Our homes are our havens where we nest together with our family. But with climate change bringing warmer, wetter weather we are more likely to see other unwanted nesters setting up alongside us, the dreaded pests. We’re not talking older children who keep coming home and refusing to move out, but critters with 4 legs or more. These are the kind of lodgers that no one wants. Their toilet habits are pretty unsavoury, they cause damage and spread diseases and some of them bite. It can make you itch just thinking about it.
A full range of rodents, bed bugs, cockroaches, flies, fleas and wasps; there are many potential incursions. But if we take preventative measures in our family homes, know the signs to look out for and take prompt action when a problem is identified, we can keep our homes for ourselves.
Rats and mice
Rats and mice are the most common problems. And warmer weather is encouraging them to breed all year around. With lots of rain, they are looking for places to hide away and nest and any little crevice is enough for them to squeeze through and into our garages, lofts and walls. Mark Stanford a London pest control expert from Empire Pest Control says “warmer weather increases breeding, floods and cold weather bring them indoors.”
The best ways to keep them out are to block their access by filling gaps around pipes, doorways, vents and the like and to leave as little incentive for them as possible. Keep your food away in sealed containers, clear up crumbs and don’t leave out pet food. In addition, make sure your food waste is securely sealed.
It’s a major undertaking to block all entry points, so what are the signs that they’ve made it in. Droppings or brown marks and the smell of urine can be key signs alongside gnawing to property. And of course, you may catch one scampering away or hear them scurrying around the loft at night. It’s horrible to think they are running around our homes potentially carrying parasites or diseases, but a swift response can stop them from settling in and recreating.
Particularly in more urban areas, pigeons can cause problems too. They may not even make it into your home, but can nest on and in roofs, causing damage to tiles and blockages to pipes and gutters. Checking roof areas and clearing gutters can help.
In addition to liking the warmth, water also attracts animals, and with all the rain and flooding, the conditions for creatures are ideal. Cockroaches are particularly fond of water and often hang around a water source. We don’t see too many of them in the UK at present, but this is partly due to their nocturnal, shy natures. They do carry diseases and leave droppings and even their skin shells. They breed fast and so if you fear you may have them present, it’s a good idea to get some advice.
Bed bugs are another nightmare as if they take up residence you may well have an infestation by the time you realise they are they. They are small and fairly unlikely to be seen but can reside in all sorts of environment. They get transferred on furniture, material or luggage between properties and hotels. It’s very difficult to prevent getting bed bugs, but if you buy vintage or secondhand furniture it’s a good idea to ensure it is thoroughly cleaned. The first recognition that you have a bedbug problem is likely to be itchy bumps on your skin from where you’ve been bitten at night. The good news is they don’t really carry diseases, but the bites are itchy, and you are unlikely to get a good night sleep knowing they are in your bed or furniture.
Flies and fleas also like the warmth and can both carry quite an alarming range of diseases. Prevention of flies involves food management as with rodents. Keep your compost and food remnants at bay and keep surfaces clear and clean. With fleas, they will nearly always come in via a pet so see your vet about treatments to keep them away.
There is a range of approaches for ridding your home of rodents. DIY choices include traps and poisons. These can be tricky to manage. Traps are unpleasant, particularly if you have young children and poisons can pose a real danger to pets and youngsters in the house. Ultimately bringing in an expert will ensure the problems is fully removed, and that the best steps are taken to stop them coming back.
There are some measures you can take to keep you home insect-free. However, where fleas or bedbugs have taken hold you simply will not be able to manage a DIY solution. These creatures can get everywhere, lay eggs that survive and hatch just when you thought the problem had gone away. So, you may save yourself a host of unnecessary stress if you go straight to a professional.