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        Pest control

        The council has no duty to provide pest control services; however under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 both Councils and individuals have duties relating to rodents (rats and mice) on land. If you are suffering from rodent activity which comes from neighbouring land or property contact us to investigate the matter for you.

        Pests come in all shapes and sizes, details on the majority of the common pests (fleas, bedbugs, wasps, bees, cockroaches, flies, foxes, pigeons and seagulls) are available on this site and will help you in identifying unwelcome visitors and what can or can’t be done to control them.

        Remember some animals such as bats and badgers are protected so always seek professional advice if in doubt.

        We offer Thanet residents a pest control service for treating pests of public health significance on their own residential premises at the following specially negotiated rates. This service is provided on our behalf by OCS Pest Control – payment will be required in advance of treatment by debit/credit card over the phone. You can view typical fees below – please note these are just for guidance.

        Typical fees

        • Rats – A treatment is usually three visits – £49 per treatment
        • Mice – A treatment is usually 3 visits – £49 per treatment
        • Fleas and Insects – Minimum charge (up to 6 rooms). Usually 2 visits required – £40 per visit
        • Bed Bugs – Minimum charge (up to 6 rooms). Usually 2 or 3 visits required – £45 per visit
        • Wasps & hornets – Only available where the nest can be treated without specialist access equipment (up to 8m). Additional nests at £15.00 – £47 per visit
        • Out of hours rate – In addition to the rates above – £45 per visit
        • Industrial/Commercial – Plus materials – £33 per hour

        Rats

        Responsibilities

        Under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 both Councils and individuals have duties relating to rodents (rats and mice) found on land. Occupiers and owners of land have a duty to ensure that where rats and mice are found on their land they are eradicated. The council has a duty to ensure that occupiers and owners carry out such duties.

        The local authority also has powers under Section 83 of the Public Health Act 1936. This covers filthy and verminous premises. The verminous element allows the local authority to ensure that occupiers and owners eradicate rats and mice in their property.

        The responsibility for instigating pest control measures initially falls to the occupier of the land. If the occupier experiences rodent activity they should employ a qualified professional pest control operative to remove the rodents. Where the occupier and owner are different it would still fall initially to the occupier to instigate the Pest Control measures. An example would be a tenanted flat or house. It would be up to the tenant to instigate pest control measures before any action is considered by the land owner. The owner of land should be approached for action if the issue is related to a structural failure or defect or something that falls reasonable outside of the tenants’ responsibilities i.e. rodent access from drains.

        If you are suffering from rodent activity which comes from neighbouring land or property, contact us so that we can investigate the matter for you. An example would be where a rodent infestation on a neighbouring property has caused rodent entry onto your land. Initially we may request further information and visit your property to gather evidence before approaching the alleged infested landowner. As stated above each occupier has a responsibility to ensure that their land is free from Rats or Mice so if rats are on your land then it is up to you to eradicate them whether they have entered from a neighbours land or not.

        Once we have visited your property we will then consider if there is sufficient evidence to approach the neighbouring property. If there is then we will endeavour to arrange such a visit. When conducting a visit officers will be looking for harbourage (nests or nesting material), encouragement (accumulations or food waste, soft furnishing or easily accessible water source) or signs of activity (burrows, holes, runs, droppings and gnawing). If insufficient evidence is gathered during the visit then it is likely that no further action will be taken. This does not prevent us from investigating the matter again if the situation escalates or significantly changes.

        From time to time the local authority receives complaints that overgrown gardens are causing rodent issues. Where there is evident rodent activity associated with the garden then the local authority can consider action. Where there is insufficient evidence and there are no other public health concerns then unfortunately we can’t. In these cases the local authority has no powers to deal with what is in effect just an overgrown garden.

        Where the authority receives complaints that individual flats are causing infestation to other the flats our initial advice is for each tenant to employ the services of a pest control company. It may be advisable for individual tenants to come together as a group when contacting a pest control company so that costs can be minimised. Where there is an identified cause the local authority can investigate this matter. The local authority would only pursue the owner of a property, in cases where there is an occupier, if the problem was proved to be caused by a structural failure or defect. We could also pursue a land owner if a problem was linked to external areas, void spaces, communal areas or empty properties.

        Signs of a rat infestation

        Rats are particularly active at night, but may be seen during the day searching for food, water or shelter.

        Common rat droppings are capsule-shaped, (tapered at both ends), black and up to 12mm long.  A rat will leave about 40 droppings a day.  Fresh droppings will be soft and moist.

        Runs

        Rats follow the same routes when moving around and often leave trails through grass and low vegetation.

        Footprints, smears and tail swipes

        These can be seen on muddy or dusty surfaces.  Smears are dark grey marks left on surfaces by repeated contact with the oils in rat fur.

        Burrows

        Rats can build complex tunnel systems, which often extend deep into the ground.  Entrance holes 70-120mm in diameter will be seen in grassy banks, under tree roots and at the edge of paving or drain cover surrounds.

