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Other Pests - not dealt with by Borough of Poole

Ants   

Ants can become a nuisance when they enter our homes but they do not present a major threat to health. They do not transmit disease and they do not bite. Ants are attracted to sweet foods which they then take back to the nest.

Habitat: Nests are usually found in lawns, flower beds, beneath stones and paving slabs etc. They may also be found in the foundations or close to the outer wall of buildings.

Life Cycle: Ants are social insects and several thousand may be present  in  a large nest. The worker ants look after the young and forage for food whereas the Queen remains in the nest as her sole function is to lay eggs. During summer, large numbers of winged females and males are reared in the nest on a warm day, normally between mid-July and mid-September they swarm out and take flight. Mating occurs on the wing and when they return  to earth the males soon die and the newly fertilised Queens will shed their wings and make themselves a new nest. These flying ants may be a nuisance but they are harmless.

Where to look for the nest: Effective control can only be achieved by  destroying the nest and therefore  the Queen. However, ants nests are often difficult to locate and may be inaccessible. Look  for  the  ants  trail  back  to  the nest. Open up the nest and treat it and the immediate  area  around  it  with  insecticide. If the nest is inaccessible or you are unable to locate it, an insecticidal dust or spray may be applied to form a barrier to prevent the ants  entering  the  house. Pay particular attention to areas around the doors and  window frames, air vents, waste pipes and any gaps in the brickwork. Unless the nest is treated directly the ants may return.

How to treat: A variety of insecticides approved for household use are  available “over the counter". The manufacturer's label instructions should always be followed.

i. Insecticidal Powder/Dust: These powders will kill ants that come into  contact with them. They will remain effective for several weeks if left undisturbed and dry. The powder should be spread evenly over the affected area but may have to be re-applied after it has rained. Always read the label and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

ii. Aerosol Sprays: There are two general types of spray:  

  • Sprays for flying insects provide a quick “knock down” but as they have no residual effect they should only be used against flying ants.

  • Crawling insect sprays are effective for several weeks and can be used on vertical surfaces such as door and window frames. They may also be used to treat cracks and crevices. Do not spray aerosols in food cupboards as their  smell may taint food.

Always read the label and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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Badgers

Badgers are no longer a rare sight in our gardens. This may be because of the ever increasing urban sprawl which has resulted in the loss of their natural habitat. 

Like foxes, badgers are masters at adapting to their new found environment, especially where food and shelter are concerned. Being semi-nocturnal they spend twilight and the hours of darkness foraging for food. Their favourite food is earth-worms. Although classified as carnivores, badgers are really omnivores. They eat all manner of insects and grubs along with flower bulbs and tubers, fruit, nuts, carrion and even young birds if times are hard. 

Their burrows, which are called setts, are occasionally found in quiet corners of urban gardens.

The sett is usually a collection of tunnels and chambers. It houses an extended family of young cubs and semi-adults. It is overseen by the Alpha male (Boar) and female (Sow). They will also freely share their living quarters with foxes and rabbits. The sow gives birth to her litter of 3-5 cubs in the spring, 3 being the average size.  

Badger Nuisance: Although many people regard badgers as an attractive part of our urban wildlife, they can be a real nuisance when they come into our gardens looking for food. They find our manicured lawns and vegetable patches an irresistible draw in their search for worms and leatherjackets.

Further information on how to deal with badgers in your garden is supplied by the Badger Trust.

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Bees

The first thing you need to do is identify the kinds of bees that you have. You can do this by looking at the external link to The British Beekeepers Association.

  • If you have honey bees get in touch with your local swarm collector.

  • If you have a bumble bee nest then it's unlikely it can be moved successfully. Most bumble bee colonies are damaged by the movement  process to the point where they cannot recover. If you have a bumble bee colony you should leave it alone until the queen leaves at the end of the season and then block off the entrance. Bumble bees do not generally cause a problem if their nest site is treated with respect.

