After talking to pest management professionals (PMPs) throughout the country, it appears the industry is poised for a banner year. Pests are plentiful and leads are at an all-time high. I’m not sure whether this is a result of effective marketing, global travel and commerce, conducive weather that favors insect and rodent activity, and/or a new generation of customers that has zero tolerance for pests.
Based on my experience, I suspect we’re primarily just repeating cycles of climatic conditions that seem to happen every 10 to 15 years. Add to that the mix of invasive species of insects delivered to the United States every day: red imported fire ants, Formosan termites, lovebugs, kudzu bugs, Argentine ants, bigheaded ants, Asian tiger mosquitos and Asian long-horned beetles to mention a few.
Along with climatic conditions, another cycle I’ve seen replayed is some pests eventually become resistant to some of the control technologies PMPs commonly use. Fortunately, many manufacturers continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to arm PMPs with new control technologies featuring even better efficacy performance and reduced environmental impact.
Some industry sages say, “Always bet on the pest.” They have a point. So far, we haven’t successfully eliminated any of the key structural pests. Even bed bugs returned with a vengeance. Heck, it takes a lot of work just to keep up with pests’ development and changes in nature.
The bottom line: The pests will be here long after us. The demand for, and dollars from, professional pest management services should hit new heights this year.
Bed bugs continue to be a big problem — and not just in hotels and homes. They’re infesting more schools, buses, cars, churches, libraries … you name it. Bed bug control requires a lot of effort and costs a lot more than general pest control. These cryptic bloodsuckers really make it difficult for PMPs and their customers.
Ants will be plentiful this year. In most areas of the country, there has been plenty of moisture with moderate temperatures, making ant reproduction rates higher than normal. And if PMPs thought the Argentine and fire ants were big and bad, wait until they deal with tawny crazy ants spreading throughout the United States. I’ve heard PMPs say the ants won’t survive in certain regions because they’re too hot or cold. However, we live and work in controlled environments, making it ideal for all pests to survive.
Even though we have better tools in our arsenal than we’ve had during the past 50 years, we still have German cockroaches, and the number of related calls is increasing daily. The pesticides baits, liquids and dusts might have been too good. Some resistance might be showing up. If so, it might be time for some to consider pesticide and formulation rotation. If it’s not working, stop doing the same thing and getting the same results.
Every week I receive pictures showing live termites in wood and mud tunnels, and even swarmers in the winter. Residential and commercial construction are improving, which means more opportunities. We just need to do a better job inspecting and treating.
Rodents — rats, mice, squirrels, etc. — also are an increasing concern despite exclusion efforts. These critters are crafty and prolific.
There’s never been a better time to be a PMP. We have the best materials, application equipment, and training — and our customers have zero tolerance for pests. pmp
You can reach Hardy, a PMP Hall of Famer, at firstname.lastname@example.org