A-Z of Pests | Inspect. Detect. Protect.

Blue Bottle

The Bluebottle is a large buzzing fly with shiny, metallic blue body, 6-12mm long. One Bluebottle can lay up to 600 eggs, which in warm weather will hatch in under 48 hours and produce maggots which can become fully developed in a week. These maggots burrow into meat or carrion as they feed on it, and then pupate, often in loose soil, for about ten days before emerging as adult flies from the brown pupal case.

Black Rat

The Black Rat or Ship Rat is now rarely found in the UK. This rat that brought the Black Death across Europe and the Great Plague of London in the 17th century.

Bats

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 provides protection for all species of bat found in the United Kingdom.

Cheese Skipper

A small shiny black fly with reddish eyes whose slender grubs “skip” by curving their body into a ring and releasing themselves. The larvae burrow into cheese or ham and can cause internal irritation if eaten.

Cockchaffers

Large blundering insects are also known as May-bugs which are attracted to artificial light and fly into houses or collide with windows on warm evenings in May and June.

Earwigs

A long, narrow, brown insect 10 to 14mm long with characteristic “pincers” at one end, the earwig is often carried indoors in cut flowers or house plants and often invades from the garden through open windows, sometimes in large numbers. Despite their appearance, Earwigs don't bite, are harmless and is only a minor agricultural/amenity pest.

Foxes

Many people are concerned about foxes affected by mange. A scruffy looking fox is not necessarily an ill fox. When moulting in spring, foxes look quite rough, but this does not mean they are mangy. They are typically found in woodland and open country, but their presence in urban areas is increasing. Red foxes are opportunist feeders and eat insects, earthworms, fruit, berries, wild birds, small mammals and scraps left by humans.

Flour Moths

Moths whose grubs feed on stored food - especially cereals, chocolate, cocoa, dried fruit, nuts and any flour product. Adults are mottled grey and brown and measure 10-15mm long. Larvae are a dirty white colour with brown heads and grow up to 12-15mm long, spinning light, matted webbing as they feed.

Ground Beetle

These various large black or violet beetles that occasionally wander in from the garden or emerge from under doormats or not a pest and control is rarely necessary.

House Moth

Textile pests and scavengers whose grubs eat natural fabrics. Similar to Clothes Moths.

Larder Beetle

A relatively large (7-10mm) oval beetle, almost black but with a distinct pale band across the front of the wing-cases. The larvae are white after first hatching, but turn brown and are covered with tufts of bristly hair. They grow to 10-12mm long and occasionally tunnel into soft wood to pupate. The life cycle takes about three months.

Hornet

Twice the size of the common wasp and brown and yellow instead of black and yellow. It builds nests in hollow trees and similar sites. They only occasionally enter houses.

Mosquitoes

Most “mosquitoes” seen in houses are in fact the harmless and unrelated Crane Fly. True mosquitoes are very much smaller but have a similar long thin abdomen, long thin legs and strongly veined wings. The head has large eyes and a prominent proboscis.

Moths

Large blundering insects are also known as May-bugs which are attracted to artificial light and fly into houses or collide with windows on warm evenings in May and June.

Pharoah's Ants

A small tropical species of ant of increasing importance in the structures of large centrally heated buildings, especially hospitals and high rise blocks of flats where it can be a serious public health pest.

Silverfish

A cigar-shaped, silver-grey, wingless insect about 12mm long, found in damp areas commonly in kitchens and bathrooms. Nocturnal in habit, but often trapped in baths, basins or chinaware as it cannot climb the smooth surfaces. Moves quickly and has three long bristles at the tail end.

Starlings

Although a native to this country, our permanently resident starling population is swelled every autumn by migrants arriving from the Continent. Starlings may roost in their thousands on ledges on buildings and in trees in city centres. Their droppings deface and erode stonework and make pavements slippery. In domestic lofts, their nesting activities can build large piles of twigs, leaves and associated fouling. Insect and mite pests can find their way from this into the house.

Sparrows

Rarely a problem in domestic situations, but frequently an issue in commercial premises such as bakeries and warehouses. Sparrows can enter buildings through tiny gaps and, once in, are very difficult to remove.

