Mozzies, the super pest

Did you know that worldwide 219 million people get malaria, 435,000 die from contracting it and 90% of those deaths are in Africa. Compared with 500 who die from hippo attacks, a 1000 from crocodiles and 25,000 by dogs. Don't mosquitos drive you mad whining and buzzing around your head, disturbing your sleep? The mozzie is a serious pest, an insect that can drink three times its body weight of blood in one meal and collectively kill more people than any weapon.

They are superb transmitters of disease, including five forms of malaria, yellow fever, zika and West Nile virus, this is despite us having the pesticides to keep them at bay. Previously advanced chemical formulations in the form of modern pesticides were not available. It is considered that of the 100 billion people that have ever lived, half of them may have been killed by malaria.

Malaria has featured and won many significant military battles throughout history including attacks on Rome, the Vietnam war and British Imperial forces in Southern Africa. It has claimed many famous leaders, Tutankhamun, Ghengis Khan and Alexander the Great along with 95 million people in Central and South America who succumbed after European colonists took malarial mozzies with them, all have fallen victim to the tiny mosquito.

Mozzies have a lot to answer for, the collapse of societies, the rise and fall of DDT and the failure of grand invasion plans. At all times keep in mind the vision of the sheer destructive power of the tiny insect.

We can use pesticides to kill them, elephants wrinkle their skin to crush them, whatever your preferred method, one which needs to work effectively in the future will be gene edited biotechnology to produce infertility in the females, perhaps then we will start to see us winning the battle. However, a final word of caution, some species of mosquito like Aedes and Anopheles have adapted well to warmer latitudes. For animals that begun by parasiting dinosaurs and then jumped to birds and mammals, global warming should be a "walk in the park".

Do our insects have emotions? Would a mosquito feel sad if it saw its brother die?

We should consider several schools of thought on this. Firstly, insects do not behave in a way that suggests any kind of emotional life resembling that of humans. They have tiny simple brains and consequently a lot of their behaviour is produced by simple reflex responses to stimuli. Also, regarding the second question, this assumes that a mosquito would recognise its brother, which is doubtful, their eyesight is pretty poor and their brains unsophisticated. There is plenty of evidence that many insects have little or no sense of family bond, in fact sometimes their behaviour is much worse. Female praying mantis cannibalise their mate during mating. The orange tip butterfly usually lays just one egg per plant, but if she lays two one of the emerging caterpillars will probably eat the other, sibling or not. Social insects on the other hand do cooperate with other family members, eg bees. They will also exhibit high levels of self sacrifice in the interest of their colony. However, there is no evidence that this behaviour is regulated through emotions.

Secondly, Charles Darwin famously suggested that animal emotions include love, jealousy, anger and terror. Studies have shown that bees become more optimistic than other bees when rewarded for reaching certain sites. Does this demonstrate that insects have the cognitive and physiological building blocks that might give rise to complex phenomena such as emotion?

Lastly, wasps are another social insect. If you have been unfortunate to disturb a nest you will know that they can certainly display anger, a pheromone response triggered probably by fear. They also produce offspring and are social with their own species, though this is more a mechanical precondition, than something triggered by arousal or a need for company.

In conclusion then, perhaps insects display base emotions but whether they feel love, grief, empathy, sympathy or sadness is unlikely. As humans we can feel and demonstrate kindness to an insect, it remains unknown if these emotions are ever reciprocated.

Bees v Hornets

When a hornet attacks, bees know what to do. A few hundred workers swarm around the predator, roasting it alive with their body heat. The bees vibrate their wing muscles to generate temperatures of about 46 degrees centigrade (the normal hive temperature is 32 degrees centigrade). Hornets attack hives to carry off bees to eat. Unfortunately, the bees defence mechanism is a sacrificial mission for the bees involved.

These bee-balls have to be formed quickly around the attacking hornet to prevent it releasing pheromones to attract reinforcements. The bees that defend the hive by forming a ball will then die quicker than those that remain in the hive. (Within 10 days compared with 16 days for the remainers; Behavioural Ecology & Sociobiology).

