Unlike buying a new T.V. or washing machine, when buying a pest control service you cannot see your purchase before making up your mind. The decision is, therefore, something of an act of faith, yet food hygiene, environmental and safety and health legislation, mean that buyers, particularly from businesses, cannot afford to make a mistake.
By selecting a business that is a member of the Irish Pest Control Association (IPCA) much of the work in making those decisions has been done for you. IPCA Servicing Companies undertake when they join the association:
- To ensure that their staff members are adequately trained in the identification and assessment of pest problems and in the selection and implementation of safe and effective control measures.
- To have in place robust recording systems which will ensure that members have, and provide you with, a record of what treatment has been carried out in your premises.
- To carry adequate public and employers liability insurance.
- To abide by the Associations Code of Practice
In addition Member Companies must demonstrate a safe a professional track record before they can join the Association and display the IPCA logo.
Rats & Mice
Mice are cute why do they need to be controlled?
Mice are a threat to public health because they leave droppings and trail urine wherever they go. This will include your food preparation surfaces and larder. They also need to wear down their continually growing incisor teeth by chewing on hard objects. Mice cause a number of house fires each year by chewing through live electric cables.
They can't get into my house...!
Mice can squeeze through a gap of just 5mm – the thickness of a pencil! It is easy for them to squeeze through gaps under poorly fitting doors, through airbricks etc. They can also be brought in on second hand furniture, especially kitchen white goods; and be brought indoors in sacks of potatoes, trays of eggs and bales pets' bedding straw etc.
I have called a contractor to deal with my rat problem and I was told that they need to visit my home at least three times. Why can't they deal with the problem in one visit?
Your contractor is correct. It takes time for all of the rats to take sufficient bait for all of them to be killed. The more dominant rodents will eat all of the bait first meaning that there will be none left for the subordinate rats. These will only be able to feed once the dominant rats have been killed. The bait, therefore, will have to be topped up at least once. At the end of the treatment any remaining bait must be taken away.
I have paid for a treatment against rats and mice. The problem has now been resolved but the contractor wants to take away the baits that he has laid. Surely these are mine, I have bought them as part of the treatment and I want to keep them in position just in case?
You have paid for a service. That service may have involved the use of products which are only available to, and remain the responsibility of, professional pest controllers. It is correct that the contractor should take the baits away at the end of the treatment. Pesticides should not be left in the environment when there is no need. They present a continuing risk to companion, domestic and non-target wild animals.
Can I use glue-boards to trap rats and mice?
No. Glue-boards for rodent control are illegal in Ireland.
What about other types of trap?
A number of other trap types are illegal under the Wildlife Acts, 1976 including traps designed to electrocute rodents.
I've heard of 'Super-rats' (rats that are resistant to rodenticide baits), does this mean that rodenticide baits don't work?
Some rats have developed resistance to anticoagulant rodenticides such as warfarin. In general these rats have a high dietary requirement for vitamin K1, found in green plants, especially brassicas and in some pig feed. Because of this most rodenticide resistance occurs in rural areas rather than urban locations (where natural sources of vitamin K1 are not readily available) At the moment alternative baits are available to deal with resistant rats.
I've watched my pest controller. All he does is put a few baits down. I could do that and save the money.
You could, but it's a bit like fishing. You can dangle a hook into the water but unless you know what fish are likely to be where, you won't catch many fish!
We have returned from holiday and although our cat was in kennels we seem to be being bitten by fleas. The fleas don't seem to be coming from my cat. What is happening?
Although cat fleas mainly feed on the blood of cats they will bite humans too. When breeding, the female fleas lay their eggs off of the cat, in adjacent carpets and pet bedding. When the young fleas are ready to change into the adult fleas they are capable of arresting their development until they detect a suitable meal nearby (the cat or the cat's staff!) via vibrations and movement. If the house is empty for some time large numbers of fleas may have reached this stage and all emerge as adults at the same time ready to jump on and bite the nearest mammal as soon as one passes by, leading to many bites all at the same time.
I have a wasps' nest in the eaves of my house. Can I get rid of it myself?
Don't even try, you are likely to get badly stung! Wasps will defend their nests and will sting without warning if they consider the nest to be under attack. Also some commonly available insecticides aggravate the insects before killing them – not what you want when when you are at the top of a ladder or balancing on rafters in your loft! Call an IPCA member to deal with the nest, their technicians have the correct Personal Protective Equipment, the correct applicationequipment and the right products to deal with the problem.
There's a swarm of bees in my garden. Should I call a pest controller or a beekeeper?
Always try the Beekeeper first. They may be able to capture the swarm and take it away. Honeybees are beneficial insects which play a major part in pollinating a wide variety of plants. They themselves are under threat internationally from 'Colony Collapse' syndrome. By calling in a beekeeper, the captured swarm may be used to start a new colony or replace one lost to 'colony collapse'
I have bats in my loft, is this a job for the pest controller?
No. All bats are fully protected under the Wildlife Act 1976 and Wildlife (Amendment) Act 2000
Pest Control Service
I run a busy restaurant and I am proud of my cleanliness. Why should I have a routine pest control contract?
Pests can get into, or be brought into even the cleanest of premises. In a business whose prime business is the preparation of food, rodent or insect pests can render food unfit for human consumption. Alongside the cost of prosecution and your business being closed down for breeches in Food Hygiene legislation, not to mention the loss of goodwill, the cost of a routine contract which will prevent infestations before they become established, is a small price to pay!
I am considering a pest control routine service. My pest controller recommends 8 visits per year where I have heard of other contracts which involve just 4 visits per year. Is the contractor over quoting?
No your contractor is not over quoting. 8 visits per year is the industry standard. A gap of six weeks between visits is sufficiently short to ensure that common pests do not have the opportunity of becoming sexually mature and to start breeding between visits. You should ensure that your contractor makes these visits at regular intervals of 6 weeks.
Are pesticides safe to humans?
All pesticides (rodenticides and insecticides) go through extensive testing before they are allowed on the market. This testing involves potential effects on humans and non-target animals as well as ensuring that the product actually works and works in a humane way. Nevertheless all pesticides are biologically active – they have to be to control pests – they should all, therefore be treated with respect and the instructions on the label must be followed to the letter
I am not sure what a pest control service should cost. How do I know whether I am being ripped off or not?
It is not easy to know what a service should cost. If you are uncertain about what you are being told seek quotes from several different companies. Make sure you write down exactly what you want and what you expect at the end of the treatment/contract so that all of the contractors can price the work on the same basis. Ask for a 'quote' rather than an 'estimate'. With the exception of the purchase of external bait boxes, avoid quotes that involve a 'price per bait'.