Charles Hulme

5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Pest Control

5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Pest Control

Spring cleaning is about more than letting in the fresh air and getting a home ready for summer. Spring cleaning can also be an important step in a pest control management project. By completing some basic cleaning tasks, a person can protect his or her home from attracting insects, rodents, and other pests; which means no call-outs from a local pest control company.

1. Keeping Your Kitchen Clean & Tidy

The kitchen is the area of a home most likely to draw pests for one simple reason: that is where the food is kept. An important part of spring cleaning is to pull out appliances and clean under and behind them to remove any spilled food that may be present. A clean kitchen is an important part of any pest control plan.

 

As an added bonus, dust and other grime can be cleaned off of the refrigerator’s coils when it is pulled away from the wall. This will help it to run more efficiently and use less energy.

2. Clean Bedroom

For many bugs, the dead skin that makes up a significant portion of household dust is an attractive meal. To prevent attracting these insects into the bedroom, it is important to not only clean bed linens on a regular basis, but also to clean the mattress and box springs. Vacuuming these items during a spring cleaning can help to make pest control efforts successful.

3. Exterior Cleaning

To prevent bugs and rodents from entering a home, it is important to keep them away from the home. Removing accumulations of sticks and other yard debris will prevent pests from using them for homes. Gutters can also clog with debris and make an attractive home for some insects, so they should be cleaned as well. Standing water is another sure bug attractant. Remove any sources of water in the yard or under a home.

4. De-Clutter Your House

Getting rid of unneeded items is a great task for spring cleaning. Getting rid of clutter will provide more room in a home while removing places where pests like to live. This is especially true in basements and other unfinished areas where moisture can build up on boxes and other materials and provide a fertile home for a variety of critters. Old clothes, paper, and forgotten trash can also draw insects and rodents. 

5. Pay Attention

While completing spring cleaning, keep an eye out for areas of the home that may be drawing insects and rodents or maybe allowing them to enter the home. Removing these sources of easy entry will increase the odds of a pest control project’s success. For example, holes and cracks between walls and floors need to be filled to prevent easy access into the home. A homeowner should also check the screens in the home’s windows before opening the windows to air out the house.

 

Water leaks are another area of concern to look for while cleaning. Whether it is a roof leak or a leaking sink, water is a natural draw for unwanted pests. If leaks are found in the home, they need to be fixed as part of the homeowner’s pest control efforts.

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How to Eliminate and Control Black House Ants around the Home

How to Eliminate and Control Black House Ants around the Home

Many homes suffer from black house ant infestations. This post will outline the ants, their habitat, biology, and ways to eliminate them from your home and garden.

Description

The black house ant (Ochetellus glaber) is a small, biting at that is deep black in color which often has a blue-green iridescence. They usually grow to about 3 mm in length and live in large colonies. Notably, they have bent antennae, which differentiate them from termites. They are a nuisance, especially around the home, because they like to accumulate in large numbers around unprotected foodstuff. The ants also give off a strong odor when crushed.

Habitat

Black house ants are commonly found in and around cone-shaped sand piles in the pavement, lawn edges, and gardens. However, they often nest within structures and enter the home through small openings in window frames, doors, and cracks. They are mainly attracted to food that contains sugar, but will eat fat and protein-based foods if required. The black house ant is a common pest throughout many parts of Australia and is most active during the summer.


Biology

Black house ants are commonly found in and around cone-shaped sand piles in the pavement, lawn edges, and gardens. However, they often nest within structures and enter the home through small openings in window frames, doors, and cracks. They are mainly attracted to food that contains sugar, but will eat fat and protein-based foods if required. The black house ant is a common pest throughout many parts of Australia and is most active during the summer.


How to Limit Infestation:

Remove all soiled food containers from around the home and rinse before disposal.

●            Thoroughly clean all household surfaces, particularly areas that may have been exposed to sugar-containing products.

●            Tightly seal all food containers, including pet food cans, etc.

●            Clean pet areas, including putting water moats around their food bowls.

●            Keep all areas around the home (especially where food is present) as dry as possible. Eliminate standing water, fix leaky taps and increase ventilation, etc.