Hornets can attack hives 30 time a week in the autumn. In experiments, it was also found that if you exposed the bees to a second hornet attack, the bees that had joined in the first ball were more likely to help out a second time.

Even the insects are displaying some serious survival instincts when defending themselves.

Wood boring pests at large in the UK

Recently the Royal Academy of Art accidentally imported an Asian longhorned beetle into the UK in a sculpture called the Tree. Tell tale signs of the beetle emerging from the artwork (beetle exit holes) were noticed by Prof Nicola Spence. This was a serious concern since Asian longhorn beetles can kill broad-leaved trees such as oak by burrowing into their heartwood. Defra has been battling for years to prevent the insects becoming established in Britain. The artwork had come from the mountains of southern China. The exhibit was closed and then fumigated once the Forestry Commission had surveyed and inspected it thoroughly to ensure that there were no signs of active infestation. The exhibit was destined to travel to other European cities, so it averted further risk of infection elsewhere.

Many imported items including furniture, sculpture and picture frames can sometimes be infested with pests. Sometimes a strange looking pest will be spotted in someones conservatory after emerging from a chair or some other item. Identification of non-indigenous species is key. In one incident a family heard a scratching noise coming from their headboard, thinking it was the neighbours at first. Only to find it was an Asian longhorned beetle boring its way out through their headboard.

Perhaps we should adopt an approach like Australia, having an import ban on all organic material. This would ensure that our native species stay safe. On our doorstep in the UK there are about 1000 pests and diseases close by in other countries which we do not want here. It is up to all of us, when visiting abroad, do not be tempted to bring flowers, seeds, plants or foods back into the UK. They may unbeknown to us have stowaway pests or diseases on board which could threaten our native species.

Wasps, Hornets & Bees Control and Nest Removal Maidstone

All three are seasonal insects, more common in the warm spring and summer months.

Wasps, hornets and bees will emerge in the spring to start and colonise and build new nests.

Many people think that they will use old nest sites again, this is not the case.

The nest is only ever used for one season.

Pest Purge treats and removes wasp and hornet nests from properties, both insects can be a real nuisance and a potential source of harm to people and pets if they are stung.

A hornets sting is more powerful, and likely to cause more pain and discomfort if you are unfortunate enough to be stung by one of these insects.

We will endeavour to remove hornet and wasp nests from your property or business within 24 hours of being called, often on the same day.

We know that these insects can disrupt your lifestyle and your business so we will respond quickly when notified.

Wasps and hornets will pollinate plants and eat a lot of insects during the summer.

If the weather is dry and warm the insect life will flourish and the wasps and hornets will be more abundant.

Their nests are beautifully constructed, works of art, made from their saliva and wood that they strip from fences and trees to construct the nest.

There are many species of wasp in the UK but only one type of hornet, the European hornet.

There is likely to be a new visitor from the hornet family arriving in the UK sometime soon, the Asian Hornet.

They are widespread in Europe and France and therefore likely to arrive here imminently.

They will nest high up in the branches of trees and close to water.

They are strong fliers and experts think with a strong breeze they will be able to fly across from France.

They are not welcome and the authorities will urge people to notify them of their arrival if you think you have spotted one or a nest.

They are slightly smaller than the European Hornet and with a darker thorax and yellow legs distinguishing them from their European cousin.

People are sometimes frightened of wasps and hornets, sometimes with good reason.

If the Queen of the nest perceives that the nest is under threat or attack, she will muster her troops and the colony will work together to defend themselves.

This may mean that they will change from being passive to aggressive and will fly out of the nest ready to attack the invading army. (If this invading army happens to be you gardening and you inadvertently stick a fork through a wasp nest in a shrub, you had better move fast to avoid being stung.)

Some people can display an allergic reaction to the poison, in most cases it is never severe but it has proved to be fatal in a small number of cases.

Do not try to deal with wasp or hornet nests yourself, you will be inviting trouble.

Better to call in the professionals.

At Pest Purge we are used to dealing with them from a distance and have the equipment to carry out the work safely with the minimum of fuss.

