Preventative Pest Control In The UK
There is definitely something strange going on with our weather patterns here in the UK and we have just experienced the hottest ever July this year and much as I love the heat, I am now thinking about when I lived in Dallas, Texas and the other things that extreme heat bring with it — snakes, spiders, bugs and where pest control was a routine event for homeowners.
Should we now look at preventative pest control in the UK as a result of our weird temperature fluctuations?
That lovely little creature in the image above is a brown recluse spider, which can be found in the USA and especially in Texas where I lived for ten years. We were always vigilant when it came to looking out for these little creatures, especially with 3 young children at the time as their bites do have the capacity to prove fatal in some cases.
Here is a recent headline from one of our national newspapers:
BRITS are being left in excruciating agony because of life-threatening false widow spider bites, whose flesh-eating venom has left victims permanently disabled and even ended their lives.
Now headlines are here to sell newspapers and the media does love to add a little excitement to our lives, but is there actually something to it, or is it just sensationalism?
Living in the UK, I never gave much thought to spiders, but since returning from the US, just a few years ago, I started to hear a spider that really did give me the creeps as the name was similar to another spider in the US called a black widow and it was the first time I heard about a false widow here in the UK.
These spiders are sensationalized here in the UK and that is because we don’t really talk about them and to be fair, they have been here for a while, so why all of the fuss?
It is because there are more of them and we are hearing about people being bitten and the nasty experiences that go along with it. For me, the very fact that the name is similar to the spider above, whose bite is extremely dangerous, my levels of concern has certainly been raised.
As I said, pest control is routine in the US and I feel it will start to become more and more important here in the UK and we will start to think about prevention, rather than the cure, just as I did in the US.
Pests in the UK
Now that we have taken a look at spiders and the weather, let’s look at some of the most common pests we have to face here in the UK and here is a definitive list.
Reading through the list there is nothing shocking about any of them, except for the spiders, snakes and for me, bed bugs, but we are all familiar with those creatures, so although we are concerned about the false widow spider for example, until we have an experience with one or talk to someone who has, the concern levels will not be high.
The real concern for me and you have to remember I have lived in a very hot climate for many years, so I am probably a little more cautious than most, is the changing climate.
You can debate all you want about global warming, but for me, our summers and however long in duration are getting warmer and we are experiencing more dramatic weather changes, so I for one, am going to be more prepared about the issues of pest control.
If you want to take a look at pest control strategies, then take a look here at the British Pest Control Association website.
Don’t go DIY on pest control
One thing I did learn in Dallas, was not to try to do your own pest control.
It’s a tempting offer when you walk through all of the stores and see the kits you can buy to get rid of say scorpions, but you can end up doing more harm than good.
Now I have a personal experience with a scorpion as did my 9-year old son, some years back as we were both bitten and fortunately they were not the deadly ones and despite giving me a feeling of being slightly drunk, I recovered with no ill effects and amazingly, my young son had no ill effects whatsoever.
But the point here is that I needed specialist help and this is where I met James, our new and friendly “bug man” who now came out with an arsenal of equipment to dispose of these very deceptive creatures.
Scorpions have the ability to “play dead” and flatten themselves so it is easy to get caught.
Looking through the definitive list you can see that there are far more creatures to think about other than spiders and remember that rats are a big problem too.
Rats can pretty much chew through anything and can be the cause of serious damage to houses and let’s not forget that they are here in abundance.
There are also more and more examples of foxes wandering into people’s homes and in some cases biting people and not surprisingly as the nature of living in today’s world sees us pushing them out of the countryside into urban areas.
Then we have bees and wasps who although seem relatively harmless but can cause potentially fatal reactions from the stings — you know this of course, but what I am trying to tell you here is to get professional help. I’ve seen an example and again in Texas, where someone tried to remove a wasps nest and ended in the emergency room having been stung badly and they had no history of being allergic to being stung, but it was the multiple stinging that harmed them.
Pest control strategy
It seems funny to think of having to have a strategy for pest control, but if you think about it, then why not?
I have to keep coming back to Texas because I can give you an idea of how things work in a place where there are threats from pests, so we have two periods every year, where good old James would come out and spray the inside and exterior of the house.
Now I can hear you all talking about chemicals and the potential dangers, but you have to weigh that up against the real threat of having a creature in your house that could potentially kill you.
The entire house was sprayed inside and out, along with the main bushy areas outside and this gave us protection from all of those unwanted things that you did not want to meet anywhere in your life, let alone your house.
In the UK, we have a much-reduced risk compared to the US, but I believe, with the changes in weather, that things will start to be different as I pointed out earlier and it is logical to assume that as our climate changes, then we will see a change in the creatures that live in it.
I would look seriously at what could happen, rather than what we have here today. I don’t want to be accused of “scaremongering,” but I think that being prepared is a far better option than not. I recently heard of someone who was attacked by the only venomous snake we have here in the UK, an adder. The person was walking through a path in some woods and disturbed a snake that was probably hiding or even injured and got bitten.
The attack was not fatal, but the person suffered a lot of tissue damage during the process and remember, as we disturb the countryside, we will force these creatures to move out of their natural habitat.
In the US, there are many kinds of venomous snakes and you simply learn to respect and live with them — you have no choice and here in the UK, we rarely see them, but I believe we will see much more and thankfully, you don’t hear of many snakes appearing in the gardens of UK houses…not yet anyway.
So I would call up your local pest control operator and ask them what the current risks and threats are in your area to determine what type of pest control strategy you need to develop.
Remember you can always research the information before you call them and after they leave, but in all seriousness, I believe that pest control will become a highly in demand over the coming years here in the UK.
The ever-changing weather conditions will definitely change the dynamics of the creatures that live in them.
In the UK I believe we will see more and more venomous creatures in our environment simply because we are “heating up” and it will be a natural development.
I live in South Wales, having returned to my Mother’s homeland from the USA and here is an interesting article that I have found from Wales Online talking about 7 potentially dangerous creatures that can be found in the UK.
It is interesting reading and we have to be more vigilant than we have been to say the least.
Living in the US was an eyeopener for me and my family as we simply had to respect the fact that there were many creatures that live in close proximity to your house that could actually kill you, so you learn to respect that.
When my children came back to the UK, they were amazed as to the fact we could leave the doors and windows open and they could roll around outside on the grass without fear and also play in the woods.
Something they would not have dreamed of doing in the US.
And now we come to bed bugs…
By: Neil Franklin