Voles

A wood-boring beetle whose grubs eat old hardwood structural timbers. Practically common in stately homes in which the beetle family has probably lived since they were built.

Wasps

Wasps are classified under the order Hymenoptera, which means membraneous wings. All the stinging insects belong to this group, and they are a highly evolved group of insects. Some Wasps live in Wasps nests in the UK. They all have complex social structures and ways of doing things. However, they all share a common aim to survive as a species.

Worms

Parasitic worms are a veterinary or medical problem but they are included here because some may be transmitted by rats, mice or certain insects. Threadworms are relatively common in dogs, cats and children. They are thin whitish wrigglers about 5mm long, typically only detected after they have passed out of the gut. They may cause intense anal itching at night in young children. The trouble starts when threadworms’ eggs are swallowed with unwashed, contaminated fruit or raw vegetables or from food handled by unwashed hands.

Brown House Moth

The commonest of the so-called clothes moths, with characteristic golden-bronze wings, flecked with black, folded flat along its back. The adult is about 8mm long and prefers to run rather than fly.

Beetles

The main types of Beetle in the UK and we've got information on more of the types of Beetle you're likely to encounter.

Blow Fly

The term Blow Fly is a general description of a number of species of large buzzing flies, which include the Bluebottle, the Greenbottle and the Flesh Fly.

Cluster Flies

These are dark greyish flies about 8mm long with yellowish hairs on the back and with overlapping wings. In autumn they congregate in large numbers in upper rooms or roof spaces of houses to hibernate. They will then reemerge in Spring to seek out egg laying sites outside. A mass of cluster flies has a characteristic smell. They are sluggish in flight and are a nuisance in the house. The larvae of one species are parasitic upon certain earthworms, so this species is more common in rural areas.

Clothes Moth

There are several species of clothes moths, all of them characterised by folding their wings tent-wise along their backs. The adult Common Clothes Moth is 6 to 7mm long with pale, plain golden-buff wings fringed with hair. The rarer Case-Bearing Clothes Moth is duller and has three dark brown spots on each of its wings.

Field Mice

Outdoor cousins of the House Mouse, which tend to move indoors in the winter seeking their creature comforts. The Wood Mouse or Long-Tailed Field Mouse has larger ears, more prominent eyes and a longer tail than the House Mouse and is brownish with a white underside. They are fond of apples but will eat almost any stored food.

Bees

There are over 200 types of Bees in the UK, including 25 types of bumblebees! We've listed some of the most common here. Different types of bee may require different treatment methods. Note: pest controllers do not apply bee treatments unless there's a serious threat to human life. 25% of all bee types are endangered.

Fleas

Large blundering insects are also known as May-bugs which are attracted to artificial light and fly into houses or collide with windows on warm evenings in May and June.

Fruit Flies

Large blundering insects are also known as May-bugs which are attracted to artificial light and fly into houses or collide with windows on warm evenings in May and June.

Green Bottle

Large buzzing flies about 9mm long with a characteristic bottle-green sheen on the back. Mostly carrion feeders that enter houses to seek places to hibernate and, in passing, may well alight on exposed foodstuffs.

House Mice

The House Mouse is found in buildings as they seek the warmth and shelter for nesting sites and food. The House Mouse body length ranges between 60-90mm, and the tail can add 100mm. They weigh less than 25g, and their fur colour varies between light brown and grey.

Longhorn Beetle

Large blundering insects are also known as May-bugs which are attracted to artificial light and fly into houses or collide with windows on warm evenings in May and June.

Mice

The House Mouse, and sometimes the Long-Tailed Field Mouse are found in buildings as they seek the warmth and shelter for nesting sites and food. The House Mouse body length ranges between 60-90mm, and the tail can add 100mm. They weigh less than 25g, and their fur colour varies between light brown and grey.

Mealworm

A term applied to the larvae of the three species of Mealworm Beetle. Adult beetles are about 15mm long, dark brown and scavenge in damp larders or down in basement food stores. They frequently breed in old birds’ nests. The larvae are large (up to 28mm) and pale yellow in colour, with clearly defined segments along the body. They are sold in many pet shops as food for fish and reptiles.

