According to the PCT 2020 State of the Bed Bug Control Market survey, 42 percent PMPs said revenue from bed bug control service would increase next year. That’s down from 59 percent who felt this way last year.
Much depends on the pandemic’s end. “If this ends and we go back to normal, I think my bed bug work will go back to normal,” said Tom Sieminski, Team Pest Control. He said he thinks a return to normal travel, recreation and entertainment levels may take a while. “The trepidation and the uncertainty are really paramount in people’s heads right now,” he said.
Daniel Conrad of Pro-Tech Termite and Pest Control said he expects the number and scope of bed bug jobs to increase. “I think the call volume will go up and I think the infestation levels are going to be higher because (people) have put off calling someone to come into their house,” he said.
“I’m pretty happy with the bed bug market right now,” added Conrad. “I’ll be ready to go out there next time it really picks up again.”
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.”
Clients may have had money concerns or feared getting COVID-19 from technicians. Regardless, spending more time at home intensified existing infestations. “The more time you spend in an area, the faster bed bug populations can grow because they’re getting blood meals any time they want,” explained Rodney O’Quinn, president of Keller’s Pest Control in Bradenton, Fla.
Tracy Rice, CEO of Rice Pest Control in Anniston, Ala., said the pests weren’t confined to specific areas like he found before the pandemic. “They seem to be more spread out in the structure,” he said. Common areas, such as the sofa and recliners, were key transfer points, he added.
While PMPs provided bed bug services to many markets, the ones that generated the largest portion of revenue were single-family homes (43 percent), apartments and multi-family housing (39 percent) and the hospitality industry (8 percent), found the PCT 2020 State of the Bed Bug Control Market survey.
Bed bug services took place year-round. The majority of PMPs (49 percent) reported no seasonal difference when it came to controlling bed bugs, while 26 percent said summer was the busiest season for this service.
This 2020 State of the Bed Bug Market report has been developed based upon survey data collected from PMPs across North America. We, at Bayer, are proud to sponsor and support this compilation of interviews, market analysis and data insights, and we thank those PMPs across the country who participated in the research, providing valuable perspective on our industry and on the unique challenges that bed bugs create. We hope that readers will use this report as a resource in the upcoming bed bug season and beyond.
As we look forward into the coming months, we can’t help but reflect on 2020. This has certainly been a year of new challenges and, while much has changed, one thing that has remained constant is the grit and resilience that PMPs, and the pest management industry as a whole, continues to show. Tough pests, like bed bugs, haven’t backed down, and neither have the PMPs finding new ways to treat and to protect their communities during difficult times.
Our product portfolio and digital solutions are designed to protect communities and businesses from the many threats that pests may pose. Take bed bugs, for example. Not only do these pests cause harm to people’s health, but they pose a serious threat to businesses’ reputations, brands, revenue and customer experience — the pillars of a business’s success.
Within the Bayer Pest Management and Public Health portfolio, Temprid FX stands out as a flexible, powerful response to bed bugs — and will provide PMPs with the confidence to take on the toughest jobs. Our goal at Bayer is to do just that — to arm PMPs with the solutions to take on the next challenge, big or small, and to keep our communities safe.
For over a century, Bayer Pest Management and Public Health has proudly served as a partner to pest management professionals and has delivered the highest standard of science in the industry. We adapt and evolve our technologies and products in response to the ever-changing environment and the challenges we’ve faced. Just as PMPs work tirelessly to protect their customers and communities, we promise to show up day in and day out as a partner you can trust to protect what matters most.
Head of U.S. Pest Management & Public Health, Bayer