Five common pest control mistakes

Everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment. Prices are rising and the pound in your pocket is diminishing in value. At times like these, it can be easy to think that saving a few quid by doing pest control yourself makes sound financial sense.

At this point, you might expect to write a long blog about why DIYing is a terrible idea when it comes to pest control. After all, I do have a vested interest. However, the truth is, there are things you can do to prevent pests entering your home and a good place to start is housekeeping. Read our 2021 blog to learn more.

Having said that, I do have some concerns. DIY pest control can be dangerous, especially for pets and the wildlife we wish to encourage. There’s even a risk to us if the wrong treatments are used. As Tower Hamlets Council’s recent ‘Kill Pests Not People’ campaign showed, people have been killed and seriously injured using products they have bought online. Even if the treatment conforms to UK safety standards, it may not be for use by a non-professional.

Professional pest control treatments are often more effective because the active ingredient is at a far higher concentration. To use these products properly requires training to ensure they are targeted in a way that will eradicate pests without harming pets, wildlife and humans.

In reality though, a far bigger concern for me is that people seem to make the same mistakes again and again when dealing with a pest problem. It doesn’t matter if they have an issue with ants, mice, cockroaches, squirrels or rats, they seem to react in ways that allow the infestation to get out of control.

Here are my top five pest control mistakes:

1. Relying on natural deterrents

You see one mouse dropping in a cupboard or an ant on a kitchen work surface and think that’s it: I can live with a solitary mouse! The trouble is, it is never one mouse or one ant. What you have seen is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t forget, these creatures have survived for thousands of years because they are brilliant at hiding. So, if you see one, assume there are many, many more.

2. Relying on natural deterrents

Conkers to deal with spiders, boiling water for ants, cedar wood for clothes moths and a penny in a bag of water to get rid of flies and mosquitoes. There are many old wives’ tales, hacks and shortcuts people can find online.

In fact, there is some truth in these: boiling water will kill ants and cedar wood does deter clothes moths. The problem is these natural remedies are not really very effective. Boiling water probably won’t reach deep enough to kill the queen ant and the majority of the colony, so it will just regrow. With cedar wood, it is the oil that deters the clothes moths and so once that has dried up, any balls you have in your wardrobe will be useless.

As to conkers and pennies in bags – nonsense!

From a pest removal perspective, the problem with using natural deterrent is that, even if there is some validity to the claims, they are often very slow to have an effect. Very often, what we find is that the treatment has simply moved the issue to another part of the house and not actually got rid of it.

3. Slow reactions

It’s amazing how quickly a pest problem can spread. A female cockroach can produce 300 to 400 offspring in a year, rats – 84 pups, squirrels – 8 kits, and clothes moths – up to 300 eggs in a 30-day lifecycle. Bed bugs lay one to five eggs a day, meaning a total of up to 500 in a lifetime.

If you delay, what was a small and relatively easy problem to deal with has very quickly become a major infestation that could require a far more aggressive response.

4. Ignoring prevention

Prevention is always better than cure.

This brings us back to good housekeeping – making sure food and waste is properly stored, surfaces cleaned, carpets regularly vacuumed, etc. We often go into properties with a pest problem and find food packets at the back of cupboards with nothing more than their tops folded over. This offers no resistance to the pests and yet in the same cupboard there may be a pile of empty takeaway pots that could easily be used.

Take away sources of food, water, etc. and pests will look elsewhere for harbourage.

It’s also important to make sure entry points – spaces around pipes, badly fitting doors and windows, holes in walls, etc. – are properly blocked. When we are repeatedly called back to a property for a problem, there is a good chance the building isn’t secure against pests.

Proofing – blocking all entry points – should always be your first thought when a problem keeps coming back. Read my March log about our new approach to proofing.

5. Not calling the professionals

I know what you’re thinking – of course he’s going to say that! But the truth is, pest control exists as an industry because it does an important job, and it does it well. Don’t forget, during the COVID-19 pandemic the government acknowledged pest controllers were essential workers.

Professional pest controllers have access to treatments that are not available to the general public. Calling in a professional at an early stage of an infestation ensures the problem doesn’t grow and spread. It could also save you money in the long run, as a professional may spot other problems that need addressing, for example holes that need proofing which will reduce the need for repeat visits.

Everyone is finding it financially difficult at the moment. It’s important to find ways to save money, but cutbacks need to be made in the right places. Pest control isn’t a luxury, as the government said, it’s an essential. When you find you have a pest problem, ensure you don’t make these five common mistakes and your infestation will soon be gone.

If you think you have rat infestation in your home, garden or business, we have the expertise to deal with it quickly and effectively. Call us on 020 8430 4133 to discuss your problem.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay