- When putting your decorations away, use large plastic storage boxes as mice love to nest in tinsel. And don't forget to check for chocolates in case there is one left that the rest of the family did not see.
- It's the best time to feed the birds but only store your bird-seed in the garage if it's in a closed plastic or preferably metal container.
- Hang a large tray under bird feeders to stop rats being attracted to spilt seeds.
- Its the ideal time of year to remove plants that touch your roof. It will make it harder for grey squirrels to get into your loft.
- Before your spring clean, take off all the kick-boards under kitchen cupboards and remove any old food that will attract insects and mice. At the same time, fill any large holes in the floor or base of the walls with wire wool and cement to make them rodent proof.
- To help prevent moths or fleas setting up home, vacuum the edges of all carpets using your crevice tool (the thin-ended pipe). Empty your bag directly into a bin bag outside as they can breed in vacuum cleaners.
- Pull out your washing machine and check the hoses. Finding the first signs of a mouse gnawing through will save you from an expensive flood.
- Never store carpets in the loft. We all mean to use them again in future but almost nobody does and moths from birds nests will have a field day breeding in them.
- If birds nested in your loft last year and you don't want them back seal up the gaps before the nesting season starts as it will be illegal to do this once nesting begins.
- Check your cat-flap works well - its a common route in for rats once it breaks
- Store any firewood at least 20 feet away from your house and 6 inches above the ground to discourage rodents
- Don't store your warm winter woolens in the loft. Clothes moths have evolved to seek out bird nests in areas like lofts and can wreck your jumpers before its time to wear them next winter.
- Check for leaky pipes under your sink and bath as moisture is ideal for silverfish and woodlice.
- Eliminate clutter especially under the sink or stairs as this provides ideal conditions for mice.
- If you run a food business such as a cafe Buy A Torch. Its the most important tool in the fight against pests.
- To help keep mosquitoes from breeding cover your water butt and change bird bath water twice a week.
All about bins this month as commercial bins especially are high risk areas for pests:
- Check that lids fit tight and clip shut or squirrels will be straight in
- Check the bung in the bottom: missing bungs are a common entry point for rats
- Wash the bin out EVERY time its emptied or flies will breed in the remains stuck to the bottom
- Pressure wash the entire "bin store"monthly: its a common area for flies to breed
- Put at least one wasp trap by the bins as anything sweet will attract hundreds of these insects
Its the peak time for clothes moths and other carpet pests so here are some tips about them:
- Check under heavy furniture every 6 months.
- Treat affected woolens by tumble drying them on a hot setting for 20 mins if label allows.
- Look on window ledges for adult carpet beetles (ladybird shaped but black, grey and white stripes).
- To be sure your carpets are not at risk buy man made wool-free ones.
Its bed bugs this month with 4 simple preventative steps:
- Wash all bedding on hot every week
- Tumble dry pillows on hot for 20 mins
- Store everything under the bed in plastic boxes
- Fit a sealed mattress cover (plastic zipped ones are ideal)
Cluster flies often start around now so here are some ideas:
- Pump some inorganic dust such as diatomaceous earth, into the box that covers the sash cord as they love to spend the winter in here
- Open all windows and wipe a crawling insect spray onto the exposed edges with a cloth
- They love pale walls so use a darker colour when painting the outside
With recent changes in legislation affecting rodenticides some new traps and relaunches of older systems are coming onto the market so this months tips are my opinions on some of them:
- "Just add water" traps- though they never say this, these kill by drowning. This is inhumane and illegal; Advice -Avoid
- "Ultrasound, or high frequency deterrents" I have never found one that worked : Advice- Its your money not mine to waste
- The rotenator or similar devices that pump explosive gas into a burrow and ignite it: Advice- its illegal, Avoid
- Rat flap/rat blocker etc A device that allows water to flow through a drain but does not let rats past : Advice - a cracking idea , every drain should have one
- Old fashioned snap traps. Still the best kind available : Advice- set with trapping end flush to a wall
New standards and regulations mean new acronyms and schemes to look for. Here are 4 of the best to look for before employing a pest controller:
- BPCA Membership This is a must have in my view and shows professionalism and continuous professional development
- CEPA certified This is the new European standard and will soon become the norm for the best companies. Will take a year or so to become established and applies to commercial pest control as much as domestic.
- Which trusted trader Another new one that we will be applying for soon and seems the best of the many schemes out there.
- CHAS certified. Particularly concerned with health and safety so a good indicator of professionalism
- Knock down old wasp's nests with a brush so they cannot support clothes moths
- Open windows and wash the edges inside the frames to discourage Asian ladybirds from squatting over the colder months
- Check your Christmas decorations for mouse nests while the shops have plenty of replacements; and make a resolution to put them away next time in plastic boxes
- Seal gaps under outside doors with brush, draught excluder. Rodents think its solid.
- Check odd noises from above putting trays of chocolate and peanuts in your loft. If neither goes there is no pest. Just the peanuts may mean squirrels.
- Now plants have died back check air-bricks for damage that could let mice in.
- Make sure your cat does not follow you into the loft when collecting your tree decorations. Its the smell of mice!