  • If you have other types of bees, there are many species of solitary bees found in the UK, you might see many of them without even realising you're looking at a bee or the kind of bee you're looking at. Solitary bees do not live in colonies like honey bees or bumble bees.

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Beetles and Silverfish

Carpet Beetle: At 1½mm to 4mm long, they can be tough to spot. If you do get a look, you will notice that they are brown or black with white or yellow markings. They can generate a lot of harm to fabrics. The damage is not caused by the adult beetles but by active, short, fat, hairy larvae often referred to as woolly bears. These larvae are voracious feeders and will rapidly demolish fur, feathers and woollen textiles. In their larval stage, and while they often live outside as adults, they can live under carpets as well.

Larder Beetle: As with most beetles, the main damage done by the  larder  beetle is actually done when they are larvae. You will probably first notice an infestation by seeing the adult however, and at just under a centimetre long  they are larger than some. To identify them, they are dark brown, with a white strip  near the head that has six black dots on it. They are called larder beetles because they do a lot of damage to food, especially meat such as bacon, ham and dried beef, although usually it has to be spoiled meat.

To remove the infestation, in domestic premises, will require an integrated control programme of cleaning and spraying with a residual insecticide will  control most infestation, although eradication of widespread infestations may take some time. Most residual insecticides will be effective if applied thoroughly to the structure, concentrating on the treatment of cracks and crevices.

Wood Boring Beetles (woodworm): Some of the beetles that cause the most damage are wood boring beetles, although you will probably know them better as woodworm. That is because they do all their damage in the larval stage,  when they look like worms. Woodworm beetles are brown all over, and quite hairy. They normally appear between May and August to mate, after which, the female deposits around 50 eggs in the crevice of a piece of wood. In a house, this is often between the joints of wooden furniture adult beetles only last a few days.

In general, beetles are scavengers and are attracted to food waste, so the best way to stave off an infestation is by keeping  a  clean  environment. Once you  have a beetle infestation though, it can be hard to remove, so you should contact a pest control company.

Silverfish: Travel in a swishing movement, and the adult silverfish are silver,  whilst young silverfish are white. They grow to a maximum of one inch, which is about 2.5cm. So they're small, but definitely visible. It might take a while to notice an infestation because they do not like light conditions and tend to hide out in the dark, so it might be quite a sizeable infestation before you actually notice there is a problem.

As with all pests the best way to get rid of them is to remove the conditions that gave rise to them in the first place, and then go about removing the pests that  are already there. With silverfish controls can prove to be quite difficult. Although silverfish feed off just about anything, from crumbs on the floor to human dandruff, the main condition necessary for their emergence is the presence of damp.

Silverfish can survive up to a year without eating, so just removing the food source is not going to get rid of them.

The best pest control technique to prevent silverfish from continuing to breed is therefore to get rid of the damp conditions. This can also take a long time, and will involve  fixing  whatever  the  problem  was  in  the  first  place,  and  then  keeping  your home extra dry.  In addition, insecticides should be sprayed in as many nooks and crannies as you can find to kill the adult silverfish.  

Other silverfish control techniques involve getting rid of old clothes, as well as stacks of magazines or newspapers.  If you discover the infestation in clothes you want to keep,  they  should  be  cleaned  thoroughly,  preferably  dry  cleaned.   Any  books  you want to save should be sealed in a plastic bag and stored in the freezer for at least four days.

The best way to remove an infestation of silverfish from your home, is to contact a pest control company that can treat  for silverfish.

