Rats usually have brown fur on their backs, and a grey tummy, but the colours can vary. They are usually about 20 - 27cms long, with a hairless tail of 15 - 20cms.
Rats are a common problem in rural and urban areas. In 2023, we carried out more than 1,250 rat treatments.
Rats are normally active between dawn and dusk, nocturnal animals, so it is often difficult to see them. But there are a few signs that could indicate their presence:
- Droppings - an average rat produces up to 40 fresh droppings per day.
- Footprints/Trails - rats have poor eyesight and will follow the same routes, usually close to walls or against fences. Due to their oily fur, these routes are often clearly visible with footprints or tail swipe smear marks.
- Odour - rats have a distinctive ammonia-like smell.
- Noise - often noises can be heard in loft spaces or within the cavities of buildings.
- Damage - internally, rats may gnaw on items such as wood or plastic wiring. Externally, rats may burrow, meaning rat holes may be visible in grass banks, close to buildings or structures such as sheds and compost bins.
- Initial visit (approx 60 mins) - An officer will visit to carry out a full assessment to identify the extent of the infestation. This involves finding out where the rats are feeding, identifying the best possible treatment and setting up a treatment programme. An adult must be present during this visit. Following the treatment a follow up visit will be made, time will be left to allow for any poison shyness to be overcome and for the rats to start taking the bait.
Treatment - Professional rodenticides (chemicals made and sold for the purpose of killing rodents) will be stored within locked bait boxes or trays around the affected area. This may be within your property, externally, or a combination of both. Officer will advise of anything that needs to be done to ensure the treatment is effective - this may include stopping bird feeding or adjusting storage of food. Bait boxes are safe to be used around household pets.
- Follow up visit (usually 1-2 weeks later) - Bait boxes will be checked, with areas that bait has been taken from noted. Any observations by the home/business owner will be noted by the officer relating to the effectiveness of the treatment. Bait boxes will be topped up and a further survey carried out as appropriate.
Depending on the treatment needed, the officer may visit up to 3 times in total. If additional visits are needed then a further charge will be made for each visit
- In the event that the rats are entering the property due to an external problem, drainage defects for example, advice will be given and if necessary and further treatment plan may be needed.
- If required, pest control officers can work in partnership with Environmental Health Officers to resolve problems from any neighbouring properties or land.
- Rats can transmit diseases, such as Salmonella and Weil's disease, to humans, which can potentially be very harmful.
- Rats' teeth grow continuously, so rats need to gnaw constantly to wear them down. This can cause considerable damage to property because they will gnaw anything from common food sources to wood, electrical cables, soap and other materials
- Rats often live underground and will form extensive burrows which can, in some cases, affect the foundations and stability of buildings
To prevent rat infestations, the following advice should always be followed:
- Keep your premises in good repair to prevent rats gaining entrance (Rats can get through a hole as small as 1.5cm and in colder weather rats will look for somewhere warmer to live)
- Keep gardens tidy and free from rubbish
- Make sure that drains are in full working order and covers are firmly fitted
- Make sure all bins are kept shut and in good order
- Place compost bins on wire mesh with a secure lid kept secure
- Hang all bird food in suitable containers and should not be left on the floor
- Seal any unused pipes leading from the outside to the inside of the building to prevent access
- Fit wire mesh covers to ventilation or air bricks
- Wasps will build a pale beige/grey nest in various places; a new nest is formed in spring by the queen wasps that have been hibernating over winter
- Nests can be up to 120cm wide and contain in the region of 5,000 to 10,000 wasps, although smaller nests can be found in restricted places
- In early spring or during a mild winter, the larger queen wasps may be seen.
- Wasp nests are often built within the wall cavities or soffits of houses. They can be identified by coming and going through one, often small hole.
