Monthly Archives: June 2013
Bees & the Myth of their Demise :
Rarely in the world of pest control is good news headlined in papers and the media.
One example is rats. Although on the increase generally, wheelie bins in many areas have lead to a decrease in household refuse rat related problems but this decrease has been offset by the increase in rat problems caused by bird feeding.
The same scenario is true of bees. At PEST UK we have had a massive increase in the call outs to deal with bees. Most of these are due to Bumble Bee nests in buildings. There has also been an increase in honey bee swarm & nest call outs, but the increase has not been so dramatic and this is probably down the the fact that more people are keeping bee hives.
Honey bees are a semi domesticated species so would be more susceptible to diseases than truly wild insects. The Bumble Bee situation is different – 10 to 15 years ago it would have been extremely rare to have a call out for a Bumble Bee nest in the roof or loft space of a house. Now these make up 80% of our bee call outs. The area we service at PEST UK is Berkshire, North Hampshire, Middlesex, West London, South Oxfordshire, South Buckinghamshire and North West Surrey, so this information may be localized.
These loft dwelling Bumble Bees are probably a different sub species and are either are not feeding on whatever the ground nest bumble bees were feeding on (if we accept the theory that the nicotine-based neonicotinoids insecticides on crops are killing bees) or that they are not affected by these chemicals. In any case it shows that in some instances nature is quite capable of adapting to the environment and the result is bees have made a come back. The nicotine-based neonicotinoids pesticides are to be withdrawn from use and no doubt in a few years this will be given for the reason for the bee come back. It has happened already.
If you need help with a bees nest on your property please visit the Bee Control page of our website for further information.
Bedbugs Getting Rid of:
Bedbugs – What to Look For
- Bed bugs can be mistaken for other pests in the home.
- They are an oval shape but they are also flattened out.
- In size, the adult bed bug is about 3/16 to 1/5 of an inch long.
- When they have just had a meal, bedbugs look swollen and full.
- They will be longer now and have a dark red colour to them.
- On the front of their heads, they have what looks like a beak that allows them to pierce and suck from their mouths.
- Adult bed bugs do have wings. These wings do not allow them to fly, though. They are small in size and are very short looking.
- In their adult stage, they are brown to a reddish tint of brown.
- The eggs of bed bugs are white or colourless. They will darken in their colour as they mature. They will eventually have a brownish tint to them when they are mature.
- The nymphs look a lot like that of the adult bed bugs in their appearance, just at a smaller size.
A Brief History of the Bed Bug
While most humans would prefer the bed bug to be extinct but this is unlikely to happen any time soon.
During the 1940’s and the 1950’s, a pesticide called DDT was used to get rid of bed bugs. DDT was first developed in the early period of World War II. Its purpose was to stop the spread of infectious diseases such as malaria and typhus by killing off the mosquitoes and other pests that helped to spread the disease. DDT eventually found its way from the military into everyday life – it was even used as an agricultural insecticide.
Widespread use of DDT certainly worked to exterminate bedbugs, and during the middle of the 20th century, it was hard to find a bed bug.
Are They Gone, Then?
Unfortunately for most people, the bed bug did not die out during this time period but over the last several decades has staged a come back that is large enough to cause them to re-infest many areas quickly. North America particularly has seen a tremendous growth of bed bugs in the last ten or so years.
But, there is something different this time around….
DDT is no longer used today as a pesticide. It was banned from use, as were other products that are similar to it, as it was found to be dangerous not only to bed bugs, but also to the human population itself.
This poses as bit of a problem when trying to treat bed bug infestations today. Many of the products that are used today are just not effective at treating these pests. In fact, it is unlikely that anyone will be able to get rid of bedbugs without professional help.
The Life Cycle of the Bed Bug
The female bed bug is the main focus from the start. She will lay up to twelve eggs per day! While it may only be one egg, it can be as many as a dozen.
She will usually place these eggs in a small crack or groove or on a rough surface because of the sticky coating that is on them will pretty much stick to anything.
It can take from six days to seventeen days for the eggs to hatch.
The baby bed bugs are called nymphs. Their first order of business is to feed. In fact, they are able to feed from a host right after being hatched.
They need to find their first meal quickly as this blood meal is needed for their development. They will moult after their first blood meal.
They will go through a total of five cycles of moulting before they will reach their adult size.
In most cases, from start to finish, the egg will go from being a small egg to being a full grown adult in as little as 21 days.
One thing to take note of when looking at the life cycle of a bed bug is the temperature in the area. In order for the egg to hatch, the nymph to moult and for the bed bug to grow, the right temperature must be met. This temperature needs to be between 65 degrees and 86 degrees.
If the temperature is not met, the maturity of the bed bug is usually delayed. If the temperature is at 86 degrees, the bed bug will mature in about 21 days. If the temperature is that of close to 65 degrees, it can take as long as 120 days for the maturity of a bed bug to actually happen.
From the time that the egg hatches, the main goal of the nymph will be to find food. It needs a blood meal in order to grow and to achieve its first moulting session. From the time it hatches until it reaches adulthood, it needs to moult at least 5 times. Yet, it can not do this without the right amount of food.
