The Frightening Side Effects of Climate Change
It sounds like the plot of a Hollywood horror B-movie, but for the residents of Chelmsford it’s a nightmare that has the potential to become a reality. With average temperatures rising, populations of wasps and rats are becoming more of a problem in the UK.
The Common Wasp
Distributed throughout the UK, the common wasp normally becomes active in spring and causes us headaches in summer, stinging humans when threatened. Britain’s increasingly warm winters have meant that wasps are now frequently found to be active all year round.
We’ve all seen wasps hovering around at barbecues and picnics and pub gardens. They are on the hunt for food sources rich in sugar and we unwittingly provide it for them. Usually as autumn arrives and colder weather kicks in most of the older wasps die off due to starvation. However, if enough food can be found they survive for longer and continue to cause us problems.
There have also been more worrying trends in recent years of the much larger European hornets arriving in the UK and even worse, across the channel in France, six deaths caused by the stings of the giant Asian hornet, which experts say could well find its way to Britain in the future.
Getting Rid of Wasps
Tackling a wasp nest is a risky business. Wasps inside the nest will be more likely to sting if they feel threatened so do not try and remove the nest yourself. For safety reasons using a trained professional to treat the nest is the best option. They will have the knowledge and the equipment to safely use insecticides and remove the problem for you.
The Brown Rat
While wasps are often just a nuisance, rats are more of a worry as they frequently cause structural damage and have the potential to spread life-threatening diseases. They generally live for around a year to eighteen months, having up to 7 litters during their lifetime, with 8-10 rats born in each litter. That is a staggering rate of reproduction and a real problem to control!
As well as the risks posed from the spread of disease the damage that rats can inflict structurally is often not fully appreciated. Through their habit of gnawing they can chew through water pipes and electrical cables, running the risk of leaks and starting electrical fires. It is estimated that rodent damage to wiring is the cause of a quarter of all electrical fires in buildings.
There has been an alarming rise in recent years of ‘super rats’ which are becoming resistant to conventional poisons, and in many cases the poison has actually been making them grow bigger as they feed on the bait, becoming immune to these over-the-counter rodenticides.
What Can Be Done to Prevent Rats?
Property owners have a legal obligation to keep premises free of rodents, or if causing a potential danger to health, an infestation must be reported to the local authority. Keeping your property tidy and removing any potential nesting sites, such as overgrown gardens or piles of wood and ensuring drainage covers are well maintained is a good first step. Making sure that bins and compost heaps are covered will prevent rats from feeding. If you feed garden birds use a bird feeder where possible rather than scattering feed directly on to the ground.
Getting Rid of Rats
If you find evidence of rats you can buy commercially available poisons and traps, but these are now generally believed to be ineffective and are in many cases making the problem worse. For a reliable and effective solution contact your local pest control company who will be trained to use professional rodenticides which are not available to the public.