●            Elevate pot plants and eradicate aphids.

●            Flexible seal concrete paving joints.

●            Ensure joints, cracks, crevices, and electrical pipe conduit entry points around the household are filled and sealed.

●            Make sure trees and shrubs are not touching the house and remove rotting wood.

●            Ensure there are no objects stacked against the exterior of the house.

●            Increase the depth of landscaping mulch.

 

If these tips do not assist in minimizing the black house ants around your home, there are professional options that will help. Call your local pest control expert for more information.

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How to Keep Bed Bugs from Your Bed

How to Keep Bed Bugs from Your Bed

Bed bugs – the dreaded insect – are making an alarming comeback. A few years ago, bedbugs were simply the bugs of myth from the old nursery rhyme:

“Good night, sleep tight

Don’t let the bed bugs bite.”

 

However, the increase in international travel and a few unfortunate carry-ons has lead to a resurgence of bed bugs in the UK and other civilized countries. Luckily, there are many ways to reduce your chances of finding the unwelcome critters in your bed, and plenty of ways to get rid of them once they arrive.

4 Ways to Prevent Bedbug Infestations:

Since bed bugs are now a common pest in the United Kingdom, it is harder to prevent the spread of the insect. Luckily, there are some steps you can take that will reduce your chances of exposure. Try the following methods to reduce your chances of getting infected:

Bed casings: Many mattress stores and bed stores sell bed casings for your mattress. These casings are airtight cases and do not allow the bugs to reach the mattress. If the bugs cannot find a home, they will not bother you.

Wash bedding: Washing your bedding frequently can deter the presence of bed bugs. Bed bugs prefer dirty bedding that allows them to live in the dark corners of the bed. If you wash your bedding and encourage exposure to the light, the bugs may never visit your room.

Install a climb-up monitor: A climb-up monitor prevents the bugs from climbing up to your mattress at all. This is a handy tool to use after you know you have been exposed to the critters.

 

Check your hotel room: Before you unpack your things at a hotel, pull the bedding off of the bed. Check the mattress crevices for signs of bugs or their feces. If you notice anything suspicious, demand a new room.

How to Spot An Infestation:

Spotting an infestation is easy. Simply watch out for the following signs:

●            Small, unexplained bites on your arms, legs, or other sensitive areas (often in a straight line)

●            Dark spots on the mattress, bedding, or sofa cushions

●            Tiny, flat, brown bugs the size of a pinhead walking around on your mattress or sofa

●            Dark spots around the seams of a mattress


Getting Rid Of Bed Bugs:

Getting rid of bed bugs is not that difficult, but if you do not completely eradicate the entire colony of bugs, they will come back.

●            Remove all bedding and wash as hot as possible. Dry in direct sunlight.

●            Vacuum up all the little bugs you can find.

●            Air out the mattress for several days outdoors in direct sunlight.

●            Sleep somewhere else.

●            Hire a professional pest remover to lay poison for the bugs.

●            Lay luggage in direct sunlight for several days.

You can also prevent a bug attack by purchasing a mattress that is resistant to bed bugs. Usually, these beds have a special casing to prevent bed exposure or are treated with a material that is repellant to bed bugs.

 

Bed bugs are not fun, but with the proper steps, you can prevent the infestation or fix it within just a few days. If you follow these steps, your bed will remain bug-free for as long as you own it.

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Bird Control and Prevention – How to get rid of birds?

Bird Control and Prevention – How to get rid of birds?

Effective bird control is extremely important in order to prevent a number of serious issues.  Pest birds carry many diseases which can be transmitted to humans, primarily through their foul (dried excrement can turn into powder which is harmful when inhaled and wet excrement can get into the human bloodstream through open wounds or poor hand hygiene). 49% of all feral pigeons carry disease and there are 60 different kinds of diseases carried by pigeons. 

Besides the health risks, bird deterrent measures are necessary as bird fouling is dangerous as a trip/slip hazard, it can be unsightly, and it also causes property damage due to its uric acid content which erodes surfaces. The birds themselves also inflict property damage through their nesting activity.

