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Pests of the Season - Autumn and Winter

 

Rats  

 

Rat problems in Britain are almost always due to the brown or common rat, Rattus norvegicus; the black rat, Rattus rattus, being virtually extinct now.  Traditionally associated with farms, sewers and refuse tips, the brown rat population has increased markedly

in recent years and is now a frequent pest of domestic dwellings and business premises, especially those containing food or feedstuffs.

As well as fouling with their urine and droppings, and causing damage to foodstuffs in the house, there is a danger of rats damaging wires or pipes in the loft or walls, which could lead to fires or floods.

 

 In businesses involved in food manufacture, storage or sale, damage to stock from rats can cost thousands of pounds. The greatest danger to people is the potential infection with Weils Disease (Leptospirosis), which is carried by rats and excreted in their urine.  Although such infection is not common, the disease can be fatal.

 

Rat control is very much a job for the professional pest controller and involves a comprehensive  baiting programme using poisoned bait. The nature of the bait and its active ingredient  being tailored to the specific infestation.  In domestic premises, this will normally involve an initial thorough inspection and baiting, and follow-up visits.  The pest controller will also advise on proofing of the building to minimise the possibility of further rat entry.  For commercial premises, especially in the case of food businesses, a regular rodent prevention contract may be more appropriate.

 

Mice

 

Mouse infestations are usually due to the house mouse, Mus domesticus, although occasionally  due to the wood or field mouse, Apodemus sylvaticus, or the yellow-necked mouse,  Apodemus flavicollis.  Mice are normally nocturnal and infestations are usually detected

by finding the (rice grain-sized) droppings or hearing them scurrying around in the loft,  walls or under floorboards.  They will cause damage to foodstuffs, foul cupboards and working surfaces with their urine and droppings, and can cause damage to wires and pipes. They gain access to buildings through airbricks, gaps around pipes and under roof tiles.

 

Although the occasional mouse can be caught in a trap, effective eradication requires a comprehensive baiting with suitable poisoned bait.

Treatment by a properly qualified pest controller will ensure this work is done safely and effectively, and that any repairs needed to prevent further entry can be recommended  to the clients and carried out for them if required.

 

Clusterflies

 

Slightly larger than houseflies, clusterflies will invade buildings  in large numbers in the autumn to hibernate in dark areas such as lofts,

gaining entry through gaps between the tiles.  From here some may find their way  into bedrooms attracted through the ceiling around ceiling lights. Usually treatment involves a combination of surface and space insecticide  spray of the loft plus space treatment of rooms as necessary. Proofing the building to prevent re-occurrence in future years may be difficult, so regular treatments each autumn may be necessary.Cluster flies are an increasing problem and can affect new houses as well as old.