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What is the most common pest?

At AMS Pest Control, we consider Rats and Mice are probably the most common pest we get phone calls about and although we think they are easy to recognise it can be tricky to differentiate the two, from a distance, especially if you panic!

Neither one is an appealing prospect to take up residence in your home as a pest, they can cause significant damage, spread disease and often an unpleasant smell.

The Brown Rat and the House Mouse are the most likely types of each species you will come into contact with, this is because they are commensal rodents, they live with or in close proximity to humans.

The saying of you are never more than six feet from a rat might not be entirely accurate but we do see plenty of them and given the right environment, their numbers can quickly multiply leaving you with a problem that requires a professional approach.
When it comes to professional rodent control it is important to carry out correct identification as to the species of rodent, the likely entry points to the building or harbourage and the reason they are there if you are going to be successful in gaining control. There are other factors to consider for example non-target species in the area, pets and also children living in the residence.

There are signs to spot when establishing if you might have a rodent issue. Droppings are the most common sign people spot, droppings are often found under the sink, alongside skirting, across loft spaces, or under decking in the garden. A strong odour can be a telltale sign, mice urinate frequently in order to mark their territory, not only an unpleasant thought but a big contributor to their disease spreading ability. Rats often come into contact with the sewer systems, along with their unfussy food habits is the likely cause of many rat odours.

How can we recognise the difference?

A baby rat can often be mistaken for a mouse. Mice have big eyes and ears, their tails are equal to the length of their body and have a pointed snout. Rats have small eyes and ears, a tail that is shorter than their body and a blunt snout. Unfortunately, they have such good hearing it is unlikely they will wait around for us to have a good look at them or sit still long enough to carry out an identification. Rats and mice are social animals, we often hear “there’s only one” whilst I’m certain this is wishful thinking of the homeowners.

What about non-toxic control?

With a push towards everyone being more environmentally conscious, we must consider the future of the way we operate and non-toxic pest control is an idea that is becoming discussed more and more, some countries are looking at the restriction of rodenticide. In non-professional and DIY use it can be a big problem, the CRRU works hard to promote the responsible use of rodenticides. According to the barn owl trust in 2015 94% of Barn Owls contaminated by SGAR (Second Generation Anticoagulant Rodenticides).

Rats and mice are extremely successful animals, breeding quickly, highly adaptable to their surroundings and can often be stubborn pests to get rid of. As with all pests we highly recommend getting the advice of a professional, feel free to contact us if you have any questions or are suffering from a pest control emergency.

Pest identification

If your home or property suddenly has a pest problem it can be tricky to identify the species that are causing the issue. Whether it’s an insect infestation, rodent problem or something else it is important to carry out a correct identification before knowing how to proceed with treatment.

When it comes to rodents there are some easier ways to determine what is behind the problem. Squirrels often require larger holes in order to gain access to roof spaces, lofts and voids so any roofline items such as soffit boards, roof tiles and chimney pots often show signs of being broken or displaced. Internally squirrels will gather up or disturb the insulation in loft spaces to create a “nest”.

Rats and mice are often trickier for amateur identification as they aren’t usually seen by the resident until after the droppings and other common signs you have a rodent infestation are present. Young rats can also sometimes be misidentified as mice.

Insect identification is much more complex

Cockroaches and bed bugs are fairly easily distinguished from each other and have some characteristic traits that help to identify them. However, if you are simply showing signs of being bitten it isn’t necessarily only bed bugs. Fleas are very common and can cause bites to humans and animals, but there are other insects and even non-pest factors that can present with bites or marks on the skin.
Clothes or carpet moths are usually evident by the effect they have once the larvae feed on natural fibres around the home leaving threadbare carpets or holes in clothes.

Wasps and bees are often misidentified as one another, especially if you are attempting to carry out identification from the ground looking up at them flying in and out of a roof or chimney area of your property. It is easier for a professional to identify from a distance as they have a different flight pattern to one another. When they are at ground level it is easier to tell a bumblebee from a common wasp but if you are in any doubt be cautious as wasps and hornets can be aggressive if they feel threatened.

There is a vast number of species of insect and far too many to list individually, but treatment can vary from spiders to beetles, to mites, to ants and many more. Taking a good photograph with an object for reference of scale is a good option, collecting a sample to be sent to an entomologist is a scientific approach that can be necessary, and sometimes a pest identification survey is ideal.

Larger species identification

Moles are often easy to spot from the characteristic “hills” that they create by disturbing the earth below.

Foxes and badgers create large, obvious holes in the ground much larger than rats would make.

Though all of the above is a generic guide of some common signs for identification each species can behave differently and to accurately identify a pest it is often a good idea to ask the advice of a professional. Accurate identification can make the difference between a treatment process working or not, and whether treatment can legally be carried out or not. If you are unsure at AMS Pest Control we offer a pest identification service.

Think you might have a pest issue but not sure what it is? Get in touch and we will be happy to help.