Plaster Beetle

In a new house where plaster is still damp, or where damp plaster occurs in old property, very tiny, almost black beetles about 2mm long may be found. These are called plaster beetles.

Snakes

In the UK snakes are not dealt with as pests by an average pest control company as problems are not common and dealing with snakes requires particular skills. As stated in the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 it is illegal to kill, injure or sell any native British snake or lizard including Grass Snakes, Adders and Slow worms.

Slugs

A well-known garden pest, Slugs will eat vegetation and are only occasionally found indoors, in damp areas such as cellars. Despite their appearance, Slugs are harmless and is only a minor agricultural/amenity pest.

Spider Beetles

A group of beetles with globular abdomens and relatively long legs, superficially resembling small spiders, 3-4mm long. General scavengers of all sorts of animal and vegetable debris and stored food, and frequently associated with old birds’ nests. The Golden Spider Beetle (below) is covered with golden hairs while the Globular Spider Beetle is a shiny, dark brown colour.

Spiders

A wood-boring beetle whose grubs eat old hardwood structural timbers. Practically common in stately homes in which the beetle family has probably lived since they were built.

Weevils

A wood-boring beetle whose grubs eat old hardwood structural timbers. Practically common in stately homes in which the beetle family has probably lived since they were built.

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Body Lice

Small, flat, wingless, grey parasites about 2mm long with strong claw legs and which feed on human blood. They are similar in appearance to head lice and can easily be confused.

Biscuit Beetle

The Biscuit Beetle is found worldwide but more commonly in temperate latitudes. It is common throughout the UK, especially in food storage and retailing premises, and are frequently encountered in a domestic property. They are small reddish-brown insects, only about 3mm long, which attack stored foods in domestic cupboard and larders.

Brown Rat

The Common, Brown or Norway Rat, also known as the sewer rat, and are prevalent across the whole of the UK.

Cockroach

Cockroaches are distinguished by their very long whip-like antennae, flat oval bodies and rapid, jerky walk. The adult German Cockroach is a light yellowy/brown and is 10 to 15mm long. The Oriental Cockroach is dark brown/black and is 20 to 24mm long. Immature stages of Cockroach, look exactly like adults, just on a smaller scale.

Death Watch Beetle

A wood-boring beetle whose grubs eat old hardwood structural timbers. Practically common in stately homes in which the beetle family has probably lived since they were built.

Flies

A family of two-winged polluters that is, too often, tolerated within our homes. Apart from the biting flies, all species feed by vomiting saliva onto the food surface and sucking up the resulting liquid. In the course of doing so, the fly contaminates the food with bacteria from its gut and its feet. Thus, it may transmit food poisoning, dysentery, typhoid or cholera in countries where these occur. The eggs of parasitic worms may also be carried by flies.

Fur Beetle

An oval black beetle 4-6mm long with a white spot on each wing case. Grubs are about 6mm long, with a tuft of golden hairs on the end of their bodies. They can often be detected by their cast-off skins as they moult. Grubs feed on fur, hair, skins, feathers and wool and may damage the upholstery.

False Black Widow

The female False Black Widow is of similar appearance to the Black Widow. It's a relatively small spider, with a body length being 10-15mm (female) and only 3-6mm (male). The False Black Widow is shiny black and globular like the Black Widow, but they lack the characteristic red double triangle or ‘hourglass' marking. The abdomen of the immature female has pale chevron markings on the dorsal surface and a white band around the anterior, but these diminish with each moult until the adult abdomen is black except for the band, now turned red.

Harvest Mite

A very tiny creature living in long grass but which can be carried into homes on clothing or the coats of dogs. Can give a very irritating bite.

House Fly

The Common Housefly and the Lesser Housefly are the most widespread household flies. The adult is 7-8mm long, grey in colour with black stripes on the back, with a single pair of veined membraneous wings. The large compound eyes take up most of the head and are wider apart in the female than the male of the species. The smaller Lesser Housefly, rejoicing in the scientific name Fannia canicularis, is the one that cruises around light fittings, abruptly changing direction in mid-flight.

