'I'm going seven days a week': Southern Alberta pest control companies swamped with calls during hot, dry summer

Last summer was a busy one for Pamela MacLeod, a pest control specialist with nearly 15 years of experience, but this year is on another level.

"I was doing a lot last year. There was definitely an increase, but this year, I would say double," she said.

"I'm going seven days a week right now. Even this long weekend, I thought I'd take a day off, but nope. That's not happening."

Spiders seem to be more abundant compared to previous years but the real issue most people are facing has to do with ants and grasshoppers who thrive in the warm conditions.

When it comes to grasshoppers, local garden centres are being inundated with questions from people trying to find a way to keep their gardens safe from the hungry insects.

"Unfortunately for grasshoppers, there isn't much for pesticide spray," said Green Haven Garden Centre horticulturist Dustin Napper.

"But, you can use cultural controls such as crop covers or knitting over the plants just to keep the grasshoppers off as the pass through."

For ants, the dry weather this summer means handfuls of Lethbridge residents are seeing droves of ants venturing into their home in search of something to drink.

"It's because of water. There's just no water for them. We're really lacking it for our insects and our wildlife," said MacLeod.

Even if they don't get into the house, lawn care professionals are seeing the number of ant colonies in residential yards skyrocket.

"I definitely have been running over a lot of ant hills when I'm mowing. This year is definitely worse," said owner and operator of Welcome Home Property Care Suzette Peters.

"It makes the watering super inconsistent. These ant hills will dry out the whole area around them and it just becomes nasty little patches."

But this year, pest control companies are dealing with more than just insect-related calls.

MacLeod is also getting lots of calls for mice, which she said is incredibly rare for this time of year.

"Mice are showing up in people's homes in July for the same reasons. There's just not enough water," she said.

"All of these insects and rodents are suffering it seems. I even noticed that for gophers, I have not seen the same population that I usually see. They're staying closer to the river, and not around the farms."

Macleod says the bulk of the calls are from people living in newly developed neighbourhoods of west Lethbridge which for her, doesn't come as a surprise.

"People have to remember, that used to be [the rodents'] home. So when they say that these rodents have moved into their home... No, you've moved into their home. So they're just moving back in."

With the weather expected to remain toasty for the foreseeable future, pest control companies are buckling in for a couple more months of what has already been one of, if not the busiest summer on record.