Wasp Control

Wasps are one of the most common pests we treat during the summer. There are a great number of species of wasp in the UK, many that are not as aggressive as the two most often encountered, the common wasp and the German wasp.

Though there is much debate as to whether wasps are “beneficial” or not, most of us are brought up from childhood to dislike wasps.

But are they a public health threat?

Well, yes.
A wasp sting can have a variety of reactions for us. Some people can have fairly mild symptoms, slight inflammation, brief pain and recover in no time. Others can have more severe symptoms, including an allergic reaction which can lead to anaphylactic shock.

However, a person who has only had mild reactions in the past isn’t necessarily not allergic and may have a very different reaction if stung again. The result of an allergic reaction to a wasp sting if not treated quickly can be fatal.

So why do they sting us?

Have you ever been minding your business in the garden and then felt under attack by a wasp buzzing around you?

The wasps in colonies all have different jobs within the hive. Some look after the nest structure, other predate and bring food usually flies, caterpillars, and other proteins back to feed the larvae, and some are guarding the nest like sentries outside.

If we disturb the nest accidentally these wasps can quickly feel threatened and become aggressive. They also communicate that threat very efficiently to the other wasps. They will then attack by stinging you.

There have been many cases of people being badly injured while attempting to treat or remove a wasp nest. Even an attempt to use flame to treat a wasp nest that lead to a house fire.
When dealing with wasps there can be unexpected consequences and it is always best to get a pest professional to come and carry out treatment.

Pest Control Rodent Myths

There are plenty of myths and old wives tales surrounding pest control, we thought we would explore the most common five we hear at AMS Pest Control and the truths behind them.

We live near fields, that’s where the rats are coming from.
Unfortunately, rats are more likely inhabiting the sewer system around your property they prefer to live alongside people as we provide all the necessary requirements for a thriving population of rats.

Mice love cheese.
Often depicted in cartoons we associate mice with cheese. However, mice prefer more sugary foods such as peanut butter.

Having a cat will keep my house free of pests.
Domestic cats usually only hunt for fun, they might catch a mouse or small garden bird occasionally, but they will not take on a rodent infestation of significant numbers or an insect problem.Mice and rats will occupy mostly inaccessible areas of the home, using the cavities between floors and walls to move around so cats are unlikely to be able to reach them.

Shop bought ultrasonic deterrents will scare away the rodents.
An ultrasonic deterrent may work initially but once the pests get comfortable with the sound they will come back. It is best to have a professional treatment to avoid having a long term issue.

DIY poison is cheaper and will work if I just use a bit more.
Domestically available rodenticide is too weak in chemical concentrate to be effective control of a rodent problem. Trapping will catch a few however they often breed far quicker than you will be able to trap them.

Asian Hornets

Usually nesting high in trees and man-made structures, but sometimes closer to the ground. They predate our beloved honey bees, other insects and also feed on fruit and flowers.
Some key identity features include:
  • entirely dark brown or black velvety body
  • abdomen black/brown, fourth segment yellow/orange
  • legs brown with yellow ends
  • queens up to 30mm and workers up to 25mm
There have been a number of sightings in the UK. It is extremely important that any possible sightings are correctly identified. The Asian Hornet is a non-native invasive species and must be dealt with by professionals and must be reported immediately.
Similar species are the European Hornet, Giant Woodwasp, Hornet Mimic Hoverfly and the Median Wasp.
Further information can be found at www.nonnativespecies.org/alerts/asian hornet.

Your Home & Pests

Any house can become host to unwanted pests, new, old, listed, large, small, even a boathouse. Here are some common property features and their associated pests.
  • chimneys, uncapped or with entry points can be susceptible to detritus feeders and scavengers, pigeons and other birds, insect nests such as bees and wasps.
  • lofts and roof spaces, provide undisturbed harbourage for mice, rats, squirrels and birds.
  • slipped roof tiles, can be access points for rodents and birds.
  • windows and doors with gaps of any size, allow access to cluster flies, harlequin ladybirds, woodlice and ants.
  • open water tanks offer a water source for rats and mice.
  • damp structural wood and wood furniture, wood borders and also mould.
  • wool carpet and wool rugs, loved by carpet beetles.
  • voids under floorboards can be occupied by clothes and house moths, carpet beetles, detritus feeders and scavengers, mice and rats.
  • damp plaster and wallpaper, offer habitat for fungus and plaster beetles, and silverfish.
  • leaking downpipe or blocked guttering, can encourage damp loving pests like fungus and plaster beetles and silverfish.
  • vegetation growing against the wall attracts rodents and birds.
  • stored food attracts many pests including flour beetles, rodents and ants.
  • bins, waste, and food scraps, provide an opportune food source for flies, birds and rodents.
  • basements and cellars can be host to damp loving insects, rats, mice, cockroaches and woodlice.
  • sheds are often occupied by rats and mice
  • chicken coops often attract rats, mice and poultry mites.
  • compost bins are a good food source and harborage for rats and mice.

