Lockdown 3 and Pests – what to look out for…
So, it’s back! We’re now in the third national lockdown after the government has shut schools and imposed tough restrictions until March in an attempt to gain control over increasing coronavirus infections.
In a televised statement the prime minister has ordered the country to stay indoors for all but a few exceptions and ordered schools, businesses and the majority of public amenities to shut their doors until further notice.
The new lockdown is planned to last until March and some restrictions will stay in place even longer says MP Michael Gove.
But what have we learnt from the first two rounds, and what can we do to protect our properties from rats and mice?
During the last period of lockdown unused buildings and yards, empty streets and a reduction in council services made rodents a regular sight across the UK. We’re also now well into the rodent season and the usual upward seasonal trends in rat and mouse activity is exacerbating the problem as large numbers of rodents seek out our properties looking for food and shelter. The phone here at LANDGUARD is indeed red hot with calls coming in regarding rats in and around properties. What has been particularly noticeable has been rats finding their way into homes and businesses through gaps and holes in exterior walls (above surface) to access food and safe harbourage. Take note.
Following lockdown (part 1) 51% of pest professionals polled by BPCA (British Pest Control Association) reported an increase in rat activity across the UK, while 41% reported an increase in mouse activity during the timeline of restrictions.
Why? During a lockdown many food businesses such as restaurants, cafés and production facilities reduce their services or shut down, cutting off the regular food supplies relied on by local rat populations. This leads to behaviour consistent with starvation, evidenced by rats forced by hunger into new territories and unusual feeding habits. There was a particularly marked increase in daytime sightings during the first lockdown as the large hungry population was forced to feed at less favourable times.
In addition, as patterns for bin collections altered, household waste and recycling centres closed, public litter bin emptying decreased and street cleaning reduced we added fuel to the fire by accumulating rubbish with food value around our properties.
Compost heaps, outbuildings, log piles, bird feeders and domestic poultry houses in residential areas have subsequently become a primary food source and places of harbourage. If you have any one of these you may need to consider altering their management or putting pest control in place.
Rats in the garden are one thing but as the temperature drops and natural food sources become limited rodents will also look to find their way into our properties. But what can you do?
How to protect your Buildings
Have a thorough walkaround of your property. The junction between the ground and wall is the main area to focus on. Remove all excess vegetation and loose materials to prevent these areas being utilised as easy ‘corridors’ for rodent travel and to expose potential weaknesses rats may use to gain entry. Remember, an adult rat can fit through a hole equal to a 50p piece.
Look around and check the base region of the walls for holes and gaps, particularly where old pipework may have been situated previously and also by existing gutters.
Check the drain covers and top of the gully for cracks, holes and weaknesses that the rats may exploit.
Check the condition of air bricks and vents. Rats will constantly look to find these types of weaknesses.
Block holes any holes found with cement and cover vents etc with galvanised or stainless-steel mesh.
How to protect your Garden and outside Areas
Be compost aware. Compost heaps are one of the most common reasons homeowners have rats in the garden. Keep compost areas sealed and placed away from your property. Compost heaps are absolute rodent magnets!
Make sure your bins are in good condition. Check the lids seal well. Really well. Even small gaps can be exploited by a range of pest species. Mice can squeeze through a hole as wide as a pencil.
Stop feeding the birds. Or buy a feeder that catches dropped seeds rather than letting them drop onto the floor attracting and feeding the rats.
Remove heaps of stone or timber adjacent to the property which may provide harbourage.
Rake up and remove fallen fruit. If you’re lucky enough to have fruit trees in the garden ensure fallen fruit is collected quickly. Place waste fruit in compostable bags and straight into the green bin.
Get broken bins replaced. If your bins are damaged or broken, check with your local authority for services offered during lockdown and where possible ask for a replacement.
Move poultry (i.e. chickens) away from your property or consider removing them completely if necessary. Along with compost heaps and bird feeders keeping poultry is the most common cause of a rat issue in gardens and small holdings.
Don’t chuck loose food into your wheelie bin. Always place food waste into compostable liners, plastic bags or refuse sacks before you put it in the bin. This will limit its availability as a food source and help contain any attractive aromas.
If you’ve done all these things and still are experiencing a rodent infestation it may be time to give us a call. Pest controllers are designated key workers and we’re still working locally. Please feel free to phone or email to discuss your issue. We’re set up to conduct our work quickly and safely.
And please take care…
0113 203 7427 or 01423 209 030