What should I do?
From insects to animals, pests come in all shapes and sizes, some look unpleasant, but most are harmless. However, there are a few pests that can cause more than a nuisance and these should be dealt with as they can be a risk to your health.
If you do notice a pest problem, the earlier it is dealt with the better. We do not offer pest control services, but there are qualified service providers in the area. Many household pests can be dealt with by using the humane traps and chemicals available in the shops, but sometimes it is advisable to call in the experts to solve a persistent problem. If you require professional help you should use the internet, trade or business directory to find a suitably qualified service. It is advisable to get more than one quote and to check that the company undertaking the work is competent.
Find advice here on:
- rats and mice
- brown tail moth
- bees, waps and hornets
- blandford fly
- false black widow spider
- weever fish
Eliminate sources of food, water and shelter, including open storage of food, bird food or pet food. If you feed birds or keep chickens, try using a rat proof container, minimise what you put out, feed them in the early morning and remove leftovers before nightfall. You can help wild birds without attracting rodents by growing insect-attracting plants or ones with edible winter berries. The RSPBprovides good advice.
How to prevent rats and mice
- check rodents can't get in through gaps under doors, windows or pipes
- put all food waste in your brown food waste bin, keep the lid locked using the handle and put it out for collection weekly
- make sure compost bins are enclosed and fitted with 6mm galvanised wire mesh to the base before being put into the ground. This will stop rodents tunnelling in. Do not put food waste in your compost apart from vegetable waste, coffee grounds and tea bags etc
- make sure your bins have properly fitting lids and rubbish is properly disposed of
- maintain gullies and sewer pipes on your property
- if your property has air bricks or low ventilation pipes place mesh over them to stop rodents, but do not block them
Please see our advice on Brown Tail Moth infestations.
Feeding birds in gardens is increasingly popular and is valuable in conserving bird numbers. It also gives pleasure to many householders to see birds feeding in their garden. However, some bird feeding can cause a nuisance to neighbours as birds can soil on washing, cars, seating, pavements and patios. Birds, particularly sea gulls, can cause damage to properties from nest building and be noisy. They may also rip open rubbish bags and some birds can be aggressive when they have chicks. Feeding birds can also attract rats and mice which may carry disease and be encouraged to enter your home.
What to do
- place feed into hanging bird feeders
- top up feeders in the morning, but only half fill them, so that all the food is eaten before the evening
- use only food natural to the birds such as nuts and seeds
- keep feed in a sealed container
What not to do
- do not leave out large amounts of food on the ground or other flat areas such as a flat roof
- never leave food over night
- do not feed birds with cat or dog food or items like chicken carcases
Other ways to attract birds to your garden
Planting trees and shrubs are a great way of encouraging the insects that birds feed on. You could also build a wood pile, or pond. The RSPB can provide further information and advice.
Seagulls are a common feature of many seaside towns and are increasingly common in more urban areas due to availability of food and nesting sites. Gulls can cause problems such as noise nuisance, fouling on washing or cars and swooping at people, usually to protect their chicks or to snatch food.
Like all other wild birds, gulls are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, making it an offence to intentionally injure or kill any gull, or to take, damage or destroy an active nest or its contents. However, General Licences issued by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) allow control measures to be taken where there are public health or public health safety concerns. The law does not permit control measures for gulls if they are causing noise nuisance or simply damaging property. Councils have no statutory duty to take action against gulls but can give advice on how to deter birds.
When eating outside around harbours or on the beach seagulls can swoop down and snatch food which can cause distress to adults and children. It is advised that people consider eating indoors or in sheltered places and do not feed gulls.
Throwing away rubbish
Make sure litter and food waste is put into bins properly. Do not leave household refuse bags out overnight, try to put them out on the day of collection. Bin bags on the kerbside attract gulls. Putting refuse bags out on the morning of collection prevents gulls opening or ripping bin bags and causing a mess in the area. If you have a wheelie bin use it to store waste. Alternatively, you can buy lidded refuse bins which will protect your rubbish. If you are unable to get hold of a lidded bin or there is not enough room outside your property to put one, tough hessian reusable seagull-proof bags can be used. Alternatively, bags can be placed under a blanket or sheet to deter gulls from shredding them.
Nesting/landing on property
Seagulls normally lay their eggs from May and the first chicks are normally seen at the beginning of June.
There are a number of measures people can take to stop gulls nesting or landing on property. These include:
- chimney guards to prevent nesting
- roof spikes to prevent nesting
- roof wires and nests to prevent landing
- disturb previous nesting area to deter gulls that have nested.
It is recommended that property owners seek guidance and advice on what measures may be appropriate from a specialist contractor. Specialist contractors can be found under "Pest Control" or "Bird Control" in the Yellow Pages, trade directories or by using the internet.
Wasps usually nest in the natural environment but they can also choose housing, sheds or other buildings. In normal circumstances they should be left alone however if nests are near places where people frequent they can become a problem. Wasps will defend their nest aggressively if it is disturbed. A sting from a wasp can be painful but it is not normally serious however some people are known to be allergic. We would advise that medical advice is sought if someone experiences an unusually severe reaction to a wasp sting.
Treatment of nuisance wasps nests with an insecticide is very effective and works quickly.
Hornets are part of the wasp family and behave in a very similar way other than they are noticeably bigger and their sting is more painful. As with wasps, in most cases they should be left alone if they pose no significant risk however if it is necessary hornets nests can be treated in a similar way to wasps.
The Blandford Fly is a small black fly, which has caused a major problem to residents of the district due to nuisance biting. Bites from the notorious fly have been dramatically reduced thanks to aggressive treatment of rivers.
Authorities along the River Stour, including Dorset Council and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council along with North Dorset PCT NHS Trust, contribute to the treatment cost carried out by a specialist contractor.
The larvae are sprayed as they emerge from the river in late April to prevent them reaching adulthood and causing a nuisance to local people. The Blandford Fly biting season is from late April to the end of June.
There have been considerably less bite reports from members of the public than there were in the late 1980s and this is due to the treatment. We monitor the number of bites reported to assess the level of nuisance.
Bite incidents can be reported direct to us and should include the date, time of day and location (eg in the garden).
Please ensure that if you have a reaction to a bite you should seek medical advice from a doctor or pharmacist
Information and advice from the British Pest Control Association about the False Black Widow Spider.
Bedbugs are small, crawling parasitic insects that result in painful bites on the body particularly after sleeping. The adult bugs are small (usually 4-5mm long), flat oval in shape and reddish-brown in colour. They are found in areas where people tend to rest and sleep, hence the name bedbug.
They are often difficult to spot as they generally inhabit cracks and crevices in beds, furniture, in damaged wall paper and in cracks in skirting boards.
With the general increase in travel over recent years the number of cases of bedbugs is rising in the UK. People can carry bed bugs into their homes unknowingly, in luggage, furniture, bedding or clothing. The key to controlling a bedbug problem is to be aware of the symptoms and once discovered use a professional pest controller to apply insecticide.
The Weever Fish has poisonous spines on its back and around its gills. It often lies under the sand with the spines protruding. The casualty usually complains of having trodden on something sharp under the water, followed by a severe stinging sensation.
To minimise the chances of treading on a weever fish, which may be hidden under the sand, paddlers and bathers should wear light shoes when paddling in shallow water. The most effective treatment appears to be to soak the affected area in very hot water as soon as possible. The water should be as hot as the person can bear but not enough to scald. The heat destroys the toxic quality of the venom.
For any further advice please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or use the live web chat provided.