By Orkin’s count, Baltimore was still the eighth “rattiest” city in the country in 2017.
That’s according to the company’s newest annual ranking, which is based entirely upon the number of residential and commercial rat exterminations its workers performed from Sept. 15, 2016, through the same date this year. By their count, Charm City actually sank bank two spots from 2016, when it ranked sixth in the country. In 2014, Baltimore grabbed the ninth spot.
Chicago has held onto the top spot during each of those three rankings. This year, Detroit moved up into 7th place while Baltimore fell back. Nearby D.C. also dropped from third to fifth place.
Locals who are bummed to see their city fall in the pest ratings need not fear: Last January, Orkin placed Baltimore first for bed bugs, and there’s no indication yet we’ll lose that spot when the 2018 edition comes out.
In 2016, the news surrounding Baltimore’s rats was all about former Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s new trash cans. The 64-gallon, green plastic behemoths that now fill our yards and alleyways were designed with lids too heavy for the rats to jump up and lift. From a purely anecdotal perspective, they seem to be doing their jobs.
In 2017, the conversation is all about the bigger picture of what Baltimore’s rats represent. That’s all thanks to Theo Anthony’s wondrously weird and captivating documentary “Rat Film,” which probes the links between rat infestations, redlining — which Baltimore helped to pioneer for America — and the enduring legacy of poverty in the city’s black neighborhoods. (In a mere coincidence, the film opened its ongoing run at the Parkway Theatre the same day Orkin ended its data-collection period for the 2017 ranking.)
As exterminator Harold Edmond said in the film, “There’s never been a rat problem in Baltimore, it’s always been a people problem.”