During nesting season some pest birds can be aggressive, such as gulls, and there’s a risk they will dive bomb people or even directly attack. Insects which inhabit stored products can be found in the bird’s nests and make their way into the property, e.g. flour weevils.

Pest birds can carry parasites/biting insects such as bird mites, fleas, ticks and even bedbugs which can result in a secondary pest infestation.

All birds in the UK are a protected species, however, control is possible on some types under general license. When dealing with birds, a preventative approach is recommended for conservation purposes.

 

The best and most long-lasting way to get rid of pest birds is to install proofing measures in the area to stop them being able to nest or roost there. There are a number of bird deterrents, all have their merits and also their disadvantages – the right one for a particular situation will depend on factors such as the building type, building location, the purpose of the building, the physical structures around the area to be addressed, bird species and numbers etc. 

The most common bird deterrent methods are:

Spikes

 

Bird spikes are narrow strips of material that contain a number of spikes. They are most commonly placed along eaves, window sills, roofs and walls, or wherever birds land near or on the property. They are particularly good for ledges and are cost effective. However, they are open to damage and birds/debris can get caught in them.

Bird free gel

 

Also known as ‘fire gel’, it is a relatively new method of bird control, first introduced in 2011. It appears to birds that there is a fire, making them avoid the area. Installed in small dishes, it is non-toxic, unobtrusive and low maintenance. This approach works for historical buildings where the appearance of the building needs to be maintained. However, the low-profile gel dishes need to be open to UV light e.g. sunlight, they can be affected by their environment (you wouldn’t necessarily want to install them somewhere which is particularly dusty as that could diminish their effectivity) and they only work for areas with milder bird issues.


Netting

 

Usually made of polyethylene, bird netting is an effective way of bird proofing buildings and other structures against pest bird species. It provides a discreet and impenetrable barrier that protects premises without harming the birds. Bird netting can be particularly effective for large open areas such as roofs and loading bays and provides a good long term solution, particularly when combined with a maintenance contract (several visits per year to check the condition of the netting). However, it can be expensive.



Mesh

 

Made of metal, bird mesh is long-lasting and sturdy. Usually fitted in areas which are exposed or vulnerable to regular human activity, the downside of mesh is that it prohibits access to that area so cannot be fitted where entry is required e.g. around pipes.



Bird scarers

Can be audio (emitting noises which make birds uncomfortable) or visual (such as scarecrows, hawk kites, dead birds and balloons).  These methods are less intrusive than others mentioned in this article, unfortunately this also means they can be less effective due to the birds becoming habituated to the stimulus. 

Hawking

 

This is the process of using predatory birds as a natural pest bird deterrent. Specially selected species (usually hawks – hence the name) are trained to deal with working in unnatural environments with distractions and dangers they would not usually encounter. This approach is based on the fact that many pest birds have a natural fear of predators, so their presence in the area encourages problem species to disperse. Although this is a environmentally-friendly way of controlling pest birds, it does need to be done regularly to be effective.


Lasers

A method which relies on pest birds being startled by the strong contrast between the ambient light and the laser beam. This technique is more successful during low light conditions and can be attuned to frequencies and wavelengths that individual bird species don’t like. However, safety concerns over the use of the beam at night are possible as it can be visible over a large distance and cause widespread disturbance to many species – some nations even have laws which prohibit the use of lasers over a certain power. It’s also expensive in comparison to some other bird pest control techniques.



Avishock

A track is laid on flat surfaces, when the bird comes into contact with the track it emits a small electric pulse which subsequently deters the bird from returning to the area. Often used alongside netting, wire and/or spikes on difficult to proof areas. This system is similar to the bird free gel in the sense that its low profile and visually subtle. It’s also weather-proof but only works for smaller flocks and requires mains electric to plug it into.



Although a common pest issue, rats pose a serious problem to both your property and your health; they can chew through furnishings and electrical cables, contaminate food sources and 50% of them carry the fatal Weils Disease plus other rodent-borne illnesses. They are also unhygienic, can create bad smells within your property and multiply at an alarming rate so it’s important to get rid of rats as quickly and effectively as possible. 

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How much does loft insulation clearance cost?

How much does loft insulation clearance cost?

