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Pests around the house and garden
(R to W)

(Other pages - pests A to C, pests D to M)

REMEMBER: This sheet suggests the use of certain poisons and chemicals to control the pests - these can be dangerous. Always handle with care and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

RATS to top of page top

The Common, or Brown Rat is about 250 mm long and is a creature of habit, living both above and below ground. The Black Rat (the original plague carrier) is smaller - about 175 mm long and is an agile climber. They breed rapidly and, like mice, need to gnaw constantly. Brown Rats burrow underground or into soft material; refuse tips, loose soil under sheds and straw are likely sites. They damage woodwork, plastic and pipes and will sometimes strip insulation from electric cables by their gnawing (until they met their maker in a flash!). They spread many diseases including food poisoning. They contaminate more food than they consume and their urine can pollute stagnant water.

Remedy:

Block off gaps under sheds and move loose piles of wood. Do not encourage rats by leaving scraps of food out of doors, if you think you have an infestation, stop feeding the birds as you could be feeding the rats. Poison is available as proprietary, ready-mixed bait. Serious or persistent infestations should be dealt with by a pest control contractors or Environmental Health Department.

SPIDERS (if you call him a pest !) to top of page top

House spider help us by eating a large number of household pests. None of the native British types are poisonous to man. The reason why they are often found in baths and sinks is that they cannot climb smooth surfaces, so if they fall in, they are stranded.

Remedy:

To remove a spider there is no need to kill it. Simply place a carton over it, then slip a piece of thin cardboard between the carton and the surface to form a lid. Then take the sealed container out of the building and let the spider go.

WASPS to top of page top

Around 10-20 mm long. The queen wasp is larger and hibernates over winter, making a new nest in the spring in which she lays her eggs. If annoyed or threatened, wasps will sting. They can come into the house where they are attracted to sweet things (jams, fruit etc.).

Remedy:

You can fit screens over windows if wasps are a major problem. Individual wasps can be killed with a fly-killer aerosol. The old-fashioned method of filling ajar one-third full with jam and water, covered by a punctured paper lid will drown them. If you find a wasps nest in a wall or bank, and are brave, apply a powder insecticide product from a puffer pack labelled for wasp nest control. Thoroughly spray nests in roofs or sheds with an insecticide. This can be dangerous as the wasps can become angry and attack any animal (including humans) in the area and is best performed by professionals. Some local councils will do it for free.

WOODLICE to top of page top

Typically 12 mm long, with oval, grey segmented bodies and 14 legs with prominent antennae. Woodlice are quite harmless although may damage plants indoor and out.

Remedy:

Not necessary to remove them unless they persist. Put right any dampness, remove infested vegetation and use an insecticide powder or long- lasting spray around door thresholds.

WOODWORM to top of page top

This is a term used for the destructive larvae of several species of wood boring beetle. The first sign of woodworm is the appearance of neat round holes 1-2 mm across in wooden surfaces, often accompanied by tiny piles of wood dust. The adult Furniture Beetle is a small brown insect about 5 mm long who can fly and lay eggs on rough, unpolished wood. The grubs bore straight into the wood - leaving no trace until they emerge as beetles three or more years later, usually between May and September. They are usually introduced into the house in second-hand furniture, tea-chests and the like but they can also fly in through windows from nearby dead branches of trees. They may attack floorboards, joinery and, more seriously, structural timbers.

Remedy:

In furniture, woodworm can be cured by application of a woodworm killer which will penetrates quickly and can be applied using a brush or spray. As the pest is inside the wood, the liquid should be applied quite generously. You can also buy an insecticide polish as a precaution against woodworm. You can buy proprietary fluid used by the experts and treat woodworm in structural timbers yourself. All timbers should be cleaned first and any roof insulation material will have to be removed temporarily so that you can get at the joists. Cover electric cables and the cold water storage tank. Lift floorboards to get at the undersides and joists. You can have detailed surveys, reports and estimates carried out by specialist wood preservation companies and many cover their treatments by long term guarantees - this may help if you sell the house so it is worth considering the additional initial cost for a subsequent benefit.

(Other pages - pests A to C, pests D to M)

REMEMBER: This sheet suggests the use of certain poisons and chemicals to control the pests - these can be dangerous. Always handle with care and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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