        Nests

        Sometimes nests can be found indoors, in lofts or under floorboards.

        Gnawing

        Rats gnaw continually to wear down their front teeth, even on non-food materials such as electrical cables, pipework and wooden fixtures.

        Why must rats be controlled?

        Rats can transmit many diseases to humans, including Salmonellosis (food poisoning) and Weils disease, usually from the urine of infected rats.

        Rats may also cause considerable damage to buildings, foundations and other structures due to gnawing and burrowing.

        How can I prevent rat infestation?

        Householders can assist in preventing rat infestation by taking a number of simple precautions.

        • Keep your home in good repair; rats only need a gap of 15mm to gain entry.
        • Remove potential nesting sites by keeping yards and gardens clean and tidy, and by cutting back overgrown areas.
        • Ensure that drain inspection covers are in place and are in good repair.
        • Seal gaps around heating and water pipes.
        • Ventilation bricks and slots should already have a fine wire mesh incorporated.  If this is worn, replace it externally with 3.15mm insect mesh.
        • Do not leave household waste where rats can gain access to it, close dustbin lids and composters and do not feed wild birds to excess – you may be feeding rats as well.

        How can I get rid of rats?

        Rats are adaptable, highly mobile and breed rapidly to produce large rat infestations.  This combination can make rat control a difficult task for the untrained individual.

        If you decide to carry out the work yourself there are two options – poison or break-back traps.

        • Poison (rodenticide) can be brought from most hardware stores and most garden centres.  Put the poison in a safe and secure place out of reach of children and pets and ALWAYS wash your hands after use.  Rodenticide can take 4-12 days to take effect.  This may result in a localised foul smell due to the presence of carcasses.
        • Break-back traps may be set and these should be placed next to walls where rats tend to travel.  The traps should be baited with chocolate, biscuit or cereal.  Most rats are wary of new objects placed in their environment and will avoid them for a period of time.  So do not set the spring on the trap until bait has been eaten then re-bait and reset the trap.  Use several traps and examine them daily, removing dead rats as soon as they are discovered.  All traps should be handled with care.

        Please contact Pest Control if you require any assistance.

        Warning: Use biocides safely.  Always read the label and product information before use.

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        Mice

        Responsibilities

        Under the Prevention of Damage by Pests Act 1949 both Councils and individuals have duties relating to rodents (Rats and Mice) found on land. Occupiers and owners of land have a duty to ensure that where rats and mice are found on their land they are eradicated. The council has a duty to ensure that occupiers and owners carry out such duties.

        The local authority also has powers under Section 83 of the Public Health Act 1936. This covers Filthy and Verminous premises. The verminous element allows the local authority to ensure that occupiers and owners eradicate rats and mice in their property.

        The responsibility for instigating pest control measures initially falls to the occupier of the land. If the occupier experiences rodent activity they should employ a qualified professional pest control operative to remove the rodents. Where the occupier and owner are different it would still fall initially to the occupier to instigate the Pest Control measures. An example would be a tenanted flat or house. It would be up to the tenant to instigate pest control measures before any action is considered by the land owner. The owner of land should be approached for action if the issue is related to a structural failure or defect or something that falls reasonable outside of the tenants’ responsibilities i.e. rodent access from drains.

        If you are suffering from rodent activity which comes from neighbouring land or property, contact us so that we can investigate the matter for you. An example would be where a rodent infestation on a neighbouring property has caused rodent entry onto your land. Initially we may request further information and visit your property to gather evidence before approaching the alleged infested landowner. As stated above each occupier has a responsibility to ensure that their land is free from Rats or Mice so if rats are on your land then it is up to you to eradicate them whether they have entered from a neighbours land or not.

        Once we have visited your property we will then consider if there is sufficient evidence to approach the neighbouring property. If there is then we will endeavour to arrange such a visit. When conducting a visit officers will be looking for harbourage (nests or nesting material), encouragement (accumulations or food waste, soft furnishing or easily accessible water source) or signs of activity (burrows, holes, runs, droppings and gnawing). If insufficient evidence is gathered during the visit then it is likely that no further action will be taken. This does not prevent us from investigating the matter again if the situation escalates or significantly changes.

        From time to time the local authority receives complaints that overgrown gardens are causing rodent issues. Where there is evident rodent activity associated with the garden then the local authority can consider action. Where there is insufficient evidence and there are no other public health concerns then unfortunately we can’t. In these cases the local authority has no powers to deal with what is in effect just an overgrown garden.

        Where the authority receives complaints that individual flats are causing infestation to other the flats our initial advice is for each tenant to employ the services of a pest control company. It may be advisable for individual tenants to come together as a group when contacting a pest control company so that costs can be minimised. Where there is an identified cause the local authority can investigate this matter. The local authority would only pursue the owner of a property, in cases where there is an occupier, if the problem was proved to be caused by a structural failure or defect. We could also pursue a land owner if a problem was linked to external areas, void spaces, communal areas or empty properties.

