A variety of bugs infest homes and apartments in big cities. And New York City is no exception.
In this guide, you’ll find the most common NYC apartment bugs that bug the living daylights of New Yorkers.
Some of the bugs on the list carry infestation risks, bacteria that can cause diseases, and irritating itches.
Some are a nuisance.
You’ll also find some actionable tips on protecting your NYC apartment from bug invasion.
So, if you’re a New York City resident or looking forward to moving there, this guide will save you from many buggy days and nights.
Keep reading to them all and what to about them.
Do you know that NYC is one of the worst cities in the US for bed bug infestations? It’s in the top 10 list of America’s most bed-buggy cities.
Over the years, bed bug infestation in NYC has increased exponentially.
The reason for such a massive spike in bed bug infestation in NYC is its population.
But the more significant reason is that many homeowners try to cut costs by using ineffective measures to detect bed bugs. Or they fail to take action.
And to add to it, tenants and people frequently changing apartments in NYC also spread bed bugs from one apartment to another.
What happens when they move out of an apartment infested with bed bugs?
They transfer the bed bugs to a different apartment.
Bed bugs are efficient hitchhikers. If there’s a bed bug infestation in one apartment, they can quickly spread into the adjacent flats.
They latch onto clothing and luggage and can quickly spread from one place to another.
With the increase in bed bug infestation in NYC, the cost of bed bug control has skyrocketed.
Bed bug infestation takes time to manifest.
And if you’re not reactive to bed bug bites then you can never know that there are bed bugs in your apartment till the infestation becomes severe.
With the increase in bed bugs in NYC homes and apartments, the bed bug control costs have skyrocketed.
However, you can get rid of bed bugs cheaply if you spot the infestation signs at the early stages.
New Yorkers love their pets. Presently in 2021, there are 1 million pets in NYC, out of which 600,000 are dogs.
And this number is increasing year on year.
With so many pets in NYC apartments and homes, skyrocketing fleas infestation isn’t surprising.
Fleas not only bite your furry family members. Fleas also bite and suck your blood.
Fleas from your pets easily get transferred to places like your bed, couch, and floors.
And when they’re in these places, you and your blood are the life source of the fleas.
The most common place where fleas can bite you is your bed.
And how do fleas get in bed?
When your pets jump onto the bed or sleep on your bed, they transfer the fleas on your bed.
That’s why, if your pet has fleas, it’s common to find fleas in soft furnishings like sofas, beds, couches, carpets, pet beds, and accent chairs.
Biting Bird Mites
There are many ways that mites enter homes. And the biting mites enter homes and apartment by latching onto their hosts like birds and rodents.
New York City is no stranger to pigeons. There are 7 million pigeons in the city of New York.
With the increase in urbanization and population, the living spaces of pigeons have increased too.
As the population in NYC grows, so does that of pigeons.
Pigeons feed on seeds, breadcrumbs, popcorns, and food leftovers on the streets, which are abundant in NYC.
But do you know that pigeons carry bird mites?
Bird mites are biting mites that are parasites on birds like pigeons. Bird mites are also present in the pigeons’ nests.
And when pigeons build their nests in the apartment blocks, which is quite common in NYC, they also bring bird mites.
But what happens when these pigeons leave their nests?
The bird mites in the nests start to look for a new host. And that host is you.
Bird mites feed on birds’ blood. But they can easily bite humans and suck their blood to survive without a host nearby.
On top of that, pigeons carry diseases too.
Well, pigeons don’t bite you. They’re just looking for some food.
Pigeons enter apartments, looking for a place to nest.
They leave their droppings behind in areas like the kitchen and bathroom.
But pigeons’ feces carry bacteria that cause diseases like histoplasmosis, which can get hold of you if you aren’t careful.
So, it’s always a wise decision to install window screens on your apartment windows to deter the entry of pigeons into your apartment and home.
Psocids mites, also known as booklice, are tiny whitish or brownish mites that chase moisture.
These tiny mites are harmless bugs. They target the molds that develop on things like books, furniture, wall, and floor.
If you don’t store your gains properly in non-airtight jars, psocids mites can enter into these jars.
