Common garden pests (such as ants, earwigs and woodlice)
All insects, which enter houses, can be regarded as pests, irrespective of whether they do damage or carry disease. Some insects are of more public health significance than others and require trained personnel to deal with them.
This group includes bed bugs, lice, fleas, cockroaches, some species of fly and, to a lesser extent, wasps and swarms of bees.
If you have, or suspect you may have an infestation of any of these insect pests seek professional advice.
Our Pest Control officers will be happy to advise you on an appropriate course of action, and will carry out treatment, if necessary. This service is provided free of charge with the exception of wasps and bees where there is a small charge.
However, the occupier of the house can often treat many insect pests, especially those that originate in the garden. Relatively harmless insects such as ants, earwigs, woodlice and garden beetles breed out of doors, but may enter houses, accidentally, or to seek shelter and food.
Most insects pass through four stages in their life cycle: egg - larva (maggot or grub) - pupa - adult, although, in some insects, the young are similar to the adults. It is virtually impossible to destroy the egg and pupa by normal methods of treatment and, therefore, control measures should be directed either against the larval stage or the adult insect.
Garden pests are often attracted into kitchens by food. Therefore, the first control measure is to ensure that all parts of the kitchen are kept clean and free of food particles.
Be Environmentally Friendly
Before you rush out and purchase an insecticide consider whether you really need to use one. Can you control the insect by simply applying good rules of hygiene? Most garden insects need moisture to survive; can you dry out any damp areas providing harbourage? As always prevention is better than cure, only use chemical controls when there is no other alternative.
Types of Insecticides
Insecticides can be either in a powder or liquid form (usually aerosols) and have either a quick knock down effect or a long lasting effect.
Insecticides containing PYRETHRINS have a quick knockdown effect and are most effective in aerosol form against flying insects, for example, fly spray.
There are many insecticides, which have a long lasting effect, the most common being DIAZINON, MALATHION, CHLORDANE and CARBARYL. These are most effective against crawling insects either in powder or a lacquer type sprays. Please note that these names are those of active insecticides and are not brand names. You will find a list of the active insecticides in the small print on the back of pesticide containers.
Most garden centres, hardware shops, chemists and some of the larger super stores stock a range of insecticides.
Read the information on the container to ensure the insecticide is suitable for the purpose you require it for, and so that you know how to use it safely. Particular attention should be given to the use of powders. Wash you hands after use and store in a safe place away from children and pets.
How to Control Some of The Most Common Garden Pests
The queen ant makes her nest in soil, in the foundations or walls of buildings, beneath bark or stones. Workers (the ants which are seen crawling around) leave the nest to search for food. They follow well-defined trails and may enter houses through cracks in brickwork or masonry, air vents and gaps around door and window frames.
The most effective control is to find the nest and destroy it. The nest can sometimes be located by carefully watching the worker ants as they make their way back, or by looking for patches of fine soil near the base of walls. If you are lucky enough to find the nest, it can be exposed with the aid of a spade and destroyed by simply pouring boiling water onto it (take great care when carrying and pouring boiling water). Alternatively apply an insecticidal powder (ant powder).
Where locating the nest proves impossible, apply a lacquer type insecticide, obtainable in aerosol spray form (see previous page), around door and window frames, skirting boards and any other points where the ants may be gaining entry.
Basic rules of hygiene and keeping foodstuffs in sealed containers will also help to discourage ants from returning.
Each year the council receives a number of calls concerning flying ants. These ants are not a separate species, but are, in fact, the same garden ants that are commonly seen crawling around. A colony of ants contains numerous workers (sterile females), a few males and several females (Queens).
The worker ants do not have wings but males and females are winged at swarming time. During this period, which may last 2 - 3 days in the summer, the winged males and females die and the queens, after shedding their wings, go off to start a new colony. Little can be done about these swarms, but it is comforting to know that the swarm will last a few days at most.
The female earwig makes a nest in soft soil and lays her eggs in January or February. The eggs hatch about two months later and between July and September the young leave the nest to search for food.
It is often difficult to locate their nests and treatment entails applying a lacquer type insecticidal spray along the base of walls, along skirting boards and around points of entry. There is no truth in the superstition that earwigs seek out human ears and pierce the eardrum with their pincers.
Woodlice are not insects but land dwelling crustaceans (same family as crabs). They can survive only in damp places, such as in leaf mould, under stones or wood, or in damp areas of houses.
Woodlice can usually be eradicated by ordinary cleaning measures and by drying out damp patches. To prevent invasion keep areas around the house, such as paths, sheds and greenhouses, clear from debris under which they may find shelter.
A lacquer type insecticidal spray can also be used around points of entry into the house. Alternatively, since they like dark places, woodlice may be attracted into insecticidal powder (ant powder will do), by placing a small amount under a flat stone or other similar object, raised slightly above the ground.
If you require any advice or help in treating these insects please email Environmental Services or call 01443 866533.