A changing climate and several emerging pest species could create new pest concerns for businesses in North America in 2019. Rentokil Steritech’s experts from around the continent have weighed in on their predictions for pest activity in the new year. Here’s what businesses should know and actions that can be taken to protect your employees, customers, products, property, and brand.
1 – Mouse populations will continue to surge
“Over the past two years, mouse populations have been extremely high in many areas of the country, creating increased pressure in commercial businesses,” says Rentokil Steritech Market Technical Director, Chad Gore. “Historically, infestations increase in the fall and winter months as mice move indoors. But for the past few years, the pressure has been year-round.”
The reason for the spike in activity? Gore believes that warmer winters over the past several years have allowed mice to flourish. The lack of freezing temperatures has reduced the likelihood of a seasonal population reduction.
To avoid an increase in mouse problems, businesses should talk to their pest management providers about the pressures in their area and customized actions for their particular property. Want to take action right now? Perform routine inspections of the facility exteriors. Mice can fit through openings the size of a dime, so repairing holes, gaps, and cracks can help reduce the likelihood of pests getting inside. Another quick risk reduction tactic? Installing door sweeps.
2 – Bed bug resistance will become an increasing problem
In the last decade, scientists and entomologists have found that the bed bug continues to evolve, morphing to fend off pesticides and insecticides. In many areas of the U.S., populations of pesticide-resistant bed bugs have been documented by entomologists.
“Bed bugs have developed the ability to detoxify many of the common insecticides pest management providers have relied on for years,” says Eric Braun, bed bug expert and Board Certified Entomologist with Rentokil Steritech. “The pest management and scientific community have found populations of bed bugs with varying levels of resistance to these traditional products, making control efforts more challenging.”
Responsible pest management companies like Rentokil Steritech have been turning to non-insecticidal solutions, such as the use of heat, physical removal, and steam to eradicate bed bug populations in these resistant areas. New products, including silica-gel dust and fungal spore products, are also proving effective against resistant populations.
3 – A rainier than usual 2018, with potentially more on the way in 2019, will influence overall pest populations
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information, nearly two-thirds of the country has received above average rainfall through October of 2018. Increased moisture can influence pest activity in many ways. It provides needed water for both sustenance and breeding, contributing to structural issues that can be attractive to pests, and more.
Adding to those rainfall totals, the United Nations World Meteorological Organization has predicted that there is a 75 – 80 percent chance of a climate-warming El Niño forming between December 2018 and February 2019. If that occurs, areas around the globe, including North America, could see increased rainfall and flooding.
4 – The roof rat continues to expand its footprint through the Central U.S.
The roof rat, long a common pest in North America, is becoming an increasing threat to businesses in areas where it hasn’t been a serious problem before.
Once largely an issue on coastlines and the Southeastern U.S., the roof rat, sometimes called the black rat or ship rat, is proliferating through the Central Plains and Midwestern U.S. and other land-locked areas.
Roof rats can multiply quickly. Healthy female roof rats can have three to five litters annually, with each having five to eight pups. Like many rat species, roof rats are especially adept at evading capture.
Roof rats become problematic for businesses when they infest wall and ceiling voids. Businesses that share walls and ceiling voids with other properties are especially at risk to problems. Infestations can easily spill over from neighboring properties. Having a strong rodent management plan in place can alert businesses to roof rat activity before it becomes a problem.
5 – The spotted lanternfly will continue to push into new areas of the Northeastern U.S.
The spotted lanternfly was first discovered in Pennsylvania in 2004. This invasive species from China, India, and Vietnam is primarily an agricultural pest with the propensity to damage fruit crops such as apples and grapes. However, their presence is a risk to some businesses beyond agriculture.
Adult spotted lanternflies emerge in late summer and early fall. Businesses and homeowners may notice the colorful pest when it congregates on trees or other plants, like firewood. Pests can move from trees to structures quite easily.
For commercial facilities that manufacture food or that require sterile or clean environments, this pest could pose a contamination risk if it were to get inside. If pests attach to pallets or shipments, businesses could unintentionally aid in the spread of this pest to other states.