This period of nymph could be extended if there is not enough food to provide the necessary growth and moulting periods for the bed bug. The time that it takes for the nymph to reach maturity has a direct relation to the amount of food that it has. The bed bug likes to eat at night. He is a nocturnal blood feeder. He likes to find his host when it is sleeping and therefore lying still. This poses less of a risk for his well being, of course.
They will use their very sharp, pointed beak to break the skin of the host. By piercing it, they open it up enough to insert a fluid within it. This salivary liquid is what allows them to withdraw blood from their host. It is what is called an anticoagulant which will stop the host’s blood from clotting and closing up the pierced area too quickly.
An adult bed bug can take up to fifteen minutes to feed from that one pierce although most adults will be full within about 10 minutes.
The nymphs, or babies, will start to feed as soon as they are hatched and can find food or a host. Initially they only feed for as little as three to four minutes. As they grow, they will feed longer until they reach their adult size.
The bed bug does not need to eat very often as it takes a long time to digest each meal. It can go several months without consuming any food, but will usually seek out the host again after about five days. for another feeding.
Do you care what bed bugs actually like? Most of us would say no, but we still should take a look at this topic for a better understanding of these little creatures.
First off, they enjoy the dark and prefer not to come out unless it is dark. They are creatures that like to hide and stay out of sight.
To hide, they will find small crevices and cracks to hide in. This may be places like fabric or wood, but any place will do as long as they are hidden.
Usually, the bed bug will not travel too far from its host, as it wants to stay close to its source of food. However, they can and sometimes do venture further away, and can throughout an entire house if they wanted to do so. However it is most common to find them near their host’s bed or in the small vicinity of where they know they can find their host. The most common location for them is in the folds of a mattress.
What a Bed Bug Can Do To You
While all of this is great, what you want to know is what the bed bug will end up doing to you.
Bed bugs are often thought of in the minds of children as biting. In the sing song, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite,” they may have described just what the human can expect from the little bed bug.
The good news is that bed bugs are not that dangerous to most people. While no one wants to have them around, they are not likely to provide you with any real problems, although in some people they can cause a more severe reaction than in others. Bed bugs feed from their host at night, while the host is sleeping and still. Therefore, it is unlikely that the host will know they are being bitten. The bed bug injects a fluid into the bite that it creates.
This fluid is used to keep the blood from clotting and avoid sealing up the wound. The itching and irritation associated with bedbugs is a reaction to this fluid. In most cases, the only way that you will know that you have been bit is by the reaction that some people have to this fluid.
Some people will have more severe reactions than others. Some people will have no reaction at all, and be unaware they have been bitten, while others will have marks that are swollen and hard, looking like a white welt on the skin. These marks will be accompanied by itching. The itching could also be more severe in some people than in others. If you do have a serious reaction to the bed bug bite it is wise to seek medical attention.
One of the most common signs of bed bug bites is having three or more bite marks or welts in a row. This is thought to happen because the bed bug will become detached from an area, possibly due to the host moving, and will then need to open a new piercing to draw blood from.
Bed bug bites can be confused with flea bites, although flea bites have characteristic red “dot” in the middle of the bite which is not seen in bed bug bites.
In our next blog post we will talk about how to get rid of bed bugs.
BPCA Bed Bugs
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA):
PEST UK is a full BPCA member and have been for over twenty years. This association, unlike many, actually inspects prospective and current members. At PEST UK we have just had an inspection. As well as looking at insurance, stores, vans and work methods the BPCA inspector goes out on a job with one of our staff to check our procedures are correct. many companies that apply for membership are refused or have to make changes to be accepted. Currently the BPCA inspects existing members every three years but in the future this may change to annually. This method keeps out the unskilled and ‘roque trader’ elements of pest control. The only drawback is that BPCA member companies are often more expensive than non members as the extra cost of insurance, proper stores, training, adapted vans etc is expensive and some of this is reflected in pricing. Unfortunately one of the failings (in my opinion) of the BPCA is that this ‘quality’ message does’t reach many of the public. As mentioned, not many associations vet their members and it is easy for a company to join an association with a fancy logo and put this on their averts. The public will be unaware that choosing a BPCA member company would be far safer than choosing a non member. Any complaints about a BPCA member can be directed to the BPCA who will investigate and take action if necessary. The BPCA is at present taking action (via Trading Standards) against companies falsely using the BPCA logo. About 15 years ago the BPCA suggested allowing Local Authorities to join without any pre conditions. There was a vote of members and this was rejected. The feeling from private companies (including PEST UK or Berkshire Pest Control as we were then) was that the LA’s would dominate the committees and decision making as they would have more ‘spare’ time to indulge themselves in this type of activity.
To book a pest control treatment or free advice then please call us at PEST UK: 0330 100 2811 (local rate) or 0800 026 0308 (free from land lines & some mobiles).
