On the 20th April 2020, the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) published the results of a survey which revealed a ‘surge’ in pest activity during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey revealed 51% of pest professionals were reporting an increase in rat activity, with a 41% increase in mice activity. A cursory glance on news sites shows that this is a story being repeated all over the country - Burnley, Edinburgh, Inverness, Lancaster, London, and Sutton Coldfield are just some examples from the last few days.
For those of us in the industry, this news does not come as a surprise. With many people working at home, business premises are either left empty or they have a greatly reduced workforce. Rodents are therefore able to run riot through properties they would previously either have avoided or only ventured into at night or when they would go unnoticed.
As a demonstration of how different things are, our technicians are reporting something we hardly ever see – completely empty bait boxes. These boxes are used for preventative pest control but normally, between visits, the bait used in them is not completely eaten by the rodents. At the moment, however, we are seeing lots of empty bait boxes.
Why would this be? I can think of three reasons. The first is perhaps the least worrying, that without human beings onsite, there is less waste and less food for the rats and mice to eat. The rodents are therefore being forced to look for food and the bait boxes provide an easy supply.
The other two options are potentially more worrying. It could be that without human interference the rodents feel they can access areas they would normally be reticent to enter. The final reason, and perhaps the most worrying, is that this is an indication that business premises are being infested with more rats and mice during lockdown. When you consider the news stories that are appearing all over the country, it does seem probable that the country is being faced with an unprecedented increase in rodent activity.
This has implications not only in terms of safety – rodents will gnaw cables and this can lead to fires – but also it has implications for public health and mental health. Lockdown is already a stressful time for many people and so we don’t need the added concerns over catching diseases from rodents – Leptospirosis (Weil's disease), Salmonella, Listeria, Toxoplasma gondii, Hantavirus, etc.
There is also the concern over our mental health – to read our recent press release, click here. No one wants to be stuck in a house where there are rodents but, in terms of work, when we are finally allowed back to work we don’t want our ‘home from home’ to be smelling of rodent urine and with the constant sound of creatures moving through the walls and under floorboards.
It should also be remembered that the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 compels local authorities to control mice and rats. It grants them legislative powers to force landowners and/or occupiers to take action to keep land free from rats and mice. Controlling rodents in the workplace is therefore not only a case of protecting stakeholders’ mental and physical well-being, it is also a legal requirement.
In fact, I think this is an opportunity, although this may be hard for some business owners to see at the moment.
When we are released from lockdown, all of us are going to want to get back to work as quickly as possible (in line with Government guidance). To do that, our businesses need to be clear of infestations. It is therefore a false economy to reduce preventative pest control, just as it’s always counterproductive to have cut-price pest control. In my experience, this always ends up costing the client far more when they inevitably have a pest problem.
Why I think it is an opportunity is because this can be a time to look at who is providing your pest control services. Many people automatically go with a big national company because they have heard of them, but this option does not always offer value for money. At the same time, a one-man band may appear to be cheaper, but she/he won’t be able to offer the level of service your business needs – what happens when they are ill or on holiday?
During lockdown, businesses can look at their service provision and see what they actually get for their money. The national company may offer a decent service, but you are paying a premium. A smaller, well-organised and well-trained pest control company will be able to offer just as good, if not better, level of service, and you won’t be paying for the name!
My advice to any business currently is to see what you are actually getting for your money and find the best value. Cheap is often a way to end up spending more but, at the same time, expensive doesn’t mean you are getting value for money.
Cleankill offers a range of service for commercial customers in London, the South-East, Buckinghamshire, Bristol, Somerset, and across the whole of the UK. We hold the Gold Standard, one of very few pest control companies in the world, and are certified to all the standards you would expect, including CEPA - Certified Professional Pest Management - BS EN 16636:2015 – The Management of Public Health Pest Species Including Bird Control. To learn more about our accreditation click here.
To contact us about helping you ensure your property is safe, click here.