According to this year’s survey, nearly a third (32 percent) of pest management professionals said bed bug calls decreased this year due to COVID-19.
Bed bug leads at ABC Home & Commercial Services in Austin, Texas, dropped nearly 50 percent, reported Alan Brown, an entomologist who manages this service line for the company.
With lockdowns, travel bans, and more people working and attending school remotely, the pests weren’t hitchhiking to new locations like they did pre-pandemic. “It’s definitely had an effect on our business,” said Brown.Bed bug revenue earned by Tom Sieminski, owner of Team Pest Control in Sayville, N.Y., also took a hit. “I’ll be lucky if I get half of what I got last year,” he said. He lost two hotel clients that he was servicing monthly. “They closed down, so I lost them,” he said.
Brian Metzger, owner of GP Home Defense in Salina, Kan., was “really rocking and rolling and then when COVID hit our area,” his work with nursing homes stalled. “I wiped out their bugs and got them on quarterly preventative treatments, which was great but then all the nursing homes went into lockdown,” he explained.
Some customers refused service because they weren’t comfortable letting strangers into their businesses and homes, and many clients no longer needed bed bug control since hotels, dorms, offices and retail spaces sat empty, reported PMPs in the survey.
The impact of COVID-19 will linger. “It’s changed the bed bug industry,” said Rodney O’Quinn, president of Keller’s Pest Control. His bed bug revenue, which accounts for 10 percent of revenue overall, was down 40 to 60 percent between March and August compared to last year. He said PMPs who specialize in bed bug work are “just dead in the water.”