        Signs of a mouse infestation

        Droppings

        Droppings are often black, rod shaped and 3-6mm long.  Fresh droppings will be soft and moist.  Each mouse can leave approximately 80 droppings per day.  Common places to find mouse droppings are under the kitchen sink, around central heating boilers and in roof spaces.

        Smears

        These are dark grey marks left on surfaces by repeated contact with the oils in mouse fur.

        Nests

        Sometimes nests can be found indoors, for example in lofts, under floorboards or in airing cupboards.

        Gnawing

        Mice gnaw continually on materials such as wood, carpets, paper, pipe, cables and furniture.  Check for damage to foodstuffs in cupboards.

        Why must mice be controlled?

        In addition to the damage caused through gnawing, mice have been known to spread diseases such as salmonella and listeria, which lead to food poisoning and stomach upsets.

        How can I prevent mouse infestation?

        Householders can assist in preventing mouse infestation by taking a number of simple precautions.

        • Keep your home in good repair.  Mice only need a gap the diameter of a pencil to gain entry.
        • Remove potential nesting sites by keeping yards and gardens clean and tidy, and by cutting back overgrown areas.
        • Seal gaps around heating and water pipes.
        • Ventilation bricks and slots should already have a fine wire mesh incorporated.  If this is worn, replace it externally with 3.15mm insect mesh.
        • Do not leave household waste where mice can get access to it.  Close dustbin lids and composters and do not feed wild birds to excess – you may be feeding mice as well.

        How can I get rid of mice?

        It is important to get rid of mice quickly, as house mice reproduce rapidly.  It is possible to carry this work out yourself; however, a professional pest control expert will always have more technical expertise and access to rodenticides that are not available over the counter.

        If you decide to carry out the work yourself there are two options – poison or break-back traps.

        • Mouse poison (rodenticide) can be brought from most hardware stores and most garden centres.  Put the poison in a safe and secure place out of reach of children and pets and ALWAYS wash your hands after use.  Rodenticide can take 4-12 days to take effect.  This may result in a localised foul smell due to the presence of carcasses.
        • Break-back traps may be set and these should be placed next to walls where mice tend to travel.  The traps should be baited with chocolate biscuit or cereal.  Use several traps and examine them daily, removing dead mice as soon as they are discovered.  All traps should be handled with care.

        Please contact Pest Control if you require any assistance.

        Warning: Use biocides safely.  Always read the label and product information before use.

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        Fleas

        • Adult fleas live exclusively as parasites of warm blooded animals, like cats, dogs and humans.
        • They will feed on a host which is not their first choice where circumstances dictate; most commonly cat or dog fleas can feed on humans.
        • Cat fleas are responsible for 75% of flea infestations.

        Life Cycle

        The flea eggs 0.5 mm long are laid pearly white, oval and slightly sticky generally on the hair, bedding or clothing of the host. The threadlike larvae (1.5 mm) hatch in approximately a week and thrive in dark humid places.  After 2-3 weeks and two moults they grow to 5mm long and spin their cocoons for pupation. Fleas formed in cocoons may ‘overwinter’ at this stage but otherwise emerge by the stimulation of vibration, usually of the host. This is why attacks sometimes take place when a premise has been left empty, e.g. when a house is for sale, or the host returns from holiday!  In favourable conditions the life cycle is normally completed in 4 weeks.

        Before Treatment

        • First, clear as much floor space as possible, to ensure that treatment is as thorough as possible.
        • Vacuum all areas as this helps to remove any debris, eggs, larvae and adult fleas.  The vibration of the vacuum cleaner also helps to stimulate adults to hatch from their cocoon stage.  Pay particular attention to areas where your pet may sleep.
        • Remember to remove the bag from the vacuum and dispose of it in an outside bin as you may have collected eggs, larvae and adult fleas.
        • Pets must also be treated with a product approved for veterinary use and their bedding thoroughly washed at a high temperature.

        After Treatment

        • The insecticide will be applied to all floor surfaces and these areas must not be vacuumed or washed for at least 10 days after the treatment, or longer if possible.
        • New adult fleas may still emerge up to a month after treatment but there should still be sufficient insecticide present to kill them off.

        Please contact Pest Control if you require any assistance.

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        Bed bugs

        Bed bugs are found world-wide and throughout the UK.  They are nocturnal parasitic insects which feed on the blood of humans and other mammals.  Bed bugs are described as a nuisance biter. There are no know diseases transferred by bed bugs and therefore they are not considered a public health concern. Unless bed bugs are associated with other public health circumstances there is no action the local authority can take to enforce their removal from property. Where properties are possibly infested with bed bugs the onus falls on the occupant to arrange for their removal. If you do not wish or are unable to treat the bed bugs yourself, a service is provided on our behalf by OCS Pest Control – 0161 868 9608.  This is subject to a charge.

