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, we anticipate 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 pest technicians 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 building populations will quickly escalate.
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 which 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. This is already happening in some areas; New Orleans for example are already stepping up their baiting programme to combat this issue.
Within our own homes we may see an increase in mice, ants and flies as they too profit from our reduced movement. 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 USA 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.
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.
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.