Brown Rat ( Rattus Norvegicus )
The Brown Rat or sometimes called the Norwegien rat is a non native species to the UK. Its head and body size can be upto 28 cm (11 in) the tail is smaller than its head and body. The brown rat can be found wherever humans inhabit and is actually found on every continent except Antarctica. It is believed the brown rat reached the British Isles about 1720 when it came off of ships. Originally the species came from Asia.
There is also a second species of rat to be found in the UK and that is the Black Rat ( Rattus rattus ) although this is rarely found in the UK nowadays and when it is it’s usually around ports or some coastal towns.
It appears that in the UK rat numbers are now getting very high and this is believed to be due to our milder winter climates and abundance of food availability. It is estimated that there could be anything between 10.5 million to 120 million rats in the UK.
Brown rats like to stay on or beneath the ground but are also agile climbers that can jump up to 3 feet. They can squeeze through a gap of 15mm (10 pence piece). They eat approximately 10% of their body weight per day and can weigh 200 – 300 grams. They are known to travel upto 2 to 3 miles looking for food. They are excellent swimmers and have to drink water daily.
Rats need three things to survive food, water and shelter. Brown rats exhibit neophobic behavioural patterns. This means at times they are not easy with newly placed items or changes until they become familiar to them.
Rats are rodents and the name rodent comes from the latin word ‘ Rodere’ which means too gnaw. The rats front incisor teeth grow continually so the animal has to gnaw to prevent continual growth.
A rat becomes sexually mature at 6 weeks old and after about 21 days can give birth to between 7 to 12 young. These are weaned at 6 weeks and a doe rat can repeat the process again.
Rats can cause danger to property by continually gnawing, especially when electric cables and appliances are gnawed or pipes as this can cause either fire or flooding. Also beware of gnawing in vehicles through cables. Rats can carry many diseases that are dangerous to humans such as leptospirosis (Weils disease), Salmonella, Plague (last recorded in the UK in Suffolk in 1918), Toxoplasmosis, Rat Bite Fever, Hantavirus and Murine Typhus.
House Mouse ( Mus domesticus )
The house mouse is a mammal that is very comfortable living in close proximity to human beings. They are normally from 7 to 12 cm in length and brownish in colour with large eyes and large circular ears. They can climb but usually live at ground level. The gestation period of a house mouse is about 3 weeks and they become sexually mature in about 8 to 12 weeks. They normally produce about 5 to 16 young and have 7 to 8 litters per year.
The house mouse will typically eat about 3g of food per day. Their preferred foods are cereals and grains but they are very opportunistic eaters and enjoy foods with high sugar content.
Another mouse species to be encountered is the Field Mouse ( Apodemus sylvaticus) also referred to as the Wood mouse. This species has a more sandy brown pelage and a white/creamy under belly.
Feral Pigeon ( Colomba livia domestica )
The feral pigeon, sometimes referred to as the street pigeon are pigeons that originally descended from the wild rock dove ( Colombia livia ) which were domesticated by man then escaped to turn feral and become the feral pigeon. Rock doves roost and nest on the high cliffs along the seashore and that is why feral pigeons are so adaptable to high building ledges and roof crevices. Feral pigeons can be a pest species in urban and rural areas where they can cause problems to public health and safety as well as cause serious damage to crops, fruit and vegetables. They can cause zoonotic diseases through ectoparasites and excrement. Feral pigeons have been known to carry such diseases as psittacosis and chlamydiosis. It is estimated that a feral pigeon can eat about 64lbs of food per year. With an estimated population of 18 million feral pigeons in the UK this is a real problem when it comes to public health and crop damage. The cost to remove pigeon fouling from UK streets is estimated to be £15 million per year.
Nesting feral pigeons in buildings can cause many other problems such as Secondary Pest Insect Infestation (SPII). This is when birds bring nesting material back into roofs and loft spaces which then become ideal habitats for SPII species such as Bird Mite ( Dermanyssus gallinae ) to breed as well as variegated carpet beetle ( Anthrenus verbasci ), pigeon fleas ( Ceratophyllus columbae ) and flies which will in turn produce maggots. You really can not afford any of these species to establish a foothold in your home or at your business premises!
Wood pigeon ( Columba palumbus )
There are over 5 million breeding pairs of wood pigeons in the UK. The wood pigeon had an increase of 134% between 1970 – 2011. It is estimated that wood pigeons cause £115 million per year to agricultural crops such as oilseed, brassica and pea crops.
Birds ( Crows, Seagulls, Canada Geese and all other species advice)
Whether your home or business is plagued by seagulls or crows, they are destroying your golf course or fields and gardens feeding on leather jacket larvae, we have the solution. Canada geese fouling your garden or dominating your ponds We can help! Whatever the bird species we can advise! Whether it be bird control, prevention or bird proofing we are able to arrange a
visit to offer advice. For any bird related problems you are experiencing please call us for your free quote!
