Rydwells > Pest Files

Below is some useful information aboust some of the common pest that we come across every day in the UK. Simply click on the links below to reveal the information.

Cockroaches live in a wide range of environments around the world. Pest species of cockroaches adapt readily to a variety of environments, but prefer warm conditions found within buildings.

Cockroaches leave chemical trails in their faeces as well as emitting airborne pheromones for swarming and mating. Other cockroaches will follow these trails to discover sources of food and water, and also discover where other cockroaches are hiding. Thus, cockroaches can exhibit emergent behavior, in which group or swarm behavior emerges from a simple set of individual interactions.

Cockroaches have a broad, flattened body and a relatively small head. They are generalized insects, with few special adaptations, and may be the most primitive living neopteran insects. The mouthparts are on the underside of the head and include generalised chewing mandibles. They have large compound eyes, two ocelli, and long, flexible, antennae.

The first pair of wings are tough and protective, lying as a shield on top of the membranous hind wings. All four wings have branching longitudinal veins, and multiple cross-veins. The legs are sturdy, with large coxae and five claws each. The abdomen has ten segments and several cerci

A female German cockroach carries an egg capsule containing around 40 eggs. She drops the capsule prior to hatching, though live births do rarely occur. Development from eggs to adults takes 3 to 4 months. Cockroaches live up to a year. The female may produce up to eight egg cases in a lifetime; in favorable conditions, it can produce 300 to 400 offspring. Other species of cockroach, however, can produce an extremely high number of eggs in a lifetime, but in some cases a female needs to be impregnated only once to be able to lay eggs for the rest of her life.
The common and German wasps are the two species likely to be found during domestic treatments.

The queen wasp (somewhat larger than the worker), emerges from hibernation in the spring and build a round nest 2-3 ins. in diameter from chewed wood pulp which is obtained from dead trees, fences, etc. This nest will contain a small number of cells into which the queen lays her eggs, one per cell. The eggs hatch into larvae and are fed by the queen fragments of insects (the Queen herself feeds on nectar). The cells hang downwards and the larvae are prevented from falling out by keeping part of their bodies in the egg cavity which was glued to the ceiling of the cell when laid by the queen. After pupation workers (sterile females) emerge and take over the running of the nest from the queen who devotes the rest of her life to egg laying. This occurs late June to early July. The nest can grow considerably during this time and may at its peak, contain 10-15,000 wasps.

Towards the end of the summer, special larger cells are constructed to provide drones and queens for the next season. In these are reared drones (males) and the queens (fertile females). They fly outside and mate (usually with drones/queens from other nests), the drones, workers & original Queen die off with the approach of colder weather, the new queens seek out sites for hibernation. It is not hibernation as in the mammals sense as this can take place as early as September when the weather is still quite warm.

The wasp community resembles that of the bumble bee in being annual and never producing swarms. Nests are never recolonised the following year, but a special favourable site may be used again and new nest built each year.

Populations of wasps tend to be low in years when the weather is cold and wet in May and June. This is attributed to queens being unable to forage frequently enough to sustain themselves and the brood, their small abandoned nests are a common site in lofts. Lofts are ideal places for nests to thrive. A natural controlling factor before man built buildings would have been the number of dry cavities available for wasp nests to be built. Along came man and the availability of these sites is now almost unlimited.
The best-known rat species are the Black Rat (Rattus rattus) and the Brown Rat (Rattus norvegicus). The group is generally known as the Old World rats or true rats, and originated in Asia. Rats are bigger than most Old World mice, which are their relatives, but seldom weigh over 500 grams (1 lb) in the wild.

Wild rats live in colonies. Female rats, usually related to each other, live in little groups of one to six in a little burrow system of their own. They each have their own nest chamber, but they may share the burrow and may raise their young together (called communal nesting). When the offspring are weaned, the young males disperse.

Rats don't live long in the wild -- the average lifespan is probably less than a year. In one study, the researcher found that 95% of rats living at a farm were no longer alive a year later. So rats suffer very high mortality in the wild. However, their birth rate is high as well, ranging from 1% to 6% of the carrying capacity per month during population recovery after an artificial reduction.
The house mouse is remarkably well-adapted for living year-round in homes, food establishments and other structures. Homeowners are especially likely to notice mice during winter, following their fall migration indoors in search of warmth, food and shelter. Once mice become established inside a home, they can be extremely difficult to control.