- An officer wearing protective clothing will visit your premises and assess the location of the wasps' nest
- The officer will spray an insecticide directly into the wasps' nest (please note this insecticide can be harmful to pets and fish and must not be inhaled by humans, it is therefore important that it is sprayed professionally)
(If the wasp nest is inaccessible or cannot be accessed safely using our specialist equipment, we will be unable to carry out a treatment. In this instance the officer will offer further advice. In this instance we would only charge a standard call out fee)
- Following the insecticide being sprayed, wasps will become more active to try and defend the nest. It is advisable to keep all windows and doors closed until the activity subsides, this is usually within 24hours
- If the nest is still active after 7 days contact us and we will re-treat free of charge
- If there are multiple nests, we can treat them all during the same visit for a discounted rate. Additional nests not identified as part of the first visit will be charged at the usual rate.
- Following treatment, you will be left with a safety information sheet and our contact details
- Pest control officers can remove the empty nest. Wasps don't return to old nests so this is not always required. This would be charged as a wasp treatment
- We do not treat bees, any wasp visits that are actually bees will be charged the standard call out fee. Bees are generally much fluffier than wasps and may appear suddenly in a large group.
- Wasps are aggressive if disturbed and in late summer or early autumn can sting as they become affected by the fermented fruit. The sting of wasp can very painful and may cause swelling. Stings to the mouth, neck, face, or throat and in some cases a sting anywhere can cause a serve allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock which can be fatal, in which case immediate medical attention must be sought.
- Once a wasp nest is destroyed, wasps will become aggressive and attack, it is therefore advisable not to treat the wasp nests yourself
- Any nest found during the winter will be empty and therefore can be safely removed.
- Wasps will never return to an old nest, therefore unless it is unsightly it is not necessary to be removed.
The common house mouse is usually light brown or grey, measuring 6 - 9 cm from nose to base of tail. The tail can be at least double the length of the body at up to 10 cm long.
- Droppings - Droppings may be found close to where the mice are nesting or close to food sources, a single mouse can produce up to 80 droppings a day; these are black, rod shaped and 3-6mm long
- Footprints/Trails - There may be grey smear marks on surface from the oils in the mouse fur
- Odour - The common house mouse has a distinctive musty odour.
- Noise - Mice are usually most active at night and can be heard running around looking for food, and gnawing to access food and keep their teeth in check. Make a note of where you are hearing the noises most as this can help the pest control officer identify the correct treatment programme
- Mice are often noticed in the autumn, when the weather starts to become colder as they will seek a warmer home for the winter
- Nests may be found in loft spaces, around heating pipes or airing cupboards
- Treatment is only available within buildings, sheds, outbuildings and garages to ensure that field mice or other non-target species are poisoned.
- Initial visit (approx 60 mins) - An officer will visit and carry out a full survey to identify where the mice are living and how they are accessing your property. The officer will set up a treatment programme using mice boxes or trays depending on the location of the infestation.They will also offer advice on prevention steps such as how to store food or waste materials, and health and safety information relating to the poison. Following the treatment a follow up visit will be made to visit and assess how much of the poison has been taken.
- Follow up visit (usually 1-2 weeks later) - Bait boxes will be checked, with areas that bait has been taken from noted. Any observations by the home/business owner will be noted by the officer relating to the effectiveness of the treatment. Bait boxes will be topped up.
Depending on the treatment needed, the officer may visit up to 3 times in total. If additional visits are needed then a further charge will be made for each visit
- Mice will cause a lot of damage from their gnawing, they are also known to spread diseases such as Salmonella and Listeria which can cause food poisoning
- Mice breed very quickly and if left untreated will quickly reproduce and can cause extensive damage
The following advice should always be followed:
- Keep your premises in good repair to prevent mice gaining entrance (mice can get through a hole as small as 0.5cm)
- Keep gardens free from rubbish and tidy
- Keep all bins shut and in good condition
- Place compost bins wire mesh with a secure lid
- Do not overfeed wild birds, all food should be hung in suitable containers and food should not be left on the floor
- Seal any pipes that lead inside a building to prevent access
- Cover ventilation or air bricks wire mesh cover (we can supply and fit these as part of a treatment ask the pest control officer for details)
Fleas are 1 - 4mm long and brown in colour; they don't have wings but are able to jump. A female flea can lay up to 1000 eggs over 2 years of life.
- Bites - Bite marks on humans are typically a small itchy, red spot about 5mm diameter; however this can be confirmed by your GP.