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA)
Flies & EFK’s:
Flies are not simple pests to deal with. For a start the control will depend on the type of flies. Many flies are not attracted to the Electronic Fly Killers or EFK’s. These machines are are favourite of the food & pest control industries. Food premises like them in many cases because they look good and are seen as a modern way to deal with flies. From the pest control industries point of view they provide a source of income from sales & servicing. Unfortunately the two main types of fly that have the potential to cause disease, the House Fly and the Lesser House Fly are not attracted to the uv lights in an EFK. Some will go in by accident but just in the same way they might go to a normal light. If situated in the wrong place theses machines may cause moths and flies to come into the food area from outside. They should not be situated near windows or open doors. There is now a move in the food industry to use the EFK’s with glue boards rather than an electric killing grid. The reason for this is that the electric killing grid will cause the flies to explode and there is a risk that parts of flies ma end up where they are not required!.With the glue boards the flies get stuck and no parts are lost. The disadvantage of these is that they are more labour intensive than the electric killing grid machines, they generally need servicing four times a year (glue pads replaced) instead of one a year.
In my opinion EFK’s should only be used after the area has been fitted with fly screens on the doors and windows.
I used to carry out a residual insecticide spray every three months to a chip shop in Tilehurst, Reading. They had this instead of EFK’s and it worked exceptionally well. I used Demand CS which is a slow release insecticide, ideal on walls and ceilings. The customer was exceptionally pleased with the result and had this treatment for many years until the site changed hands. They did say that towards the end of the 3 month period flies would start to appear so we removed a Spring spray so the Summer/Autumn season had a spray every two months.
To summarise, EFK’s have a place to in fly control, they look good but have a limited effect compared with other methods of control and prevention.
Wasp Nests In Berks, Oxon, Hants, Surrey & Bucks:
At PEST UK we are now experiencing the types of calls we normally would receive in early May. A lot of calls for wasps but once the technician attends these are usually found to be bees. We have had small wasp nests but these are rare and you would also get these in a ‘normal’ May. I have seen a few Queen wasps foraging for food. I have yet to see any scraping our fences to make a pulp to build the nest. The Queens (& later on the workers) scape old wood (usually old wooden fencing or garden furniture) and chew it with their saliva into a paste which is used to make the nest. The workers take this task over from the Queen & she stays in the nest and just lays eggs. As the Summer advances the worker wasps can often be seen collecting water. This is used for drinking but also for cooling the nest. Water is placed on the outside of the nest which evaporates thus creating a cooling effect. The majority of wasp nests are situated in lofts and modern lofts will often reach temperatures in excess of 30c. Anything over 20c is too warm for nests so cooling measures such as fanning and the water method is used. People some times only realise they have a wasp nest problem when they hear a buzzing or humming coming from the loft on a hot evening. Once it is dark all the workers will be back in the nest and if very hot most will be fanning and making a noise to help keep the nest cool. I can remember reading a few years back how Spring was starting so early that our native wildlife, plants etc were in danger. This may be the case in the longer term but certainly not this year.
Summer Pest Control in Berkshire, Hampshire, , Middlesex, West London, Surrey, Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire:
At last the temperatures have risen & the weather is warm, dry, sunny with light winds. This is ideal for insects. It is probably a little late for the Queen wasps but any that have survived up to now will have an excellent chance of continued survival as the BBC 10 day forecast is good. Many Queen wasps would have died due to the prolonged cold weather but it won’t affect the numbers in the same way as last year where we had a warm March which brought the Queen wasps out of hibernation early only to then turn wet, windy & unseasonably cold for the remainder of the Spring & then the same for the Summer. These long days will also give the Queens the time to select a suitable nest site (almost any dry cavity will do), build the nest, lay eggs, then feed the grubs. The grubs then pupate and come out as sterile females, which are the worker wasps. Once the Queen has enough workers she then stays in the nest and just lays eggs. All duties from expanding the nest, collecting food for the grubs and Queen, keeping the nest cool & waste disposal are now carried out by the workers. The nest is generally safe once this stage has been reached as any foraging workers can be replaced but the Queen herself cannot. The good weather also means that people are outside in their gardens so are more likely to notice wasps and bees nests and be able to call some one out. This obviously is most likely at weekends until schools close for the summer holidays when people are more likely to be in the garden all week. This hot weather has also brought about swarms of honey bees. Many people contact us to say that they have a swarm of wasps around their chimney or hanging in a bush etc. At this time of year this is more likely to be bees, as there are unlikely to be many wasps nests yet.
To book a pest control treatment or free advice then please call us at PEST UK: 0330 100 2811 (local rate) or 0800 026 0308 (free from land lines & some mobiles).
A Pest Control Contract is not expensive. Not only will it protect the health and safety of your employees, it will also protect your reputation. Most prosecutions happen to smaller companies. Remove the worry and leave pest control in the hands of experts.
If you are regularly experiencing pest problems, maybe a Pest Control Contract is better. That peace-of-mind knowing that there is an expert team just a phone call away!
Take a look at our Pest Control Contract page, or call us now on 0800-026-0308