Monthly Archives: January 2014
Non Toxic Chemical Free Monitors for Bed Bugs:
Bed Bug infestations have increased dramatically in the past few years. Fifteen years ago we would only do one or two treatments a year but now we carry out several hundred treatments for Bed Bugs in a year.Bed Bug infestations often leave little or no trace, just the bites. This is because they only come out at night, usually when you are asleep. If you live in the UK, and you wake up in the morning with bites, then it’s probably bed bugs.
PEST UK now stock Toxic Monitor Packs to check for bed bugs.
These monitors work by emitting heat and carbon dioxide and then trap the insects on a sticky pad. These insects are then identified by a member of the PEST UK team – this can be done almost immediately by emailing us a photo. Perfect for landlords and for guest houses and hotels, these monitors are a simple and effective way of making sure your premises are bug free.
These monitors are not s a method of control, but simply a way of identifying the problem. If you suspect you have bedbugs them give us a call on 0800 026 0308 or email [email protected]
BPCA Bed Bugs
Rats and Sewer Problems:We have a pest control contract for rats and mice at a school in Wokingham, Berkshire. They have had a rat problem at the site off and on for the last two years. When it first started I was asked to supply a second opinion as Stephen Tiller from PEST UK had informed them that the rats were entering the building via a sub terrain route that was almost certainly the foul sewer.
How he reached this conclusion was: 1. There was no rat activity externally on the site & 2. There were takes on test baits placed in the sewer. I visited and formed the same conclusion myself. (I didn’t expect anything else as Steve is a first class pest control technician with many years experience). The local council (Wokingham Borough Council) didn’t seem to want to spend any money at this point so the problem kept re occurring during the last two year period. Last week after a period of smells in the building that indicated dead rats two technicians from PEST UK carried out another inspection at the request of the school and the council. They found more evidence in the sewer and a dry sewer that needed blocking off. We also recommended that two one way sewer valves were installed. The school and Wokingham Borough Council agreed for the work to be carried out. The sewer valves are quite expensive but a fraction of the cost of digging up a sewer to repair it or to find a breach. In fact the sewer valves are cheaper than getting a camera inspection for a sewer. They work like a cat flap, they allow sewage to flow one way when there is pressure from one way but when the sewage stops then the flap closes. Not only does it prevent rats getting further up the sewer to areas where they might be able to gain access to the house but prevents backed up sewage entering the house. In Australia the valves are used to prevent snakes getting into houses via the sewer system.
Call PEST UK Pest Control Services on 0800 026 0308 or 0330 100 2811 for help with Rats and Sewer Problems.
Squirrels & Queen Wasps:
We had a difficult situation today. Yesterday we set fen traps and poison in the loft of a block of flats for a Housing Association in Caversham, Reading, Berkshire for a reported squirrel problem. Late last night a squirrel was caught in one of the fen traps.
It was not ‘miss caught’ as occasionally happens, but there was some sounds of banging a in the loft as the squirrel died. The lady living there was very distressed and left a message on our answer phone telling us this and saying that she would be staying the night elsewhere as she was so distressed. Today Rick Pellen of PEST UK visited the property. The squirrel had been caught cleanly around the neck so death would have been swift.
The lady was not pleased and said she would be reporting the matter. She asked why we couldn’t use ‘pellets’ as another company had done before. We did, in fact, have bait in the loft but as is quite common with squirrels, it was untouched. Even when the bait has had peanut butter or chocolate spread added to make it more attractive , it can still take weeks for the squirrels to feed on poison bait.
In this case the customer wanted the squirrels gone quickly, so we used a legal method (fen traps) as well as the only poison allowed for squirrels (Warfarin) and the treatment worked.
It is unfortunate that the squirrel was trapped at night when the customer was home, and we understand how upsetting it was for her to hear. If the squirrel had been trapped while she was out, she would not have had to suffer this distress, and in fact would probably have been pleased that it had been dealt with so quickly and efficiently. It is difficult to balance the needs of us humans in our homes with the pest who inadvertently end up causing us problems,but that is life and death.
We are getting more enquiries regarding Queen Wasps, which are being reported as Hornets or Queen Bees. These Queen Wasps are emerging from hibernation, not properly but often when they are disturbed by artificial light and/or heat. Naturally they won’t be coming out of hibernation for a couple of months yet.
DIY Pest Control, Wasps & Rodenticides :
Many people try and carry out pest control themselves, some succeed but many don’t. I will tell a few instances.
I was called out to a house in Caversham, Reading to deal with a wasp nest. When I arrived I was directed to the garden where there was a burnt out shed and thousands of angry wasps. The occupier had discovered a wasp nest in his shed and decided the best way was to douse the nest in petrol and set light to it. The shed burned down but the wasp nest survived. A less dramatic job involving a wasp treatment was a lady in Wokingham, Berkshire who had a nest in the cavity wall of her house. She went to B & Q for advice and they gave her some expanding foam to block the entrance of the nest. This she did but the wasps then found another exit route which happened to be in her kitchen. They were angry and she was stung quite badly. Blocking up the entrance to a wasp or bee nest is the most common mistake when people try to treat wasp nest. This usually just a nuisance that leads to stings rather than poisoning of wildlife and other animals that the misuse of insecticides and rodenticides in other cases can lead to.