Not something you think about until you need it! However, there are multiple reasons why loft insulation may require clearance, such as:

  • To replace with better-quality insulation (which meets legal thickness guidelines and saves money on energy bills)
  • To replace old, damp insulation
  • To replace pest-infested insulation
  • To perform building work or repairs
  • To replace insulation that was installed incorrectly

 

Loft insulation clearance can be undertaken both by companies who focus exclusively on this product and also companies who provide it as part of another activity such as pest control, roofing and other home services such as window replacement, boiler repairs, and driveway repairs.

Pricing a loft insulation clearance can be challenging as there are many factors which will affect the cost. The size of loft will make a huge difference in terms of labour and materials required and the likely duration of the job, so it’s easy to see why it’ll be a pivotal influencer of the cost.

The type and quantity of insulation being removed and reinstated will affect the cost, along with the condition of the old insulation being extracted. The most common type of loft insulation is blanket insulation which costs roughly £5 per square metre.

The loft access, and whether any special equipment is required, must also be considered plus any extra services which might be necessary in conjunction such as electrical works, implementing loft access, installing loft boarding and fitting insulation around water pipes. All houses built before 2000 will also require an asbestos survey before loft insulation clearance can take place.

In addition to the above cost influencers, the price can be calculated in various different ways for example per sq m/sq ft, by time/amount of materials used or by quantity of waste disposed.

Due to the many variables involved in loft insulation clearance and replacement you can see why many companies are hesitant to provide a quote without having sight of the property. Below are several examples of what you might expect to experience when requesting a cost for loft insulation clearance and reinstatement on a 92m2 area, through both specialist loft clearance companies and through pest control companies:

Loft clearance and insulation companies:

LoftRite

West Sussex-based LoftRite offer a tiered pricing system on loft insulation clearance and replacement, including several optional services. The standard loft clearance involving the safe removal of old loft boards and unwanted stored items, followed by complete loft insulation removal and new insulation installation covering 92m2 would cost £4,241 (0% VAT).

LoftRite also suggested installing a 10m2 raised platform for storage at a cost of £1,250 (0% VAT) and a concertina loft ladder with converting pop up loft hatch to drop down loft trap door at a cost of £550 (0% VAT).

 

Surrey Home Insulation

A company specialising in insulating domestic properties, Surrey Home Insulation would cost based on a price per square foot, which would be £1-5 depending on how bad the condition of the existing insulation was, they would also add labour onto that which is charged at £300-£500 per day. Therefore, for a 92m2 loft the price could range from £1,590 – £5,950, based on the average job duration which is two days – it’s not clear exactly what is included for this price.

 

Terminix

A global organisation offering a complete Integrated Pest Management Service, Terminix will put you in touch with one of their surveyors in order to put together a quote, however, it’s likely they’ll wish to visit the property before they’ll commit to a price.

 

Total Pest Control

Total Pest Control, who cover the midlands down to the South coast, will recommend that their surveyor makes contact with the customer in the first instance. Their telephone operatives are not able to provide any costs over the phone. Via their surveyor, Total Pest Control said that it would cost £2,000 + VAT for removal and replacement of 92m2 of loft insulation, biocide spraying of the loft and disposal of the waste.

 

Pest UK

Providing pest control services for Berkshire, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Middlesex, Wiltshire, Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire & Hertfordshire, Surrey and London since 1985. Pest UK quoted £4,245 + VAT for skip hire, insulation removal, biocide spraying and replacement of insulation in a 92m2 loft.

 

JG Pest Control

A family-run pest control business covering London, The Midlands, North West and the South, JG were not able to offer any kind of ballpark figure for the clearance. They would charge a fee of £100 + VAT to conduct a survey of the loft area but this cost would be taken off the cost of the service, if the customer were to go ahead.

 

Contego

A company focussing on overall risk reduction, Contego will only do loft insulation clearance outside of a pest control treatment on rare occasions. When getting in touch with Contego you will be advised to send over an email including contact details and requirements, they will then send this information over to a surveyor to get in touch.  