Mice originated in Asia and spread through Europe many centuries ago. In the 1500s, mice arrived on the ships of the explorers in what is now Florida and Latin America. They quickly spread to the northern shores of North America along with the English and French explorers, traders and colonists.

Although most people consider mice less objectionable than rats, mice are more common and cause significantly more damage. Mice are prolific breeders, producing six to ten litters continuously throughout the year. The greatest economic loss from mice is not due to how much they eat, but what must be thrown out because of damage or contamination. Food, clothing, furniture, books and many other household items are contaminated by their droppings and urine, or damaged by their gnawing. House mice gnaw through electrical wiring causing fires and failure of freezers, clothes dryers and other appliances. Mice also can transmit diseases, most notably salmonellosis (bacterial food poisoning) when food is contaminated with infected rodent feces. Other diseases include rickettsialpox, lymphocytic choriomenigitis, leptospirisis, ratbite fever, tularemia, Lyme disease and dermatitis caused by the bites of mites from the mice. Hantavirus (pulmonary syndrome) is another danger becoming more common.

Mice are nocturnal creatures and are rarely seen by the homeowner. The most obvious indicators of their presence are droppings (1/8 to 1.2 inches long, dark and pointed at both ends), sounds of them running, gnawing or squeaking, or damage to stored food or materials for nesting. Highly curious, mice explore their territory daily, paying special attention to new items or physical changes in their home range. Unlike rats, mice show no aversion to new objects.

Compared to rats, mice forage only short distances from their nest, usually not more than 10 to 25 feet. When food and shelter are adequate, their foraging range may be only a few feet. For this reason, traps and other control devices must be placed in areas where mouse activity is most apparent. Mice prefer to travel adjacent to walls and other edges- another critical point to remember when positioning control devices. Mice seem to prefer cereal grains and seeds in their feeding. They are sporadic in their feeding, particularly when there are many food sources available. In these situations, mice may make 20 to 30 visits to different food sites each night, taking as little as 0.15 gram of food at each site. Sites may vary from night to night, but certain sites where the mouse feels safe are nightly favorites. When food sources are limited, mice may visit the source 200 or more times per night, but only 20 milligrams may be taken during each visit. In all, the average mouse will consume only 3 to 4 grams or about 1/10th of an ounce, of food per night.
- Pigeons are our most common urban bird.

- They are amazingly resourceful creatures, able to survive in the midst of predatory humanity.

- Even so, up to 35% of a local population may perish annually from natural causes and predators.

- Pigeons flock together in large numbers to protect themselves against, cats, rats and foxes.

- Even when times are tough and the weather is freezing and stormy, they co-operate with each other and readily accept outsiders into their flock.

- They have easy temperaments and are adaptable and hardy, which no doubt accounts for their ability to maintain numbers.

- The most widespread misconception about urban pigeons is that they are carriers of disease.

- The truth is that the vast majority of people are at little or no health risk and probably have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than contracting disease from a pigeon.

- Pigeons pair for life.

- Both parents take an equal role in caring for their young.

- The chicks are helpless when first hatched and are fed for the first few days on 'pigeon milk' regurgitated from both parents' throats.

- The phenomenal navigational abilities of pigeons largely depend on their keen vision and memory for landmarks. Over the centuries these qualities have become legendary.

Approximate size: 20 inches long, 14-20oz

Where to spot them: Now dominant across England and Wales and found in local pockets in Scotland.

How many in the UK: 2.5 million

What do they eat: Acorns, tree shoots, flowers, nuts, fruits, roots and sap tissue from scraping the bark of trees.

Control? Grey squirrels sometimes produce two litters a year and are controlled by trapping and killing, although birth control has been tried.

Why we love them: They are very playful and attractive animals and often a welcome bit of wildlife in urban landscapes. They are also apparently good to eat and served in restaurants as an alternative white meat.

Why we hate them: Although cute, the grey squirrel has been blamed for the decline of the reds not only through competition but by spreading a pox that has proved deadly to the reds. Beatrix Potter’s story about a grey squirrel called Timmy Tiptoes never really took off in the same way as Squirrel Nutkin.