During the winter months we mainly have to contend with rodents - rats, mice and grey squirrels. ...
During the winter months we mainly have to contend with rodents - rats, mice and grey squirrels. In their natural habitats, these animals present few problems, grey squirrels especially can make a charming addition to a garden, but beware! The name rodent comes from the Latin word rodere meaning to gnaw, rodents have to gnaw to keep their teeth short and sharp and once within the fabric of a building they start to gnaw structural timbers, wiring and PVC plumbing (see photo). Rats and mice carry a range of very nasty diseases which can pass to man, the best known being Weil's Disease or Leptospirosis which is transmitted via urine. Loft insulation provides wonderful soft nesting material, but once rodents have been in occupation it may have to be replaced on health and safety grounds .
The job of a good pest controller is to find the point of entry and physically close this entrance, the pests within are then trapped and disposed of. Anticoagulant poison does have it's place but not to control trapped animals, as quite simply, they die and decompose within the building bringing the associated odour and insect problems.
Spring has sprung at last, and the change in the weather brings about seasonal changes in pest activity. Rats and grey squirrels are happy to move back outside to breed, and even mice will prefer the great outdoors if conditions are right. Spring calls start around March/ April and the first problems are usually nesting birds. Jackdaws are a small crow and they love to nest in chimney pots, even if a chimney is unused a jackdaw nest can stop air flow and absorb moisture leading to damp patches in the rooms below. If the chimney is used to vent a solid fuel fire, this can lead to fires within the flue, but the most danger comes from a gas fire - if the flue is blocked it can lead to carbon monoxide poisoning and death. Recent changes in the law have made it a requirement for landlords to install a CO monitor in all rooms containing a solid fuel burning appliance - but only a recommendation to have them in a room with a gas fire!
When I tell a customer that they have a nest in their chimney they have a picture in their mind of a nest about the size of a pudding bowl. Chimney's have a mountain of nesting material including sticks, dog hair and dried grass, enough to fill three wheelie bins!
Pigeons are another chimney problem, not from nesting but falling down them! During the breeding season, wood pigeons get so tired that they perch on chimney pots, fall asleep and drop inside. Their wing span is too great for them fly out, and they don't have the common sense to hop down into the (unlit) fireplace. A pigeon will sit on a ledge and quietly die, even though freedom is only a few feet away. Once again decomposition brings odours and flies - not very pleasant.
Spring is also a time for bees to make an appearance. Hardier than wasps, we start to see honey bees, bumble bees and some invasive species of bee from March. While not classed as a public health pest, bees can cause panic and extreme anxiety to some people. I will always make every attempt to remove all bee nests and relocate them, but sometimes this simply isn't possible. There are provisions under the law to destroy bee colonies in a prescribed manner, failure to do this properly can cause real problems including bee's invading living spaces via gaps around light fittings and pipes (if the nest entrance is foolishly blocked up) and even a legal claim for damages if a local bee keeper loses his domesticated hive due to incorrect use of insecticides.
Fleas, bedbugs, ants and dermestid beetles are on their way, with of course wasps due in summer. As the weather heats up we go into the insect season, so watch this space for reports of bites, stings and swellings!
Written by Steve Caslin of Atlas Environmental Solutions Ltd
Atlas are a local independent pest control company serving the people of Warrington and surrounding area. We are members of BASIS, the government backed professional pest controllers register, National Pest Technicians Association members and proud contractors to NHS 5 Boroughs Partnership.