 

Pestokill

The UK’s largest Independent pest controller, trading since 1985, Pestokill don’t advertise loft insulation clearance and replacement as a service on their website, however, they do perform it. They quoted £1,730 + VAT for the loft insulation clearance and replacement including skip hire, labour and spraying the 92m2 loft with biocide.



PGH Pest Prevention

Surrey-based but with franchise units across the UK, PGH Pest Prevention would usually quote loft clearance as an extension of another pest control treatment (e.g. rats, mice, wasp nests, birds, textile pests, woodworm, squirrels, cluster flies etc.) to help clear infestations permanently and to make the loft areas hygienic for clients to go into. However, they also offer it as a stand-alone service, if requested.

PGH Pest Prevention itemise three elements in their cost 1. Asbestos check (necessary on all buildings constructed pre-2000 although not mentioned by any other companies above), 2. Loft insulation removal and disposal and 3. Loft insulation reinstatement. The average PGH Pest Prevention cost for a loft insulation clearance and reinstatement, with an asbestos survey, decontamination spray and skip hire included, using blanket insulation is £3,685 + VAT.

 

The following pest control companies do not offer loft insulation removal and reinstatement:

  • Guildford Pest Control
  • Rentokil
  • Pestforce
  • Fantastic Pest Control
  • Able Group

Although a common pest issue, rats pose a serious problem to both your property and your health; they can chew through furnishings and electrical cables, contaminate food sources and 50% of them carry the fatal Weils Disease plus other rodent-borne illnesses. They are also unhygienic, can create bad smells within your property and multiply at an alarming rate so it’s important to get rid of rats as quickly and effectively as possible. 

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What is the best way to get rid of rats?

What is the best way to get rid of rats?

Of course it is possible to obtain materials to try and tackle rats yourself, however, this isn’t recommended for a number of reasons.

Firstly, there’s no substitute for experience and expertise, for example, knowing to fix down bait stations so they’re not a danger to children, pets or wildlife. Most laypeople won’t know what to look for when trying to get rid of rats, such as burrows, potential building entry points, smear marks, rat hair, imprints in the ground, droppings etc. To be able to identify these signs and know what kind of pest they relate to takes a good base knowledge of pest control.

If using bait to get rid of rats it’s worth noting this contains potentially dangerous chemicals which can be harmful not only to yourself but also children, pets and local wildlife. While you can purchase bait from high street stores the bait which is readily available to the general public will not be as effective as materials pest control companies use which are specially made for professional use.

Rats carry lots of diseases and trying to treat them yourself is not advisable from a health and safety perspective for you or your family. In order for a rat treatment to have maximum effect, preventative measures, such as sealing up entry and exit points, need to be put in place to stop the rats returning – just addressing the current infestation will not provide a long term solution.

The reasons behind rat infestations can be multiple, things such as disturbance due to building works can create new nesting opportunities for rat families, a nearby infestation can spill over into your property or damage to the drainage system can allow rats access to previously unavailable areas. Rats also need a water source (e.g. a pond), a food source (e.g. bird seed) and shelter (for example, a shed, or house).

 

 

Here’s how some well-known companies would go about getting rid of rats…

Pestforce

Covering most of the UK through their franchise network, Pestforce are the most reviewed pest control company. Pestforce recommend a three to four visit programme to get rid of rats. This includes placing bait boxes in and around the area where the rats have been spotted. The timing of these three to four visits will depend on how much bait has been eaten from each visit but they will usually be one to two weeks apart.

Pestforce do not offer any advice on how to proceed when there are children/pets at the property, but do have a blog on their website regarding rat facts, identifying a rat problem and how to deal with it:

 

Rentokil

Also a nationwide firm, operating for 90 years and with 40 branches, Rentokil go straight in with an annual contract proposal following an initial, weekly knock down program. The contract consists of four routine visits a year for inspections of rat activity and an un-capped amount of return visits are included if rodent activity is found. Ad-hoc call outs are also included between the hours of 8am – 11pm any day if rat activity is suspected.

Rentokil will install fixed-down external bait stations which will keep the bait safe away from non-target species.

As an alternative to the annual contract, Rentokil offer a four week knock down programme which is one visit per week. On the first visit they set up and secure bait stations around the garden, then the other visits will be to top up the bait. If the indoor area needed to be treated too, this would constitute a different treatment programme.

