Autumn leaves

Don't wait until its too late to deal with pests in Henley 

We deal with a lot of rodent pests; the grey squirrel, rats and mice and for these animals autumn is a time of plenty which is then quickly followed by the hard times of winter. All the berries, nuts and seeds from trees and hedgerows are quickly eaten or stashed away for safety and what follows are the harsh times with scarce food supplies and the bitterly cold weather. 

Inward migration of rats, mice and squirrels as the weather cools in Henley 

The cold weather combined with dwindling food supplies means that your home or business is now being targeted by these animals as a safe, warm space in which to hole up in until the weather improves with the arrival of spring; we see a seasonal migration of rats, mice and squirrels throughout the autumn.  
This means a marked increase in callouts for these three species from November onwards and with the arrival of the first overnight frosts? Well, the first frosts bring in a spate of calls from people all woken to the sound of something moving around in the loft. 

Mice, rats and squirrels in the loft 

With the pests: rats and squirrels, if they want to get in then they will, both of these animals have incredibly sharp incisors, powered by strong jaws and teeth as hard as iron. Wood, plastic and even mild sheet steel will not stop them gnawing their way in and over time we have seen rats round off the edge of house bricks, slowly enlarging a defect to allow access into a cavity wall. 
When it comes to mice, these are a different issue, these animals are able to sneak in through the smallest of gaps which go unnoticed, in fact when we’re dealing with a mouse infestation, we will often have to crawl around the perimeter of the building looking for the access point. 

So, what can you do about pests and how can you stop them? 

Some of the autumn pests are really only treatable by professional pest controllers, insect pests like cluster flies and fleas can be hard to eradicate by yourself if you don’t have the right equipment such as ultra-low volume fogging machines, our powerful insecticides make short work of large areas like lofts that may contain thousands of the different types of cluster flies. 

What are cluster flies? 

Cluster flies are harmless and if you would like more information click on this button to take you to a fact sheet on these insects. 
Cluster flies are a type of fly that lives outside during the summer months, here they lay their eggs in the soil where the larvae parasite earthworms. During late summer the adult flies emerge from pupation and they seek dry cool areas in which to hibernate, the trouble with cluster flies is that they will often find lofts and roof spaces as the ideal hibernation place and they will do so in their thousands. 
There are many insects that will look to find somewhere dry and cool in the autumn, some of these may be considered as pests and we’ll see many species of fly, ladybirds and spiders all take up residence in domestic sash window frames and lofts.  
These insects can be treated with insecticidal powder is required and we can see large amounts of insects congregating together. 
Regular pest control treatments are the right approach to deter annoying and sometimes dangerous pests. Don’t wait till breeding seasons are at its peak – protect your home with long lasting preventative treatments that have lasting residual and repellent components. 

House spiders in Henley on Thames 

For more information on the house spider click on the button below. 
If you have concerns over spider and insect bites more information can be found on the NHS website. 
Spiders are another type of insect that are considered to be a ‘pest’ that invade our homes and businesses during the autumn, I use the term ‘pest’ loosely because when you think about it; who is the better controller of flies and other insects than spiders? 
The trouble with spiders is that we rely on professional insecticides to work on a residual basis; the treated area remain active long after the chemical has dried.  
As spiders walk about on eight feet, they don’t absorb enough of the active substance from the treated surfaces to kill them rendering treatments ineffective. 
The spider we are most likely to encounter during the autumn and winter is the aptly named house spider; these venture indoors during their mating season which runs from August to September.  
House spiders are our biggest species of spider, measuring around 10 cm across the span of the insect’s legs. Along with being scary, house spiders can give us a nip and these bites can become infected from bacteria covering the spiders fangs. 
Like the cluster fly, house spiders are relatively harmless to us and they are more of a nuisance than anything else, the best course of action when dealing with house spiders is to pick them up using a glass and a piece of card and throw outdoors. 

Pest problems in the autumn - rats, mice and squirrels 

The unfortunate part of pest control is that may infestations will go unnoticed for a very long time, especially over the Autumn and Winter seasons, and home owners will only become aware of a pest problem after they see damage or other evidence of pest activity, and this is very common with the rodent infestations. 
There are three types of rodent pest in the UK – rats, mice and squirrels and each type has a different way of getting inside your home. 

How do mice get inside our homes? 