Grey Squirrel ( Sciurus carolinensis )
The grey squirrel originally comes from North America and is not native to the UK. They were introduced to the UK between the 1870s to the 1930s as exotic species in large estates and gardens. The introduction of grey squirrels has been disastrous for our own native red squirrel ( Sciurus vulgaris ). Since their introduction grey squirrels have colonised the red squirrels native woodland by competing for food, but also the grey squirrel carries a deadly virus known as squirrelpox which they themselves are immune to. However squirrelpox has a devastating effect on our own native reds. Since 1945 red squirrel numbers have dropped drastically and now the red squirrel is only to be found in very isolated locations throughout England and Wales. Grey squirrels can cause serious devastation in both urban and rural areas. If grey squirrels are able to get into roofs of buildings, they will gnaw through materials in the roof spaces such as ceilings, wooden infrastructures, electric wires and cables, as well as tear through fibre glass insulation. This can cause fires or flooding to properties as well as damage to the structures. In parks and forests grey squirrels strip the bark of trees, which can cause so much damage that the stripping can affect the future growth of the woodland. Another problem is that grey squirrels prey on young fledgling birds and eggs.
Currently it is estimated that the grey squirrel population in the UK is over 2.5 million. Bark stripping damage is estimated to cost the British timber industry over £40 million per annum.
Rabbit ( Oryctolagus cuniculus )
Rabbit numbers can vary throughout the year but in spring when there is an abundance of food and they breed more and the numbers can rise drastically across the UK. Rabbits cause endless damage to agricultural crops and forestry. In an article from 2010 the BASC quoted a figure at £250 million worth of damage. Rabbits also cause problems to areas due to burrowing which in heavily populated rabbit colonies can cause damage to banks along roads, railways and boundaries as well as flooding issues and land collapse. Another problem with burrowing is that it can be harmful to livestock, which may injure themselves in the burrows. Especially in a small paddock or a field where livestock or horses are roaming free.
Fox ( Vulpes vulpes )
The fox is widespread throughout mainland Britain and there is estimated to be a population of 357,000 (Mathews et al 2018). The fox is well established in the British countryside and country folk know only too well the devastation a fox can cause in a chicken coop or release pen as well as in lambing season. But over the last 30 years the fox has also colonised our cities and towns. This is due to human population growth, food waste and lack of fox control.
Foxes can cause a number of problems in an urban environment such as fouling or digging up gardens, playing fields or golf courses. They do this to hunt for invertebrates or to establish a den in an area or under a shed or building. Bin raiding can also be a big problem and this can lead to other pest problems such as flies and rats. They can cause destruction to property and also the smell of foxes can be very overpowering if they have got into open buildings, sheds or under a vehicle etc. Foxes carry a number of parasites and diseases such as sarcoptic mange which can be transferred to dogs.
There are six species of deer to be found in the UK. The two native deer species in the British Isles are the Red deer ( Cervus elaphus) and the Roe deer ( Capreolus capreolus ). The other 4 species of deer have either been introduced or have escaped from deer parks and estates.
These are the Fallow deer ( Dama dama ), Japanese Sika ( Cervus nippon ), Reeves Muntjac ( Muntiacus reevesi ) and the Chinese Water Deer ( Hydropotes inermis ).
The current figure for deer numbers in the UK is estimated to be around 2 million. This is higher than any other time on record and is most probably down to a number of factors such as escaped species in the First and Second World War years when land was not being managed as before. Another reason was after the 1914- 1918 war it was realised that the UK depended desperately on our timber from other parts of the world, so after WW1 it was decided that more
woodland and forestry should be planted in the UK for self sufficiency. Over time this linked massive areas of land and counties together creating wooded corridors in which deer could colonise. With heavier machinery use and less people working agricultural land deer numbers also were able to increase also with urbanisation spreading to rural areas and the increase of the human population deer and other mammals are adapting to survive ever close and even in our built up areas and towns.
The financial cost to forestry and agricultural damage in the UK by deer is estimated to be upwards of £9 million. Deer vehicle collisions are estimated at £17 million + and there are reported to be 74,000 deer related traffic accidents every year, which contribute to a number of human deaths and more than 400 car occupants are reported in car accidents with deer per year. It is also reported by the AA that 42, 000 deer are killed on the road due to collisions with vehicles every year.
Moles ( Talpa europaea )
Moles are found throughout Britain but are not in Ireland. Moles mainly eat earthworms but willalso eat insect larvae and it is estimated that an 80g mole requires 50g of food per day. Molescan be found in all habitats from urban gardens to agricultural and woodland. They use their massive front claws to dig through the soil. A real concern with moles is that they are capable helping the spread of listeria in sheep and cattle. This happens when silage is contaminated by the soil that moles dig up and is then ingested by livestock. They can cause considerable damage to land by tunnelling through soil. Large mole numbers on your land can cause ground to become unstable and areas can collapse in the way to create areas which are a danger to both people and livestock as well as the foundations of your property.