- Pet itching - Most infestations are caused by the cat or dog flea and are carried in to the home or commercial premises by cats and dogs or on the clothes of humans. If your pets are scratching constantly and by seeing the fleas.
- Droppings - Flea droppings can usually be seen in the coat of animals lying next to the skin. Brush your pet over light coloured paper and adding a few drops of water to the black specks; if they turn red then this will confirm a flea problem
- For a successful flea treatment, the house and all soft furnishings must be thoroughly vacuumed with the vacuum bag thrown away in an outside bin, all animal bedding must be thoroughly hovered and washed. All floor surfaces should be cleared as much as possible, and all children's toys and other loose objects should be removed from the floor
- The flea treatment needs to be carried out when the occupiers are out and they should not return until the insecticide that has been sprayed is completely dry, this is usually about 4 hours
- Following the insecticide spraying the treated property should not be vacuumed or have floor surfaces cleaned for at least a week, carpets should not be washed for at least 4 weeks. This will allow for any fleas that may be in the egg or larvae stages to have contact with the insecticide ensuring a successful treatment
- All animals must be treated at the same time to prevent re-infestation.
Fleas are not known to carry diseases in this country. However flea bites can be a source of irritation and cause discomfort. In some cases flea bites can produce an allergic reaction and can cause intense itching.
- Regularly check your pets for fleas and treat as recommended by a vet.
- Ensure all households pets are regularly treated with a flea product approved by a veterinary surgery
- Regular vacuuming of the house and cleaning of pet bedding
The most common species of cockroach in Britain is the German Cockroach which is 10-15mm in length and of a yellowish-brown colour.
Less common are Oriental Cockroaches which are dark brown and up to 30mm in length.
Cockroaches are nocturnal, so it's unlikely that you will actually see them. They will leave the following warning signs:
- Egg cases - cockroaches shed their skin several times during their life span
- Odour - established cockroach infestations produce an unpleasant, musty smell and this is most noticeable close to the home
- Damage - cockroaches eat almost anything so you may notice damage to food stuffs or packaging.
- Droppings - cockroaches leave a dust of black/dark brown droppings where they run, these are cylindrical and less than 2mm wide if water is scarce. There may be brown, irregular shaped smear marks instead of droppings if water is readily available.
- Initial visit (approx 60 mins) - An officer will visit to assess the extent of the infestation, they will set up sticky traps in the property to help identify the type of cockroach and where the activity is
- Follow up visit (usually 1 week later) -the officer will examine the traps and then set up an action plan to carry out the treatment; this can on occasion involve the removal of skirting boards, floor boards and gas fires. The officer will then spray the affected area with a residual insecticide and may use a ULV machine to ensure a thorough treatment; a gel insecticide may also be applied in certain areas
- Re-assessment visit (usually 2 weeks later) Following the treatment more sticky traps will be set up which again will be re-checked in a week
- In some cases the treatment may need to be repeated which will incur an additional payment
- Cockroaches are a serious health risk because of the ease with which they can infest and infect foodstuffs
- Cockroaches carry food poisoning germs on their bodies and are responsible for the spread of dysentery and gastro-enteritis
- They will feed on almost anything including faecal matter and food for human consumption
- Contamination will occur when the insect comes into contact with food or work surfaces or through faecal contamination of foodstuffs
Making sure your premises are clean and that there are no food sources and hiding places for cockroaches
The adult bed bug is an oval insect, 5mm long by about 3mm broad. If the bed bug has not recently fed it is very flat and red-brown in colour. Once it has fed it changes to a dark mahogany colour and becomes more rounded.
- Bites - bed bugs can cause very itchy bites, you may also notice blood spots on sheets where the bed bugs have bitten you. Bites are often on parts of the body not covered by bedding, such as face and arms.
- Odour - there may be an unpleasant almond smell
Bed bugs are very difficult to treat; we therefore have a comprehensive treatment plan to treat infestations as thoroughly as possible
- Initial visit (approx 60 mins) - An officer will visit and carry out a thorough inspection of the infected areas, in some cases monitoring traps may be installed to aid identification. Specialist equipment is used to identify bed bugs; this will require moving mattresses and other bedroom fixtures.