Getting rid of them is not a big deal.
Using a vacuum cleaner on them, removing the molds, and controlling the moisture in your apartment will reduce and eliminate these harmless mites.
Odorous ants are one of the most common ants in NYC homes and apartments.
These ants enter apartments because they spill over from other apartment blocks or buildings.
Their numbers in an apartment increase fast when there’s enough moisture and food supply.
And when their numbers increase, they look for a new place to build their colonies.
Like most house ant species, odorous ants inside apartments will target your kitchen. They can eat most types of foods that you consume, but sweet foods attract them more.
High dampness levels because of water usage and stored food and food wastes make your kitchen their go-to place to establish their colonies.
Odorous house ants emit a nasty stench when you squish them. So, using ant baits, removing their colonies, and ant sprays are the best ways to eliminate them.
Another ant species, known as the carpenter ants, are woodboring ants in NYC apartments that can cause some damage to your home’s furniture.
These ants are black. And they’re enormous house ants that can enter homes.
Infestation occurs in two ways. Either they move from one apartment to another or get inside the apartment when they swarm as flying ants during the summer or after rains.
Carpenter ants can establish multiple colonies inside homes and apartments.
So, getting rid of them can be challenging because it’s tricky to find the colony where the queen carpenter ants reside.
Carpenter ants and odorous ants don’t bite most of the time. But they can bite you if they land up on your skin or if you try to handle them.
A few years ago, the mosquito season in NYC was from April to October.
But now, the season seems to last throughout the year.
The worst part?
Residents in NYC apartments are now observing mosquitoes in their homes during winter.
Why does that happen?
Experts say that the sewer lines underneath the city have become a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Spraying mosquito-killing sprays and scattering larvicide in the city’s catch basins seem ineffective.
That has resulted in a severe rise in mosquitoes.
And that’s the case not just in NYC, but cities like Chicago, Los Angeles, and Boston face the same mosquito menace.
But thankfully, most of the mosquito species in New York City don’t carry any diseases except one.
The tiger mosquito, black with white stripes, is now active in the city. Tiger mosquitoes spread the West Nile virus.
So, is there any practical solution against the mosquitoes in your NYC apartment?
Indeed, there is.
The best thing you can do to stop mosquitoes from entering your apartment is to install window screens with fine meshes.
That prevents mosquitoes and bugs, and beetles that are attracted to light.
To prevent them from biting you, sleep under a mosquito net. Mosquito nets are helpful, especially when you’ve got a toddler or a baby in your home.
Planting plants in pots on the balcony or inside the apartment is also a great way of keeping mosquitoes out.
Plants like lavender, marigold, eucalyptus, and basil make your apartment look good and repel mosquitoes and flies.
If you can’t keep plants, lighting a citronella candle or lamp is a great alternative.
But candles have a small coverage of 4 feet in radius, so it’d be best if you keep multiple lamps in different corners of your apartment.
Cockroaches are in most homes across the US, but in NYC, they’re one of the most common bugs.
It’s because NYC, and all mega metropolises, give them an ideal environment to live and breed fast.
Cockroaches love humidity, an essential requirement for them to live and grow.
The summers have become quite hot and humid over the years. It caused a sharp spike in roach infestations in the NYC apartments.
In apartment buildings, German and brown-banded roaches are more common than American roaches.
German roaches breed fast. If they go unchecked, their population can double within weeks.
Cockroach infestation grows very fast. And it’s always a good idea to hire a pest controller to get rid of roaches because these bugs are hard to eliminate with DIY methods.
Carpet beetles are damaging fabric and pantry pests in NY and across the US.
These beetles are tiny and black when they age. But when they’re young, they’ve got white spots on their tan bodies.
Carpet beetles enter homes and apartments during the spring, which is their mating season.
Inside your apartment, they’ll lay eggs on natural fabrics like wool, silk, leather, cashmere, and leather.
In your pantry, they can target stored food to lay their eggs.
Carpet beetles can also target synthetic fabrics blended with natural fibers.
The carpet beetle larvae that hatch out of the eggs feed on the feeds on protein in these natural fabrics.
