Monthly Archives: February 2011

Tips for DIY Pest Control

Last week saw feline Larry catapulted into the national headlines, when he was appointed ‘Mouser to the Cabinet’ and moved into 10 Downing Street. (Did you spot our awful pun? Sorry, couldn’t resist it.)

That set us thinking about what you could do, at home or at work, to deter common pests.

1. Get a cat. This seems an obvious place to start. If it’s good enough for David Cameron’s rat problems, it’s good enough for yours. But not any old cat will do. Larry has a ‘high chase-drive and hunting instinct’, according to Downing Street.

Of course, if your main pest problem isn’t rats or mice, but something like woodworm or wasps, a cat won’t be much use. But stroking it will help bring down your stress levels, which is always a good thing.

2. Tidy up after yourself. Many pests are attracted to mess, particularly if it includes things they can eat. Rodents, Cockroaches, pigeons, Flies and Fleas all thrive in dirty, untidy settings. The other really good thing about tidying up is that it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

3. Don’t ignore the warning signs. Your eyes are the best pest detectors we know of. Even if the vermin remain out of sight they often leave evidence you should spot – such as droppings, itchy bite marks, or small holes. If something suggests there’s a potential problem you should act quickly before it becomes more serious.

4. Deter rather than destroy. It’s better to keep pests away than to clean up after them. A good place to start is by stopping up any small holes that they might use to come inside your home or workplace. If birds, particularly Feral Pigeons, are a problem you could install anti-roosting Bird Spikes or Netting.

Some pests are put off by noise. If you think Rats or Mice might be snuggling down in your compost bins, give the sides a sharp whack with a stick when you pass – they don’t like noisy neighbours.

5. Call a professional. Yes, we know this isn’t strictly a DIY tip, but if there’s a problem you need help with, it’ll be you that needs to make the call!

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Passionate Pests and Reproducing Rodents

One of the distinctive features of pests is their ability to reproduce. We thought it only fair that as it’s Valentine’s Day we should do a little research into the love lives of the creatures we’re commonly called to deal with.

Brown rats – There’s no shortage of sex in the city among these ubiquitous rodents. When they’re not rummaging through rubbish and scurrying around sewers, they’re probably hard at work creating the next generation. The average female Rat can turn out a brood of up to 14 ugly babies in just three weeks.

Wasps – Frustration might be high for the black and yellow scourge of the summer picnic, because in their world sex is a pastime reserved for royalty. The queen only equips selected males with what they need to pursue the relatively small number of females.

Cockroaches – An intimate dinner for two isn’t quite the same if you’re sharing a table with one of these closet romantics. Unseen by us they can engage in complex courtship rituals involving bold posturing and making distinctive sounds by rubbing their body parts together.

Fleas – Apparently the male flea is supremely well-endowed and his equipment also includes two antennae with what look like sink plungers on the end. It’s thought these help him to hang on to the female because when she jumps it’s with a rate of acceleration equivalent to a space rocket lifting off.

Bedbugs – A life between the sheets hasn’t made the average male Bedbug very discerning. They’ll try to mate with any bedbug smaller than themselves, which causes predictable problems. Once they’ve caught up with a female, she’ll lay around 3-4 eggs per day.

Lovebugs – Okay, we don’t come across these in London, but we couldn’t resist including them. Lovebugs, or honeymoon flies, are found in the southern United States where they are, at certain times of year, a pest. They’re also, as their name implies, intensely amorous. When they mate the couple remain bonded together for days, even flying while entwined.

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Thieving Squirrels Steal Your Attention

If you’re an urban bird-lover you’ll know what a Pest Squirrels can be. You refill your bird-feeders with nuts and seeds and before you know it, a grey, furry-tailed Rodent is helping themselves.

We were going to blog about how your friendly neighbourhood squirrel can cost you more than a few stolen nuts. You need to know how much damage they can do once they start gnawing through timbers and wires in your home.

But then we started watching squirrel obstacle course videos on YouTube. And we have to admit that we got distracted. So we thought we’d share some of our favourites with you.

It started when someone said: “Wasn’t there a squirrel assault course in a TV ad years ago?” Seconds later we’d tracked down the Original Carling Black Label advert, complete with the compelling ‘Mission Impossible’ soundtrack.