The officer will also advise of the action needed to be taken by the householder to ensure the treatment can be carried out , this may include hot washing all soft furnishings, clothes, bedding and curtains and tumble drying or freezing to destroy all bed bugs and eggs.
At the end of the visit, another appointment will be made to carry out the treatment, allowing time for the occupier to carry out all necessary works.
- Follow up visit (usually 1 week later) Depending on the extent of the infestation 1 or 2 pest control officers will carry out the bed bug treatment. This involves spraying insecticide on all bedding, surrounding furniture and bed frames. A ULV machine may also be used to 'fog' the room. The insecticide used will have a residual effect which will help to treat the bed bugs as they hatch from the eggs. The occupier will continue to sleep in the bedrooms to encourage the bed bug lifecycle.
The treatment can take up to half a day. At the end of the treatment an appointment is made for a further treatment in 2 - 3 weeks.
- Second treatment (usually 2-3 weeks later)A second treatment is carried out, this is done as bed bugs are so difficult to treat it is essential that the affected bedrooms are treated effectively. At the end of the second and final treatment the officer will arrange a follow up visit in 2 - 3 weeks.
- Final follow up visit (usually 2-3 weeks later) - officer visits to re-survey the property to identify whether the infestation has been cleared. It must be remembered that as bed bugs will search for small holes to hide, even one missed bed bug can cause the infestation will return. We try to reduce the likelihood of this with two treatments being carried out. In the unlikely event that the infestation is still active then the treatment will need to be repeated and the fee will be re-payable.
- Bed bugs are not known to carry diseases, however the bites can cause a significant nuisance and as they are nocturnal can lead to lack of sleep and in serve cases anaemia
- The bites on humans can be identified as hard white swellings; they are very itchy and in some individuals can lead to allergic reactions
- Bed bugs are very difficult to treat, one or two bed bugs will very quickly multiply, and therefore the best prevention is not to bring them into your property
- Avoid buying second hand furniture, particularly when you are unsure of its origin, especially bedroom furniture. If you do buy second hand furniture, thoroughly check it over, in particular look for blood spots in hidden corners.
- If you have been away from home either in this country or abroad and believe where you have stayed may have bed bugs please contact us for advice or as a minimum thoroughly wash all clothes and bags at the highest possible temperature
The adult squirrel is approximately 25 cm long, with a 23 cm tail and weighs about 500 grams. Squirrels survive in woodland which provides cover (including suburban parks and gardens).
- Noise - Scratching and scuttling noises in roof accompanied by droppings
- Damage - internally there may be gnawing where the animal is trying to gather materials for nesting. Externally large tooth marks might be found on the bark of trees or the caps of fungi. Acorns and nuts may be present that have split open. Troughs may appear where the animal is searching for previously buried food.
- A pest control officer will visit and carry out a thorough assessment of the area to identify the extent of the infestation and identify the best treatment options.
- Squirrels are treated using a trap, these are set up in the location that they are deemed to be most active
- These traps must be checked legally every 24 hours, meaning the householder is usually asked to check the trap on a daily basis.
- Once a squirrel is caught the pest control team will need to be contacted and the trap can be reset or removed depending on the extent of the problem
- If the householder is not able to check the traps daily, an officer will visit daily and at weekends to check the trap, the fee for this service is calculated on an hourly rate
- Squirrels are not thought to carry human diseases but they are known to bite if they are frightened
- Anyone who suffers a bite would be wise to seek medical advice in case a tetanus vaccination is required
- Squirrels may carry fleas that can be passed to domestic animals
- Tree damage caused by gnawing occurs May to July (mainly to hardwoods - especially sycamore and beech
- Serious damage to property can be caused through gnawing of cables, building structures and insulation - usually they are searching for food or nesting material
- Deny access to roof/loft spaces by sealing any entrance routes using securely fixed chicken wire. These proofing works must only be carried out once the area is clear of young or adult squirrels, ideally in November/December to avoid the breeding season.
There are several species of cluster flies found in the UK but they are often found in mixed swarms. Sizes can vary between species from 6 - 10mm, they are slightly larger than the house fly and appear to fly more sluggishly.
