How Covid-19 Lockdown affects pests in Maidenhead
Posted on 11th November 2020 at 18:34
As we enter yet another national Covid-19 lockdown to try and put a stop to the spread of the virus, we can reflect on how we experienced the new sanitised version of normal life that we had over the last couple of months. We had to make changes to our ordinary routines and so did the pests that are happy to live alongside mankind – rats, house mice and the feral pigeon.
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What does this dramatic and widespread change to human behaviour mean for these pests?
The three main pests that we commonly find across the Maidenhead area are rats, house mice and pigeons, and these pests have all adapted to survive alongside us and have become used to living with us.
For these three pests, their regular supply of food was suddenly cut off back at the start of the first lockdown earlier in the year and they had to change their behaviour and territories to take advantage of new supplies and opportunities that arose with lockdown.
Another lockdown will see fresh adaptations and more instances of internal infestation.
Rats and Mice in Maidenhead
With the announcement of lockdown, waste food taken from restaurant kitchens and from offices and commercial buildings stopped literally overnight back in March and we saw an instant adjustment by rats as they moved out from the town centres into the surrounding residential areas within days of lockdown. In the town of Wokingham we had several separate infestations of rats inside domestic kitchens and lofts, affecting properties that were adjacent to the High Street, and these occurred within the first week of lockdown.
For information on the lifecycle of the rat click on the Bayer Science button to visit their website.
Rats, house mice and feral pigeons are all pests that scavenge from what we throw away and leave lying around; the sad fact is that our waste is their banquet. In the case of the two rodent pests they will find different ways into our homes, getting in either from underneath using a fault within the drainage system or by gnawing their way in straight through the wall from the outside. Once inside our homes they are looking for both warmth and food. With rodents, the usual thing that happens is that they will head straight for the kitchen where they can pick up scraps of food from the floor or they will work their way into a cupboard where we store and they have exactly what they want.
For more information on the house mouse - visit Wikipedia
Stockpiling food leads to rat infestations
The two Covid lockdowns have bought out the worst in our nature and for many people it was fear and a herd mentality, at the start of both lockdowns people hoarded food supplies, even toilet paper which has nothing to do with the illness. Once this behaviour starts it’s hard not to lose your head and go along with the rest of the crowd, if everyone’s doing it then it must be right?
This reaction to the virus has given pests an absolute bonanza of opportunities; you may have seen the newspapers reporting overflowing waste bins containing out of date meat and vegetables from the first lockdown? This has been a treasure trove for rats and feral pigeons as both of these pests will eat just about anything that they can get their paws or beaks on.
Another opportunity for these pests which is just coming to light now as the weather cools down, is the hoarding of food by people who have reacted to the Covid panic buying crisis. On callouts to rodents inside properties we are seeing a lot of food items being stored in lofts, sheds and garages all over the Maidenhead area – these are not the ideal places to keep food. The biggest problem is that this food is out of sight and left unchecked, dry goods like pasta, rice and cereals all keep for a long time, so once stored away they are just being left alone, until the rats and mice find them.
We visited a property in Bracknell that has a rat problem and found ripped open cereal boxes stored in the loft; the owners of the house were completely unaware that they had visitors until they when they went up to retrieve some food stuffs only to find rats had beaten them to it.
We must understand that rats are natures ultimate opportunist, and many of us will not realise that they have had a visit from a hungry rat until something happens to make its presence known. Its routine for us to visit a domestic property where the occupants report hearing sounds for only a couple of weeks; in fact what we actually find is a long term rat infestation, with the resulting electrical cable damage, deposits of droppings and damage to stored items. Previously the rats may not have lived in the loft on a daily basis but with the introduction to stored food items now, they’ve now moved in for good.
