What effect does stockpiling have on pest activity?
With the British Pest Control Association (BPCA) this week reporting a surge in pest activity in the Covid-19 lockdown, this week we’re looking at the effects of stockpiling.
Over half of all pest controllers polled reported an increase in rat activity and 41% increase in mice activity.
The BPCA reported that “We’ve had reports of rats and mice infesting empty buildings and it seems their lifestyle patterns are changing”.
This surge in rodent activity is consistent with the calls and enquiries we’ve been receiving at PGM & Son Pest Control.
So what’s causing this increase in rodent activity?
There are a number of factors which can be attributed to this rise in pest activity but this week we’re looking at the issue of stockpiling.
The continued restrictions imposed on the general public by the Government due to the Covid-19 pandemic are having a knock-on effect on many other areas of life and pest control is no different.
One of the effects of the Covid-19 restrictions is the ability to continue normal household shopping routines. Although the Government and Supermarket chains have confirmed there is no issue with food supplies, the fact is there is a continued distribution issue which may explain why some people are stockpiling food stuffs.
People self-isolating may not be able to easily access food supplies, and this could be one reason for purchasing more than is needed.
For those who are well enough to venture to their local supermarket, they may feel anxious about the restrictive measures in place or find the additional time needed to carry out a weekly shop can be stressful and so they too may buy more than is required to avoid the need to go out as regularly as they would normally.
Delivery and click and collect services continue to be in short supply. Although more slots are become available priority, rightly, is given to vulnerable individuals. Where people can get a slot, they may buy more than they usually would as there is no certainty about when they might next get a delivery or collection.
For some people, it continues to be a concern about the ongoing availability of essential items such as flour, eggs, pasta and even toilet roll! This is why we have seen shelves in these aisles emptier than usual.
It is clear that people’s shopping behaviours and patterns are adjusting to the changes in normal lifestyles and although there has been much talk about easing restrictions of late, the Government has indicated there will be no immediate lift to the lock down. If restrictions do ease at some point, the Government has also made clear that life will be unlikely to return to normal for many, many months to come.
What does all this have to do with pests?
As restrictions continue and people purchase more than is necessary for one or more of the reasons explained above, this “stockpiling” can lead to issues with pests.
We’ve had some lovely weather recently which has been great for sitting in the garden or enjoying a daily exercise activity but the hot weather can create additional problems for those stockpiling foods, particularly perishable goods.
The National Pest Technicians Association (NPTA) has warned households about the public health and pest control dangers posed by stockpiling and hoarding during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
Good housekeeping is more vital than ever
They key issues to bear in mind are:
Stockpiling means that there is more food to attracts rats and mice
Hot weather can make food go off more quickly, particularly perishable goods, meaning more waste. Rodents aren’t fussy about the freshness of their food!
More food waste means more refuse to store at home. Bins are often overflowing before the refuse collectors are able to take it away
Overflowing bins provide a great opportunity for rodents to access food sources. Other animals such as cats and foxes can also scavenge for food and they often leave food stuffs and wrappers strewn across floor surfaces which will attract rodents
When the bins are full, people pile bags next to them. This provides great cover to attract rodents which often won’t be spotted at the bottom of the pile
Householders are storing foods in different areas because of restricted space in normal storage spaces. For example, they may use conservatories, outbuildings and garages to store food items which increase their attractiveness to rodents
Rodents are becoming bolder and braver and more innovative in finding food and shelter during lockdown. Rodents usually try to avoid humans but with less of us out on the streets, they are becoming braver in roaming freely where they wouldn’t normally be seen.
What can you do to reduce your risk of a rodent infestation?
There are some simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of inviting rodents into your property, such as:
Try not to stockpile if you can. There are enough supplies for everyone so think about how you can best ensure you can access shopping services so that you can avoid having to buy more than you need
Put rubbish in an outside bin as soon as possible
Make sure bins have tight sealing lids
Be vigilant – check that your food items for signs of pest or pest activity such as droppings or gnaw marks
Consider carefully where to store your food items – remember that outbuildings and garages are at increased risk from pests as they tend to be less secure than our homes
Regularly check your property for possible entry points – seal holes and cracks and pay particularly attention to pipes and drains
Keep bushes and shrubs away from your buildings if you can – this can screen rodent activity otherwise
Clean your work surfaces, tables and floors regularly to avoid a build up of food which may also attract pests
Pest control is a critical service supporting public health, however, the risks of spreading the virus need to be weighed against the risk of inadequate control and management of pest species. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns either by emailing us at email@example.com or telephoning us on 01981 241334 / 07964 370480 so that we can help you to find a solution to your rodent problems.
Please note we will not carry out any non-essential visits during this period, however, we will treat pest problems that present a risk to public health and we are always on the end of the ‘phone to discuss a pest problem so please give us a call or email us!
If you are worried about your safety during the Covid-19 pandemic ask us about our control measures so that we can set your mind at rest. We carry a letter from the Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP, Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth which sets out the circumstances in which pest control can continue to be carried out safely for the public. Ask us if you would like to see a copy as we are happy to share this with you.