We’re not sure if that’s the first squirrel obstacle course on video, but it’s one of the most memorable and has inspired stacks of imitators. We also like this one, or should we say, two. Don’t switch off after the first squirrel finds the nut!

Making a squirrel obstacle course isn’t just for the professionals. All you need is some wood, rope, plastic tubing and a squirrel. And some nuts, obviously. This guy treated his squirrel to a course that became increasingly more complicated over 23 days, and videoed the results.

It seems that squirrels will go to almost any extreme to get those nuts. They’re not afraid to take on someone bigger than they are. This great little video shows what can happen when a squirrel knows what it wants!

The star of the show so far has been the ubiquitous grey squirrel, a foreign invader that carries a disease fatal to Britain’s smaller, native red squirrel. But the reds are equally agile and determined, as this excerpt from a BBC documentary reveals.

Finally, we discovered one squirrel story that would have made a great video but unfortunately wasn’t captured on camera. A New Jersey squirrel managed to destroy an entire car in 2007. It decided to chew on some overhead power lines, with the predictable explosive result that took a Toyota Camry with it.

Fortunately most squirrels don’t do that kind of damage!

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The ten greatest songs about pest control… ever!

Most people prefer not to think about Pest Control until they actually need it. But pests have been on the minds of plenty of pop’s greatest songwriters through the years – as our pest control top 10 shows…

  1. UB40 ‘Rat In Mi Kitchen’ (1987) This loping reggae tune reached number 12 in the UK charts. It’s a safe bet the Birmingham band, famous for their political lyrics, weren’t really talking about Rats.
  2. Aimee Mann ‘The Moth’ (2002) This is a typically melancholy acoustic pop number from the LA singer-songwriter. In the lyric, the eponymous Moth makes for a flame rather than devouring Aimee’s stage outfit.
  3. U2 ‘The Fly’ (1991) Having exhausted the expansive stadium rock that was their signature in the late 1980s, U2 took an abrupt left turn into abrasive, industrial and urban sounds with Achtung Baby. During recording, Bono took to wearing 1970s wraparound shades, in character as ‘The Fly’ – a leather-bound egomaniac. The song reached #1 in the UK, but only managed #61 in the US.
  4. Herb Alpert ‘Spanish Flea’ (1965) As an instrumental, this jaunty, instantly recognisable Latin number was used on the long-running American TV show The Dating Game. The lyrics concern a Spanish Flea who makes it as a singing star.
  5. Queen ‘Great King Rat’ (1973) A fast-paced rocker from supergroup Queen in their prog years, before Bohemian Rhapsody turned them into superstars. Features a barnstorming vocal from Freddie Mercury (who wrote the song), and evocative lyrics that are very much ‘of their time’.
  6. Elton John ‘Skyline Pigeon’ (1969) This piano ballad appeared on Elton’s very first album, several years before he found international stardom. Bernie Taupin’s yearning lyric decribes the Pigeon flying away to reach his dreams, rather than scavenging for pizza crusts or damaging buildings with his droppings.
  7. Echo & The Bunnymen ‘Bedbugs and Ballyhoo’ (1987) The third single from the Bunnymen’s debut album, this is a moody affair that mixes soundtrack strings, shuffling drums, Duane Eddy guitar and Ian McCulloch’s trademark soaring vocals. The psychedelic lyric, unsurprisingly, glosses over the difficulty of eradicating bedbugs from hotel rooms.
  8. Monty Python ‘Eric the Half a Bee’ (1972) A surreal love song to a bisected insect from the Pythons. One of John Cleese’s favourites, apparently.
  9. The Doors ‘The WASP’ (1971) The Doors’ swansong, L.A. Woman, included this bluesy spoken-word number – Jim Morrison’s tribute to Mexican pirate radio stations of the 1950s.
  10. Adam & The Ants ‘Antmusic’ (1980) Adam explored one of the strangest avenues of post-punk with his swashbuckling band of pirate highwaymen, driven by two drummers. The lyrics offer an important warning if you’re thinking of calling pest control: ‘Don’t tread on an ant/He’s done nothing to you/Might come a time/When he’s treading on you!’

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