On a more serious note it can be possible (but illegal) to buy rodenticides and insecticides that are passed for professional use over the internet. At PEST UK we have seen many, many instances where rodenticides (rat, mouse or squirrel poison) have been used in a manner where birds, cats, dogs and other wildlife have been poisoned. I have seen rat poison thrown onto a lawn loose with no thought to other animals. It was ‘sown’ amongst the bird food (also scattered on the lawn & bird table). If controlling clever animals as rodents or destroying wasp nests, removing bee nests, trapping moles, trapping squirrels, treating ants etc was that easy then pest control companies would not exist.
Bed Bugs & Multiple Occupancy Premises:
I have just booked up a Bed Bug job for a multiple occupancy house in Reading, Berkshire. There are five occupied bed sit type rooms. We have treated this house several times for Bed Bugs before, twice in November 2011, twice in February 2013 and once in September 2013. There are several problems when dealing with pest problems and especially bed Bugs in multiple occupancy houses. The first is the size of the rooms. Any Bed Bugs in the furniture have a shorter distance to travel to the host and so cross less insecticide from the treated surfaces. The treated surfaces are subject to more use in a smaller room meaning that the insecticide degrades more quickly. Another problem is preparation. Unless the preparation is done properly then treatments will fail and these types of dwellings have less room for the occupants to remove and prep there belonging prior to treatments. Treating Bed Bugs successfully is not a simple matter as say treating a wasp or removing a bees nest or any other forms of Pest Control. In this case the reason they require repeat treatments is for several reasons: new people are moving in and out of the rooms and may be bring infested belongings with them and also that on all visits we have never been able to access all five rooms on the same visit. The other problem is whenever we get access the preparation has never been done to an acceptable standard in all the rooms. Bed Bugs will spread from room to room especially if the infestation is heavy or the room is unoccupied for a long period of time and the Bed Bugs may look for an alliterative food supply. Today when I was contacting the occupants one of the persons said the treatment had worked and that they had had no Bed Bug problems since the last treatment in September 2013.
Bed Bugs, Who Pays? Should Landlords Pay?
Some Landlords will pay for Bed Bug treatments especially if the tenants have just moved in but many won’t using the excuse that the new tenants might have bought the Bed Bug infestation with them. Either way it is difficult to prove. We have just had a case involving a large Housing Association and a Bed Bug infestation. A couple of tenants reported Bed Bug problems to the Housing Association, they told the tenants to sort the problem out themselves, they tried but for whatever reason the treatments failed (not many companies are as good at Bed Bug treatments as PEST UK!), this treatment failure lead to the Bed Bugs spreading to five5 other adjoining properties. The premises is a block of flats. (Five other properties have reported bed Bug infestations, there will probably be other properties that have Bed Bugs but as yet haven’t reported this.) Due to the tenants complaints the Housing Association has asked us at PEST UK to treat these five infested properties. Now if the Housing Association had treated the first two infested properties when they were first reported they would have saved themselves a lot of money as well as exposing their tenants to a lot of distress. Bed Bug infestations are extremely unpleasant and the preparation prior to treatment is extensive as well as disruptive for the tenant. I believe in this case that there will be a lot more than the initial five properties with Bed Bug problems. Bed Bugs can spread to flats either side as well as above and below.
So really a reasonable Landlord should pay but there are a lot that won’t. Some will just refuse and won’t care about their tenants welfare or if the problem spreads, such is the demand for cheap rented accommodation.
Rabbit Gassing & Wasps:
Yesterday we did a quote for Rabbit Gassing. Fifteen years ago a high percentage of our time in the Winter and Spring was spent gassing rabbits. Not any more this work has become quite rare. I don’t really understand this, there seem to be as may rabbits around although this does vary from year to year. From our point of view the method of gassing has changed. Cymbal (which is a powder that releases Cyanide gas when it comes into contact with moisture) was passed for use for gassing rabbits. There were two methods of application, either to put a spoon of Cymbal into the burrow and then block the burrow up or blown down by a machine or hand pump. At PEST UK (or Berkshire and Basingstoke Pest Control as we were known then) we tried all methods. By far the most effective was Cymag applied with the motorised gasser. Between 90% and 100% of the rabbits in the warrens were killed after one application. Spooning Cymag only killed between 60% and 80%.
Unfortunately (or fortunately for rabbits), Cymag is no longer available for use. The only way gassing is allowed now is by Talunex or Phostoxin pellets. Pellets are considered safer as spillages and contamination of air is less likely. The problem is is that although this method of rabbit control far exceeds other messages such as ferreting or shooting, gassing with Phostoxin and Talunex is not as effective as gassing was with Cymag.
One of the drawbacks of gassing using a motorised pump when carried out in the Autumn was wasp nests. I have been stung several times while gassing this way. The problem is the noise makes hearing any buzzing impossible and blocking up the entrance to a wasp nest makes them angry (this happens if the nest is situated in the rabbit burrow).