Lice

Small, flat, wingless, grey parasites about 2mm long with strong claw legs and which feed on human blood. There are two distinct forms of this sort of louse - the head louse and the body louse, but they are similar in appearance.

Lacewing

The pale green Lacewing is a harmless wanderer from the garden or woods where its larvae prey upon other insects. It has a pale green, soft body, about 15mm long, with richly veined transparent wings folded over it when at rest. The eyes are an iridescent bronze. The adults are attracted to light and may enter houses in autumn seeking hibernation sites.

Ladybird

There are many types of ladybird in the UK, but quite recently, a new variety was introduced that has the potential to jeopardise the others. The Harlequin ladybird is found naturally in the Far East, including Japan and Korea. It was introduced into several European countries as a predator of pest insects such as aphids, in greenhouses. However it was soon found living ‘wild’ in Belgium in 2001, in Germany in 2003, and in the UK in 2005. Within the UK, it was first reported in the London area but is now rapidly spreading north and west. At present, it appears likely that the Harlequin ladybird will become widely established in the UK.

Midges

Tiny dark grey flies, only about 2mm long with hair-fringed wings, most prevalent in spring and summer near sewage works. Also known as Filter Flies or Owl Midges, their grubs perform a useful purpose because they break down organic material at sewage works.

Stable Fly

Closely resembles the Housefly, but this fellow bites. Uncommon indoors but breeds in long grass, straw or grass cuttings where there are horses or other animals.

Ticks

Closely related to the mites, but much larger and reliant on vertebrate blood. They are occasionally brought into the house on domestic animals and can be picked up by humans after walking through long grass in an infested area. Ticks are implicated in the transmission of Lyme disease, and medical advice should be sought if a rash appears at the site of a bite. Remove them with a twist to avoid leaving the mouthparts in the skin.

Woodlice

Woodlice are one of the few land crustaceans. They have oval, grey, segmented bodies 10-15mm long, with 14 legs and prominent antennae. Common names include ‘slaters’, ‘sow-bugs’ and ‘pill-bugs’.

Woodworm

A term used for the destructive larvae of the Common Furniture Beetle. The first sign of woodworm is the appearance of neat round holes, 2mm across, in wooden surfaces, often accompanied by tiny piles of wood dust beneath them. Fresh holes show clean white wood inside. Emerging adult beetles make the holes. Immature grubs may still be tunnelling away inside the wood.

Thrips

Also known as “thunder-flies”, tiny (1.5mm) insects, black with narrow, hairy wings. They feed on plant sap and on humid summer days they may occur in huge numbers on window sills and get into clothing and hair.

Yellow Swarming Fly

One of the species collectively known as Cluster Fly family. A small yellowish fly with black stripes on its back which sometimes invades attics or rarely-used rooms to hibernate in autumn.

Bed Bugs

This common pest once associated with unhygienic surroundings is prevalent due to a number of reasons, including increased travel, the use of second-hand furniture, and suspected tolerance to some pesticides. These bugs still occur with regularity, particularly in multi-occupancy buildings with rapid resident turnover, for example, hostels, hotels, holiday camps and blocks of flats.

Birds

Urban birds such as Gulls, Pigeons, Starlings and Sparrows are great opportunists. Handed a ready food source and sheltered nesting site, these birds can grow rapidly and what initially attracted a few birds can soon become a thriving colony.

Carpet Beetle

The larvae (known as “woolly bears”) of these small, oval beetles have outstripped the clothes moths as the major British textile pest. The Variegated Carpet Beetle is 2 to 4mm long, like a small, mottled brown, grey and cream ladybird. The related Fur Beetle is black with one spot on each wing case, and there is a rarer Black Carpet Beetle.

Crickets

Closely related to the Cockroaches, most species of cricket live outdoors, only rarely entering premises. One species, however; the House Cricket, may live within buildings throughout the year. 16mm long and yellow-brown with darker markings on head and thorax it favours warm, humid locations such as the heating duct systems of hospitals.