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Cockroaches      

Cockroaches:  Cockroaches  prefers  warm,  humid  and  dark  conditions.  They are usually  found  in  the tropics  or  other  regions  with  mild  climates.  In  the  UK  only  a  few  species  have become adapted to living in houses. Cockroaches causes a lot of damage and emit an  unpleasant  odour.  It  is  omnivorous  and  will  eat  plant  and  animal  material, including food, paper, clothing, books and dead insects. The two main species found in this country are: 

  • Oriental Cockroach:  This Is  the  most  common  species  found  in  the  UK.  They  are  very  dark  brown,  almost black  in  colour.  The  adult  male  is  20-24mm  long  and  the  female  larger  at  32mm long.  They  take  between  6  months  and  2  years  to  reach  maturity.  The  female deposits an egg case containing 16-18 eggs from which soft white nymphs emerge.   These harden and turn brown in colour when exposed to the air.  The nymphs which emerge from the eggs are like small versions of the adults. As the nymph grows the outer surface of its body is cast away and this moulting will occur 7-10 times before adult  size  is  reached.  Oriental  cockroaches  are  poor  climbers  on  smooth  surfaces and  are  tolerant  towards  the  cold  as  they  are  often  found  outside  buildings. Development  is  affected  by  the  availability  of  food,  humidity,  temperature  and  day length.  

  • German Cockroach:  Is smaller in  size (13-16mm) and light  brown.  It is a good climber even on smooth surfaces.  It  matures  much  more  quickly  and  the  number  of  eggs  in  an  egg  case averages  30-40.    Because  of  its  size  it  is  often  carried  unknowingly  into  homes  in bags and boxes.  

Cockroaches foul their environment with droppings, castings and regurgitated food. They taint materials with their characteristic smell and the air may contain fragments of  faeces  and  exoskeletons.    As  well  as  the  unpleasant  smell,  cockroaches  are  a source  of  allergens  which  can  lead  to  allergic  illnesses  such  as  dermatitis,  rhinitis, bronchitis  and  asthma.  They  damage  and  contaminate  food  products  and  other items,  such  as  those  made  of  paper,  and  can  mechanically  transmit  pathogenic organisms such as salmonella, E.coli, staphylococcus and shigella, which can cause dysentery and gastroenteritis.

Control:  Eradication  of  cockroaches  can  be  difficult  and  should  be  carried  out  by  a professional pest control company, as they are difficult to treat because their hiding places are often difficult to reach with insecticides. 

In addition to eradication method used by the pest  control company,  it is important to remove,  as  far  as  possible,  all  food  and  water  residues,  and  to  proof  and  reduce areas that are difficult to access. Checks should also be made to ensure that insects or egg cases are not being introduced by incoming goods or via the drains.

  • Good hygiene is essential in preventing or limiting infestation.

  • Cockroaches must be deprived of food, water and shelter.

  • Washing up should be done promptly and food stored in sealed containers.

  • Surfaces should be kept clean and food debris cleared up.

  • Rubbish should be kept in lidded containers and carefully sealed when disposed of.  

  •  Any  leaking  pipes  should  be  repaired  and  moisture  or  water  sources  removed.

  • Undisturbed clutter and materials where cockroaches might live should be removed and any holes and cracks in the structure of the building repaired.

  • Loose paint and wallpaper  should  be  removed.    

Cockroaches live together in large groups and are nocturnal, so that a householder may be unaware of an infestation or of the extent of an  infestation. If one cockroach is seen, it is almost certain  there  will  be  plenty of others. If cockroaches have infested a building which contains more than one dwelling then the whole building will need to be treated if the treatment is to be effective.

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False Widow Spiders

Dealing with spider problems in your home: Spiders rarely bite people and in the UK none of the indigenous spiders are considered dangerous. The bite of most spiders has little to no effect on people, while a few others are of minor medical importance.

Are any spiders in the UK harmful?

False Widow Spiders: False widows have a reputation for biting people, although in truth, this is quite a rare occurrence. You would need to be very unlucky, or go out of your way to be bitten. They only bite if mishandled or provoked. To those who have experienced it, the bite is said to be similar to a bee sting.

False Widow Spiders are approximately 7 - 14mm in size. They are found in most parts of England, but are more common in the South. They can be seen all year round, and are usually found in houses and out-buildings.

They feed on flies and other small insects.

