According to the PCT 2020 State of the Tick Control Market survey, 41 percent of PMPs said customers were concerned about the public health risks associated with ticks. Cli ents with children and pets were most likely to call for tick control, they reported in follow-up interviews.
“There’s more reference to ticks in the news and media. Folks are pretty alert to the diseases they carry, of course Lyme disease being the most popular of those diseases,” said Adam Ring, A-Action Pest Control, of public awareness in his market.
In fact, 45 percent of PMPs said they have customers or technicians who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease. “We’ve had several customers inform us that they have contracted Lyme disease, so we know it’s there and they know it’s there,” said Ring.
More than a third (36 percent) of PMPs believe the industry has done an effective job communicating the public health risks associated with ticks, while an almost equal amount — 34 percent — are not sure of this, found the survey.
Setting clear expectations for tick control is a communications challenge. “The fact that we perform a treatment doesn’t mean that they’ll never experience another tick encounter,” explained Ring.
And if a customer contracts a tickborne disease while under contract, she could claim your company screwed up, pointed out Todd Leyse, Adam’s Pest Control. “It hasn’t happened, but it could. You wonder if it is worth it,” he said of the risk of offering this service. The PCT survey found 14 percent of companies don’t offer tick control due to liability concerns.
As well, PMPs rely on customers to cut the grass, trim bushes and weeds, and remove leaf litter that harbor ticks to successfully achieve control. “We’re not really getting to the source without their cooperation,” Ring explained.
Sometimes communication falls on deaf ears. “We try to educate as much as possible but there’s always going to be the person that knows better. We definitely deal a lot with that out here,” said Cassi Magnus, Phoenix Pest and Wildlife Control, of customers in her region.
Employee health is another consideration. Most PMPs (62 percent) do not require technicians to apply a repellent to their body or clothing prior to performing a tick control treatment.
The technicians at Arkadia — Eco Pest Control are instructed to wear repellent, pants, long-sleeve shirts, gloves, even to tuck pants into socks. “They’re putting themselves at risk, so they have to take the proper safety precautions,” said Mark Constantino. Even so, employees sometimes have ticks on them after a day in the field, he said.