Rentokil Pest Control has highlighted the growing problem of pests facing recently reopened hospitality businesses.
Comparing the number of commercial enquiries received from businesses looking to deal with rats, mice and other rodents during the lockdown in January 2021 to January 2022, the company has seen an 82% year-on-year increase.
Central London and the South East of England have developed into the biggest hotspots for rodent activity, with a 91.4% year-on-year rise, closely followed by the North West, North Wales and Midlands at 86.4%.
Businesses in the North-East and East Midlands have submitted 79% more enquiries in January this year than in 2021, while London’s Home Counties and East Anglia, together with the South West/Mid Wales have both seen year-on-year spikes of over 50% (77.8% and 58.6% respectively).
In response to the surge in rodent numbers in commercial premises, Rentokil Pest Control is encouraging businesses to keep an eye out for the tell-tale signs of pest activity in their hotels, restaurants and bars.
Following an unseasonably warm January – with a mean temperature 0.8°C above the 1991-2020 long-term average – it is not just the public flocking back to hospitality businesses, putting their reputations, properties and bottom lines at risk.
Paul Blackhurst, head of technical academy at Rentokil Pest Control said: “Rodents are a key public health concern, which can cause considerable damage to both a business’ premises and reputation. With the busy Easter period fast approaching, it is imperative that businesses across the country address the rise we have seen in rodent activity, and make sure they are aware of the early signs that indicate a potential rodent infestation.
“The periods of lockdowns and restrictions faced by hospitality venues over the past two years have led to a change in rodent behaviour. The lack of footfall in certain areas of towns and cities saw these nocturnal and fearful creatures become more confident as they were not being disturbed by regular human activity and noise.
“Now, with regular business activity gradually returning, and with potentially more people now eating out, food waste is naturally on the rise and this could increase the number of rodents and other pests looking for an easy meal. For offices, restaurants, bars and cafes, it is time to take note and mitigate against the risk of reputational and financial damage that a rodent infestation can bring.”
Mr Blackhurst said that Rentokil Pest Control has also seen a linear growth in flea activity in people’s homes after the last year, with a 73% rise in the number of residential enquiries.
The company said that this ‘jump’ in the number of fleas could be down to the much-publicised increase in the number of lockdown pets over the last 12 months.
The company’s latest data has also revealed the top five pests enquiries across both commercial and residential premises in 2021.
Mr Blackhurst added: “Mice, rats and rodents’ top the list in both settings, while birds account for the second highest number of pest enquiries for businesses, and wasps and bees in homes.”