PEST CONTROL GUIDE

Ants

The commonest species that invades houses is the Black Garden Ant, which is actually very dark brown.

All ants have the main divisions of the body (head, thorax, abdomen) distinctly separated by very narrow waists and have a sharp elbow joint in their antennae. They are highly organised social insects. It is the foraging worker ants that invade buildings in search of food. These are from 3 to 5mm in length and are attracted to sweet foodstuffs which they take back to the nest to feed to the larvae and queen.The so-called ants eggs sold for aquaria fish are actually the pupae.

Flying ants are the reproductive males and females. These mating ants are winged and have a nuptial swarming flight during only a few days in July or August. Mating takes place in the air and the female then seeks out a nest site where she stays for the winter, laying eggs the following spring in order to start up a new colony.

Bats

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides protection for all species of bat found in the United Kingdom. It is illegal to kill, or even disturb, bats in their roosts.If bats are present, and there is a possibility of them being disturbed, you should consult Natural England : Tel: 0114 241 8920, Scottish Natural Heritage Tel: 0131 447 4784 or Countryside Council for Wales Tel: 08451 306229. They will arrange for a person to visit the site and advise on the best course of action.Bats may only be handled by those licensed to do so.

Bedbugs

A common pest once associated with unhygienic surroundings, is now prevalent due to increased travel and therefore spreading the bed bug from country to country. These bugs still occur with regularity, particularly in multi-occupancy buildings with rapid resident turnover, for example, hostels, hotels, holiday camps and blocks of flats. The early stages of the Bed bug (nymphs) are hard to detect with the naked eye, making it hard to identify an infestation before biting occurs.

The adult bug resembles a small brown disc, about 3.5mm long – the size of a match head. It is wingless but the legs are well developed and it can crawl up most vertical surfaces, e.g. bed legs. The elongated eggs are cemented in cracks or crevices close to the hosts (which for bed-bugs are humans).

The young resemble the adult and grow by moulting. Each nymphal stage needs one full meal of blood before it proceeds to the next stage. Fully-grown bed bugs can endure starvation for up to a year in some cases.

Bees

There are different types of bees that may require different treatments. The types are detailed below:

Masonry Bees

They may occasionally cause problems. Unlike honey bees these are solitary insects. They nest in a wide range of cavities some of which they excavate themselves. The nest is constructed of sand grains and other particles glued together with saliva. Masonry bees are normally harmless, their sting seemingly unable to penetrate human skin.

On occasions though they can present a problem due to their ability to build nests by tunnelling through soft brick mortar, generally in older properties. Only rarely do large numbers occur together but due to the fact that vulnerable buildings tend to be repeatedly attacked, quite severe damage can occur over several seasons.

Modern houses are not immune either. Small gaps left in otherwise sound mortar may be colonised. Although this is not a problem from a structural point of view, some householders are distressed by such activity. In the long term, re-pointing with sound mortar is the only answer. This must be thorough however, as bees hunting for a nest site will soon locate areas that have been missed.

Small individual holes are easily filled. Treatment with insecticides is not normally necessary but where damage is serious or great distress is being caused, insecticides can be used. Application of an insecticide to the entry hole will quickly kill the occupants.

Honey Bees

Providers of honey and almost universally viewed with affection by the public, honey bees are one of the most well known insects. Many species of bee are found in the United Kingdom. Some produce honey, some do not. Some live in highly organised colonies, some on their own. Some sting, some do not.

Bees rarely present problems as pests. However, feral swarms can set up home in undesirable places such as chimneys and wall cavities. Bee keepers may be reluctant to take such swarms due to a parasitic mite which many swarms carry. Control may, therefore, be necessary. Bees are not protected and control is best left to professionals; honey bees have a barbed sting and die once they have used this.

They will sting when provoked. Attempts to kill them will provoke them.

Once the nest has been killed, efforts must be made to remove it or seal it in.

The honey within it will attract bees from other hives which may then themselves be poisoned, as well as their nests, by the pesticides used. When treating a nest with insecticide, the operator must ensure, as far as possible, that insecticide residue is not left behind or used haphazardly and inactive nests removed if possible.

Whether removal is achievable or not, the entrances to the nest site must be sealed off. This will prevent potential robber/other bees from becoming affected by the insecticide. Insects and mites will also thrive on the honey and dead grubs within the nest and may cause problems.

Bumble Bees

Bumblebees are social insects: they live in a colony with a queen and her daughters (the workers). Bumblebees have an annual lifecycle, with new nests being started each spring by queens. The queen bumblebees are very large, and from February onwards can be seen feeding on flowers such as willow catkins, bluebells and lungwort, or flying low over the ground searching for a nest site.

Some species prefer to nest underground in abandoned burrows of rodents, while others nest just above the ground in dense grass or leaf-litter. The queen stocks her nest with pollen and nectar, and lays her first batch of eggs. She incubates them much as a bird would, sitting on the eggs while shivering her flight muscles to produce warmth.

When the eggs hatch the legless grubs consume pollen and nectar, grow rapidly, and pupate after a few weeks. A few days later the first workers hatch from their pupae and begin helping their mother, expanding the nest and gathering food. By mid-summer nests of some species can contain several hundred workers. At this point the queen starts laying both male and female eggs.

The females are fed extra food and become future queens. Both males and new queens leave the nest to mate, and the new queens burrow into the ground to wait until the following spring. The males, workers, and the old queen die off in the autumn, leaving the nest to decay.