While the basics of rodent control have remained the same, PMPs said parasites, protocols and consumer attitudes towards rodents are changing.
Trend # 1 – Rodents are becoming more of a problem
Over the past seven years, mice and rats have generally become more of a problem for pest control companies.
According to the PCT Survey on the State of the Rodent Control Market 2021, sponsored by Bell Laboratories and compiled by independent research firm Readex Research, more PMPs cited house mice (76%), brown rats (52 %) and black rats (44%) as challenges in their markets compared to 2014.
House mice generated the most service calls last year, reported 41 percent of PMPs, followed by black rats (30 percent) and brown rats (15 percent).
Habitat loss played a role. “Rodent population has exploded” in Greater Houston after massive flooding from Hurricane Harvey in 2017 pushed rodents out of parks and bayous, said Del Lawson, vice president of operations at Modern Pest Control in Katy, Texas.
“When you change the natural habitat they’re in, it pushes them towards the houses, and all they need is a little crack and you have rodent issues,” he said. As a result, the company’s rodent exclusion work has tripled.
In Greater Los Angeles, construction on wasteland and open land has displaced rats and their natural predators, including coyotes, snakes, owls, and hawks. “I think we’re losing a lot of natural controls for rats, which is problematic,” said John Etheridge, Seashore Pest Control, Huntington Beach, Calif. Homeless settlements provide pests with easy access to food, he said.
Marty Overline of Aardvark Pest Management said rodent infestations in downtown Philadelphia have subsided after an initial pandemic peak. “It’s all about the food flow of commensal rodents, and the food flow has really, really dried up, so the population has gone down. But I would say it’s going to bounce back here over the next year or so, ”he said, as people return to office buildings and colleges.
Trend # 2 – Rodent control lasts all year round
Rodent control has become a year round activity for more and more pest control companies. According to the PCT 2021 State of the Rodent Control Market Survey, 34% of PMPs reported no seasonal differences when providing this service, up from 21% in 2014.
Glenn Fordham, owner / operator of Olympic Pest & Termite Control in the Metro Atlanta area, has noticed the change in rodent control work. “It was very seasonal; it’s not like that anymore. There are peaks and valleys, but it’s almost non-stop now, ”he said.
Fewer PMPs said fall was their busiest season for rodents: just 29% in 2021 compared to 41% seven years ago.
Yet the onset of the fall cold has prompted companies like Custom West Pest Control in Missoula, MT to go “rodent mode”.
“You will see the mice start to move indoors in September, October. Then they get really (aggressive) in October, November, ”said Nate Nunnally, CEO of Custom West.