Since Covid began, many organisations including councils, businesses and associations have had to adapt to new ways in which they manage both their workforce and their properties. Following the latest wave of government advice, many of these public and private sector organisations are beginning to prepare for ‘Freedom Day’ and the impending return to ‘ordinary’ working life.
Since early 2020, more commercial and private properties have been left vacant for intermittent periods, causing a wide range of pest problems that are usually either avoided or detected early when buildings are regularly in use. On the opposite end of the scale, the hospitality industry is now seeing a massive upsurge in people holidaying locally due to the strict measures of travelling abroad, and keeping these properties fit for customers is an absolute priority.
In this blog, we will be looking at the most common pest issues faced by property managers this time of year when getting their buildings fit again for residents, staff or customers.
Particularly in the hospitality and housing sectors, bed bugs are a bigger problem than most people think. The common phrase ‘don’t let the bed bugs bite’ might seem quite trivial, but in reality, bed bug bites can cause severe skin rash, infection and even anaphylaxis if a person is highly allergic to this type of pest.
Bed bugs can survive for up to a year without feeding, so even properties that have become vacant for a number of months will not be immune to these bugs. Although we’ve highlighted the hospitality and housing sectors here due to the scale of their accommodations, this is clearly an issue for all property managers.
Dee Ward-Thompson, Head of Technical at BPCA, said: “Bed bugs are ectoparasites with a knack for travel. They will hide in crevices in beds, surrounding furniture, behind skirting boards, under loose wallpaper and even in plug sockets.” Dee added: “Self-treatment of a bed bug infestation is unlikely to be successful. A trained professional will have the technical knowledge and access to a range of professional use products and equipment which are not available to the public.”
According to insurance provider Aviva, who dealt with 13,000 wasp infestations between April and October last year. More than half of those cases happened in July and August with 54% of incidents occurring in this period, according to Aviva.
Aviva have suggested that inconsistent weather in June 2021 has led to a fall in wasp-related inquiries- suggesting numbers could spike in July and August.
Sarah Applegate, Head of Risk for Aviva General Insurance, said: “Wasp season typically begins around the end of June and peaks throughout July and August. The unsettled weather during June meant that wasp infestations appear to be slightly lower this year – which could mean an even bigger influx of incidents over the rest of the summer.”
Usually wasp nests are easy to detect early on, however, in the event of a vacant property, wasp nests can be left to grow to large sizes and could typically contain up to 10,000 wasps each. This situation represents not only an inconvenience, but a serious health and safety risk for people within or around the property itself.
Weather is just one factor for potential wasp problems, our expert pest control technician, John Colson added:
“Common wisdom would blame the weather for the increase of Vespula Vulgaris (common wasp) but really we should also be looking at the biology for the abundance of wasps and the change in behaviour on how the wasps feeding habits change to start nest building and larval nursing of new Queens. This is where we start seeing the rise in the numbers of calls from the public as the feeding habits change from a sweet based diet such as fruit and your cold pint of beer to a protein based diet i.e. insects to start the expansion of the colony and nest building process, it is at this point that the number of wasp nests sites increase and the abundances of customer calls start coming in.”
During this time of year, mosquitos are particularly prevalent both outside and within homes and buildings. Mosquitos are not only annoying, they can carry serious diseases, so an overt presence of mosquitos is certainly something that property managers should take very seriously.
Public Health England recently reported the presence of Asian Tiger Mosquito larvae in Kent, which is a highly invasive and dangerous species. Dr Jenny Harries, Deputy Medical Director at Public Health England, said “As a precaution, we advised the local authority on measures to eradicate the mosquito and remove any suitable habitats in the area. We will continue to monitor the situation closely through our surveillance system. There is no immediate risk to public health in the UK.”
Although this appears to be an isolated case, we would always recommend seeking professional advice when dealing with mosquito problems, as many Google fixes or off-the-shelf remedies will only address the issue over the short term.
Ants and Cockroaches
The good news is that we’re expecting a heatwave this summer, the bad news is that ants and cockroaches love hot weather. Ants will multiply during warm months and actively search for food waste or sugary substances. Vacant properties or waste areas can be a potential food source and a perfect breeding ground for ants which can cause a real problem if left for long periods uninterrupted.
Similarly, summertime is the breeding season for cockroaches that thrive in areas where food waste is common. Properties that have been empty for a period of time are most likely to become victim to cockroach infestations that can enter buildings through gaps, cracked walls, drains and even sewer pipes.
We’re here to help
We are a BPCA (British Pest Control Association) accredited team with over 20 years’ experience dealing with all kinds of pest control for both public and private sector organisations. Our team can offer free professional advice for any situation and believe us when we say, we’ve seen it all. Our rapid-response service can attend a site within 24 hours and advise on the most effective long-term solution for your pest problem. If you would like to speak to a member of our team, or would like more information, then please get in touch and we will be happy to help.
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