Tick season started early this year, at least in markets where winters were warmer and wetter than usual. Ticks thrive in humidity, and if the 2021 Farmer’s Almanac has it right — that this summer will be “warm and stormy” for much of the country — then these annoying and potentially dangerous pests will be out in full force.
In North Florida, Todd Barber says that Barber’s Best Termite and Pest started getting calls as early as February. “We’ve seen year-over-year increases in tick calls for several years now, with a particularly dramatic spike in the past two,” he says. “A lot of that has to do with the weather. We’ve had consistently warm weather year-round, without enough sustained cold to have an impact on tick populations. This year’s mild winter and heavy rains have helped populations explode.”
Fourteen hundred miles north, in Brunswick, Maine, Mike Peaslee reports an early tick season as well. Spring boasted temperatures nearly 20 degrees higher than normal, he says, and tick calls to Modern Pest Services started as early as March. “We can usually count on steady tick business from May through September, with maybe a few calls in April, but we’re about a month ahead of schedule this year,” he shares. “In New England, Lyme disease is a major concern. Customers are very aware, very conscious of the health risks associated with ticks, so when they see any activity at all, they call us.”
Brian Nauert of Bugs By Brian, who has teams treating ticks in Missouri and Florida, is looking for a “bump” this year, too, not only because of the warm, wet winter in Florida but also the abundance of snow and rain in Missouri. “Although we haven’t reached the flood stage yet, the rivers, tributaries and creeks are swelling, and we have another 30 or 40 days left in the rainy season,” he said in April. “If it gets warm enough after the rain to melt the snow in the Rockies, that can cause our rivers to flood. That chases the small land animals to higher ground in concentrations that are attractive to ticks. They go crazy because of the readily available food.”
In fact, PMPs across the nation have prepared themselves for high tick pressure this summer. The hot weather plus growing consumer awareness and concern of tick-borne diseases create a strong business opportunity. This likely explains why the number of pest control companies offering tick control services edged up a bit this year, from 76 percent in 2020 to 79 percent in 2021, according to the 2021 PCT State of the Market Tick Control survey.
What’s more, nearly all of the PMPs who offer tick services — 96 percent — look for steady or growing business in 2021. Among them is Bob Masters of Masters Termite and Pest Control, which serves customers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “We always see high tick pressure in season, and this year, because people are spending more time at home, in their own backyards, we expect them to be more likely to come into contact with ticks and call us. When you’re outside playing with your kids, the last thing you want to see is a tick.”