Their feeding causes damage in the form of chewed portions on the fabric. That makes the carpet beetle larvae a damaging closet pest or fabric pest.
The larvae can also crawl into your bed, especially when your bedsheet is dirty with sweat stains, food stains, and food crumbs.
Extensive cleaning of the apartment and removing their larvae and eggs are essential to get rid of carpet beetles.
Flour beetles are pantry pests that infest flour of all types. And they target stored foods like flour, grains, seeds, and cereals.
These beetles are common in big grocery stores and grain houses, where they enter food packets and lay eggs inside.
So, one of the most common ways that NYC residents bring the flour beetles to their apartments is when they buy those food packets.
Flour beetles don’t contaminate the food. But they cause damage, making the grains, cereal, and flour stale.
Sometimes it can also emit a stench.
Spider beetles are also a regular pantry bug in NYC apartments. These beetles are tiny reddish, resemble spiders, and have a bulbous shiny thorax.
But they’re beetles, not spiders.
They’ll feed on your stored food, primarily dry foods. And they can also breed and lay eggs inside your kitchen.
All the pantry beetles are harmless. And they don’t bite.
But they multiply pretty fast. And hence it’s critical to remove spider beetles asap before they cause significant damage to your food.
House flies are a big nuisance in New York City. Increasing waste and humidity have contributed significantly to increased house fly infestations.
House flies sneak inside homes from open doors and windows. Food waste in the trash bins and dirty kitchens worsen the hose fly infestation.
So, maintaining cleanliness and regularly disposing garbage are vital for preventing houseflies in apartments and homes.
Houseflies carry pathogens. These pathogens can cause diseases if the house flies transfer them to your food.
Fly traps, baits, sealing their entrance points, insecticide sprays, and keeping house plants like lavender eliminate them.
Growing plants like lavender also prevent houseflies.
Gnats are tiny black flying bugs that resemble phorid flies or mosquitoes.
Gnats are moisture bugs that look for homes and apartments with a dampness problem.
Also, the light from your apartment attracts gnats. Poorly stored fruits, vegetables, and waste in the kitchen trash bins also attract them.
Gnats are nuisance flies and multiply rapidly. Attracted by the light from your bedroom, gnats can get inside the bedroom despite no food and water sources.
The male gnats don’t bite. However, the female gnats can bite and draw your blood.
Fix the water leakages, keep your kitchen and apartment clean, and use bug-repelling bulbs in the doorways and terraces to keep gnats away.
Keeping sticky yellow fly traps and spraying soapy water on the soil beds of potted plants, where the gnats lay eggs, help remove gnats in the apartment.
Mice And Rats
Mice and rats make our list of the common NYC apartment bugs, even though they’re not bugs.
It’s because they’ve been infesting New York apartments for ages.
Both mice and rats have pathogens that they contract from filthy places like gutters, trash cans, and sewers.
Inside an apartment or home, mice and rats eat human food by invading the pantry and the kitchen.
That’s how they spread the bacteria and diseases.
And they can even take refuge in the bedroom, closet, drawers, and wardrobe, causing severe damage.
Biting Rat Mites
With rats and mice in the apartment comes the rat mites. Like the bird mites, the rat mites are parasites on rodents.
They feed on the blood of the rats. And these biting mites are present in the rat and mice nests.
Some rat mites may fall off their bodies. At the same time, some remain in your apartment even after you eliminate the rodents from the apartment.
Without their hosts, the rat mites will bite you and your family members to get blood meals.
In their search for blood, both rat mites and bird mites can hide inside your mattresses to get close to a sleeping human.
But there’s a catch. Both these biting mites are microscopic biting bugs.
So it’s hard to spot them with a naked eye. You may end up getting bites from these bugs but can’t see what’s biting you.
Silverfish are moisture bugs that enter human homes when the weather outdoors becomes too hot and dry.
They can enter apartments, especially on the lower floor, looking for damp places.
The most common entry points are gaps and cracks on the walls and windows and through the gap between the door’s bottom and the floor.
However, you can accidentally introduce silverfish into your apartment by bringing things like cardboard boxes or potted plants.
