Editor’s Note: PelGar International, a rodent control product manufacturer, distributed information about pest pressures to media in the United Kingdom. We felt that it was useful to all pest management professionals (PMPs).
Pest control is already on the front line of public health around the world; given the situation we now find ourselves in it could prove even more essential. The closure of schools, pubs, restaurants, hotels, tourist attractions and other public places to enforce social distancing will have unintended consequences.
Animals are always quick to adapt and, as a result, PelGar International anticipates that many pest species will flourish as a direct result of these necessary global measures.
Our general day-to-day activity keeps many pests at bay in our work and leisure environments; pests generally prefer to keep away from human contact and infestations are quickly spotted and dealt with.
However, the complete closure of many premises means that PMPs may no longer have access to continue existing pest control plans or deal with a rise in infestations.
“If pests have adequate food and water within these buildings, populations will quickly escalate,” PelGar’s head of technical, Sandy Mackay comments. “If food and water are in short supply inside those buildings, pests will disperse in search of them. The lack of public social movement, added to a decrease in cleaning and grounds maintenance, will also embolden pests that are normally keen to keep out of sight; enabling them to flourish. We should expect, therefore, to see an increase of pests like rats on our streets in search of easy food from litter and bins.”
Mackay notes this is already happening in some areas. The City of New Orleans, La., is stepping up its baiting program to combat this issue, for example.
“Within our own homes, we may see an increase in mice, ants and flies, as they, too, profit from our reduced movement,” Mackay adds. “Ensure you continue to keep your homes and gardens tidy and your rubbish in bins to discourage pests.”
Governments around the world are united in ensuring that basic sanitation will continue as an essential service throughout this period. In the U.S., pest control has been highlighted as an essential provision. In the UK, pest control manufacturers and technicians can continue to work as “keyworkers” in the sector of public health and hygiene, but whether many will depends upon their own circumstances and preferences.
“The continuation of these basic but important pest services are key in combating the possible side effects of social distancing that are being seen in many cities,” said Andrej Branc, PelGar USA’s North American business manager. “It is clear that pest control is truly an essential service, whether it is for the disinfectant solutions that are now being requested, or the ‘old school’ pests that are adapting to our new normal. With rodents in particular, we have to be vigilant in keeping populations down, especially as we head into the warmer months.”
Some may not be able to access premises they routinely manage whilst others will. Some may continue to provide a domestic service whilst others may have vulnerable family members they would prefer to protect. Companies and technicians must balance the needs of pest control against the safeguarding of their customers, staff and families; that is not a blanket decision that the industry can make but one for individual consideration.
Around the globe, the relevant pest control authorities are advising their members on the way forward. Whatever the outcome of those decisions, we must be aware that pests are not constrained by our social distancing measures and will flourish in our absence.
Read more COVID-19 coverage here: MyPMP.net/COVID-19