Pest control experts are warning members of the public against taking a DIY-approach to intruders in their roof spaces.
Pest control products are becoming easier to obtain, from DIY stores, garden centres and the Internet, so it is understandable for people to assume that it is easy for them to do it themselves.
The UK’s biggest trade association for pest controllers, the NPTA is concerned that an increased number of homeowners or tenants attempting to eradicate pest problems themselves, rather than calling a professional, are exposing themselves to personal dangers and the possibility of breaking the Law.
• Roof spaces are often difficult and dangerous places to access and investigate.
• Some pests, when approached, can become aggressive and extremely dangerous within such confined spaces.
• There are many Laws controlling when and how pests can be treated.
• It is very easy to inadvertently break these Laws and that could lead to substantial fines.
• Professionals are often not as expensive as people think and will get the job done safely, efficiently and legally.
The NPTA have produced the following advice for members of the public:
Things That Go Bump In the Night – Pest Control in Your Roof Space
Quite frequently householders don’t realise that they have uninvited ‘guests’ in their homes until they get woken up one night to hear things moving about in their roof spaces. This quiet, undisturbed part of the house is very often where a variety of pests are to be found.
Rats, mice and squirrels will not only keep you awake at night, they will happily chew wood, plastic pipes and wires which could have disastrous consequences. Wasps and bees often use roof spaces and chimneys to build their nests and cluster flies will return year after year to hibernate in their hundreds, sometimes thousands, in favoured properties.
A new pest to the UK, the Harlequin Ladybird has also taken to hibernating in large numbers in lofts. Given the opportunity, some birds will also make their nests beneath your roof and a surprisingly large number of houses will have bats taking up residence at certain times of the year.
So, what do you do about your unexpected guests?
Roof spaces are potentially dangerous places.
Firstly, you need to find out what you’ve got – but a word of warning. Roof spaces are usually unpleasant and dangerous places to work in. Unless they have been fitted with retractable ladders and have been boarded out, they are often difficult and dangerous to access and investigate. Coming face to face with an angry squirrel or a swarm of wasps, in the dark, whilst balancing on rafters on all fours, is not to be recommended.
Secondly, you then need to decide what to do once you’ve identified the intruder – without breaking the Law. The UK has some of the oldest and most comprehensive Laws protecting wildlife of anywhere in the world.
Even pests have legal protection.
Let’s take squirrels for example. You cannot simply throw some rat poison in and hope for the best as it is illegal to use rat or mouse poison against squirrels. In fact, no poison available to the Public is approved for use against these animals. Not that poisoning would be such a good idea, as they have a tendency to die in inaccessible places, which can render a property uninhabitable whilst it decays.
You can buy live-catch traps in some garden centres, but if you get lucky and catch one, what do you do with it then? As the grey squirrel is classed as an ‘alien invasive species’, it is illegal to release them into the wild. Once caught, they have to be despatched humanely and drowning them in a water butt is not considered humane. This is not explained on the instructions for use that come with the trap when you buy it though, is it? We would not recommend ‘Doing It Yourself’ with this particular species.
All birds in the UK, their nests and eggs, are protected by Law – even when they become a pest. A small number of species can be controlled, but only in certain ways and for particular reasons. Being a nuisance to you in your house is not a suitable reason.
What do you do then?
All bats are protected by Law. It is even an offence to disturb a bat roost, with a potential fine of £5,000 per bat. Some roosts can contain several dozen individuals, so that could be an expensive mistake to make. Fortunately bats do no harm at all, unless they are present in very large numbers, which is very rare.
Of course, if bats are present, treating the roof space for any pest then becomes a no-no, unless you get permission from the appropriate authorities, but would you know how to go about getting this? Would you even know if you had bats?
Deal with the problem quickly, safely and effectively – call out a professional.
Professional pest controllers spend a lot of time, effort and money in becoming properly trained to deal with all these problems to give their customers safe and effective pest control services.
This training is checked by the National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA) before allowing companies or individuals to join. The NPTA also check that their Members are properly insured for the work they carry out. This is particularly important when working in roof spaces. An uninsured tradesman that is injured on your property could end up suing you.
The elite members of the Association, their ‘Accredited Members’, are also audited regularly to make sure they are operating to the highest industry standards.
With over 900 Members throughout the UK, the NPTA can help you find a professional pest controller near you to ensure a solution to your uninvited ‘guests’.
They could also save you time and money in the long run compared to Doing It Yourself.
Pest Control is harder than you think.