The most common problem during winter is rodents, and the colder the winter, the higher the risk to your building as rodents try to find shelter. Rodents are excellent climbers and mice can squeeze through a gap the width of a pencil. Rodents are nocturnal creatures so look out for other indicators of their presence including gnawing, droppings, nests, scratching and a very distinct smell.
As spring arrives, wasps start to come out of hibernation looking to nest. It’s commonly thought that a cold winter will kill off many hibernating pests and reduce the potential risk later in the year, however when it comes to wasps this isn’t the case. In fact, it’s just the opposite, as a warm winter will encourage queen wasps to come out of hibernation early and, with limited nectar sources, they are likely to starve therefore reducing the population.
Birds can be a nuisance throughout the year causing building damage, creating an unsanitary and hazardous mess, whilst also posing a major health risk due to the many diseases they can carry. Pigeons start breeding in early spring and are seen congregating in large numbers, increasing the risk to your business, staff and the general public. Gulls generally become more problematic during late spring and summer when they are nesting, and are particularly defensive when there are young in the nest.
The warm summer days bring nuisance pests out in swarms. Fly and wasp colonies will be fully developed - this can cause high levels of concern, especially when it comes to wasps, creating an unwanted distraction for staff and customers. From mid-summer, wasps become an increasing nuisance as they switch from consuming protein to sugar, feeding and getting ‘drunk’ on fermenting fruit.
Summer also sees a peak in garden ant activity. For businesses dealing with food, infestations can lead to contamination. Flying ants can also cause some concern during summer - flying ants are young queens and males that engage in a nuptial flight in the mating season. This phenomenon occurs in many colonies simultaneously when local weather conditions are appropriate creating a ‘flying ant phenomenon’. This, however, generally only happens once a year.
Bed bugs can appear at any time, however during summer there is heightened risk from greater guest traffic in hotels. It is impossible to prevent bed bug entry as they are carried in on luggage. Female bed bugs produce up to eight eggs per day, so just one bed bug can quickly lead to an infestation.
AUTUMNAutumn marks the start of breeding season for spiders, with males venturing inside in search of a mate. Generally spiders do not cause damage, but they can create fear amongst staff and customers. There are certain species that can bite so it’s important to look out for webs and egg sacs to ensure early treatment. There is also an emerging concern following recent sightings of false widow spiders suggesting that they are moving further north due to milder conditions. Previously they have only been seen in the southern UK.
PESTS FOR ALL SEASONS
In warm commercial premises it is cockroaches, stored product insects and flies that pose a risk throughout the year. These pests are commonly associated with unsanitary conditions and can pose a public health risk.
Consideration needs to be given to the uncertainty and risks presented by climate change. Increasing average temperatures enhance the sustainability and spread of pests. The major concern is that the south of the UK may become warm enough to support disease spreading mosquitoes – and this is something that we will be keeping a close eye on in the future. Harlequin Ladybirds, a non-native species that first arrived in the UK in 2004, are another pest species that are rapidly increasing in the UK (they are the most invasive ladybird species in the world). Not only can they bite humans, producing an allergic reaction in some cases, but they pose a serious threat to our 47 species of native ladybirds.
Taking a proactive approach by being armed with knowledge and advice from pest elimination experts to spot potential problems and put preventative measures in place is the best way to protect your business.