        By day they hide in cracks and crevices in beds, furniture, wallpaper and skirting board etc., emerging when hungry to feed.

        Bed bugs are not regarded as disease carriers but their blood feeding can cause severe irritation in some people, resulting in loss of sleep and lack of energy, particularly in children. The bite often gives rise to a hard, whitish swelling which distinguishes it from the flea bite which leaves a dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area.  Heavily infested rooms may carry a distinctive and unpleasant almond-like smell which is given off by the bed bugs’ “stink glands”.

        “Blood spotting” on bed linen may also indicate activity as the fully fed bugs excrete excess water before returning to their narrow crevices.

        If you do not wish or are unable to treat the bed bugs yourself, a service is provided on our behalf by Cannon Pest Control.  This is subject to a charge.

        Treatment

        Once a bed bug infestation has been confirmed it is important that a reputable pest control company carries out a thorough treatment with a residual insecticidal spray or powder. It may be necessary to treat on more than one occasion to completely eradicate bed bugs.

        To achieve the best results from a bed bug treatment it is important to carry out the following steps:

        Before the Treatment

        • All floors and upholstered furniture should be thoroughly vacuumed to remove animal hair, debris, eggs and pupae.  Particular attention should be given to known harbourages such as bedrooms and other sleeping areas.  (The vacuum bag must then be disposed of in a plastic bag in an outside waste bin).
        • All bed linen and clothing should be removed from infested areas and washed on the hottest wash possible.
        • Toys, loose articles etc., should be removed from the floor so that as much of the area can be treated as possible.
        • Where possible, beds and other known harbourages should be completely dismantled to allow them to be thoroughly treated.
        • Wardrobes, drawers etc., should be emptied and the contents washed on the hottest wash possible.
        • Tiled, concrete, wooden and any other hard floor surfaces should be swept and washed or vacuumed.
        • Remove all children, pets and other people during the treatment and ensure that aquariums are removed or covered.  (Fish are particularly susceptible to insecticides).  Any open food should also be covered or removed.

        Following the treatment:

        • Adults, children and pets should not be allowed back into the house until the treatment has completely dried (normally within a few hours in a well ventilated property).
        • Do not vacuum for at least 10-14 days after the treatment.  This will give the insecticide time to eliminate all stages of the bed bug infestation.
        • Thoroughly clean all food preparation surfaces before use.

        Please Note:

        Bed bugs often hide deep within cracks and crevices so the bed bug will only come into contact with the insecticide when it senses the presence of food and comes out to feed. For this reason it is recommended that people sleep in affected rooms after treatment: otherwise the bed bugs will not emerge from their harbourage and so will not come into contact with the insecticide.

        Safety

        Remember that all insecticides are poisonous and may be harmful if misused, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.  Store the insecticide in a safe place away from children and pets and dispose of empty containers properly.  Wash your hands after using any insecticide.

        Please contact Pest Control if you require any assistance.

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        Wasps and bees

        Bees

        Honey Bee – Apis mellifera

        Honey bees are protected and under normal circumstances cannot be destroyed.

        Swarming tends to happen for a few weeks in May and June.  When the hive becomes overcrowded the old queen leaves with about half the population of the hive.  Swarming bees look intimidating but are usually gorged with honey and are normally quite passive.  However, it is best to keep well away from the swarm even though it is unlikely to be dangerous.

        Please contact Cannon Pest Control for further advice.

        Wasps

        Family: Vespidae, e.g. Vespula vulgaris

        Adult wasps are normally between 10 and 20 mm in length, have a distinctive black and yellow banded abdomen and two sets of wings. Their nests are made of chewed bark and timber and are up to a metre across, varying in colour between grey and yellow. These nests are normally hidden away in areas such as lofts, trees and underground.

        Nest locations can be easy to identify in mid to late summer by the constant stream of wasps entering and leaving the entrance of the nest to forage for food.

        Nests are abandoned at the end of the autumn, with the workers dying off and the new queens seeking a suitable site for winter. In spring the queens start to build a new nest, never using the nest from the previous year. Empty nest disposal can therefore normally be carried out in the winter in relative safety.

        Wasps are not known to carry diseases but are classified as a pest because of their painful sting.

        Prevention

        You can reduce the likelihood of foraging wasps being attracted to your property by keeping food and rubbish, particularly sweet foods and fruit residues, in sealed containers and cleaning up spillages as they arise.

        Control

        This can be achieved by the use of various types of poisons applied either directly to the nest or to the nest entrance. Many of these poisons are only available for use by professional operators.

        Please contact Pest Control if you require any assistance.

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        Ants

        Garden ants found throughout Britain, usually nest in gardens and areas around buildings.  They often enter homes in search of food.

        Garden ants can find the smallest of cracks in buildings, and if they locate a source of food within the building they communicate this to other ants and then lead them into the building to feed.  During the summer, the flying stages of the ants may be seen emerging from the nest in large numbers.  This event normally lasts for only a few days.