How to identify a False Widow spider: The abdomen has some pale markings on the top, and there is a creamy coloured band all round the front.  Under a hand lens this looks like an intricate mosaic. The false widow spider web consists of many short, irregularly placed silk strands. It's a bit of a mish-mash.

Interesting information about False Widow Spiders: The false widow spider (Steatoda nobilis) probably arrived in the UK from the Canary Islands. It was first recorded in Torquay, Devon, back in 1879. Since then it has adapted well to our colder climate.

False widows belong to a group of spiders which are part of the same family as the infamous Black Widow spiders, although they are nowhere near as toxic. They are frequently mistaken for Black Widow spiders, which has led to the common name of "False Widow" spiders.

General Information about spiders

How to Keep Spiders Away:  Spiders are most likely to enter the home in the autumn in search of a warm place to spend the winter. There are several ways that you can help to prevent and control spider problems in your home:

  • Vacuum regularly.

  • Remove noticeable webs.

  • Fill in gaps in walls and under doors to deter entry.

  • Remove sheltering sites like firewood piles and compost piles from near your home.

  • Use lighting in a way that is less attractive to the insects that spiders feed on.

DIY Pest Control Products for Spiders: A wide range of pest control products for home use are available on the market. This includes most crawling insect sprays and powders that can be purchased from DIY stores, supermarkets, hardware stores and garden centres. As with all pest control products, please read the instructions carefully before use. You could use a bug catcher which is an ideal way to capture spiders humanely.

We do not provide a pest control service for spiders. 

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Foxes

If you want to deter foxes from spoiling your garden the following advice can be considered:  

Remove the attraction by making the garden unacceptable to the fox.

This method can produce the greatest control over the fox population at little or no cost. Urban fox populations are far greater than those in rural  areas,  mainly due to the fact that a far greater amount of food is readily available. The most likely reason for a fox to enter your garden is in the search for food, so removal of the food source will reduce the attractiveness of your garden to the fox.

Suggestions of action you can take to deter foxes:

  • Keep all domestic refuse in your wheeled (wheelie) bins with the lid closed.

  • Only put your refuse out on the morning of collection.

  • Keep rabbits, chickens and other vulnerable pets in strong, fox proof cages and runs. Always lock them away securely at night.

  • Do not leave food outside for other domestic animals, e.g. cats, dogs, or even badgers.  

  • Please do not feed the foxes as this can artificially sustain a population.

  • Be extremely careful where you store food to feed the birds - especially fat balls and suet type blocks. This should be in approved containers if stored outside in sheds. Any overspill or other leftover food should be cleaned away as soon as possible but always by the end of the day.

  • Try a suitable proprietary animal repellent. Products are available from Garden Centres and Hardware and D.l.Y. stores. Please note only approved products can be used and they must be used in accordance  with  the  manufacturer's instructions. Your local garden centre, hardware or D.l.Y. store should be able to provide you with the correct advice on the most suitable product to use.

Habitats: Another reason for foxes being attracted to your garden is that it can provide a safe place to  shelter  by  day  or  night. This  may  be  an  overgrown or neglected area or a void beneath a building. Gaps into your garden can  be  protected using heavy duty mesh (Weld Mesh). Mesh with holes measuring  2"  (50  mm) square is ideal, making sure that it is securely fixed to any building and buried to a depth of 12" (30 cm) into the soil to prevent the fox burrowing under the mesh.

For more information about urban foxes visit The Fox Website.

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Gulls  

Many people who have gulls on their property find they cause a nuisance.  

Commonly problems include: 

  • Noise, caused by calling gulls and by their heavy footsteps. 

  • Mess caused by their droppings, fouling of washing, gardens and people. 

  • Damage to property. 

  • The birds can dive and swoop on people and pets. This usually occurs when chicks  have  fallen  from  the  nest  and  adult  birds  attempt  to  prevent  them coming to harm by frightening away potential threats. 

  • Blockage of gas flues by nesting materials can have serious consequences if gas fumes are prevented from venting properly. 

