Weather-related pest control stories can be found in newspapers and websites weekly, if not daily. Here’s a sampling of what I found with a quick Google search: “Drought conditions driving insects inside homes”; “Beware of fire ant mounds after rains”; “Did climate change trigger US’s worst West Nile virus outbreak?”; and “This is what happens to all the rats when cities flood.”
I’ve always been fascinated by how weather impacts pests — and pest control — and this year has been particularly interesting. In many parts of the country, this spring was unseasonably cool, delaying pest activity. And for many, this summer has been exceedingly hot, giving pest control businesses a boost at an already busy time of year. I checked in with pest management professionals from various parts of the country and here’s what they had to say about the weather’s impact on pest pressure this year.
Bruno Milanese, Bay Pest Control, Ocean Springs, Miss.: “Pest pressure has been tremendous. It started in May with the largest and longest Formosan termite swarming season that we have seen in many years. Also, rodent and insect calls have been much higher this year. The weather in the Gulf South region has been very hot and wet. Both of those together make for prime breeding grounds for all insect species.”
Eric Melass, Killum Pest Control, Houston, Texas: “We have been in a severe drought all summer. In addition, we’ve had triple-digit temperatures in more than three-fourths of the days of each month of June and July. This has made it challenging for exterior chemical treatments. We are starting to see quite a bit of activity for native crazy ants. Other than technicians having to work in this exceptional heat, the summer business has been great. We are super busy.”
Ken Hogarth, Hogarth’s Pest Control, Traverse City, Mich.: “For us, it’s actually been a little cooler this summer. Everything is a little bit behind this year. Right now [mid-August], we are seeing a lot of wasp activity, and we usually see [wasp activity] earlier.”
Greg Bausch, American City Pest & Termite, Los Angeles. “I’m not a weather expert, but going by feel … it’s been hot in Los Angeles this summer, but it’s also been more humid than normal, and we know that humidity has an effect on pests. I’ve seen a lot of flying pests, ants and even roaches, and I think that they might all be impacted by the humidity.”
Brian Wescott, Kingfish Pest Control, Ponte Vedra, Fla.: “Pest pressure so far has been, in my opinion, on par with the past few summers. In Northeast Florida, local conditions have been favorable for mosquito activity, which has translated into a 54 percent growth in services over this time last year. Thankfully, we haven’t seen any major hurricane/tropical storm fronts this season. Those weather conditions can considerably hinder a pest control company’s ability to produce sales and complete production services during those times.”
Jason Eicher, Versacor, Southlake, Texas: “Weather conditions this summer have been brutal, which we believe contributed to increases in pest activity. Most of Texas is in severe drought and North Texas, where Versacor is headquartered, has endured triple-digit temperatures for most of the summer. These hot, dry conditions have forced pests to change their normal behaviors in searching for food and water.”
Caleb Tennenbaum, Arizona Pest Control, Tucson, Ariz.: “Pest pressure has been great for us this summer. Calls for termites have been up 25 percent. We had one of our wettest summers on record last summer, and I think that is rolling over and playing a role this summer.”
BUSINESS HAS BEEN GOOD. While no two pest management professionals had the same answer for how this year’s weather has impacted pest pressure, they all had similar answers when I asked how business was going this year. “We are up”; “Busy, busy, busy”; and “It’s been a great summer!” were all common responses. Here’s hoping that trend continues through the remainder of 2022!