However, they strongly advise customers to go for the annual contract because that’s the best way of getting the rat problem under control due to the fact that they can return at any point. The Rentokil website mentions the risks of poison to children/pets/wildlife and has a section on how to prevent rats (including secure storage of food sources etc.):

 

Contego

A company focussing on overall risk reduction, Contego offer a call out inspection as an initial assessment of the rat issue. This would involve a technician coming out to the property, surveying the area, seeing where they think the rats are coming from (any entry points). After which the technician may recommend a “riddance programme” which is one visit per week, for three weeks using a combination of traps and/or rodenticide.

This treatment would only address the current infestation but proofing is mentioned. They cannot guarantee that the infestation won’t come back however, strongly recommended removing any food sources to protect against this. One of the FAQs on their website relates to the effects of pest control treatment on children/pets:

 

Able Group

Founded in 1993 as an emergency maintenance service, they cover locksmiths, plumbing, drainage, electrics, gas and heating work and pest control. Able suggest a two stage treatment to get rid of rats. The first visit would involve laying of cereal bait (rather than traps) and the second would be to clear up the bait and remove any dead bodies.

They explain that the cereal bait wouldn’t affect any wildlife or pets but do not mention proofing. There is mention of children and guidance on the treatment/post-treatment on their website:

 

Pestokil

Pestokil consider themselves the UK’s largest independent pest controller and have been trading since 1985. They offer an initial assessment of the issue to see if there’s evidence of rat activity. If activity is seen they will lay bait or snap traps. Whether they choose to use bait or snap traps will depend on their assessment of the situation.

After the initial visit, they will return two to three more times, between four and seven days apart. If any rats are seen inside the property they may treat them at the same time (if only a couple), however, if there are a lot of animals inside there would be additional charges to address the issue.

They claim that these three or four visits will get rid of the problem although the website does mention proofing and other control methods:

 

JG Pest Control

A family-run pest control business covering London, the Midlands, North West and the South. JG  recommend three visits, spread over three weeks, to get rid of rats. Over the course of these visits they would check the outside area to assess where the access points are and put down bait stations.

They advise that they wouldn’t put traps down in a garden as they wouldn’t be effective and you don’t know what’s going to come into contact with them. They also advised that pets/children should be kept an eye on and that all potential food sources for the rats should be removed.

If there is still activity, JG suggest getting back in touch after three weeks and they’ll undertake another treatment cycle. This approach is only to treat the current infestation – although they do mention proofing on their website, this is not offered initially.

 

PGH Pest Prevention

Surrey-based, but with franchises across the UK, PGH Pest Prevention would recommend a three stage treatment then proofing of any access points to get rid of rats for good. On the three visits the following would take place:

Visit 1: Technician Survey:-

Over 30 checkpoints are investigated both inside and outside of the property and a detailed report  will be produced with the findings and recommendations (taking into account whether there are children/pets at the property).

Any treatments for smells associated with rodents or inaccessible decaying bodies would be advised at this point but would constitute an additional call out and therefore cost. Details on what rodent proofing works could be put in place to protect the property will be given, proofing works are charged as extra but are guaranteed. Based on findings of the survey the treatment will then be started, this will use bait and/or traps depending on the situation.

Visit 2:

The technician will return 7-10 days after the initial visit. Any proofing works that have been accepted from the survey will be undertaken, the bait stations will be topped up and traps inspected and reset if necessary. Any accessible deceased rats will also be removed.

Visit 3:

The situation will be assessed to check the infestation is now controlled. If so, any accessible deceased rats will be removed as well as all bait stations and traps.

Although a common pest issue, rats pose a serious problem to both your property and your health; they can chew through furnishings and electrical cables, contaminate food sources and 50% of them carry the fatal Weils Disease plus other rodent-borne illnesses. They are also unhygienic, can create bad smells within your property and multiply at an alarming rate so it’s important to get rid of rats as quickly and effectively as possible. 

LEARNING CENTRE

Choose a topic below for a range of articles, images and videos on all things relating to pest control and prevention and of course PGH Pest Prevention.