Monthly Archives: March 2011

US Government Called to Declare War on Bed Bugs

‘Bed bugs are back!’ cries the US National Pest Management Association. They’re supporting a bill being put before the US Congress, intended to allow Americans to sleep more safely in their beds.

The proposed legislation aims to repel a growing invasion that threatens to literally suck the life blood out of the world’s remaining superpower.

The tiny beasts are also enjoying a boom on this side of the Atlantic. They’re becoming a ‘major public health issue’ north of the border, according to the Royal Environmental Health Institute for Scotland. The Bed Bug Foundation (yes, there is such a thing) reports that London’s population of the things increased by 26% every year from 2002 to 2007.

That trend seems to be continuing, with the UK’s largest pest control firm, Rentokil, reporting a 24% increase in Bed bug calls during the first half of 2010.

The last decade has seen the pests break out of the seedy hotels and shabby bedsits with which they’ve long been associated. They’re increasingly taking up residence in smart hotels and tidy homes.

Despite their name, bed bugs are happy to settle almost anywhere with lots of people. They find moving from place to place incredibly easy and are comfortably at home in shops, museums, galleries and theatres.

Changing attitudes to the use of chemical pesticides has probably caused the global explosion in the bed bug population, along with a more mobile lifestyle. It’s never been so easy for the creatures to hop between cities, countries or continents, tucked invisibly into the folds of clothes and luggage.

Pest control experts are becoming more concerned about the world wide bed bug problem. Hence the American ‘Bed Bug Management, Prevention and Research Act of 2011’ being presented to Congress.

If passed, it’ll create a task force focused on finding ways to stop the blood sucking insects from attacking their citizens. As any visitor to the US will know, the Americans take their homeland security very seriously indeed.

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Protect Winter Woollies From Munching Moths

The days are getting longer, the sunshine’s warmer and we’re beginning to dress more lightly. But as you put those thick sweaters away, take care not to create a summer of packed lunches for moths.

Many of us associate pests with the dark, dirty worlds beneath the floorboards or in the kitchens of seedy cafes and restaurants. So it may come as a surprise to discover that Moths are often the subject of pest control measures.

They can be a problem in both domestic and commercial premises. And once they’re arrived, these tiny nibblers are often tricky to get rid of.

The adult Common Clothes Moth likes nothing more than to lay tiny, almost invisible, eggs on clothing or carpets. Being ‘butterflies of the night’, the moths prefer to do their business in dark, quiet spots, where they’re less likely to be disturbed.

The eggs soon hatch into minute, hungry caterpillars who start gobbling up any natural fibres they can get their little mouths into. Cotton, wool, linen, silk and furs are popular dishes and they’ll also make a meal of foodstuffs such as flour and biscuits.

Well-fed, the wriggling white worms are ready to pupate, or to become adults, within five to six weeks of hatching. But when food’s scarce they can take up to two and a half years to reach this stage. When that time comes, they crawl off to a quiet spot, form a cocoon around themselves, and emerge as adults three or four weeks later.

It is the caterpillars that do the damage to your clothes and fabric. If you spot the small adult moths with their golden wings, it’s too late. All they do is mate, leaving the females to lay their eggs to start the whole cycle again.

Probably the most effective way to protect your winter woollies from moths is to keep them in a light, airy place. Alternatively, they can be wrapped in plastic or stored alongside strongly scented moth repellents. There was a reason why Granny’s clothes always smelled of lavender.

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‘Mouse Sabotage’ Brings New Meaning to Pest Control

According to ‘The Chambers Dictionary’, a pest is a troublesome person or thing. Earlier this week a pizzeria owner in Pennsylvania decided this definition included his competitors, which led to him launching a unique pest control initiative.

He sneaked bags of live mice onto the premises of two rival pizza restaurants in what appears to have been a bid to discredit them. According to the report on the BBC website, his mistake was to drop off one consignment in full view of police officers, who made a swift arrest and promptly rounded up his rodent accomplices.

Apparently the perpetrator’s newly opened pizzeria had mouse problems of its own. He was facing the problem common to all catering establishments – food attracts both people and pests.

Restaurants and takeaways wage continual war against Cockroaches, Rats, Mice, Flies and a host of other invaders. Their owners don’t want the ignominy that comes with failing an environmental health inspection.

In a competitive market the news that the chef is sharing a kitchen with four and six-legged visitors is enough to send punters scurrying elsewhere. It can also come with a hefty penalty.

At the end of last year a Chinese restaurant in Southwark was fined nearly £5,000 because its pest control measure had failed. Inspectors spotted a live cockroach and mouse droppings during a routine visit. Incredibly, the remains of two cockroaches were found squashed in the pages of the food safety log.

Keeping pests out of kitchens and store rooms isn’t easy. They’re busy places with lots of comings and goings. All sorts of poison and traps can be laid but unless they’re regularly maintained they soon become ineffective.

It only takes a small number of cockroaches to find their way in, perhaps travelling as unintended passengers with a delivery of stock, to create an infestation.

Perhaps that’s what that Pennsylvanian pizzeria owner was trying to do – introduce a handful of mice into rival premises in the hope they’d breed and overrun the place.

What’s sad is that his own restaurant seemed to have the potential to be a great success. Online reviews say his pizza was ‘outstanding’- better than the competition’s. But his reputation, and perhaps his business, is the victim of an overzealous and misguided approach to Pest Control Services.

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