Types of Household Pest in the UK
It’s a sad fact that there are lots of different pests which can affect people’s lives in the UK. Some of them are from abroad, hitchhiking into the country in luggage and food imports, while others are home grown critters that hide away in our houses, factories, restaurants, shops and gardens.
Here is a quick rundown of some of the more common UK pests, with links to more detailed information.
Rodents might look cute and fluffy, but they’re also some of the most problematic pests to be found in Britain. The main culprits are the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus) and the house mouse (Mus domesticus), although squirrels, black rats, and other species of mouse can also be a problem.
Infestations of rodents are not always easy to spot as the creatures often nest between walls or in the attic. Droppings and gnawed objects are often the first signs of trouble. As rats and mice can contaminate food and spread disease, it’s important to get rid of them quickly.
Some species of rodent, such as red squirrels and the edible dormouse, are protected by law so it’s important to take advice before dealing with them.
Although the UK doesn’t have many insects that can directly do us harm, there are a number that eat our belongings, contaminate foodstuffs and are generally a nuisance. One of the most notorious insects is the cockroach, which will feed on pretty much anything and is well known for its ability to survive in harsh conditions. There are two varieties which are pests in the UK: the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) and the Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis). Both can spread diseases like food poisoning and gastroenteritis. In London, the German cockroach is more widespread.
Other crawling insect pests include varieties of beetle. Confused flour and biscuit beetles can infest food packages, while carpet beetles eat textiles and cereals. Beetle larvae are also responsible for woodworm.
Unfortunately, there are a few insects which feed on human blood. Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are becoming increasingly common in London due to the vast movements of people in and out of the city. As well as the psychological effect of knowing they’re there, the bites can cause rashes and reactions in some people. Fleas can also be a problem.
Ants are another common pest – especially garden and pharoah’s ants. Although they’re fascinating creatures with complex social groups, they sometimes move into our homes. Pharoah’s ant infestations are particularly difficult to remove.
You may think flying insects like moths, flies and wasps are easy to spot, but this isn’t always the case. Clothes moths, for example, fly only rarely and dislike bright lights. That means they often hide at the back of wardrobes and under furniture, making infestations difficult to find. These moths eat natural fibres, and can destroy clothes and carpets. Other pest species include the Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella), which contaminates stores of food.
Mites and Ticks
These creatures aren’t insects, but belong to the same group as spiders. Ticks live outdoors in rural areas, garden and parks, but mites can infest homes and commercial premises. Some are found in food products, while others are associated with birds such as pigeons.
In southern cities like London, Watford and St Albans, the abundance of food has attracted more than just rats: urban foxes (Vulpes vulpes), pigeons (Columba livia) and even seagulls can be problematic, too. These creatures are usually more of a nuisance than a direct threat to people, but can be messy, smelly and noisy all the same.
Fortunately, foxes can be deterred using substances that mimic their scent, and there are numerous forms of bird proofing available, including nets, spikes and Bird Free® gel, which pigeons think is fire.
Although bats can constitute a pest in some cases, especially if they move into your loft, they are protected by law. It’s illegal to kill, move or disturb them. If you need advice on what to do about bats in your home, you may want to get in touch with the Bat Conservation Trust.
If you have a pest problem in your home or place or work, call our pest control team on 0800 975 2736. Our friendly, experienced staff will be happy to help.