Pest control actions (rats, cockroaches, mosquitoes, bed bugs, birds...) skyrocketed last year in Catalonia, especially in the big cities and in the metropolitan area of Barcelona. This is indicated by a report from the Catalan Association of Environmental Health Companies (Adepap) in which this trend is confirmed. Continued high temperatures in 2022, in combination with dry weather, have favored the development of these pests, which are “less and less seasonal and more global” according to this association. “The pest control season is getting longer; it started in May and lasted until the end of November", summarizes Luis Lozano, technical coordinator of Adepap.
In the case of rats, intervention requests have increased by 30%. But this is due to the fact that after the pandemic these rodents are more visible, they do not avoid humans after we have returned to public space. "They've seen that we don't do anything to them." The actual number of incidents has increased between 10% and 15%.
The increase in the city of black rats ( Rattus ratttus ) or boat rat, which is darker than the sewer rat, typical of the urban area ( Rattus norvegicus ), is of concern. It used to be more confined to the countryside (it was more typical of trees), but now the balancing rat (noisy in movies, running along telephone wires or climbing up and down ship moorings) lives in the city in its air. "It has increased a lot", says Joaquim Sendra, president of Adepap. For six out of ten companies surveyed, the demand for intervention to deal with rodent control increased. The great adaptability of rodents and the restrictions on the use of some biocidal products, together with the fact that "the resistance these animals have developed to some of the active ingredients of rodenticides", make it increasingly difficult to control - their populations.
For its part, the demand for services to eradicate cockroaches has grown by around 25%, to a large extent because during the pandemic effective control was no longer carried out and they are now reappearing in premises and other facilities, where there are more now.
The blonde or German cockroach ( Blattella germanica ), common in interiors, kitchens and homes, has registered a slight increase, perhaps due to inattention during the pandemic in some hospitality premises, according to Lozano. In the case of the red cockroach ( Periplaneta americana ), which lives in sewers (public and private), "the increase is motivated by its reproductive and colonizing activity, high temperatures and low rainfall". But it also affects the state of maintenance of the sewer networks and "the restrictions on the use of biocides to control them", clarifies Lozano.
Mosquitoes are a seasonal pest (conditioned by temperature and humidity), but their presence was prolonged in winter due to the heat. "We have mosquitoes almost all year round. With the current temperature regime, which is changing, insects extend the period in which they are active; they reproduce all year round and, therefore, there are more", says Sendra.
The demand for intervention due to bed bugs increased in large cities, where there are more overnight stays due to tourism. The recovery of tourism, the resumption of major conferences and all kinds of travel are the main reason for this rise.
In the meantime, companies are concerned about the increasing incidence of ticks, a disease-transmitting vector. Health experts have indeed detected an increase in cases of Lyme disease, produced by the tick vector
With regard to the control of birds (pigeons, seagulls, parrots...), the companies claim that they either increased their actions or kept them stable, always talking about large urban centers. Controls are expected to remain on the rise in the coming years, as rising temperatures and climate change "are causing adaptive changes in these birds and accelerating their reproductive cycle".