        Garden or Black ants are not regarded as a ‘significant risk to public health’, however they can be a nuisance when found in the home.

        How to control them

        Remove the food sources, i.e. ensure that sugary foods are kept in sealed containers and that all food and drink spillages are cleared up immediately.

        Some insecticides are applied directly to the ant nest.  If the nest can be located (usually on the outside of the building) it may be destroyed by pouring a kettle of boiling water over it.  This is advised for problems on a ground floor outside area only.  If the nest cannot be found, an insecticide may be used along the cracks and crevices where the ants appear (e.g. skirting boards) and this may provide a ‘barrier’ against them.  Obvious holes in the exterior of the building should also be sealed using a commercially available sealant.

        Insecticides

        When purchasing insecticides, you should read the label carefully to ensure that it will treat the pest.

        A number of different types of insecticide are available for controlling ant problems.  These products can usually be brought from a local hardware store, chemist and some supermarkets.

        Safety

        • Care should be taken when using boiler water and insecticides.  Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions
        • Insecticides should not be placed where children or animals come into contact with them.
        • Wash hands after handling pesticides.

        Warning: Use biocides safely.  Always read the label and product information before use.

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        Cockroaches

        What do they look like?

        The two main species of cockroach in Britain are the Oriental cockroach which is dark brown in colour and about 30mm long and the German cockroach which is light yellowish brown, and about 12mm long.  Both species bodies are divided into three sections and have long antennae protruding from the head. Immature stages look just like the adults on a smaller scale.  There may be a distinctive odour due to the presence of Cockroach infestation.

        Where do they live?

        Cockroaches are generally found indoors, in areas such as cellars, basements, kitchens, bakeries and heating ducts.  The Oriental cockroach can survive outdoors in Britain.  Cockroaches will often remain hidden during the day using cracks and crevices as harbourages.  This means that in most cases they will not be evident during the hours of daylight.  Most species can climb with ease, especially the German cockroach which can climb smooth vertical surfaces.

        Cockroaches can survive for several months without food, but will not live for more than a few days without water.

        Are they harmful?

        Cockroaches are capable of carrying the organisms which cause food poisoning in humans and many other bacteria.  They will feed on almost anything, including refuse, faecal matter and food for human consumption.

        Control

        Hygiene

        • A thorough cleansing of the area should take place prior to the insecticidal treatment, paying particular attention to removing food and water sources and hiding places.

        Sticky Traps

        • The use of sticky traps is not recommended for controlling cockroaches, but should be used for monitoring the extent of the infestation.

        Insecticidal Control

        • The success of the treatment depends on what insecticides are chosen, and how thorough the application is.  Many of the insects and their egg cases are hidden in cracks and crevices, so particular attention should be paid to these areas when applying insecticides.  To control an infestation, the insecticide used should persist until the egg cases have hatched.  This may require further applications.

        Insecticidal Baits

        • Baits can give continuous control of cockroaches over an extended period.  The cockroaches will feed on these baits picking up enough insecticide to kill them.

        Safety

        Care should always be taken when using insecticides and the manufacturer’s instructions should always be followed.

        Insecticides should not be placed where they may be accessible to children or animals.

        Always wash hands immediately after using pesticides.

        Warning: Use biocides safely.  Always read the label and product information before use.

        Please contact Pest Control if you require any assistance.

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        Flies

        Houseflies are commonly found where people work or live because of the ready supply of food.  Bluebottles, which are larger than the common housefly, are also often found in human environments, and are particularly attracted by meat and decaying materials.

        Where do they come from?

        House fly eggs are laid in moist or rotting organic matter such as household rubbish, compost or manure.  Once hatched, flies can reach maturity in a very short period of time depending on temperature.  A female fly can lay up to 900 eggs during the one to three months of her adult life.

        Common houseflies have a flight range of considerable distance and can easily move from breeding grounds to the home.  A sudden appearance of bluebottles in the home normally indicates that a small animal (rodent or bird) has died – possibly under the floorboards or up a chimney.

        Why do flies come indoors?

        Houseflies and bluebottles come indoors looking for food.  They are not choosy as to the type of food they settle on, and are likely to be highly active once indoors.  Female bluebottles are easily able to find sources of suitable food and are often found in domestic kitchens.  Because of the way flies feed and where they may have come from before settling on the food, it is best to make sure that food is covered, to avoid contamination.

        Can they cause harm?

        Bluebottles and houseflies go from filth to food in a short time and have the ability to carry diseases such as gastroenteritis (tummy bug), salmonella, cholera, typhoid and they can also possibly transmit intestinal worms.

        How can I prevent housefly infestation?

        The best ways of controlling and avoiding housefly infestations are good hygiene and taking a number of simple precautions to prevent their entry to the home.  Drains should be cleaned frequently, particularly near kitchens.  Waste bins should be covered to avoid providing the ideal breeding conditions for flies.

