Who you gonna call?

It’s funny what newspapers decide to make a priority. There was a time last year when you couldn’t open a paper without seeing a story about bed bugs. It started with a few scare stories about bed bug problems in Paris, then it morphed into the threat they would ‘come over here’, before finally we had bed bugs in our libraries.

Was there a link between the Ealing library and the bed bugs in Paris? Who knows, but probably not. The great ‘secret’ behind all these stories is, of course, that bed bugs were already here and, in fact, have been here for years. Since the expansion in global tourism in the late 70s/early 80s, we’ve been bringing them back in our suitcases and on our clothes from countries all over the world. The idea this was something new was, therefore, at best, fanciful.

What surprised me was the way some pest control companies leapt on the story for publicity and how, once some of them were on that particular train, they didn’t seem capable of getting off it. They must have known callouts for bed bugs were already on the increase in 2022. Therefore, any increase in 2023 must be seen as part of a trend.

Now, why might we see increases in 2022 and 2023?

Because callouts in 2020 and 2021 were at a historic low, and this is because we were barely able to leave our homes. The increase in callouts we are now seeing is therefore more sensibly seen as the result of an artificial dip three or four years ago, rather than a new crisis. But then again, that isn’t newsworthy.

If you have a bed bug problem, how you got them isn’t necessarily your primary concern. Our advice is to immediately get expert help and don’t try to deal with them yourself as bed bugs are extremely difficult to remove and the problem will quickly get worse.

If I’m honest, I’m not surprised some operators jumped on this particular bandwagon but what did surprise me was the way some companies got involved when I know they primarily target the commercial sector and not homeowners. I know businesses is business, but small-scale domestic problems are quite simply not what they specialise in.

Commercial vs residential pest control
The fact is there are considerable differences between the commercial and residential sector. The commercial sector covers everything from airports, hotels and zoos, to factories, offices and warehouses. These spaces are all very different from one another and to a home. This is not just a matter of scale, it also affects the types of pests that have to be dealt with.

In general, living spaces are smaller than commercial sites and will attract a limited range of pests such as mice, bed bugs, ants, rats, etc. With the exception of the loft, basements and the gardens, all areas in a home are high traffic, meaning pests will be regularly disturbed. However, a commercial site might have many secluded areas where pests can hide.

One of the main differences is that domestic pest control is largely reactive. Homeowners won’t normally engage in preventive pest control until they find a problem. This means preventive processes such as proofing will only happen after an infestation, and there will be no ongoing maintenance contract.

For many pest control companies, the fact a residential client base constantly evolves makes the sector less attractive. Being paid per job isn’t as easy as collecting a regular income from a contract that, while a vital part of due diligence, often just requires regular maintenance visits.

The most importance difference, however, is that the two forms of pest control require different skills, knowledge and techniques. The technician needs to be aware of the different regulations that pest control must conform to – fewer in residential properties and wide ranging in the commercial.

Technicians and surveyors need to consider pest problems in different ways. In a commercial setting, they need to understand the work of the business and the factors that may impact pest control. They may also need to look on a broader scale. In the domestic context, they may be looking for the tiniest signs to identify a problem – e.g. a smear mark.

Finally, they must think about who might be impacted by the pest control. In a factory, access is regulated and usually adults can be trusted to not touch the bait. In the domestic setting, the technician will need to consider pets, children, neighbours and any wildlife that may accidentally find the bait boxes if they are not safely positioned.

So, who do you choose?
I would say, if you are a homeowner, you want to choose a pest control company that specialises in domestic pest control. They will often be more cost-effective, and you can be sure they will have the experience to ensure your home is pest-free. After all, you wouldn’t choose a builder that specialises in skyscrapers to refit your bathroom. They are technically both builders but the result you will receive, and what you’ll pay for it, could be very different.

LNPS specialises in residential pest control for homeowners in Newham and East London. We offer a discreet, professional service that will ensure your home remains pest-free. Call us on 020 8430 4133.

Image by khamkhor from Pixabay