes the EPA, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources, and the city. While the agencies wade through a sea of red tape, an untold number of rats have surely spawned in these same areas.

Ultimately, though, controlling rats isn’t really about coming up with new ways to kill them. It’s about effectively managing the endless stream of trash that flows from our homes and businesses, along with making it difficult for the animals to find warm, safe places to nest. It means that residents shouldn’t dump garbage on the sidewalk and that parks departments should know which type of ground cover is hospitable to rats and which isn’t. It means that restaurant owners should seal up their dumpsters every night and that landlords should quickly call an exterminator when a tenant complains. Needless to say, these are lofty ambitions for a city where neighbors get in fistfights over parking spaces and absentee landlords abound. Even if we do everything right, the simple fact is that rats are here to stay—and they are poised to spread farther and farther into the suburbs. “Rats follow rail lines and sewer lines,” Corrigan says. “They follow sprawl.”

We’re already seeing that scenario play out: This past fall, the sleepy bedroom community of Belmont was shocked when town officials closed a popular playground due to a rat infestation. Naturally, I had to check it out. When I arrived, the quaint little park—which sits next to an elementary school—was pitch-black and eerily quiet. The slides, swings, and jungle gym, which the rats had burrowed under, were cordoned off behind a makeshift wooden fence on which hung a metal sign that read, “Park Closed for Maintenance.” I scanned the ground with my flashlight, but apparently the rats had already packed up and moved along.

After wandering around for several minutes, I bumped into John Analetto, who has lived across from the park for decades. In all that time, he says he’s never once seen a rat—not on his property or in the playground. He found the news of the infestation deeply upsetting. It’s an incredible park, he says, and there’s nothing he loves more than the sound of parents and children playing in it. “Nobody likes a rat,” he tells me before heading back to his house. “The only good rat is a dead rat.”

Ultra Safe Problem Animal Control Agents Achieve NWCOA Bat Standards Certifications!

Ultra Safe Certified Bat Removal Experts

NWCOA Bat Standards Certified Professionals have undergone advanced training to become Bat Removal Specialists.  The training discusses advanced bat behavior, population dynamics, latest Bat Exclusion methods, materials and more. The two most recent Bat Removal Experts to become certified, brought the total Certified Bat Removal Professionals at Ultra Safe Pest Management to seven! Ultra Safe Pest has become a leading Bat Removal Company here in Massachusetts.

Squirrel Removal and Prevention in Massachusetts

Squirrel Removal and Prevention in Massachusetts

Grey Squirrels – By far the number one home invader of all local squirrel species! Grey Squirrels typically have two or three nest sites that they will frequent throughout the year. Warm weather nests are constructed in nearby trees where squirrels create a cluster of branches and leaves. Cold weather nests are made in tree hollows and building structures. Grey Squirrels will chew a baseball size hole to gain entry to a cavity to escape the elements. This species of squirrel is active during the day (diurnal) usually from sunrise to sunset. If scratching and gnawing is heard during the day, Grey Squirrels are a likely culprit.

Red Squirrels – Although smaller in size than the Grey Squirrel, ‘Red Squirrels’ also known as ‘Pine Squirrels’, are more vocal and territorial than the other species. One key characteristic of the red squirrel is that they can enter the structure from low or even ground level entry points. This behavior is not as typical of the Grey or Flying Squirrel.

Flying Squirrels – ‘Flyers’ Many people are unaware that Flying Squirrels even exist in Massachusetts. This is because Flyers are nocturnal and are rarely seen by people. They are the smallest of the three species with Flyers being slightly larger than adult mice. Squirrel Damage Squirrels take advantage of a “weak spot” to gnaw their way in. They can damage wires, insulation, personal belongs and contaminate surfaces once inside.

Our Squirrel Removal Experts are equipped to remove and prevent squirrel activity!

Check Out Boston Exterminators On NBC Boston!


New Rat City: Boston’s Growing Rodent Problem

 NBC Boston News: By Ally Donnelly

Boston is the second most rat-infested city in America behind Philadelphia, according to federal census data. And that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

(Published Monday, Nov. 20, 2017)

Boston is the second most rat-infested city in America behind Philadelphia, according to federal census data.

And that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

Rats need three things to survive — water, food and shelter. Boston, built on a landfill, has plenty of all three.