        How can I get rid of houseflies?

        Insecticidal control using fly sprays (“knock down” sprays, available at most supermarkets) is a good, almost instant, way of dealing with flies in your property.

        Remove dead flies immediately and remember not to use insecticide near food and food-preparation surfaces.  Insecticide may also be harmful to household pets and humans should not inhale it.  Insecticide is extremely harmful to fish.  Flypapers, while unsightly, are another solution.  Specialist electric ultra-violet fly killers control flies, however, their efficiency can be affected by where they are placed.

        Warning: Use biocides safely.  Always read the label and product information before use/

        Fly is the common name used to refer to a range of insects which have only two wings.  That includes fruit flies, blow flies (bluebottle/green bottles) and mosquitoes.  The common housefly and bluebottle are the flies that most frequently cause a nuisance in the home.  All flies can cause problems as they can carry bacteria and can transmit diseases via body hairs and through saliva and faeces.

        Please contact Pest Control if you require any assistance.

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        Foxes

        The adaptable nature of the fox has made it a very successful resident of many British towns. Although many people enjoy seeing foxes around their homes or in parkland, foxes can be a nuisance and sometimes cause damage.

        Foxes will usually shelter and breed below the ground in an ‘earth’ or ‘den’. They prefer well-drained soil and sometimes use burrows made by rabbits or badgers. In urban areas, they also live underneath sheds and outbuildings, some have even be found to nest under the floorboards of houses.

        The average life span of foxes in towns is only 18 months due to most urban foxes being killed on the roads. Although rare, foxes can live for over 8 years!

        Is there any fox control in Thanet?

        No.  Controlling urban foxes is difficult, expensive and never successful, as some Local Authorities have already discovered.  The local authority has no powers to enforce the removal or destruction of foxes on private land and no duty to control them on public land.  Therefore the responsibility for dealing with a fox problem falls to the owner or occupier of the property where the problem occurs.  If the owner fails to take action then there is very little that can be done.

        What methods of fox control should I consider trying?

        Foxes are attracted to gardens by the food and shelter that they offer, by eliminating these, the problems should cease.  Some preventative measures you may want to consider taking are as follows:

        1. Remove all known food sources

        • Do not feed foxes, either intentionally or unintentionally. Ensure that foxes cannot access food put out for other wildlife or pets. Make bird tables inaccessible for foxes to climb onto, for example, by erecting a covered table at a height of at least 1.5 m (5 ft). Always clear away spilt food from under any bird feeder. These measures will also reduce the vulnerability of feeding birds to predation by foxes and help prevent rodent infestations, which can also attract foxes.
        • Store rubbish, especially food waste (including composted waste), in fox-proof containers made of materials such as metal or plastic and ensure that the dustbin lids are secure.  If you need additional wheelie bins please contact our Waste & Recycling team on 01843 577115, there maybe a charge for these.  If you are still having to use plastic sacks for refuse, ensure that these are put out on the morning of collection.  If you are not sure when this is please visit our waste & recycling pages for more information.
        • Provide secure, fox-proof accommodation for vulnerable pets and livestock.  Foxes can bite through ordinary chicken wire; welded mesh provides a much stronger alternative and do not leave your pets in the garden unsecured at night.
        • Foxes will dig up lawns to find tasty things to eat e.g. earthworms and grubs.  This damage is often seasonal, occurring mainly during the wet springs and warm wet autumns.  If the damage is not too severe then you can ignore it and repair the lawn as soon as the weather and habits of the fox change.  Otherwise you can remove the grubs and earthworms in the lawn by using a commercially available insecticide and vermicide available from garden centres and D.I.Y. stores. This course of action should only be considered in extreme circumstances, due to the need to reduce the use of all pesticides in the environment.

        2. Remove shelter

        • Foxes usually use garden sheds that are in the corner of the garden with a wall or fence on at least two sides, they provide a nice dry, lying up site, and are an ideal place to breed. If there is rubbish piled behind the shed, then so much the better. To deter the fox, all you have to do is clear any rubbish stored behind the shed; open up the area around the shed so that it is exposed and draughty. The foxes will leave pretty quickly, usually the following night.  If you have exposed the shed so that it is open all round the base, this is usually enough to stop them from returning.  If you want to be absolutely sure, securely fix strong “weld mesh” (not chicken wire) around the base of the shed, covering the gap and dig about 12 inches (300mm) into the soil.
        • Foxes breeding under garages are more difficult to get out, since they will have burrowed under a concrete floor. Often the only way to get them out is to break up the concrete floor of the garage. This is a drastic course of action; particularly since the nuisance value is far less than if they were under the house.  The best course of action will be to leave well alone until the foxes take their cubs away; in most years this happens during June. When you think the foxes have gone, loosely block the holes with some soil. If the holes are re-opened, continue re-blocking the holes each day until nothing disturbs the soil plugs. Then immediately fill the holes with rubble and cement them over to prevent the foxes gaining access again. In future years look for new holes, and block these in the same way as soon as they appear.
        • If the foxes have got in under your house, all you can do is to arrange for a pest control company to lift floorboards and drive the foxes out. However, since the foxes probably have access under the whole house, this may well involve lifting floorboards in all ground floor rooms.  Getting the foxes out can be very time consuming, difficult, disruptive and an expensive operation. Maintaining your air vents is a much, much cheaper option.

