University of Kentucky entomologists say it is important for Kentuckians to continue to manage urban pests during the COVID-19 pandemic. In recognition of the risks associated with COVID-19, they have released some tips for pest control professionals to help them practice effective pest management while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

“In the face of this challenge, we cannot lose sight of the vital importance of proper pest management in protecting our people, food and structures from troublesome insects,” said Zachary DeVries, assistant professor of urban entomology in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Pest management companies must continue to operate, but we’ve got to be smart and safe to ensure we can both control pests and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

He encourages Kentuckians to continue to contact professionals to discuss what management strategies are needed.

“Since every home or business is different, we recommend individuals with pest problems or routine service contact their pest management provider and discuss the risks and benefits associated with pest control at this time,” DeVries said.

He recommends pest management professionals do not enter homes, unless the professional and the resident decide it is necessary.

“External treatments are preferred at this time as they create a pest barrier around a property while allowing pest control professionals to follow the CDC guidelines on social distancing,” he said.

DeVries encourages pest control professionals and customers to maintain an open line of communication before the project begins. Homeowners need to be very specific with the pest control professional about the pest problem, so all parties can make an informed decision about what management practices are needed. Also, homeowners should notify the pest control company, if they are experiencing or have experienced any signs of illness during the two weeks prior to a professional’s arrival, so they can take proper precautions.

“Pest management professionals play a vital role in protecting our communities, and it is important we take every precaution to keep them safe so they can continue this important work,” he said.

DeVries developed the recommendations in consultation with pest control professionals and fellow UK entomologist Mike Potter.

Tips for urban pest management during the COVID-19 pandemic are available on the UK Department of Entomology website at https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef651.

“With proper communications and protocols, we can continue to protect people, food and structures from pests while also taking proper precautions related to COVID-19,” DeVries said.

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