Ants

The commonest species that invades houses is the Black Garden Ant, which is actually very dark brown. All ants have the main divisions of the body (head, thorax, abdomen) distinctly separated by very narrow waists and have a sharp elbow joint in their antennae. They are highly organised social insects. It is the foraging worker ants that invade buildings in search of food. These are from 3 to 5mm in length and are attracted to sweet foodstuffs which they take back to the nest to feed to the larvae and queen.

Flour Mite

A tiny, slow-moving, white or pale-brown creature measuring a barely visible 0.5mm long, with eight legs. A pest of cereals and cereal products especially if they are damp.

Furniture Beetle

A small brown beetle, 2.5-5mm long, that is the adult form of woodworm. Emerges from infested wood between May and September, especially in June and July, leaving round exit holes 1-2mm in diameter.

Gnats

The insect normally referred to as a gnat is actually a small mosquito - correct name: Culex pipiens. It is common in gardens on warm evenings. Another species, the true Window Gnat, is a slow-flying insect about 8mm long with wings more rounded than those of the mosquito.

House Dust Mite

Exceedingly common, these tiny creatures are of the genus Dermatophagoides. They are the primary source of the house dust allergens implicated in allergic, respiratory reactions such as asthma. Dust Mites feed on human skin scales and require both warmth and humidity. Mattresses and pillows provide ideal habitat.

Flour Beetle

Small reddish-brown beetles about 3-4mm long that feed on flour and cereal debris in warm buildings. These beetles are often accidentally introduced into the larder in packaging or the ingredients themselves. The commonest species are the Rust Red Flour Beetle and the Confused Flour Beetle (which in turn is often confused with the Rust Red Flour Beetle).

Maggot

The layman’s term for the legless, wriggling larval (first) stage of certain insects, usually the larvae of Flies. However, you can find larvae for all sorts of species of insects including Beetles, Moths and Fleas.

Mite

Large blundering insects are also known as May-bugs which are attracted to artificial light and fly into houses or collide with windows on warm evenings in May and June.

Moles

Moles tunnel using their large two front paws to scrape away the earth and feel along tunnels with their snouts and whiskers. Because of the absence of light within their living conditions, moles have very poor eyesight so very rarely will you see mole activity above ground.

Rat

There are two species of rat in Britain, Rattus Norvegicus which is commonly known as the Brown Rat or Common Rat. The Rattus Rattus, referred to as the Black Rat or Ship Rat is now rarely found in the UK.

Red Spider Mite

Tiny, bright red specks, about 1mm across, sometimes move into buildings in large numbers. There are two species with several names, generally known as Red Spider Mites. Although they do no direct harm inside the house, if the mites are squashed they stain walls and decorations.

Squirrels

Deliberately introduced to this country sometime in the 19th century, the grey squirrel has since spread throughout most of mainland England and Wales. Mainly a resident of broadleaved and mixed woodlands it is also a typical resident of urban parks and gardens.

Pigeons

Feral pigeons foul buildings, creating unwanted "stained glass" windows and "decorated" architecture. All sorts of pests may migrate from their nests into buildings. Originally descended from the wild Rock Dove, a cliff-face dweller, these birds find the next best thing is a block of flats, a bit of Victorian Gothic architecture or a railway arch.

Termites

A wood-boring beetle whose grubs eat old hardwood structural timbers. Practically common in stately homes in which the beetle family has probably lived since they were built.

Wharf Borer

A brown beetle, about 1cm long, with pronounced antennae and a tendency to emerge from damp basements and fly about near rivers or estuaries in early summer. The grubs live in very decayed wet timber such as old jetties or wooden piles. These beetles sometimes invade buildings built over old bombed sites with timbers buried under them for a few odd days.

Woolly Bears

The small hairy larvae of the carpet or fur beetles are known as "woolly bears". These small, oval beetles have outstripped the clothes moths as the major British textile pest. The larvae are small (about 4mm long), covered in brown hairs, and tend to roll up when disturbed. As they grow, they moult - and the old cast-off skins may be the first sign of infestation.

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