The State of the Commercial Bed Bug Market – It’s Making a Comeback! -PCT
Depending on who you spoke to in 2020, when the pandemic was at its most critical, the commercial pest control market was either down, flat, or booming. A year later, at this point, it’s fair to say that the majority of PMPs suggest that the commercial bed bug market is strong.
For many companies, the volume of business generated by commercial customers in all areas seems to indicate an increase.
“We have a fairly large bed bug business, and we have a large commercial division with lots of hotels and apartments and more transient places that can generally be prone to bed bug infestations,” says Andrew Davitt, BCE, director of corporate commercial pest control services for Alabama-based Cook’s Pest Control.
Revenues are always a solid way to prove where a market is headed, and they’re certainly growing, according to Kyle Kromer, director of multi-housing operations for Minnesota-based Plunkett’s Pest Control.
“Hotels and vacation rentals have unquestionably experienced a lull in bed bug activity during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Kromer says. “We are consistently delivering more bed bug work (K9 inspections, visual inspections and treatments) at a higher rate in 2021 compared to 2020.
“In 2020, we provided over $400,000 in chemical-only treatments. In 2021 through September, we have provided over $570,000 in chemical treatments alone. International travel is still curtailed, but when restrictions begin to ease further, we should see even more bed bug work in commercial facilities.
Caleb Fabry is president and chief operating officer for Town and Country Solutions, and his company has a large bed bug division.
“Bedbugs are back for commercial when it comes to rental or multifamily,” Fabry added. “They are not as large as five to ten years ago, but nevertheless they are increasing and we believe they will continue to increase throughout the pandemic.
“When it comes to hotels, we believe some states will see an increase, but likely only those with fewer covid restrictions. States with higher restrictions are not places vacationers choose to go from what we see.
Davitt added that the important thing to remember is that bed bugs can be almost anywhere and they don’t need to feed as much as people think.
“They can be anywhere people sit for a while. Buses, cinemas, restaurant kiosks… that sort of thing. The only thing a bed bug needs is a human host or just a host. But the adults can last a while depending on the temperature and the colder it is the longer they will go. They can go months and months without a blood meal. Even if an apartment is vacant, if someone moves in, the infestation is still there.
On the West Coast, where local and statewide pandemic mandates are stricter than in other parts of the country, bed bug work continues to grow, but not at the same rate as elsewhere. .
“I wouldn’t be surprised if this expands as other states are more open, but in Washington, as we get more boosters, we might start to see bed bug wards starting to show up again in the theaters or offices…we don’t see that yet,” says Ashley Roden, technical director for Tacoma, Washington-based Sprague Pest Control.
“A lot of nursing homes and hospitals have bed bug problems here. Probably every day in the company there is a hospital that has bed bugs. People can bring a lot to a hospital. We recommend that they clean with normal cleaning products, and we will enter with steam and a vacuum cleaner. They always end up in the nursing stations because they go to several rooms and are close to them, then come back to the station.
David Poplin, ACE, CEO and President of CDS Services, sees the work coming and says his company should feel the return next year.
“I believe the commercial market is coming back at a rapid pace. Travel has increased and remains stable. This will in turn lead to increased bed bug activity. I think we will start seeing these increases around the middle of Q1 2022.”