Common UK Pests

A run down of the most common pests found in UK homes from the tiniest dust mite to the larger rodents such as rats. When a pest isn’t a pest such as the honeybee.

An overview of the most annoying, disruptive and common pests in the home

Along with invited visitors, our homes can also unfortunately play host to certain unwanted visitors in the form of common pests. From tiny fleas and mites to larger creatures such as rats, pests come in all shapes and sizes and can cause damage, injury and disease to name just three hazards.

Here are some of the most common types; fortunately, prevention can help stop many pests from appearing in the first place, and pest controller services with effective disposal techniques and equipment can help get rid of those who do decide to pay a visit.

Bed bugs and dust mites

Bed bugs and dust mites are common household pests, and so tiny they can hardly be seen with the naked eye. Both can cause allergic reactions amongst humans, and in order to keep them at bay areas need to be kept dust free and (in the case of bed bugs) bedding needs to be cleaned and changed regularly.

Careful vacuuming and treating with specialist sprays can help.

Moths

They don’t cause a health risk and the majority of the 2,000-plus species are harmless,  but some ‘qualify’ as pests due to the damage their larvae can cause to clothing and soft furnishing materials.

Delicate and expensive fabrics such as silks are at risk as the moth caterpillars like to eat the protein (keratin) in natural materials including wool and cotton.

Ants

Ants often nest outside on lawns, in warm soil or under paving but aren’t thought to be hazardous in themselves although the idea of an army of them marauding through food cupboards is enough for most householders to seek their removal.

A small infestation may be dealt with by ant killers available in supermarkets and DIY stores while a larger infestation may need pest control experts.

Cockroaches

A dangerous pest in that they can carry diseases such as salmonella, gastroenteritis and dysentery amongst others.

They’re very tough insects and breed quickly so require swift action from a pest control expert to stop an infestation before it gets out of control. Like many pests, they’re attracted to warmth, food and water so keeping food out of the way and not allowing water to collect in old vessels are basic ways to prevent them appearing.

Wasps

Mainly a nuisance because of their sting, wasps are more active in the milder summer and spring months. They may build a nest in or around your home such as in the loft, the eaves or in another space or cavity.

If you suspect you have a nest of have definitely noticed one, then professional removal is recommended as the DIY approach can be dangerous; wasps disturbed may well attack in larger numbers and this could be doubly dangerous if you’re accessing the nest up a ladder or entering a confined space such as a loft.

A word about

Bees

Bees are not pests but some may nest in or around your home. Like wasps, they sting so DIY removal is not recommended. They’re less aggressive than wasps and, depending on exactly where the nest is and how large it is, it may be left safely and the bees will die out naturally at the end of the summer.

Honeybees can be removed with the help of the British Beekeepers Association but they can’t help with other types of bee such as bumblebees and solitary bees. This page on their website shows the differences.

Flies

A common sight as most properties experience the odd fly or two in the warmer months, but they are dangerous pests and can become an overwhelming infestation if left unchecked – some species can go from egg to adult in just a week.

Flies carry some nasty diseases such as salmonella and E coli.

As with many other pests, flies are attracted to food and thrive in less hygienic environments so keeping food under cover, or preferably away from the open, will help as would something as basic as a deep clean of an area and denying access by shutting windows and doors and using fly screens.

Keeping bins and standing water covered is a sensible move, and in areas where food is prepared fly boxes or electric fly killers are effective.

Mice

Extremely distressing and annoying pests to have in your midst, mice can cause damage through their gnawing and spread disease through their droppings and urine.

They only need the tiniest gap to access your property, and don’t require much food each day to thrive – a sliver of biscuit lying in a crevice or a handful of crumbs on the floor make a significant addition to a mouse’s daily dining.

Keeping any cracks, gaps and holes filled in (don’t underestimate how small a gap a mouse can get through) is a start in preventing their presence as is keeping food debris cleared up and containers on all foodstuffs as their sense of smell is highly acute.

You may feel inclined to try and get rid of a mouse yourself through using a trap or similar, but be aware there may be more than one around. A call to pest control experts should help not only rid you of the mice present but prevent them reappearing.

Rats

Perhaps the number one most despised pest of all, rats – like mice – can cause all kinds of damage to property through their gnawing, and spread highly dangerous infections through their droppings and urine such as Weil’s disease and salmonellosis.

Rats can breed very quickly, so left unchecked a minor invasion can soon become a full blown infestation.

As with mice above, rats thrive on untidy environments where food is available. Therefore, refuse bins inside and outside should be kept covered and emptied as frequently as possible; areas should be kept clutter-free; don’t put organic food waste on compost heaps and keep food stored away in containers with well fitting lids.

If any tell-tale signs of rats are present such a droppings or gnawing marks, it’s best to call pest control experts in quickly.

Prevention and cure

The key advantage of using professional pest control experts to deal with your pest problem is, not only can they ensure their safe and effective removal, they’ll also help ensure there is no recurrence in the future.

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How to Stop Your Outside Tap Freezing

Keep the Water Flowing and Avoid Burst Pipes This Winter

Frozen taps are an inconvenience and can result in expensive damage. How can you keep yours ice-free during the harshest weather?

As homeowners, we face the same old challenges every winter, and often they are the ones we remember our parents facing while we were growing up. If the phrase “that tap always freezes in winter,” is familiar to you, then perhaps this is the year you will prevent history from repeating itself and do something about it.

When the temperature drops below zero, there is always the possibility of water in the pipes freezing, and plumbers in Edinburgh and throughout the UK will be expecting the usual flurry of activity as we reach the coldest months. You might think that a frozen outside tap is not a huge cause for concern, but it can cause serious, and potentially costly, damage.

Ice expands

When water freezes, the crystalline ice molecules are of lower density than those of liquid water. This means that when a given quantity of water freezes into ice, it needs more space – in other words, it expands, and if it is in a confined space, it will need to find a way out. This is one of the reasons it is so important to have antifreeze in your car – if you use neat water and it freezes, it will simply crack the engine open.

The same can happen in your pipes and tap if they are full of water, and the first you will know about it will be when the ice thaws and the water starts spraying out through the ruptured pipe.

What to do

You can reduce the risk by making sure all your pipes are adequately protected. Underground pipes or those inside the house should be reasonably safe, but any that are located outside are certain to freeze if you do not take action to insulate them.

Think which pipes are the most vulnerable – if you have lived in the home for a few winters, the chances are, you already know the weak spots. Don’t forget the pipes that are on an outside wall, or those that run through any unheated crawl spaces.

Switch off

The simplest solution is to simply shut off the supply lines to outside pipes and taps in advance of a cold snap. You will probably have a shut off valve in the supply line somewhere near where it passes through to the outside. Close it off, drain off any water in that section of pipe and there is nothing to freeze.

Of course, this is not a solution if you need to use the water supply, for example if you have livestock.

Insulating pipes

You can buy insulating sleeves that will do an effective job of preventing the water from freezing. These fit snugly around the pipe, and are then taped in place. Alternatively, you can use fibreglass or rockwool insulation.

Make sure you insulate every single spot, and be sure to go all the way around the pipe – this can be fiddly where it runs close to a wall.

Protecting taps

Finally, remember that the taps themselves contain water. You can but covers that fit tightly over them and will reduce the chances of them freezing. After a particularly cold night, check the taps by running off a little water whether you need to or not, as keeping it flowing will also help.

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