For more information on pygmy shrews visit the Wildlife Trust Website below 
Mice are capable of gnawing through modern fittings like plastic airbricks, they can also gnaw through wooden door thresholds that are becoming old and beginning to rot. In fact it’s common for the smallest mammal in the UK; the pygmy shrew to work its way inside through the unsealed gap beneath a door.  
Pygmy shrews aren’t a true pest and not an animal that should every be poisoned with rodenticide, they are insectivores, and they live in the leaf litter. Pygmy shrews feed on grubs and other insects that they find there and these are the UK’s smallest animal and are definitely not considered a pest; their small size allows them to slip inside our homes where they are mistaken for mice. 
The most common species of mouse that we deal with in Henley are the different types of field mice; the term ‘field mouse’ also includes voles and other species of shrew and they like us are warm blooded.  
As autumn draws in and the weather cools they come inside to stay warm, they will gnaw at plastic air bricks and we must realise that field mice are able climbers and can scale a rough brick wall gaining access into cavity walls through old pipe holes and unused tumble dryer vents.  
These openings all lead the way up to the loft of the property where they will build nests in the insulation often making scratching sounds on the plasterboard at night as they move about. 

What about rats, how do rats get into our homes? 

Information on rats and rat behaviour is available from the Bayer Science website 
Rats are another autumn pest coming in as the weather cools, but these are much different to mice, for one, rats will stay inside all year if given the chance and they will breed all year long given the right conditions.  
Rats will enter houses and businesses across Henley in just about every area of the building – from under the floor through defects in the drains and by gnawing through plastic air bricks.  
They will use climbing plants and vines and even by jumping from walls, trees and sheds to gain access into the interior at higher levels and through the roof.  
Rats are a major problem across the Henley area and we always see a marked increase in internal activity as the temperatures outside drop. 

Are squirrels a problem in Henley? 

The grey squirrel is a destructive pest - find out more from the Woodland Trust 
The answer to that question is simply, YES they are. The grey squirrel is a non-native species that heralds from north America and because of that, they don’t have to worry about predators here in the UK and so their numbers of spiralling out of control.  
The grey squirrel also has two breeding seasons each year meaning that numbers are rising very fast. Squirrel activity in lofts right across Henley, Shiplake and Marlow increases during the autumn and winter and then it significantly ramps up as we run into their first breeding season in January and February. 
The grey squirrel is able to jump from tree’s onto roofs around five times its body length, so trim back overhanging bushes and tree limbs from buildings to help keep them at bay. 

The autumn pest control checklist 

There are some things that you can do in the autumn to reduce your exposure to a pest infestation and these are quite simple as explained in this checklist. 
• Rake up fallen leaves and place in the compost bin, windblown leaves collect in corners and down the sides of buildings where we tend to venture less during the winter, shrews will be in this leaf litter looking for insects and they will find holes and gaps in your property. 
• Before the autumn storms roll in, it’s time to carry out those little jobs that you’ve been putting off when the weather was warmer; that broken roof tile or missing piece of fascia? Replace it to help keep out squirrels and cut down on the chance of cluster flies. 
• Is your shed a mess and have you been meaning to tidy it up all summer? The autumn is an ideal time to sort out outbuildings and sheds, who knows? You may discover that you’ve got rats living in the shed and will they stay there all winter? 
• Clear out guttering and any surface blocked drains; overflowing drains especially the kitchen one, will contain small pieces of food, rice, vegetables, and fat – all of this is food for rats. Unblock drains and clean up any residue fat with a degreasing solution to leave no trace. 
• Do you keep bird food or dog food in the shed? Make sure that these containers are strong enough to withstand rodent teeth; plastic containers may work if it’s got rounded corners but I would recommend keeping food items in metal containers. Something like an old metal filing cabinet is ideal to keep animal feed in. 
• Cut back any vegetation that’s crept up the side of the house during the summer growing season, it’s easy to leave ivy, vines and creepers but these will push up under roof tiles creating openings for mice and possibly rats. 
• Cut back tree limbs that are reaching towards the house; squirrels are able to jump quite a distance and rats will jump over a metre from a standing start. 
The aim is to be pest free, a few small changes now could save you the expense, the hassle and the fear of a rodent infestation. 
Tagged as: Flies, mice, Rats, Squirrels
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