With thanks to our guest writer: Gustav Pavlu for a look into the hidden world of pests. What you can see may be very different to what’s happening, so here are some tips to consider from the professionals.
It’s 23h00, and you go through to the kitchen and turn on the light to get a snack from the fridge, when – to your horror – you see a cockroach scuttle into the shadows … You swat a fly that was buzzing around your head and being extremely irritating … You open a box that has been in storage for a while and see little rodent droppings … Eeek!
Whilst most of us have experienced at least one of the above scenarios (or perhaps even all three), we take comfort in seeing a dead insect or rodent once we have applied some form of pesticide. Surely now we can rest easy, knowing that we have rid ourselves of the scourge … Or have we?
There’s a world beyond what we see with the naked eye, a world that exists in and around our homes and offices that’s the stuff of nightmares (cue Scary Music). What we can see – and what’s really going on – are often very different, so in order to treat and manage the pesky little critters effectively, it’s important to understand a few things about them first:
- How quickly do these nasties breed?
- Where do they live – especially if I can’t see them during the day?
- How can they damage my property and health?
- What do the professionals know that I don’t?
All of the creepy crawlies mentioned above like to live fairly close to their favourite food source, which means they are probably a lot closer than you think. And rodents and cockroaches are are gregarious by nature, which means they love to live and love in groups, nests and colonies. Which means even if you only see one, there are definitely more, and you have a problem brewing!
How quickly do common pests breed?
The most common pests you will find in and around your home are flies, rodents and the dreaded cockroach. Let’s take a closer look at each of them (Oh wait, maybe not too close.)
Female flies only usually mate once but are capable of producing between 350 and 900 eggs in their short lives. And the warmer it gets, the quicker the breeding cycle. In very warm conditions – like a South African summer – it takes a mere 6 -7 days for the egg to develop into the adult fly! So even if you only see one, know that there are many more coming as the weather warms up.
Rodents on average can reproduce every 6 weeks and typically have between 12 pups per litter. This means that a population can grow to 1250 rodents in 1 year left unchecked. And rodents have no qualms about mating with their brothers and sisters, so rest assured that if you see one rodent, it’s family is probably close behind it.
If you were worried about flies and rodents breeding cycles, hang on to your hat because cockroaches are by far the most prolific breeders (cue candlelight and Barry White music). These little romantics can produce youngsters every 28 days. One breeding female and her offspring can populate your home with around 30 000 roaches in 1 year. Time to relocate, methinks? Jokes aside, once again it means that even if you only see one late-night visitor on your midnight snack patrol, their are certainly more hiding in the shadows.
In essence, whatever you see scuttle, scurry or fly past you at home could be an indication of a nest or breeding site behind your fridge, under your sink or in your rubbish bin.
Where do common pests live if I can’t see them during the day?
Pests sleep (rest) in various ways and at various times, which is why we see them at different times. Flies have a similar circadian rhythm to humans which means they rest at night. Rodents and cockroaches, on the other hand, are nocturnal. They rest (cockroaches don’t actually ‘sleep’ but enter a state of immobility) during the day and are active at night – which is why we seldom see them during the day and predominantly see them on our search for a midnight snack. Let’s examine where these critters go when they are finished terrorising humans:
Active during the day, once the temperature cools in the evening, flies get a bit lazy. They look for shelter on pretty much anything they can find, and can commonly be found at night resting on curtains, walls in the home or on leaves and branches outside. Flies (thank goodness) do not live in colonies or nests, but rest wherever they find a comfy spot.
Rodents on the other hand are gregarious and love to groom each other and sleep as a group. Their nests are thus built for – on average – 5-10 rodents, although should there be sufficient food present, the nest can contain up to 100! The nest is a untidy affair, mainly built for warmth and comfort, and can be made from just about anything, including shredded paper, grass, etc. Mice make their nests in places where they are least likely to be disturbed, so with little activity, but close access to food and water, such as wall voids, under refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers, and at the far backs of cupboards.
Cockroaches live in large colonies as they are also gregarious by nature. This means that if you see evidence of droppings and moulting (old skins that have been shed – yuk), or you see one scuttling past you, the chances are you already have a serious infestation. Cockroaches, however, do not build nests: they just occupy a quiet, dark areas of your home or office.
Can pests damage my property and my health?
All of the common pests we have covered above this article can cause significant damage to your home, business and even your health. Here’s how:
1. Flies and Cockroaches:
Flies and cockroaches move between clean and dirty areas continuously to rest and feed. In doing so, they transport a variety of diseases, some of which are deadly to humans. You can read more about the diseases transmitted by cockroaches in our blog post: Will cockroaches in my home make me sick? Research has shown that cockroaches can also aggravate asthma in children as their faeces, urine, egg casings and shed skin are allergenic substances in humans.
2. Rodents :
Rodents are also potential carriers of disease, and you can read more about the diseases rodents are believed to carry in our blog: Diseases spread by Rodents.
While this does not mean that every fly, cockroach and rodent is a crawling, scurrying or flying time bomb of death, it does mean that we need to be aware of the potential for damage, not only to your health and that of your family, but of the reputation and customer perceptions of your business as well should a pest infestation occur.
What do the professionals know that I don’t?
Whilst you may WANT to do your own pest control, there are a number of compelling reasons to engage with professional pest control services:
- There is always the potential for mistakes when handling toxic chemicals, be it mis-application or incorrect dilutions. A professional pest control operator has to be registered with the Department of Agriculture and thus trained to work with toxic chemicals.
- They have massive amounts of experience in dealing with all of these pests on a daily basis, and are trained to spot nesting sites, and interrupt breeding cycles.
- They have access to the latest and most environmentally friendly products not available to the public, and the tools to apply these products in the right way, in the right space, to provide results in the shortest amount of time.
- Reputable Pest Control Companies will offer a follow up treatment should the initial treatment not have eradicated the infestation.