Be aware that the treatment is not instantaneous, the insecticide we use takes a short while to take effect and to neutralise the colony.

Pest Purge also deals with bees, there are many species of bee in the UK and as they are in decline we are keen to preserve them.

If you have a problem with nuisance bees, call us and we will advise you how we can remove them without destroying them.

Bees are generally passive insects and are unlikely to sting you.

Honeybees are greatly in demand with bee keepers, so if you see a swarm it is likely that a bee keeper will come and collect it for you. We have included some useful contacts below.

Kent Bee Keepers Association

British Bee keepers Association

Natural History Museum insect identification blogs & forums in Nature Plus

Rat and Vermin Control Maidstone

These are some of the most common pests that Pest Purge is equipped to deal with.

The main problems associated with them both at home and in businesses include damage to stock, wiring and electrics including structural damage to the building fabric and the key concern that everybody has is their potential to spread disease.

Rats and mice are a health hazard; call in Pest Purge as soon as you see signs of activity.

If left unchecked their numbers will increase and their potential for causing widespread costly damage will multiply greatly.

Vermin Health Risk

The health risk they pose is caused by their droppings contaminating things, rats are responsible for weils disease, the plague and hantavirus, all of them liable to cause serious illness if contracted.

When do Rats enter properties?

Often Rats and mice enter properties on a seasonal basis, as the weather cools down they will seek out somewhere warm to stay with a good food source nearby.

Both rodents will head for the loft once they are inside, often they are quiet and warm and they can forage around and remain undisturbed.

Usually the first sign will be the sound of them on your ceiling as you lie awake at night wondering what is up there.

Professional Vermin Control

Pest Purge are experienced at removing rodents from your home or business, we use professional rodenticides to bait the animals and we can safely deploy baits around your garden or premises in sealed containers which are effective and which pose no risk to pets or other non-target species.

We can also trap them for you, removing the risk of them dying somewhere and leaving a foul odour to be dealt with.

Trapping is another option with spring traps designed to kill the rodent instantly and humanely.

Garden Mole Control

These small solitary creatures are a common garden and agricultural pest, popping up their mole hills as they tunnel around underground searching for food. Pest Purge is experienced at capturing moles, we trap them underground.

Trapping Garden Moles

The art of mole trapping is to know where and how to set the traps in order to catch the moles quickly before too much damage is done to lawns and fields.

Act Fast To Prevent Damage Caused By Moles

Traditional techniques are used which prove highly effective. The quicker you call Pest Purge to start trapping the less damage will be done; we have worked at allotments, bowling greens and equestrian centres, for farmers and homeowners keen to get rid of them.

Significant mole activity will undermine the soil and the tunnels may give way underfoot, posing a risk to animals like horses and cattle and the possibility you may incur costly vet bills.

Squirrels Pest Control Maidstone

An agile pest that is often found invading loft spaces.

A great climber, you may have seen them on your garden fence or on the roof of your house, be careful to keep a watchful eye out to make sure they are not getting inside.

They will find a way, under a tile or by chewing a hole in the soffit, once inside they will make themselves comfortable and start nesting.

Squirrels like rats need a daily source of water so they will return outside on a regular basis to drink?

Pest Purge are used to identifying and removing squirrels as a domestic pest, their droppings differ from those of rats and mice and they will also leave distinct gnawing marks on the roof joists.

Squirrels like rats and mice, will all gnaw things continuously. This is because it is how they keep their teeth trimmed, if they did not do this their teeth would grow too long and the animal would eventually starve.

If you can hear a loud noise in your loft running around then the likely cause will be a squirrel has got in.

Especially if you live in a rural location bordering woodland or out in the sticks.

But even in semi-rural locations on the edges of our towns squirrels will be thriving?

Squirrels can be a problem in the garden, competing with the birds and destroying feeders, they will also dig around, eating bulbs and making food stores for the winter.

In the loft the damage may be more severe, chewing, wiring, electrics, internet and telephone cables and pipework, expensive if you need to call in an electrician or plumber to fix things?

Pest Purge can trap them professionally; this is the most humane way of dealing with them.