Bees, Wasps & Hornets:
It won’t be long before we start getting calls about bees and wasps. This normally starts with customers saying that they have got hornets when in fact they usually turn out to be Queen wasps emerging from hibernation. Their function is to find a nest site, build a nest, lay eggs, rear and feed the grubs that hatch out until they turn into the first batch of worker wasps. Nests in the early stage can be dealt with fairly easily if the nest can be seen. Many nests are located in cavity wall, soffats or other cavities that are not accessible.
The start of nest building does not start for at least a month after the Queens emerge. Bumble Bee Queens come out of hibernation before Queen Wasps. Bumble Bees are used to colder climates and some species live in the arctic. Bumble Bee Queens do not hibernate in buildings as Queen Wasps do so don’t come into contact with people so much unless they fly in through an ope window. Queen Wasps can be a nuisance and in fact a danger to people if they have been hibernating in loft spaces and get down into rooms underneath. A common treatment for Queen Wasps in late Winter and Spring is for us at PEST UK to fog a loft with an insecticide that kills any insects the insecticide comes into contact with. This type of treatment is very successful but has its limitations as the surfaces in a loft space are not very good for insecticides to last very long on as well as some Queens being in areas incapable to the insecticides such as in the soffats or under the insulation.
Honey bees have a different lifecycle to that of most wasps and Bumble Bees, they have a Queen but all forms (Workers, Drones and the Queen) live throughout the Winter (although there are fatalities). They are able to do this as Honey Bees store honey.
Ants Nest Problems?
At PEST UK call outs and enquiries for ants mainly happen in the Spring but when the weather is very mild Ant cal outs may start in late January.
The actual number of Ant callouts and enquiries has diminished over the past five years. This may be that the Ants themselves are not doing so well or it may be down to people being short of money or both. Ants are not considered a health hazard as are cockroaches, rats or mice or are they a pest that needs to be dealt with due to other reasons than health such as bees, wasps, bed bugs, squirrels or fleas. although the bulk of ant calls are in the Spring we get bursts of calls once the nests swarm. This is normally early Summer. People tend to think that winged ants a are different species to ‘normal’ ants. This is not the case, winged ants are the Queens and Drones and is how Ants reproduce and spread.
The .normal’ ants that are seen in the green and some times inside are all strike females. Ants are the same as most wasp speices and some bees in that only the Queens are fertile and have the capability to lay eggs. The Queen and Drone ants are produced in the nest and kept in there until the conditions are right for release (although they are forced out). This happens once the humidity and temperature are suitable, usually a humid and warm day. This happens to ants nests over a wide area. This fact is important because as with wasps, the Queens and Drones mate with Queens and Drones from other nests, not the same nests to prevent inbreeding. Once they have mated the Queen sheds her wings and finds a place to rest. It is not until the following Spring that these fertilised Queens start a new nest.
Women in Pest Control by Jim Dunn of PEST UK:
I was slightly taken aback when I found out that my new work colleague Mel was actually a woman, not a man, as it got me thinking that we are in fact a very male dominated profession. Back when I started in the business in 1991, my very first trainer at National Pest Control was a very nice lady called Rhiannon, but I was told that she was one of only two female technicians within the company as against over sixty men. five years later I began working for Windsor & Maidenhead Borough Council under the tutoring of veteran pest controller Charlotte Reason, and now there is Mel. But it is a pretty poor return, after 22 years and 9 companies in the business these are the only women I have EVER worked with.
So why is this? After all there are plenty of women in “dirty hands” professions such as cleaning, nursing and others, so why not pest control?
I have a theory on this. I have noticed over the years that there is very little sex equality in the field of fear of rodents, as a general rule of thumb, the ladies tend to be terrified of our 4-legged friends. It is not unknown for the mere mention of rats, especially, and mice to a lesser degree, to send women reaching for the suitcase and moving out. But I have never known a man to do this.
This does not seem to be the case with other beasties. I have two friends who will evacuate the room if a spider should appear, and plenty of guys will fly into a panic at the sight of a wasp, so why should rodents be any different?
The simple answer is that I don’t know. It is one of those illogical facts that defies explanation. I always try to explain to clients that in 22 years of encounters with rats I have never been challenged, attacked, jumped at, or bitten by one. In fact without exception, every rat I have ever seen has turned tail and run away. By comparison I have been stung by bees or wasps 27 times!
But then most phobias are without common sense, be they rodents, heights, closed spaces, snakes [my girlfriend’s favourite], clowns, water or whatever.
to end on a personal note, like most technicians I am frequently asked if there is anything I am afraid of and I always give the same answer:- Over the years I have killed rats and mice with my hands, had cockroaches dropping down my shirt and crawling up my legs, walked from a building covered in fleas, been knee deep in pigeon cr*p and had those 27 stings. None of this has phased me, but if I should arrive at a house and there is a dog barking I will back off. If it is barking and boisterous I will not come in until it is out of the way and my heart has slowed down a bit!
So maybe I should understand the fear of all those ladies standing on their chairs while Rowland and Mickey do their worst and just accept the fact that there will never be many woman in our business, at least the ones I have worked with have all been pretty good.
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