Breeding pairs court in March and commence nest building from early April onwards. In towns, the nest is constructed from straw and grass, twigs, paper and any other material the gull can conveniently use. The nest can be quite large and, if made of material accumulated over several years, very heavy. 

Eggs are laid from April to May onwards with two or three being the usual number.  The eggs take  about  three  to  four  weeks  to  hatch  so  the  first  chicks  are  generally  seen about the beginning of June. 

The chicks grow quickly and are quite active and often fall from the nest. In towns this  almost  certainly  means  they  cannot  return  to  the  nest.  Small  chicks  will  die unless  returned  but  larger  chicks  will  be  protected  and  fed  by  their  parents  on  the ground. Parent birds protecting fallen chicks are the ones which dive and swoop on people and animals, who often do not know the chick is down on the ground. 

Chicks generally fledge in August and then take three or four years to reach maturity and breed. The life expectancy of a Gull which reaches maturity is about 20 years. 

Gulls will tend to return to the same nesting site and unless action is taken to proof a building, problems associated with these birds may recur annually. 

What Can I Do:  The best time to undertake any deterrent work is outside of the nesting season All owners/occupiers of buildings which have, or may attract, roof nesting Gulls are strongly  urged  to  provide  the  building  with  deterrent  measures  suitable  to  the individual building. 

The principal methods of deterrence are: 

  • Fitting of long spikes to nesting locations such as chimney stacks. 

  • Fitting of short spikes, contained in a special plastic base, to nesting locations such as dormer rooves. 

  • Fitting of wires or nets to prevent Gulls landing. Because of the problems of fixing and the danger of trapping birds in or under nets should always be done by, competent specialist. 

It is an offence to tamper with nests.  Further advice is available from Natural England.                                                                                

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Pigeons

Pigeons may cause damage, carry insect pest, and leave droppings which carry disease and create smell. 

To deter pigeons 

  • Do not feed. 

  • Dispose of food waste properly

If you stop feeding pigeons they will find their own food naturally, are likely to breed less often, and flocks will become smaller. 

Pigeons are drawn to an area when people put out food for them.   

Why may we be discouraged from feeding pigeons?

Your  act  of  kindness  in  feeding  the  pigeons  may  result  in  the  birds  becoming  a problem for someone else.  When there are large numbers of pigeons present there is more chance that they will need to be controlled.

  • People who own or live in buildings where the birds choose to roost and who have to clean up after them, may not like the pigeons.   

  • Clearing up pigeon droppings can be very expensive. 

  • Droppings can also damage property, block gutters and make pavements slippery. 

  • Pigeons can carry diseases, which puts our health and our children's health at risk.    

  • They  cause  problems  with  insect  pests  and  food  put  out  for  pigeons  can  attract vermin such as rats and mice.   

Pigeons are wildlife. They are not domesticated and they are not dependant on us to feed them.   

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Squirrels   

Grey squirrels are found in a wide range of situations, from urban parks and gardens to  rural  woodland.    They  spend  part  of  their  time  foraging  on  the  ground  but  are always  within  easy  reach  of  trees.    Grey  squirrels  do  not  hibernate  but  are  less active  during  periods  of  cold  weather.    Food  eaten  includes  acorns,  nuts, fruit and bulbs.  

Their nests (dreys) are normally built in trees but they may also breed in roof spaces where  they  use  loft  insulation  or  other  available  materials.    There  are  usually  two litters  each  year,  the  first  between  February  and  March  and  the  second  between June  and  July.    The  average  litter  size  is  three  to  four  and  the  young  are independent at about three months old.     

Squirrel Nuisance:  Although  many  people  regard  squirrels  as  an  attractive  part  of  urban  wildlife,  they can  be  a  nuisance  when  they  cause  damage  in  gardens.    More  serious  problems may  be  experienced  when  squirrels  find  their  way  into  lofts  and  roof  voids  where quite  apart  from  the  disturbance  caused  by  their  nocturnal  activities,  gnawing structural  timber, fouling  insulation  material and  the  gnawing  of  electric  cables  can occur.  