You are not allowed to trap and release them somewhere else as they are not an indigenous species and must be destroyed on site.

We have been professionally trapping squirrels for many years and with a variety of specialist equipment designed to attract and entrap the animals quickly and humanely.

Give us a call for a friendly and professional service.

Fox Control Maidstone

These rural and urban pests are common throughout the country. Everywhere you go you will encounter foxes somewhere nearby.

Pest Purge has contracts with farmers to remove them as well as working with homeowners who want them out of their gardens.

We understand wildlife as we are experienced rural pest controllers.

It is important to understand their behaviour and lifestyle in order to successfully trap and remove foxes that have become a pest.

Cage trapping is a common method of control and the traps will need to be checked twice a day to ensure that any captured animal does not suffer any distress.

Another method which Pest Purge uses is shooting at night time.

We are licensed Firearms Certificate holders, expert marksmen, and used to using a rifle equipped with a sound moderator and infrared night sight.

This enables us to see the animal in the dark in order to humanely despatch it.

Foxes will scavenge for food, in towns they will occasionally empty bins and in the wild they will eat most things, as omnivores their diet is varied and includes small mammals, birds, mice, rabbits, fruit, vegetables, worms, grubs and reptiles.

They are very adaptable and successful at living in close proximity to humans. Unfortunately, when they get too close and too familiar is when they become a problem.

They pose a small risk to pets, dogs, cats, rabbits, ducks, hens and guinea pigs left out at night, all are fair game to a hungry fox. They do not pose a threat to adults or children.

They are naturally wary of humans, except in our urban environments where they are very bold and used to moving around in the daytime in search of food.

Normally foxes are nocturnal preferring to roam around under the cover of darkness.

Pest Purge has found that dealing with fox problems in towns and villages can be controversial as many people like to see them as well as feeding and encouraging them.

It is quite likely that you may wish to get rid of them and your neighbour feels the complete opposite, enjoying watching them, having adopted them.

Foxes will set up home under sheds, garages, decking and in overgrown gardens.

Once established in the area they will establish a territory.

Their population remains fairly constant.

If you remove a fox it will be replaced by several rivals.

Competition for territory means more fighting, more noise and fouling of gardens.

This is because calling and scent marking are used to lay claim to a territory.

Due to the relatively large numbers of urban foxes local councils will not get involved in removing them.

If you have a fox problem call Pest Purge to get some professional help.

Rabbit Control

Pest purge are highly experienced in dealing with these rural pests, we can use a variety of traditional techniques, including, snaring, cage trapping, spring trapping, drop boxes, shooting and ferreting.

All of these require special training and in the case of shooting, the legal authorisation to use a rifle which we have from Kent Police. Rabbits are a serious pest to farmers and gardeners.

Problems Rabbits Can Cause To Businesses

They can ruin an agricultural or small holding business. We have even had to eradicate them when they gained entrance to council allotments and were eating all the produce! Pest Purge has annual contracts with farms, vineyards and private estates to control rabbits where they are a real threat to business. For these contracts we may combine ferreting through the winter with shooting all year round to keep their numbers down. On one recent contract we have removed over 100 rabbits from a farm starting a new growing venture.

Problems Rabbits Can Cause To Homeowners

For the homeowner in the countryside the rabbit will be seen as a pest when they invade gardens and eat expensive plants, they will also ruin shrubs and kill young trees as they nibble around the trunk stripping the bark, allowing disease to enter and the tree to die. Your vegetables will be a key target. Rabbits will dig burrows to live in but they will also live under sheds, garages, decking, barns and out-buildings.

They also live on the surface where there is sufficient ground cover and protection from the elements. Rabbit numbers will increase quickly as their breeding life-cycle is very fast, they will produce many young and all are mobile and capable of causing damage immediately.

Wild Rabbit Breeding Habits

Rabbits also breed all year round, now we have much milder weather, the seasonal temperature is less dramatic and this encourages them to breed even during the winter months. Pest Purge is well equipped to tackle your rabbit problem, for a cost effective quote give us a call and we can discuss the various options available. We can provide and install rabbit proof fencing or proofing for individual pants and trees.