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Pest control is a hot topic these days.
Living with pests is not an option. Causing disease, contamination, infestation, and more, pests are a real problem.
From groundbreaking technologies and regulations to the environmental impacts, pest control is an industry that’s always changing. But what exactly does the future of pest control look like in the U.S.?
It depends. We took a closer look at all angles to determine what we can expect from pest control in the coming years and how it may affect your company.
What Does Pest Control in the United States Look Like Today?
As it stands, the pest control industry grows every year. Pest control can be split into several segments, such as:
- Insect repellents
- Fungicides; and
With over 30,000 pest control companies in the U.S., the industry reached a market value of $16.9 billion in 2021 — a substantial increase from 2010 when the market value reached $11.8 billion.
While the future of pest control remains to be seen, it’s safe to say the market value will increase. But what changes can we expect from the industry, and what do they mean for your business?
The Future of Pest Control From Different Standpoints
Pest control has potential technological, biological, political, and environmental changes that could affect the future of the industry.
The Technological Future of Pest Control
Use of CO2
CO2 has recently been approved by the EPA as a safer alternative to spraying toxic chemicals. This bug-fighting technology is not only safer for technicians, the environment, businesses, and homeowners, but it can also suffocate pests without leaving harmful contamination behind.
Often, the toxic chemicals used in full fumigation can take nearly a week to dissipate. But as CO2 technology continues to evolve, the wait times for returning to a fumigated area will decrease drastically.
While the technology may take a couple of years to perfect, it continues to gain popularity as the next step in pest control advancement.
Rodent tracking technology is also advancing at a rapid pace. Pest control companies will use motion-activated remote cameras with infrared technology to help determine rodent behavior.
They can then use this information to formulate a plan to effectively and efficiently eliminate a rodent infestation.
This technology may also be used to prevent future infestations, making it a sure-fire win for the food industry.
Use of Software and Tools
Pest control software is becoming a must for any pest control company. Software and mobile apps make it easier for pest control operators to service more areas in a shorter amount of time.
From scheduling and routing software to customer management and reporting, the use of software is revolutionizing the industry.
Cedar Pest allows companies to serve more customers with better results with pest control software that provides modern tools to PCOs.
The Biological Future of Pest Control
In a study from the University of Hawaii, a gene was discovered that could change the future of pest control. Many insects use a wax-like coating on their bodies to prevent them from sticking to surfaces and to help repel water.
Scientists have discovered the gene that causes this and how it can be controlled.
Modifying or removing the gene from certain insects may reduce their life span by 50% or more. It may also make it impossible for these pests to stick to certain materials and not be able to break free.
Gene modifications may result in safe and highly-effective pest control methods in the future.
Using Insect Biology
Researchers have also discovered a way to use an insect’s growth regulators to prevent the bugs from reaching maturity. Specialists can disrupt the growth cycle and inhibit reproduction, thus preventing infestation from occurring.
Resistance occurs when a pest population no longer becomes sensitive to a pesticide, and the pesticide fails to control the pest.
When the same or similar pesticides are used with the same mode of action, resistance develops among a population.
After the application of pesticides, a tiny portion of the pest population may survive, and when it does, exposure to the pesticide changes the genetic makeup of that pest. When those pests breed, they pass on this genetic trait to their young, making that generation of pests resistant to the pesticide as well.
PCOs must recognize when a once effective pesticide is no longer controlling the pest population at the same rate.
Reversal of resistance can occur by allowing time between applications of a specific pesticide, permitting resistant populations to dissipate and die.
The best chance at reducing resistance is to prevent it from happening in the first place using practices, such as:
- Planting pest-resistant crop varieties
- Rotating crops
- Maintaining crop growth
- Following Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices
- Using tank-mix or pre-packs
The Environmental Future of Pest Control
Integrated Pest Management
Integrated Pest Management uses common-sense practices to support a practical and environmentally sensitive approach to pest control.
Using IPM, agricultural products are protected from the damage caused by pests without the risk of harm to humans or the environment.
IPM can be used to eliminate and manage pests in:
- Agricultural fields
- Natural areas
- Urban areas; and
IPM significantly reduces the negative impacts of pest control on the environment, human health, and non-target organisms.
PCOs use IPM to ensure toxic chemical usage is the last resort. Rather than “spraying and praying,” IPM allows pest control technicians to determine the cause of an issue and eliminate it in a less invasive way.
IPM is essential to sustaining agricultural production systems, and implementing IPM programs is critical to ensuring a safe, wholesome, and profitable food supply while minimizing the threat to our ecosystems.
Climate change is slowly impacting pests that live and breed outdoors by changing breeding zones and creating new challenges for PCOs.
Many insects are slowly moving to tropical and subtropical zones while temperate zone insects make their way north.
As rainfall patterns continue to change, so will the breeding times and areas that contain certain disease-carrying pests, such as rodents, ticks, and mosquitoes.
PCOs can implement a range of measures to improve sustainability, such as:
- Replacing toxic pest control chemicals with greener alternatives
- Using low-emission transportation
- Reducing energy use
- Increasing the use of renewable materials and energy
- Investing in research to support more sustainable pest control measures
Many non-toxic solutions for pest control exist on the market today and include:
- LED insect traps
- Smart monitoring technology
- Heat treatments
- Infrared technology
- CO2 bug-fighting technology
- Artificial intelligence
- Gene modification
The Political Future of Pest Control
In the U.S., the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) is responsible for regulating pesticides at the national level.
While Congress has given the EPA this authority through several laws, the EPA works cooperatively with state agencies to:
- Register pesticide products
- Monitor compliance
- Educate professional applicators
- Review pesticide safety data; and
- Investigate pesticide issues
The EPA also works to ensure pesticide worker safety, reduce drift, protect non-target organisms, and report any incidents of pesticide misuse.
In conjunction with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), the EPA works to ensure food safety, while the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) assess the risk of pesticides to the environment and wildlife.
State governments also play an important role in the regulation of pesticides and pesticide use. Some states develop their own regulations that may be stricter than the federal pesticide regulations. Each state has a pesticide regulatory office to handle all regulations.
If you have specific questions about pesticide regulations in your state, you should contact your state pesticide regulatory agency.
For professional PCOs, regulation at the federal and state level is extremely important. Not only does it prevent unlicensed and untrained companies or persons from administering pesticides, but it also ensures compliance among all registered companies.
Cedar Pest: Software Designed for the Future of Pest Control
Cedar Pest is one way to ensure your company is in line with the future of pest control. Our software increases both efficiency and profitability.
When it comes to pest control, we are the experts. Our software was designed for PCOs by PCOs with one goal in mind: to prepare pest control companies for the future.
With our software platform, you can:
- Create the most fuel-efficient routes for your techs
- Track your sales and pesticide use per customer
- Send the right tech for the job
Cedar Pest understands how important it is to stay on top of the emerging pest control technologies, federal and state regulations, and personal business practices that affect pest control operators everywhere.
Contact us at Cedar Pest to see how we can best equip your company for the future of pest control.