PEST CONTROL GUIDE

Birds

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds, their nests and eggs. However, specific exemptions permit certain species to be controlled by particular methods for specific reasons.

This exemption is given in the way of a licence issued by Natural England (previously DEFRA) called the General licence. General licences are issued to allow certain actions to be carried out that would otherwise be illegal under the legislation, without the need for people to apply for a specific licence.

Control of birds through population reduction techniques is generally both less desirable and less effective than removing their food sources or blocking off sites where they perch or roost. The latter technique, known as proofing, is now used extensively with blunt spikes, sprung wires and nets installed on buildings to keep birds off without harming them.

The law relating to bird control is complex. An excellent explanatory booklet ‘Wild Birds and the Law’ is available from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 2DL. Tel: 01767 680551.

Biscuit Beetles

These are closely related to the Common Furniture Beetle or wood-worm. They are small reddish-brown insects, only about 3mm long, which attack stored foods in domestic larders.

Flour, biscuits, cake mixes, cereals, spices, meat and soup powders will attract them, and they have even been found thriving on such poisonous substances as strychnine, belladonna and aconite – hence the beetle’s American name; Drug Store Beetle.

They have been known to penetrate tin foil and lead, and have even bored through a shelf-full of books. The white larvae are very small and quite active when they hatch. They feed and grow for about four months before knitting themselves cocoons of food particles in which to pupate.

Black Rat

The old English ship rat or roof rat that brought the Black Death across Europe in the 14th century and the Great Plague of London in the 17th century.

They are still occasionally to be found in seaport towns but have mostly been ousted by their voracious big cousin, the larger Brown Rat from central Europe.

Blow Fly

Blow flies are so called because they were believed to “blow” their eggs, or larvae on to exposed meats. It is a general description of a number of species of large buzzing flies, which include the Bluebottle, the Greenbottle and the Flesh Fly. They all like sunlight and are attracted to meat or carrion, and all may be found around dustbins in hot summer weather.

Their feeding habits (they vomit onto food to soften it up) and filthy feet, infect food, especially meat products, as they feed or seek egg-laying sites. Their Latin names indicate their habits; Calliphora vomitoria, Sarcophaga carnaria and Cyanomyia cadaverina are but three members of the group with a great capacity for transmitting the bacterial agents of food poisoning.”