Feral Pigeon Pests in Maidenhead
Most people would normally associate feral pigeons with town centres where the birds wander around in flocks, hanging about around benches and pedestrian areas, feeding from leftover takeaway foods and whatever bits that people feed them on their lunchbreak. The lockdown has affected the birds just like the rodents in that the town centres became virtual ghost towns and their food supply disappeared. These intelligent, highly adaptable and enterprising birds have left their town centre roosts and feeding grounds and moved out into the housing estates.
The widespread usage of rooftop solar panel systems makes and ideal roost and nesting area for feral pigeons; beneath the panels it’s dry, safe and warm – most of these solar panels will be facing the south which is the warmest part of the roof. All through the day sunlight strikes the panels and the surrounding roof tiles heating up the area which will retain some of this warmth long into the night.
Feral pigeons will eventually build their nests on the panel support bars that sit in parallel rows, these nests will be protected from predators and poor weather – what better place to bring up a brood of young pigeons?
Whether the problem is rats, house mice or feral pigeons a second lockdown is definitely another change to our behavioural patterns, and once again we will see these pests adapting to follow suit, especially now as the weather starts to cool down. So, what can you do to stop these pests in their tracks?
For more inforamtion on pigeons and their lifecycle visit the Pigeonpedia site
Autumn Pest prevention in Maidenhead
Autumn is always a time for pests to start moving into our homes and businesses across Maidenhead and the first thing we can do at this time of year is to take stock of the autumn environment; those fallen leaves clogging drains and building up down the side of the house? Sweep them up and get rid of them, rodents will easily gnaw through a plastic air brick and these are usually fitted just above ground level within easy reach of these rodents. Clearing away the fallen leaves means that you’ve removed any cover that these rodents always seek to move around in and you can see for yourself if there is any accidental damage to the plastic or in fact, if they have already been gnawed at.
Another autumn project which maybe on your list, is to check the shed; shed’s are dry and relatively warm and they make another ideal place to find rats and mice hunkering down during the cold weather. Usually this is not too much of a problem, but as we are now seeing the storage of food due to the lockdown, this action will encourage rats to come closer to our homes.
Rats and mice are opportunists, and they will use overhanging vegetation and climbing plants like ivy and wisteria to gain access to the roof of a property. The roof is built with the purpose of keeping rain out of the interior and not to stop access by mice. A field mouse can squeeze through a gap the thickness of your little finger and a full grown rat can get through a space the size of your thumb, nearby bushes and trees along with climbing plants provide an ideal route into the interior of your loft.
Any stored food items, even dried dog food needs to be kept in a secure container when placed in any remote place like a garages or a shed; that plastic air tight box might be just the thing for keeping food dry and fresh but it offers very little resistance against the jaws of a rat. Rats and squirrels are both equipped with hard teeth, their teeth are harder than cast iron and as the teeth continue to grow out from the root, they can wear the leading edge down and it will be replaced..
I have seen rats gnaw their way through a red house brick in a drain before, it may take time but these animals will persevere and gain access eventually. A few hours spent in the garden, the garage and the shed could save you from a rodent infestation, the associated costs and the hassle of having vermin in your home.
What to do if you have a rat or mouse problem in Maidenhead
If you discover that you have a rat or mouse problem in Maidenhead, don’t put off calling out a professional pest control company. Ideally you want to use one that will investigate the cause of the problem and offer a service where they can seal up the entrance point. Many pest control companies will just want to put down rodenticide and do that over two or three visits; this ‘quick fix’ approach will not keep you rat or mouse free for long. If you have any vermin inside your property, the most important question to ask is “How are they getting in?”
Here at Maidenhead Pest Control our approach answers that question, we carryout a detailed investigation and carryout drain surveys as standard to determine the entrance point for the pests. If we can seal it up that entrance then we will, if the fault is within the drains and out of reach of our technician then we can direct you to reputable experts in the drainage repair field. We use humane breakback traps to physically remove the dead animals and we rarely use poison, preventing the chance of leaving rotting carcases within the building.
Maidenhead Pest Control we do pest control right!
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