There are a number of animals or insects that can be classified as a pest. Some, such as rats, have a higher priority than other pests because of their risk to human health. Yet who wants to co-exist with any pests when they could potentially damage a home? This is the foundation of the pest control industry.
In the United States, the pest control industry generates $14 billion in revenues annually and has experienced annualized growth of 4.9% from 2011-2016.
In the next decade, there will be several pest control industry trends that may continue the growth trends already being seen, especially from a global perspective as more population centers begin to adopt modern living arrangements.
Bed Bugs Will Continue to be a Money Generator
- US hotels, according to Judy Black, VP of Technical Services for The Steritech Group, reports that from 2014-2015, bed bug infestations in hotels rose by over 16%.
- Over 99% of all pest control professionals have treated at least one bed bug infestation in the past 12 months.
- 95% of all bed bugs removal requests are from apartment or condominium complexes. Single family homes are also more common for bed bug jobs than hotels or motels.
- According to Pest World, bed bugs can also be found in other high density population living, working, or learning environments, such as nursing homes, college dorms, offices, schools and daycare centers, hospitals, and public transportation hubs.
- In a recent survey reported by Pest World, 68% of pest control specialists say that bed bugs remain the most challenging pest for them to treat.
- Even though bed bugs are not a seasonal pest, 2 out of 3 service calls occur during the summer months.
In terms of revenue generation, nothing seems to be beating the mighty bed bug. Not only are they difficult to remove, but this hidden pest can latch on from public transportation or a stay in a hotel and then become a home invader. Summer calls may be more intensive for this pest simply because people are more apt to travel during the warmer months, making it more likely to bring bed bugs home. Whatever the case may be, bed bugs will continue to be the foundation of many pest control employment opportunities.
Rodents and Roofs Are a Potent Combination
- According to Orkin, roof rats are prestigious breeders. Females can breed year-round. Within a year, one female may be responsible for up to 40 new rodents.
- According to PCT Online, roof rats are largely an issue along coastlines and throughout the Southeastern United States. Reports of infestation are becoming more frequent in land-locked areas.
- The best way to prevent a colony from nesting in a home is to make sure that all the windows and vents are screened, creating a revenue generation opportunity for pest control specialists.
- According to OneKind.org, rats are extremely social and affectionate animals. They enjoy the company of other rats and domestic rats love being with humans too.
- A rat can go longer than a camel without having a drink of water, which can make it difficult to identify their presence in a home, creating the need for regular inspections.
Roof rats are a building revenue generator because their presence is beginning to spread from their traditional points of infestation. Because many homes and buildings have important HVAC components in the attic or roof where these rats like to live, it is important to conduct regular inspections to make sure these pests are not present. Informing about the potential health risks of these pests may open up new opportunities in traditionally non-roof rat markets in the next decade.
The Ants Keep Marching On
- Even though there are more than 30,000 identified different species of ants, only 0.3% of them are actually classified as pests.
- According to PCT, an increasing number of non-native ant species have been discovered in the United States over the past several years, and these pests are gaining ground in many areas. Asian needle ants in particular are building in population.
- Asian needle ants are known for eating other pests that may be in a home, such as termites. They’ll eat pretty much anything, from human garbage to other ants in their colony. Around human structures, they nest anywhere from potted plants to piles of mulch, and even underneath door mats with colony sizes ranging from a few dozen to a few thousand.
- What makes the Asian needle ant such a revenue-generating pest is the fact that 2-4x as many people are allergic to Asian needle ant venom than are allergic to honey bee sting.
- Ants are social animals, can lift 20x its own body weight. Here’s a fun fact from Pest World for Kids: If a second grader was as strong as an ant, she would be able to pick up a car.
- When ants leave their home to forage, they leave a pheromone trail so that they know where they’ve been and for other ants to follow. This means just one ant needs to find an opening to enter a home and then the whole colony can follow behind.
Ants are a difficult pest to control. Not only do they create a significant feeling of annoyance when they appear, but their large colonies can be difficult to remove. For the pest control industry, this pest creates the opportunity to provide monthly inspections and services to begin building a regular set of clients. As invasive species continue to move forward, especially in the United States, look for the trend of ant removal calls to slowly increase over the next decade.
Lighting and How it Affects the Pest Control Industry
- Many homes are making a move to cost-effective and environmentally friendly lighting, but this might also increase the chances of a pest invasion occurring.
- Judy Black reports that research has shown LED light emissions that are less than 550 nanometers may be more attractive to pests than those with higher wavelengths.
- Attracting pests toward a facility makes it much more likely that they will gain entry into buildings through gaps, cracks and even doors.
- This research offers an opportunity for the pest control industry to work with the lighting industry to create energy-efficient lighting options that have the appropriate wavelength so that pests aren’t attracted to a building or a facility.
- According to Statista, LED lighting is expected to achieve a 53% market penetration by 2019.
- By 2027, the US Department of Energy estimates that widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh of energy compared to no LED use. LED lamps can replace 40, 60, and even 75 Watt incandescent bulbs.
Co-branding opportunities could be the next field of growth for the pest control industry. LED lighting is just one example of how a local agency could inform a customer about ongoing pest research and light wavelengths to suggest a potential replacement bulb. By taking a commission from each sale through these partnerships, the pest control industry creates a value proposition where the customer saves money, reduces pest influences, and still generates revenues for the industry as a whole. By rethinking the approach, there could be massive rewards waiting in the next decade.
Not All Pests Are Residential Pests
- Stinkbugs, typically exclusive to the US East Coast, have been reported to be spreading westward from 2010-2015.
- These pests will help to eliminate other pests, but they’ll also eat crops like soybeans, fruit, or even flowers.
- The brown marmorated stinkbug, native to Asia, was first discovered in 1998 in Pennsylvania. Since then, it has been reported in more than 40 states.
- This pest is like many others and operates in colonies. This means one home might have several thousands stinkbugs in a major infestation and the home right next to it might have none.
- Stinkbugs are not harmful to humans, according to Judy Black, and are best classified as a nuisance pest. They can release an unpleasant odor when crushed or when they feel threatened. They will also release this unpleasant odor in winter when a colony has found a suitable place to live, inviting more stinkbugs to come along.
- This pest offers the industry a chance to begin replacing aging, damaged screens that may be on a home, improve weatherproofing, and sealing cracks.
- Because the best removal methods of stinkbugs are usually to vacuum them up or to remove them by hand, this creates a labor-intensive revenue generation opportunity that could be especially beneficial for companies in rural areas.
Every community will have unique pests that are a challenge to remove. Whether it’s stinkbugs or it is bed bugs, each opportunity will allow the industry to continue to grow at a healthy clip. In the US, this means more than 100,000 people are gainfully employed because of what this industry does every day. There will be challenges, but the next decade should also bring about some great rewards for all those involved.