PEST CONTROL GUIDE - f

Field Mice

Outdoor cousins of the House Mouse, which tend to move indoors in the winter seeking their creature comforts. The Wood Mouse or Long-Tailed Field Mouse has larger ears, more prominent eyes and a longer tail than the House Mouse and is brownish with a white underside. Fond of apples and stored food.

Fleas

Small (2mm) wingless insects, flattened side to side, red-brown with backwardly directed spines and legs designed for jumping. All adult fleas are parasitic on warm-blooded animals. Larval stages live in the nest of the host and feed on skin, feathers and, most importantly, the blood-rich faeces of the adult flea. When fully grown the larvae spin well camouflaged silken cocoons. When fully developed the adult waits within this until it detects the vibrations caused by a potential host. Only then does it emerge.

The complete lifecycle takes about a month in the summer. Adult fleas feed on blood. Their bites can cause intense irritation around the central bright red spot. Different people react differently to a bite, both in terms of degree of reaction and time taken to react.

The Cat Flea is by far the commonest species of flea and readily bites humans. The Human Flea and the Bird Flea are next in importance. Dog fleas are rare, although other species may become temporarily attached to dogs.

Flies

A family of two-winged polluters that is, too often, tolerated within our homes.

Apart from the biting flies, all species feed by vomiting saliva on to the food surface, and sucking up the resulting liquid. In the course of doing so, the fly contaminates the food with bacteria from its gut and its feet. Thus, it may transmit food poisoning, dysentery, typhoid or cholera in countries where these occur.

The eggs of parasitic worms may also be carried by flies.

Flour Beetles

Small reddish-brown beetles about 3-4mm long that feed on flour and cereal debris in warm buildings. May be accidentally introduced into the larder in packaging or in the ingredients themselves.

Commonest species are the Rust Red Flour Beetle and the Confused Flour Beetle (which in turn is often confused with the Rust Red Flour Beetle).

May produce five generations in a year and adults can live for over a year. The eggs stick to flour particles and the yellow-brown larvae, about 6mm long, crawl about very actively.