How drought affects pest control


December 13, 2023

Dr. Michael Bentley, BCE

Dr. Michael Bentley, BCE

Extreme weather events have become something of a common occurrence across the United States in recent years. Depending on the region in which you live, you may have faced one or more severe weather phenomena — ranging from prolonged drought to superstorms and flooding.

Most pests can survive just as well in undeveloped areas as they can in urban environments. However, in times of drought, when naturally occurring water sources such as woodland pools dry up, pests may be drawn to neighborhoods and cities. With our need to keep our grass green, our swimming pools maintained, and our bird baths filled, homes can quickly become an urban oasis for thirsty arthropods looking for relief. This can lead to a notable increase in pest pressure around homes and businesses as pests make their way indoors in search of food, water and shelter.

Increasing pest activity isn’t the only challenge pest management professionals (PMPs) may face in times of drought. In some cases, your ability to conduct your work may be significantly impacted. As the ground dries and hardens, digging termiticide trenches or installing termite bait stations will become more labor-intensive and time-consuming. Under prolonged drought conditions, when water tables are affected, consistent access to water or the availability of larger quantities of water may be limited. This could prevent PMPs from accessing enough water to complete pretreats or other jobs that require an excess amount of water.

In extreme cases along coastal states, where prolonged drought leads to saltwater intrusion into the water table, what little water that is available could become contaminated. Depending on the severity of the contamination, this could lead to clogged equipment — as diluted saltwater reacts with inert ingredients in liquid products and internal components in sprayers. Additionally, any vegetation surrounding client homes with a low tolerance for salt water could be affected.

While extreme weather events are often impossible to predict, knowing the potential impact and how to prepare for these conditions can be important to ensuring your ability to continue servicing your clients effectively.

About the Author

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Dr. Bentley is director of training and education for the National Pest Management Association. You can reach him at

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