The American mink ( Neovision vison ) is an invasive species which was first brought to the Uk in the 1920s for the fur trade. They soon escaped and were reported to be establishing colonies in the wild by the 1950s. By the late 1960s they had created a strong foothold across large areas of England and Wales. This foothold was further strengthened when they were illegally released from fur farms by groups people opposed to the fur trade.
Mink can reign havoc on native bird, mammal and fish species and is most certainly a player in the reduction of the British water vole population (which have lost 95% of their range since the early 1900s). Mink love water and are good swimmers, as well as ferocious hunters. They can destroy ponds, rivers and other water features if left uncontrolled, as many a fisherman or water bailiff can confirm.
Mink are members of the mustelid family which include such species as otters, polecat, weasel, stoats and badgers. Mink are carnivorous and as stated are really ferocious little hunters measuring from nose to tail between 40 to 70 cm and weighing between 3.5 to 6 kg. They range in colour from a light to very dark brown. As mentioned these are an invasive species and if you have a mink issue on your land they should be controlled to manage the native species that also live on the same ground. If you have mink issues contact us, we are here to help!
There are about 50 species of ant in the Uk and some of these species are a pest to homeowners, gardeners, hospitals and businesses. Some encountered pest species are typically the Black Garden Ant (Lasius niger), Pavement Ant (Tetramorium immigrans), Rogers Ant (Hypoponera punctatissima), Ghost Ant (Tapinoma melanocephalum), and the pharaoh Ant (Monomorium pharaonis). Ants can be a real problem when they invade a property looking for food or when the new queen ants leave their nest to mate by flying. This is sometimes called the wedding of the ants. Some ant species like pharaoh and ghost require specialist treatment. Whatever your ant issues are, we are able to solve them!
Bed bug numbers have risen over the last few decades due to human passenger travel from overseas and the use of second hand furniture. Bed bugs have now become a common pest especially in areas with a high turnover of people such as blocks of flats, hotels and hostels. An adult bed bug measures upto 6mm and is disc shaped and orangey brown in colour. Most of the time bed bugs get into a property on luggage or second hand furniture. That is why hotels with a high turnover of guests must be aware of the signs to look for when changing bedding etc. Bed bugs are great travellers when it comes to looking for food or mating and can easily find themselves from one room to another or even from one building to another. This can cause infestations to occur. Bed bugs are great at concealing themselves in the crevices of mattresses or behind skirting boards, wall paintings or under ripped wallpaper, they can crawl up vertical walls and objects and can number from one or two into large infestations in mattresses or behind pictures. They prefer to come out when it is dark of a night and normally shy away from daylight. A bed bug’s food source is human blood, although they can live upto a year without feeding! Bed bugs can cause terrible irritation to humans when they bite their skin to feed, and can leave red irritating welts all over the body. This can be a very harrowing experience for someone who has them in their home or has stayed in a hotel. A hotel can lose its reputation and customers if bed bugs are reported or word gets around that customers have stayed there and been bitten by them.
There are several species of carpet beetle, these include the Varied Carpet Beetle (Anthrenus verbasci), which is about 3-4 mm in length and has the appearance of a camouflage shaded black, white, brown and creamy ladybird. The Fur Beetle (Attagenus pellio) is about 4-6 mm long black with a spot on each wing. The rarer Black Carpet Beetle is 3-5 mm in length and a reddish brown colour. The larval stages of these beetles feed on carpets, furniture, clothes and natural fibres causing much damage. The larvae grub stage of these beetles are called ‘Woolly Bears’ due to their spiky hairy appearance. These are now probably one of the main textile pests in the UK. A Lot of the time these grubs find their way into a property from the eaves of the roof or the loft space where they emerge from their eggs which are laid in such places as woolen fabrics and old birds nests. When they are born they feed on the carotene which is in discarded birds feathers or feed on wool fabrics. They then find their way down into the home where they feed on carpets and clothes etc. This is why it is so important to rid your home of disused birds nests.
There are a few different species of clothes moths to be found in the UK and all can be distinguished from most other species by the way they close their wings along their back. The Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella) is about 5 to 8 mm long with a light khaki-golden wing that has a fur-like appearance at the ends. The Case Bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella) is about 6-8 mm long, is dark brown and has three faint spots. The Brown House Moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) is about 8 to 10 mm long and golden-bronze along its wings interspersed with black flecked markings. With all clothes moths it is the larvae which eat the fabrics and fibres of clothing material etc. The adult moth will lay their eggs in the material from which the larvae will emerge and can cause devastation to a wardrobe of clothes or other material items. Here at RBB Environmental & Pest Control we can help with any insect problems!
