New York City's 311 service request line have received nearly 7,500 calls of rat sightings this year, almost 1,500 more than the same period last year and 60% higher than the first four months of 2019 just before the pandemic began. From NBC New York:
In each of the first four months of 2022, the number of sightings was the highest recorded since at least 2010, the first year online records are available. By comparison, there were about 10,500 sightings in all of 2010 and 25,000 such reports in all of last year (sightings are most frequent during warm months)[…]
While a return to pre-pandemic routines "is exciting after two years of COVID-imposed lifestyle changes," [New York pest management specialist Matt] Frye said in an email, "it also means business as usual for rat problems that are directly tied to human behavior."[…]
"What happened during the pandemic was that your restaurants shut down," said Richard Reynolds, whose rat-hunting group for years periodically takes out teams of dogs to sniff out — and kill — vermin. "When outside dining came along, there was food again."
In planter boxes outside dining sheds, rats lie in wait for any fallen crumb. They lurk in storm drains ready to lunge.