Currently, quarantine restrictions are in place in several counties in Pennsylvania, where there is highly regulated movement of product to try to contain the spread of the spotted lanternfly. However, it has been reported in other states including New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.
Businesses that believe they may have a spotted lanternfly issue or are in areas where the pest has been identified should speak to their pest management provider. Residual surface applications can help protect operations from an accidental introduction.
6 – Two prominent, disease-spreading mosquito species will continue to flourish in Southern California
Mosquito-borne diseases are becoming an increasing concern in many areas. This is due, in large part, to a warming climate and severe weather events. In 2018, Southern California saw increased populations of two major disease-spreading mosquito species, and experts believe that trend will continue into 2019.
In the U.S., mosquito species that can help spread dangerous diseases such as West Nile virus, Zika virus, chikungunya, dengue, and St. Louis encephalitis include the yellow fever mosquito, otherwise known as Aedes aegypti, and the Asian Tiger mosquito, or Aedes albopictus.
“Entomologists and scientists have observed that these two species of mosquito seem to be modifying their behavior slightly to find conditions suitable to development,” says Claudio Salem, Rentokil Steritech’s West Market Technical Director. “These mosquitoes are evolving to become hardier and adapt for survival.”
The two species have been found in underground water collections like rainwater pipes and flooded electrical lines. That is particularly important because those areas will remain a little warmer than the exposed water, providing ideal conditions for reproduction. Aedes aegypti has also been discovered in areas where water has dense organic material, which also offers warmth due to bacterial activity.
“This behavior change to develop a cold tolerance hasn’t just been seen in Southern California,” says Salem. “It has been observed in many areas with a partially tropical environment, and it is increasing year after year.”
Businesses in Southern California with water features, or that have close proximity to natural bodies of water, should amplify their mosquito control efforts. They might also consider lake management services to help reduce the potential for mosquito activity. It’s also important to workers, guests, and other visitors to properties on the importance of mosquito bite prevention. This will help reduce the potential for contracting a mosquito-borne illness. And don’t assume that people are safe just because they aren’t spending lots of time outside. Aedes aegypti, in particular, frequent indoor areas or areas close to buildings, which put people at risk during their everyday activities.
7 – Voracious Asian subterranean termites are becoming more established in Florida
A native of Southeast Asia, the Asian subterranean termite was first discovered in the mainland United States in 1996 and in the last two decades, has built up impressive populations in South Florida. It’s now flourishing and slowly marching north. The potential exists for it to spread to neighboring states that offer warm, tropical environments.
Similar to the Formosan subterranean termite, a prominent pest in the Southeastern United States, the Asian subterranean termite is a particularly voracious eater. It can attack and damage structures with speed. The Asian termite will also feed on live trees, reports Randy Piggott, Termite Line of Business Manager for Rentokil North America. It has already been blamed for causing extensive damage to southern slash pine trees in parts of Southern Florida.
Because of the potential this pest poses for structural damage, along with the threat it brings to landscaping, businesses and homeowners in Florida and neighboring states should be on watch for the Asian subterranean termite. One noticeable sign of activity is large swarms, which happen at dusk and in the early evening.
Piggott recommends having a termite baiting plan, such as the Sentricon® system with Always ActiveTM technology in place for the perimeter of a business to alert at the first signs of trouble.
Having a proactive pest management plan in place keeps you protected against unexpected activity
All of Rentokil Steritech’s experts agree that the best step any business can take to prevent pest issues it to have a proactive pest management plan in place year-round. Even if you don’t think your business is susceptible to pest infestation, new pest concerns could emerge at any time.
“As our climate continues to evolve, areas that have never seen problems with particular pests in the past may begin experiencing new issues,” says Judy Black, Rentokil Steritech’s Vice President, North America Technical Services. “Weather events such as heavy rains, hurricanes, and droughts, which are becoming increasingly more frequent, can also cause sudden and dramatic pest activity in isolated areas. With a proactive pest management plan in place, businesses can mitigate the potential for serious pest infestation or pest-related problems.”
For more information on Rentokil Steritech’s pest management plans for businesses, visit www.rentokil-steritech.com.