Businesses Could Face Unanticipated Pest Problems During the COVID-19 Crisis

Professional pest control stands ready to reduce the health and property risks from pests

FAIRFAX, VA (April 2020) — The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) announced that extreme changes in daily behavior, triggered by proper and appropriate social distancing behaviors, could create changes in pest behavior for businesses. With schools and businesses shuttered, pests have increased opportunity to roam unfettered, gaining access to new environments and posing possible increased challenges for business owners now and once normal business operations resume.

Pests, such as rats, no longer have daily foot traffic deterring them from staying out of sight. Known to be skilled adapters, rats will quickly find new opportunities for food or water if their traditional sources are depleted. In communities like New Orleans, emboldened rats are seen in the streets unabashedly looking for food in trash cans. NPMA entomologists expect to see similar issues in other major metropolitan areas including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago and more.

Given the changing activities of rats and other pests, businesses have a unique opportunity to change pest control strategies during this period of altered human behavior. For example, rats seeking nourishment in new and different locations will be more likely to be attracted to traps and baits, improving outcomes of rodent control efforts.

“Broadly recognized as an essential service, pest control professionals are dedicated, even during these difficult times, to controlling current and changing pest problems for businesses to help protect their constituents and products from pest-spread disease and damage,” noted NPMA’s Vice President of Public Affairs Cindy Mannes. “The industry is 100 percent committed to supporting the medical facilities, food manufacturing plants, grocery stores, food storage locations, among other critical service providers, that depend on the health and property protection provided by professional pest control companies to continue to serve their communities.”

Beyond the changing pest behavior and possible threats posed therein, NPMA notes that existing risks posed by pests to a commercial businesses require ongoing planning and control. Rodents contaminate or consume about 20 percent of the world’s food supply. Rodents and other pests spread diseases such as West Nile virus, Lyme disease, salmonellosis, hantavirus and encephalitis. 

NPMA recommends that businesses work with a licensed pest control professional to implement an integrated pest management plan (IPM), a pest control practice that focuses on eliminating pests’ needs like food, water and shelter, to ensure pests are managed properly as they quickly adapt to the current changes in their living environment. Professional pest control is deemed an essential service during the COVID-19 pandemic by the United States Department of Homeland Security and multiple states enabling many pest control companies to continue their vital work. Partnering with a pest control professional during these times will help to protect our food supply and our critical national infrastructure, while also continuing to decrease the threat of pest-borne disease.


About the National Pest Management Association

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 5,500 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property from the diseases and dangers of pests. For more information, visit or follow @PestWorld on FacebookTwitterPinterest and YouTube.