        3. Prevent access

        • Foxes can be excluded from areas such as gardens by erecting a suitable fence/barrier.  However a fox-proof fence can be expensive to install and unsightly.
        • Foxes use faeces to mark their territory, remove and dispose of all fox, as well as dog and cat, droppings. Fox droppings are distinguishable from those of a cat or dog by their musty odour and often twisted shape. Do not handle droppings with bare hands and ensure that children (and adults) always wash their hands after spending time in the garden.
        • Block any access points.  Filling in excavations as soon as they appear can prevent foxes from moving in where they are not wanted. This can be done by light blocking with loose soil. This will help to ensure that no animals become trapped below ground. Care must be taken to check that the hole is not part of an active badger sett; blocking or interfering with a badger sett without a licence is illegal. Advice on distinguishing badgers setts is available from Natural England.
        • A chemical repellent can be used as a deterrent, they have an unpleasant odour or taste which makes an area unattractive to foxes.  Only compounds that are approved as animal repellents may be applied and they must be used in accordance with the instructions on the product label. Repellents should not be placed down a fox hole, and the use of anything other than an approved product as a repellent may be illegal. It should be noted that the efficiency of a repellent depends on the determination of a fox to enter the area to be protected, and this will be affected by the availability of alternative food and shelter.

        Will foxes kill any of my pets?

        Given the opportunity, foxes will kill small domestic pets and livestock such as rabbits, guinea pigs, ducks and chickens. Unlike many predators, foxes have the habit of killing more than they need to eat immediately. They may subsequently return for any uneaten corpses.

        Pet killing is most frequent in late spring/early summer when foxes are rearing cubs.  If you live in an area where foxes frequent your garden then the onus is on you to take precautions to safe guard your pets.

        Foxes are unlikely to be a danger to adult cats or dogs, although occasional reports of foxes fighting with a cat or small dog have been reported.  Cats and dogs will defend their territory and fighting may occur as they try to drive the fox away from their garden or food bowl. Deliberately using dogs to chase foxes away from gardens, allotments etc. is illegal under the Hunting Act 2004.

        Do foxes attack people?

        Until recently there has been no evidence to suggest that foxes pose a significant risk of attacks on people. The incident where two children were attacked in their bedroom has been the first confirmed reported incident. However, if you know that foxes are in your area then you may want to consider taking some simple precautions.

        • Hand tame foxes that have been encouraged to enter gardens for feeding could potentially enter properties undetected, either through open windows and doors or through cat-flaps.  A development to the traditional cat-flap is available that reacts to a device carried on your cats collar, so that the flap will only allow your cat entry.
        • Try not to leave windows and doors open making it easy for foxes to enter properties;
        • Do not to leave babies in prams unattended;
        • Do not leave young children to play in the garden unattended.  It is true that foxes seem to be less wary of young children, and may actually try to play with them.
        • If you find a fox trapped in an outbuilding or similar situation, do not approach it or try to pick it up, leave it an escape route, and it will be away as soon as it feels safe.  If a fox is cornered, it may attempt to bite in self-defence.

        Can I keep a fox as a pet?

        Foxes do not make good pets and are best left in their natural habitat. Sometimes young cubs are found apparently abandoned; these are best left alone as more often than not the vixen is close by and will soon find them. Foxes are wild animals and, even if hand-reared, readily revert to their wild habits. Few people have the space to accommodate adult foxes adequately and owing to their territorial nature it is very difficult to release a hand-reared fox into the wild.  Releasing a hand-reared fox into the wild may also be an offence under the Animal Welfare Act (2006) if the animal is not capable of fending for itself.

        Further help

        If you require further help or advice, you may find a phone call to the Fox Deterrence Helpline 01892 826222 (24 hours recorded DIY advice) will prove invaluable. Although the Fox Project is a wildlife group, they have developed a wealth of knowledge and expertise on fox deterrence. Their advice will vary according to the time of year and can also be tailored to your own particular situation. It may be possible to resolve the problem without controlling the foxes. Advice on how to achieve this can be obtained from:

        National Fox Welfare Society, 135 Higham Road, Rushden, Northants NN10 6DS

        Tel: 01933 411996 Fax: 01933 397324

        Email: martin@nfws.org.uk  Web site: www.nfws.org.uk

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        Pigeons

        What happens if we feed the pigeons?

