There are other birds, insects and mammals that may be significant to the householder, that Arun District Council are not able to treat for. These include: seagulls and pigeons, foxes, ants, brown tailed moths, woodlice and silverfish, booklice, and stored product insects. We are, however, able to offer the following information on the pest, and advice on prevention.
All birds, eggs and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. Under this Act, birds cannot be taken, killed or their nests or eggs removed except under licence. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) issue a number of general licences which allow authorised persons to take or kill using certain specified methods. The Act also does not allow for action to be taken against birds for the prevention of damage to property, or nuisance problems such as noise or smell.
Culling birds will only solve a problem for a short time, as any suitable site will be repopulated. Proofing property so the birds can not roost or nest is a much more effective means of control. Plastic spikes and/or netting fixed to suitable sites should deter the birds from roosting or nesting, although this will need regular maintenance as gulls will take advantage of any faults. You should never feed the birds, and we advise that you clean up any faeces as soon as possible, as it is associated with the spread of disease. For more information, we suggest that you contact the RSPB.
Although not illegal, the culling of foxes is a very expensive, difficult procedure. It will only provide a short term solution, and we suggest that detering them from your property is a more effective form of control. We are able to offer the following advice to help keep foxes away: Do not leave potential food sources, such as pet food, where it will encourage foxes to enter your property. Similarly, do not leave bagged rubbish or garden clippings outside, keep it in closed bins. Wheelie bins are the most fox proof. Foxes like to shelter under sheds, and can squeeze under gaps that are 10cm (4inches) high. Filling all gaps underneath out-buildings will help. Make sure you protect any small animals or birds that you may have living outside. They will encourage a fox to enter your property. Chicken wire is not strong enough, but welded mesh can be used as a replacement. Tidying up overgrown gardens, repairing fences and making sure all bird food is provided in proper dispensers will not only discourage foxes, but also rats and other rodents.
Ants do not pose any real threat to health, although they can be a nuisance. The garden ant is dark brown in colour, and about 3-5mm in length. The queen is a slightly lighter colour, and much bigger, at about 12mm in length. Ants are predominantly a nuisance as they are attracted to food. They make a trail from the nest to the food source, which is enough to spread germs and bacteria around the area. However, this trail is easy to follow back to the nest, which, once located, can be treated with one of the many ‘ant powder’ insecticides on the market. Swarming, or flying ants, can similarly be treated with a fly spray.
It is, in fact, the caterpillar of the brown tail moth that causes a nuisance. They are covered in tiny hairs, which can cause considerable skin irritation. In a small number of cases, they can also trigger severe breathing difficulties. These caterpillars are often found in large numbers, and can cause devastation to vegetation in gardens, open spaces, hedgerows and trees. Each female moth lays approximately 300 eggs on the leaves of trees and shrubs in late summer. They hatch, and feed on the leaves throughout the autumn, in order to survive the winter. The caterpillars are a blackish grey colour, with tufts of ginger hairs and two orange spots near the tail. Each caterpillar spins itself a small white ‘tent’ out of silk, which can easily be seen when the leaves fall. They stay in these ‘tents’ until the spring, when they emerge and continue to eat until they are about 3.5cm long. Towards the end of the summer, they moult, pupate, and emerge as adult moths. The most effective way of controlling the moths is to remove the affected branches in the autumn. Any person attempting to do this should make sure they wear appropriate protective clothing. The affected branches should be sealed in plastic bags, and burnt. We also advise that you cause the least disturbance as possible during the removal process. It is also important that you gain permission from the landowner, and it is your responsibility to ensure that there is not a preservation order on the tree before you remove any branches.
Neither woodlice nor silverfish pose any threat to health. Woodlice are not actually insects, but crustaceans, and are distantly related to crabs. They diffuse oxygen across the surface of their bodies in order to breathe, and require damp conditions in which to do this. They do not do any damage to the environment, and would not harm your property. Silverfish also require damp conditions to live, and can cause damage to wallpaper, book bindings, paper goods and dry foods. They eat irregular shaped holes in wallpaper in order to get to the wallpaper paste. They may also bite holes in natural fabrics, such as cotton, linen and silk. The presence of one (or both) of these may suggest damp or humidity problems, and both can be treated with an insecticidal powder, such as ant powder.
There are over 800 types of psocid (the name given to any minute winged insects of the family Psocidae). However, the information given here applies to all. Although they are a nuisance, they do not pose a risk to health. They are also not a sign of poor hygiene, or a dirty house. Large infestations can cause significant damage to delicate materials such as books and fur. Psocids like to live in warm, dark, humid places. They are sometimes found in kitchen cupboards and in dry food stuffs, especially flour, milk powder etc. They also are likely to be found in old books, carpets and other furnishings, as well as in new plaster which grows the microscopic fungi they like to feed on. You can deal with an infestation yourself by checking all food, and disposing of anything that is infested. Food in cans and jars should be ok, but make sure you check around the seals and labels. Decant food in packets into airtight containers. Completely clear out all dust, crumbs etc from every cupboard, and wash the affected areas with a weak bleach solution. Make sure the cupboards are completely dry before reusing them. Continuing to decant food into airtight containers, making sure cupboards stay clean and tidy, and ventilating the kitchen well, should be enough to prevent a further infestation.
‘Stored Product Insect’ is a term applied to a large number of insects that infest food stuffs. The more common of these include: biscuit-, flour- and grain-beetles, the white shouldered house moth, the brown house moth, and also mites such as the flour mite. These insects can walk, fly or be carried into your property. The best way to deal with them is to keep all dry products in airtight containers, and to clear out all dust and debris from inside cupboards and down the sides of units etc. They can be treated with an insecticidal powder such as ant powder.