Climate change means more business for pest control companies
- Experts say rising temperatures and other climate change phenomena can trigger more pest problems.
- This could result in pests having more offspring and popping up in places they weren’t before.
- As a result, pest control companies could see a recovery in business.
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Searing heat waves are still sweeping across much of the US, and a new climate report says global temperatures will rise by at least 2 to 3 degrees between now and 2040.
While billions are feeling the negative effects of climate change, one industry could potentially benefit from it: pest control specialists. Hotter temperatures, along with other patterns spurred by the climate crisis, could be big business for pest control companies.
“As extreme weather becomes more common, warmer temperatures and increased rainfall can affect pest populations, usually leading to an increase in populations or an expansion of the habitats in which insects can thrive,” said Brittany Campbell, associate entomologist and researcher with National Pest Management Association, said insider. “Warmer temperatures, which last longer, and seasonal variations such as more early springs have allowed some insect populations to reproduce more and increase the number of offspring per year.”
Changes like this have already prolonged the typical peak season for pest control companies.
Charles Evans, the owner of Evans Pest Control in Philadelphia, says his business now handles some insects during times of the year when they normally don’t.
“Now we get calls for ants all winter,” he said. “That was unknown at one point.”
Evans says “unexpectedly warm weather” is to blame.
“With the longer summers and warmer winters, things tend to stay alive,” he said. “It seems like everything is more active now.”
Stacy O’Reilly has seen similar business trends in her company, despite noting that climate change can also affect business in some cases. O’Reilly is the owner and president of Plunkett’s Pest Control, which is headquartered in Minneapolis and operates in 21 states.
“We get calls earlier in the summer and later in the fall than before,” she said. “Our insect control season in Minnesota is longer, in my opinion, than it was 20 years ago.”
It’s not just the time of year. Pests also appear in geographic areas where they do not normally live.
“The pests we see in our southern territories are now more common in our northern territories,” she added. “It is slowly expanding, the ability for southern pests to multiply in more northern climates.”
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Warmer temperatures often play a role.
“When we have these warmer temperatures that can cause insects to change their place where they can actually live and survive because they have optimal ranges of temperatures to live in,” said Wizzie Brown, an entomologist and specialist in Texas AgriLife Extension Service from A&M University. “If it’s usually 65 degrees somewhere and it starts to be 85 degrees there, then with that new range, insects can move to new places that they might not have been before.”
Rising temperatures could also mean that pests have more generations of offspring.
“When it’s cooler outside, insects usually take longer to complete their egg-to-adult life cycle,” Brown said. “If it’s warmer, it can actually accelerate development.”
The combined result of these developments is that “climate change is acting as a major catalyst in increasing demand for pest control services around the world,” according to a 2020 report on the global pest control services market.
In the meantime, pest control specialists need to remain on their guard as climate change continues to affect their businesses.
“We just have to be aware of the effects the climate has on insects and do our best,” said O’Reilly.