        Many people feed pigeons.  The number of pigeons attracted to an area depends on the food available.  If pigeons are being fed, more pigeons will be attracted to that area.  All pigeons require nesting and roosting sites (e.g. balconies, window ledges and roof areas of surrounding buildings) as well as reliable food sources.  It is vital that food sources for pigeons are kept to a minimum.  There have been a number of cases where people have been prosecuted for causing a health risk by repeatedly feeding pigeons.

        Are pigeons a health hazard?

        Pigeons are regarded as unacceptable, especially in large numbers.  They have the potential to transmit disease causing organisms.

        Problems may arise when pigeons roost on buildings as they foul from ledges and other nesting or roosting areas.  Their droppings cause an unsightly mess and may also cause ‘slip’ hazards on walkways and pavements.

        A build up of pigeon droppings may provide a food source for a range of Fly species, particularly in pigeon lofts.  Their parasites – Fleas and Mites can cause nuisance to humans.

        Pigeons can also cause a noise nuisance to people living and working in the area.

        How can they be controlled?

        If pigeons begin to roost on part of your property a number of remedial measures can be taken:

        • Attempts can be made to ‘scare’ the pigeons away (e.g. fixing a piece of string with silver foil attached or a plastic carrier bag to the area).
        • You can remove any food sources available to them.
        • There are many products available to professional pest controllers that prevent pigeons from landing on areas such as ledges, roofs and balconies.  It is best to seek expert advice on these products.

        If you are a Council housing tenant, your Housing Officer may be able to give you advice on how to deal with this problem.

        If you are a private owner/tenant, you may have to contact a private pest control company who would normally be willing to give you a quote for pigeon proofing at your property.

        All pigeon proofing work should be carried out by an experienced professional.

        Warning:  Use biocides safely.  Always read the label and product information before use.

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        Seagulls and birds

        Feeding birds

        From time to time the local authority receives complaints concerning residents who feed birds. The feeding of birds can encourage large numbers to be attracted to the area by food being left out for them. This can create a nuisance because of the quantity of them in the immediate vicinity attracted by the food available.  Residents who are feeding birds and encouraging large number of them to congregate should consider their actions, birds need no assistance to thrive and survive and if abnormal numbers are brought into a certain area they can undoubtedly be a nuisance. If residents do wish to feed birds we suggest that they target the smaller garden species by the use of appropriate foods and food containers within the boundary of their property.

        Ordinarily there is no offence committed by feeding birds in your own garden. If as a result of the feeding of birds there are significant accumulations of food or bird guano left behind the local authority can consider action against the person who is encouraging them into the area.  The local authority would only consider action in significant cases.

        Legislation

        The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 protects all wild birds. It is an offence to kill or injure any birds or their nests or eggs unless acting under a licence and only in compliance with the conditions of that licence. A General Licence allows “authorised persons” to undertake certain actions which would otherwise be illegal under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, but only to certain birds in certain circumstances.

        “Authorised person” means the owner or occupier or any person authorised by the owner or occupier of the land on which the action authorised takes place.

        Prevention

        All non-lethal methods must be considered first, such as deterrent devices, and only if none are thought suitable can lethal measures then be considered.

        A General Licences allows Herring Gulls (Larus argentatus), Lesser Black-backed Gulls (Larus fuscus) and Great Black-backed Gulls (Larus marinus) to be killed and their eggs and nests to be damaged or destroyed, but only for the following reasons:

        • Preserving public health or public or air safety
        • Preventing the spread of disease.
        • Preventing serious damage to livestock, foodstuffs for livestock, crops, vegetables, fruit, growing timber, fisheries or inland waters.

        Noise from birds, the fact that they leave droppings or that they open rubbish bags are NOT reasons under the Act.  Killing or injuring birds for these reasons is an offence and offenders can be prosecuted.

        The Council’s approach

        There are limited public health grounds for seagull control. Surveys1 show the culling of seagulls is mainly unsuccessful and that the numbers after a cull will shortly increase back up to the original optimum number with younger birds taking up territories previously occupied by adults.

        If gulls have built a nest on your roof, they may return year after year.  As they live up to 30 years, the problem could persist for a considerable time.  We recommend that you erect deterrent devices to prevent the birds building their nests i.e. bird proofing measures.  Preferably, this work should be done outside the nesting season, as interfering with their nests may be considered illegal.  Because the gulls are powerful and determined, proofing can be a difficult and dangerous operation.  It is best undertaken by a responsible, specialised Pest Control Company.

        Who can I contact?

        Before undertaking any action, except proofing outside of the nesting season, we recommend you seek expert advice on current legislation from Natural England, Tel: 0300 060 6000

        1 Coulson, JC (1991) “The population dynamics of culling Herring Gulls Larus argentatus and Lesser Black-backed Gulls L.fuscus”. In Perrins CM, JP Lebreton and GM Hirons (eds), Bird population studies. Relevance to conservation and management. Oxford University Press, Oxford

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