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The 5 worst fall pests

Rittenhouse Square has been battling an influx of rats since the spring. But even as fall weather gets cooler and people spend less time in the park and more time in their homes, Philadelphians will still need to watch out for pests.

Western Pest Services, a Parsippany, N.J.-based pest-management company, says the change in seasons mean pests start heading indoors. Here are the top five critters people in Philadelphia and other places in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast should be on alert for this fall, according to the company:

1. Rodents: Western Pest Services says rodents like mice and rats should be the top priority, as walls, pantries and attics can all make inviting homes during the fall and winter. People should look out for gaps where rodents could enter, and watch for droppings or gnaw marks, which could signal an infestation.

2. Flies: The company says flies tend to be most problematic in the early fall, as the fly population is at its highest and the creatures seek warmth inside homes.

3. Stinging insects: Stinging insects like yellow jackets, bees and other wasps are another major fall problem. The bugs have used the summer to create large nests and populations, but food becomes scarcer in the fall -- making the creatures more hostile.

4. Ants: As fall begins, ants can move their colonies into home walls or under foundation slabs.

5. Occasional invaders: Western Pest says a number of occasionally invasive insects become more prevalent in fall. Such species include stink bugs, box elders and lady bugs, which all enter homes in search of warm places to spend the winter.