If the first problem experienced is one of noises  in  the loft and if no squirrels have been seen then the noise could possibly be due to birds, rats or mice.  An inspection of  the  loft  to  look  for  evidence  such  as  droppings  or  nesting  material  may  help  to determine the cause of the noise.  

Squirrel Proofing:   If  squirrels  have  definitely  taken  up  occupancy  in  a  loft  then  measures  should  be taken  to  exclude  them.     The  first  thing  is  to  determine  where  the  squirrels  are gaining access.  This will involve careful observation or even arranging for someone to stand outside the property while someone else enters the loft and makes enough noise  to  scare  the  squirrels  out.    The  person  standing  outside  will  hopefully  see where  the  squirrels  emerge.     

Any  access  points  must  be  sealed  or  “proofed” to prevent squirrels getting back in. 

  • Where  squirrels  have  gained  entry  via  defective  brickwork  this  should  be  made  good with sand and cement. Crushed wire netting, metal sheeting or other suitable materials can also be used to block entry points. 

  • If the work involves re-instating timber e.g. fascia board, suitable thin-gauged galvanised metal may have to be fixed over the top of it to stop  the  squirrels  gnawing  the  timber.    Make  sure  that  there  are  no  squirrels  trapped inside when the proofing is carried out.

If this work is beyond the capacity of "DIY", then local builders may have to be approached  to  undertake  the  necessary  work  and  several  quotes  may  have  to  be obtained.

Trees near or overhanging the house provide convenient “highways".  In  some situations  pruning will cut off routes but always check that there are no tree preservation orders in force.

Control Measures:  If proofing is not successful or practical then it may be possible to control grey squirrels in  other  ways  using  traps  or  poison  bait.    These  methods  are  strictly  controlled  by legislation.  The services of a professional pest control company specialising in this type of work are therefore  recommended. 

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Woodlice

Where Do They Come From:   You normally find woodlice outside where they can hide during the day in cool, dark and  damp  places  -  under  stones  and  flower  pots,  in  crevices,  and amongst  dead  and  rotting vegetation. 

Why Do They Come Indoors:   Woodlice come indoors mainly during the winter and early spring, usually searching  for protection from the onset of cold weather.  They do not breed indoors, but there may  be  a  colony  of  woodlice  near  an  entrance  to  the  house.  Once  woodlice  find their way indoors, particularly in warm dry rooms, they will die from water loss within a day or so. They may survive, however, under sink units in kitchens and bathrooms for some days, or even longer, particularly if they have access to food debris.   

Do They Do Any Harm:   Woodlice are harmless, and despite their name, do not damage wood. As described above,  a  small  amount  of  harm  may  be  caused  to  young    foliage.  If  disturbed, woodlice are particularly known to curl up into a ball.   

How Can I Get Rid Of Them: 

  • Sealing  entry  points  (draught  excluders  around  doors  and  windows,  for  example) can be tried, together with removing of other potential shelters near to the house, e.g. flower  pots.

  • Alternatively,  warming  up  parts  of  the  house  where  woodlice have been found should help. 

  • Applying  insecticide  spray  or  dust  to  crevices  or  opening  where  woodlice  may  be hiding,  or to  damp   areas   which  cannot   be  properly  dried,  may   help.  This will discourage their presence.   

Safety:     If insecticides are used you should follow the instructions carefully. 

  • Always take great care when using insecticides. 

  • Do not use spray insecticides while children are in the room. 

  • Cover fish tanks when using sprays. 

  • Wash hands immediately after use.

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Useful link

www.pestcontrol-uk.org   - identify different types of pests/animals  

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Related pages

Contact us

Environmental Services
Unit 1
Newfields Business Park
2 Stinsford Road
Poole
BH17 0NF 

Email
environment@poole.gov.uk

Telephone
01202 261700

Text Relay
18001 01202 261700