“They’re definitely a health hazard,” said Buddy Christopher, commissioner of Boston’s Inspectional Services Department. “Their environment that they live in is filthy. And they’ll transport that everywhere.”

In the early hours of the morning, city inspectors stalk back alleys and trash bins in an effort to neutralize the growing rat population. Following trails of rat droppings, the inspectors set traps and plunge bricks of poison into the sewers to kill as many rodents as possible.

“It’s just out of control,” city inspector Chris McNally said. “People have a right to live without dealing with this kind of stuff.”

Rat complaints were up nearly 50 percent last year. There were about 3,100 complaints in 2016, up from 2,100 in 2015. According to the city’s data, no neighborhood has been left unscathed

The hardest hit area is Dorchester — the city’s largest neighborhood — followed by student-saturated Allston/Brighton, Jamaica Plain and restaurant-heavy Back Bay.

One newer hot spot is Public Alley 809 off Symphony Road in the Fenway neighborhood.

Neighbors said the rat problem is so bad that they can’t park their cars in the spots they own.

The Top 5 ‘Rattiest’ Areas in Boston

[NECN] The Top 5 'Rattiest' Areas in Boston

(Published Monday, Nov. 20, 2017)

But inspectors said getting rid of rats is an uphill battle.

Commissioner Christopher pointed to all of the pizza boxes and trash left in flimsy plastic garbage bags on the ground.

“This is all homes for them,” he said. “We have tried over and over to explain to people to make sure all their food, all their waste is put into the proper containers, that they have the proper tops on, and they’ve got to maintain them.”

The city fights landlords that don’t plug holes in foundations or properly seal the bottoms of doors.

“A rat can get through a hole the size of a quarter,” McNally said. “Once they get inside, it can be a nightmare.”

Many landlords or residents don’t have enough trash barrels or at least not enough that are rodent-proof.

The Rats of Boston

“Those are all gnaw marks. That’s rats — chewing’,” said McNally as he showed the NBC Boston Investigators a potato-sized hole in a recycling barrel that had been bitten through by rats. “They can eat through soft metals. It’s unreal what they can do. Great climbers, great swimmers.”

The city slaps the owner of one Gainsborough Street building that backs up into Public Alley 809 with violations nearly twice a month — thousands in fines.

“A lot of people see that as the cost of doing business,” Christopher said.

We went to see the building manager, Mohsen Minaie. He said he just brought in exterminators, but he can’t stop the tide of trash that people leave in the alley.

“I’ve been witnessing it myself,” Minaie said. “That other people throw out their trash there.”

Since 2008, his company has received 73 trash or rodent violations.

“Not my fault at all,” he said.

As the city expands — more people equals more food equals more rats.

Business has never better for private exterminators like Ultra Safe Pest Management. Exterminator Vic Palermo showed us what they’re up against as he worked on a building in Southie recently.

“Right down here we have an active entry point into the building. Some concrete has broken away,” he said. “The rats are able to take advantage. They excavate or burrow right down inside, meaning into the building.”

He and his crew bait traps and stuff holes with rat-resistant mesh.

“This is stainless steel. It’s not going to corrode. It’s going to last a long time. Rats are not going to be able to chew through it.”

They then seal it with concrete and set bait traps to lure them away from the building.

“We rotate from snap traps and baits to certain areas,” exterminator Jeff Kilian of Ultra Safe Pest Management said. “We figure snap traps have been working in this area as opposed to bait. So basically what I’m doing is I’m replacing the bait to keep a fresh supply on the snap traps, because after a couple days in this weather it’ll go bad and we want to make sure there’s fresh bait.”

The crew also advises building management on simple solutions to reduce the rat population, like moving the buffet — the dumpsters — away from the building.

“They wouldn’t feel safe crossing the parking lot getting to the dumpsters and getting back,” Palermo said.

The city said it doesn’t see the problem going away anytime soon.

“I don’t see us getting rid of rats ever,” said Christopher. “It’s too big a population.”

The city has had some success killing rats with dry ice — frozen carbon dioxide. It doesn’t leave a mess, won’t be accidentally eaten by other animals and is environmentally friendly. The EPA had ordered them to stop using it because it isn’t a registered pesticide, but the city said the agency is now showing signs of easing up on that restriction.