Cluster flies can be recognised by their distinctive stripes behind the head, short golden hairs on their thorax and a mottled light/dark grey abdomen.
Eggs are laid on damp soil or beneath dead and rotting leaves. Adult flies feed on the nectar of garden and wild flowers.
During the summer and early autumn cluster flies are rarely noticed as they are away from buildings. As the season cools they seek shelter in nooks and crannies in houses and other buildings.
- Cluster flies will start entering buildings during the autumn to escape the colder weather and to survive the winter
- When the weather starts becoming warmer in the spring they will become more active again and will be more noticeable
- Cluster flies are usually found in rural or semi-rural areas and can be found in loft spaces or sometimes in unused rooms, or around sash windows
- They are usually seen in large groups and will often be noticed around sunny windows
- An appointment will be made for an officer to visit you at a suitable time
- Access to loft spaces will be required; we have ladders that are able to access most domestic loft spaces
- The pest control officer will visit and assess the location of the cluster flies
- Wearing protective clothing the officer will then set up ULV equipment which is a machine that will effectively disperse an insecticide into the area, usually the loft space
- The length of time the machine is run will depend on the size of the loft space
- Following the treatment the cluster flies will become very active and will start to die very quickly, this usually starts within a few minutes of the treatment
- The insecticide used will destroy that generation of cluster flies but it will not prevent them returning
- Cluster Flies are not known to carry diseases in this country
- However large clusters of flies are often considered a nuisance
- It is extremely difficult to prevent cluster flies entering a property
- Fly proofing a building is not 100% effective. However, caulking around windows, and sealing obvious entry points can help
- It has been observed that a single building in a row of apparently identical buildings will be selected for clustering year after year. This is no indication of poor hygiene standards and no explanation for the phenomenon has been found
- If you are experiencing regular cluster fly problems we are able to offer treatment to destroy the current cluster fly generation
There are several types of carpet beetle, the most common is the varied carpet beetle. It is the larval stage of the beetle's life cycle which causes the most damage to carpets by feeding on any natural fibres within the carpet. A female beetle can lay around 35-100 eggs in batches.
The beetles in their larvae stage are sometimes called 'woolly bears' due to bristles which can be seen around the edge of the body. The larvae (woolly bears) emerge from the eggs and start feeding. The larvae are repelled by the light and as a result cause deep burrowing into their food which is carpets.
- Holes appearing in jumpers and similar clothing
- Tufts of carpeting coming away when vacuum cleaning
- Holes in carpets may be found when moving standing furniture as often the damage occurs underneath
- However, if you see "woolly bears" crawling on walls, carpets and clothing then you know you have a problem
- Once an appointment has been made you should ensure that the affected areas of carpets are thoroughly vacuumed and the vacuum bag is disposed of in an outside bin. Floors should be left as free as possible from loose objects eg toys, but rugs will need to be sprayed
- The pest control officer will visit to assess the extent of the problem and identify that it is carpet beetles. We can only treat when we are satisfied that there is an infestation
- Floor surfaces in the affected property will be sprayed with an insecticide. Occupants of the house will need to remain out of the house until the insecticide is dried; this is usually about 4 hours. The floors areas should not be vacuumed for a week to allow the residual insecticide to continue working; carpets should not be shampooed for 4 weeks after
- The carpet moth./beetle treatment needs to be carried out when the occupiers are out and they should not return until the insecticide that has been sprayed and is completely dry, this is usually about 4 hours
- The officer will leave you with details of the insecticide used and any safety precautions that should be followed
- Carpet moths / beetles neither carry germs nor do they spread disease hence their presence does not constitute a risk to health
- However, the activities of carpet moths/beetle will cause considerable damage
The best way to prevent a carpet moths/beetle problem is to:
- Vacuum regularly (especially in areas under storage heaters or at the skirting junction)
- Remove old bird nests, animal remains and dead insects are sometimes the cause of infestation
- Destroy any pieces of old carpet or similar material in lofts or roof voids
Wiltshire Council currently does not offer treatments for:
- Biscuit Beetles