Well its been a funny old year, we all sat waiting for the snow and it never came (still time yet though!). The rain certainly did though. I don’t know much about weather patterns or global warming but its certainly keeping us guessing and being involved with a job that is dictated by the weather, it makes every year different with no set patterns of pest infestation.
Each winter, as the weather turns cold, rats and mice normally move into warmer areas and that often means into homes and businesses. Also a percentage of those that don’t find shelter will often die off, sometimes drowned in sewers and drains as water levels rise, sometimes taken by predators as cold and water drive them into unfamiliar areas. This past winter the temperature never really dropped so I’m still seeing rats out in fields and hedgerows where some have been breeding all year round rather than under going the usual reduction in numbers. Calls to deal with rats in our area have still come in but not in the usual mad rush…..yet rat numbers are still at an all time high in some areas and I await the surge in problems……will they come in summer? or will it be next winter when the deluge comes? Still calls do come in, but at times, especially on farms, rats are in no rush to consume poison baits as the normal winter hunger has not hit home.
Another issue with rat control that has yet to show its true affect is new changes to legislation that make it illegal to use poison baits away from buildings. So rats that I would normally reduce out in the fields before they move into local homes and buildings now are much more difficult to target. I get the feeling some in power wake up each day and try to find themselves work rather than living in the real world.
As spring comes I begin to start on my farm mole control. Each year I remove a huge number from fields that will be cut for hay and silage as the soil in the hills, if gathered up with the grass would spoil the crop and can prove fatal to animals, especially if fed to horses. I have also seen an increase in calls to remove moles from lambing fields, as the ewes often bed down to have their lambs on the mole heaps, resulting in fatal infections in the lambs caught through their umbilical cords. Some farms I remove 50-60 moles a year and have done for 10 or more years….and my father did the same before me, yet their numbers never really decrease. Mole traps have even been found dating back to the Roman period, infact little changed from my own tunnel traps, though mine are made from metal rather than the Roman clay. The sight of a traditional mole catcher is as much a part of the British countryside as the beautiful fields I get to wander over.
Its at this time of year, on the days when we get a bit of blue sky, tramping over the fields I have known my whole life that I realise how lucky I am to have this job…..it can all soon change with the weather though on the side of the hills and moors! I spend a lot of my time dressed for my job working in everything from food factories to peoples home (food factories often demand a hair net!) as I offer all types of pest control…but its good to put my scruffs on and head out into the fields.
Over the past few weeks I have begun to see a few queen wasps setting up their homes and making the start of the nests that will keep me busy over the summer. I recently visited a customers home to treat some cat fleas and I was asked about a wasp nest in the loft, the customer had seen one big wasp come down. I was able to reassure her that she had killed the queen and at this time of year she most certainly did not have a nest. It was a massive surprise to hear that another ‘pest controller’ in the area had quoted her £70 and that it may even be more if it was a bad one, to deal with her nest! It sickens me that such thieves exist in this business, I get as much pleasure from discussing the natural history of the species that can sometimes be pests with the people who call me, as I do from doing the job. This happened in the Chorley/Euxton area so please beware.
Feel free to call for free advice and an informal chat about any pest problems along with no obligation quotes.
Ian Smith 07821 318954