Cases of silverfish spilling over from one apartment to another is rare. It’s because these harmless bugs remain hidden throughout the day and don’t breed fast.
Controlling dampness in your home and removing them with a vacuum cleaner are the best ways to get rid of silverfish.
Centipedes are worm-like bugs with many legs. You can come across them in your apartment’s bathroom and kitchen, where there’s a lot of water usage.
Centipedes also enter human homes to escape extreme weather outdoors. And they’re shy bugs.
They avoid human contact and prefer hiding inside cracks and crevices on walls and floors.
Centipedes can bite. But most house centipede bites are harmless despite being venomous.
Centipedes hide in places like your bedroom if there’s too much clutter.
Centipedes enter apartments through the thinnest crevices on walls, doors, and windows. They can also crawl through the narrow gaps around the utility lines.
They’re efficient crawlers. And centipedes can move from one apartment to another in search of prey and shelter.
Venomous spiders that sneak inside homes, like the brown recluse spiders, black widow spiders, and wolf spiders, are uncommon in apartments.
But tiny brown house spiders like the common house spider and cellar spiders are common in apartments.
These spiders are harmless. And they don’t bite unless you try to handle them.
Like the centipedes, these apartment spiders also avoid human contact. The common house spider even plays dead if you try to poke it.
Too much clutter and the presence of other bugs inside your apartment can draw these apartment and house spiders.
Cleaning your home, removing the clutter, and using a vacuum cleaner to scoop off the spider from the walls and ceilings are sufficient to get rid of them.
Termite infestation, especially infestation by subterranean termites, is on the rise in NYC.
Other parts of NY, like Long Island, Albany, Buffalo, and Rochester, are also severely hit by the rise in termite infestation.
Subterranean termites attack homes from underground.
Most of the termite infestations in NYC apartments are because of termites spreading from one apartment block to another.
Also, the subterranean termites swarm after rains and from March to June in NY.
During this period, these swarming termites sneak into apartments through the windows.
Swarming termites with wings are reproductive termites.
They fly into a home or apartment, mate, and then bore into furniture and wooden beams inside the house to start a new colony.
Also, these swarming termites are attracted to light.
So, during the swarming months from March to June, installing window shields and meshes keeps the termites from entering the home.
Thankfully, the more damaging termites, the drywood termites, and the Formosan termites, are still not present in NYC.
One of the most common fall bugs in NYC apartments are the stink bugs. And stink bugs take many New Yorkers aback.
It’s because stink bugs are not visible inside the apartment for most of the year.
So, what makes them sneak inside homes during the fall and winter months and become the most common winter bugs?
Stink bugs hibernate starting from the fall months. When fall arrives, they start to look for warm and cluttered places where they can spend the entire fall and winter months.
That’s why many apartment and house dwellers in NY come across lethargic stink bugs in their homes.
Stink bugs don’t bite. But if you try to squish them or poke them, stink bugs will release a chemical which is stinky.
Using a vacuum cleaner on the stink bugs and disposing of the vacuum cleaner dust bug is the best way to remove stink bugs without killing them.
To summarize, here are the nineteen common NYC apartment bugs that every NYC resident should be aware of.
- Bed bugs
- Bird mites
- Psocids mites
- Odorous ants
- Carpenter ants
- Carpet beetles
- Flour beetles
- Spider beetles
- Mice and rats
- Rat mites
- Tiny house spiders
- Stink bugs
These bugs are most common pests in dense neighborhoods like Manhattan and Queens.
But they’ve even made their way into posh NYC locales like Noho, Nolita, Hudson Yards, and Tribeca.
Share this post with anyone who is making a move to NYC.
Inspecting the apartment for these bugs before moving into the apartment will save the person from expensive pest control treatments and sleepless itchy nights.
Dr. Thomas Orbert, the Microbial Maestro, dances with the tiniest of creatures as an entomologist extraordinaire! With a PhD in entomology, his passion lies in unraveling the secret symphonies of insect-microbe interactions. From minuscule marvels to captivating complexities, Dr. Orbert unveils the hidden world of bugs, igniting curiosity one buzz at a time!