Pest Control at Allotments

Ants can be a problem on allotments, they can damage root systems of plants, spoil a seating area you might have to take a welcome cup of tea, but they can also “farm” aphids on some fruit trees and crops.

Aphids, a common blight for many an allotmentee and keen gardener. Aphids are difficult to control and often require a chemical insecticide.

Slugs and snails, mostly active overnight these pests can decimate crops. They are tough to find and often the tell tale ravaged plants and slime trails are all people see. A good step is to encourage natural predators to the space.
Woodlice, not posing a threat to humans they only become an issue in large numbers, perhaps if they decide to find refuge on your beloved bench or shed. Keeping areas tidy of fallen leaves and rotten wood will help to prevent them.
Rats and mice. Food scraps in compost bins, seed and fresh crops, standing water in water troughs/butts, sheds and sites left unoccupied overnight. These things can all provide the perfect conditions and safe harbourage required for a thriving rodent population.
Moles, there are many passed down deterents for moles from generation to generation. These territorial mammals can often be considered a pest to allotment holders, gardeners and most of all golfers!
Rabbits, a small rabbit population can decimate crops and quickly grow to become a large population.

Non-Toxic Pest Control

There are several reasons why a non-toxic pest control method might be not only a good option but also required.

– The environment of the pest problem for example sharing the space with vulnerable people, pets or children, or simply it might just be a preference of the customer can lead to non-toxic measures being used.
– There may be high potential for non-target secondary poisoning. This is very important and a matter we at AMS are very diligent about.
– The risk of contaminating the food chain.
– Considering the environment and looking for alternatives and ways to future proof our activities.

Are there any options for rodent control?

Yes. There are several varieties of traps that we have the option of, this however is more labour intensive than a rodenticide treatment.

Are there any options for insect control?

Yes. Non-chemical treatments for flying and crawling insects, cockroaches, bedbugs, fleas, red mites, ants, moths and beetles. They are safe for us in a multitude of settings. With the added benefit that animals do not need to be removed for treatment. Heat steamers to control bedbugs are an option also, which are superheated to 180°C. There are also traps that are effective for cluster flies and harlequin ladybirds.

What about wasps?

Yes. There is a wasp trap available that is though not an instant solution like our wasp treatment dust but is a good chemical free alternative.
The CRRU (Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use) aims to protect wildlife through the rodenticide industry acting responsibly. A good reason to use non-toxic alternatives is to follow the guidance offered by the CRRU in order to mitigate the risk of non-target poisoning of mammals and birds.

Spring Pest Control

Rats are breeding well this spring due to the mild weather we have been having, an increase in population meaning problems can quickly get out of hand.
With the current situation, excess rubbish piling up and surplus food being stored is contributing to further population growth for rodents. 

Here are a couple of reasons why it is so important to treat a rodent problem.

  • Disease, rats can carry and transmit many diseases that affect humans. This is usually through urine or animal contact with food preparation.
  • Property Damage, rats are not too fussy about what they choose to gnaw on meaning the structure of your house, shed and garage can often fall victim to their need to constantly grind down their teeth.
  • Commercial pest control, companies have a legal requirement to keep their premises rodent-free, combine this with the reputation damage that can be caused by the nature of social media reviews for a rodent problem can come at a high price to any company.
Bugs will start waking up now too, meaning bed bugs and fleas will become active.
These small insects are often difficult to see but are often noticed by the evidence or symptoms they cause.
A common sign of bed bugs is small dark spots found on the bed frame or bed linen. A common initial symptom of fleas is your pet itching or biting themselves constantly.
It is important to correctly identify these insects before carrying out a treatment. It is also important to be vigilant if you notice any signs of insect infestations beginning as often these issues won’t go away on their own, we offer a wide range of treatment options to tackle the problem.

Pest identification – not sure if it is wasps or bees?

We offer a nest identification service. Bee populations are under great threat in the current environmental climate and it is the duty of all of us to protect them. Be aware of people who are willing to treat bees nests unnecessarily, we always try to preserve bees wherever possible.

Pest Control & COVID-19

Through these uncertain times it can be difficult for a lot of us to know what to do for the best and we must all take our part in minimising the risk of spreading the virus, at AMS Pest Control we decided that we would continue to offer our services. This was made possible after reviewing the governments guidelines and making alterations to the way we work. Although we are well equipped with PPE as part of our day to day working it made sense for us to add further precautions. This includes all new customers if you are showing signs/symptoms of Covid-19, or is known to have the virus then appointments will be rescheduled until it is safe to do so. Upon arrival we request that social distancing is maintained for both our safety and yours. Unfortunately this also means that we wont be accepting offers of a cup of tea either.

We feel that for people being asked to stay home it is necessary for you to be able to do that in a safe environment and pest free
Please call us for any further information or to book an appointment.