There are two main species of cockroach to be found in the uk. These are the German cockroach (Blattella germanica) and the Oriental cockroach (Blatta orientalis). If you think you may have cockroaches in your property some of the signs to look for maybe damaged food packages and food. An unpleasant smell, egg cases (ootheca), droppings or cast skin. Finding out your home or business has cockroaches can be really upsetting and not always an easy battle to overcome without professional help. Cockroaches are a health risk to humans. They carry a number of diseases that are harmful to human beings such as streptococcus, staphylococcus and salmonella. Cockroaches move from sewers to buildings and contaminate areas they cover such as plates and cutlery as well as food. A business’s reputation can be left in tatters if cockroaches are found in the property. No business can afford for this kind of publicity to ruin their hard earned reputation. Also an Environmental Health Officer can issue enforcement notices to a business that does not have adequate pest management in place.
The two main kinds of flea to be encountered in the UK are the dog flea (Cteneocephalides canis) and the cat flea (Cteneocephalides felis). These can be introduced to your home when your dog meets other dogs or is in close vicinity to where foxes may have been or from one cat to another. Both these fleas will bite and live off human blood, but will not be able to produce fertile eggs. Human fleas (Pulex irritans) are very rare in the UK, although there are reports of them being found on pig farms where they can jump from pigs to a human host. Bird fleas (Ceratophyllus gallinae) and (Ceratophyllus columbae) can cause terrible problems once they have established themselves in a chicken coop or from nesting birds in lofts etc.
The Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is not native to the UK but was introduced to other European countries where they were used in large greenhouses to predate on aphids. Originally from the Far East once they came to Europe they soon found their way into the Belgium countryside in 2001 and by 2005 had established themselves as a species in the United Kingdom. The harlequin ladybird has a negative impact on our own species of ladybirds as they will eat their larvae and compete for food. In Autumn the large numbers of harlequin ladybirds gathering on the side of buildings and inside the window seals can be very distressing for residents and throughout the more mild winter days the ladybirds can emerge inside the warmer buildings causing further worries and concerns.
Most fly species feed by being sick onto a food source and then sucking up the saliva liquid that they have vomited up. This inturn contaminates the food source with bacterias from the flies feet and stomach. This can be the cause of deadly diseases such as food poisoning, typhoid, cholera and dysentery. Hygiene is key when it comes to fly species and in food premises or heavily affected areas there are many preventative precautions that we can put in place to combat fly activity. A single bluebottle can lay up to 600 eggs which are capable of developing into maggots in 48 hours and mature bluebottles in one week. Like other fly species blue bottles are found on rotting food, animal and human waste matter, dustbin areas and dead carcasses. They then move off of these areas where they will carry their bacteria when they land on food sources. Cluster flies can be found in very large numbers when they fly to high roof spaces and higher rooms in houses in autumn to hibernate. They then re-emerge in spring to lay their eggs. These flies can cause considerable distress due to their large numbers and characteristic smell as well as their lazy flight patterns around a property.
Silverfish (Lepisma saccharinum) are silvery-grey/blue non flying insects that are about 10-12 mm long, carrot-like in shape with 3 long bristles at the tail. They live in damp areas and feed on starchy foods such as wallpaper paste and glue etc. They are a close relative of the firebrat (Thermobia domestica) which is speckled and prefers drier areas around the home. Silverfish in large numbers can cause damage to books, old photos, paper and wallpaper if left uncontrolled. Silverfish move very fast along a surface and prefer warm, humid, wet areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. They normally come out at night when it is dark. They can often be found in a sink or bath in the morning where they have fallen in and then been unable to crawl out.
Stored Product Insect
These can include beetles, weevils and moths, and include such species as Confused flour beetle, Saw toothed grain beetle, Larder beetle, Rice weevil, Biscuit beetle, Mill moth and Indian meal moth to name just a few. SPI’s have to be controllers due to the high amount of damage and contamination they can spread through food products. When these insects make their way into food products in factories or homes they can soon breed and spread like wildfire causing total devastation to large amounts of food products which in turn becomes unfit for human consumption. Any place that is involved with any dried food products, cereal or grain is at risk from SPI’s. This can be a huge risk to businesses and is stated that they are one of the worlds most costly pests causing billions each year to control. So whether its a food storage warehouse, factory, restaurant or shop – precautions must be in place to control these pests!
No one wants to find dead insects or larvae in their porridge or bread. If found, this can destroy a business’s reputation in no time and even lead to a stop of production or product recalls. Enforcement notices can be slapped on a business by the Environmental Health and if not adhered to this can lead to court cases, criminal records or even imprisonment! The first sign of SPI’s at a business premises are usually moths flying around or beetles in stores etc. It is imperative that all aspects of the insect’s life cycle are tackled. Any business dealing with foodstuff must have professional and effective pest control in place.