Pest Control In The North West In 2015

Pest Control In Manchester, Trafford, Liverpool, Lancashire, Cheshire and Wirral in 2015

Many people associate north west pest control with old fashioned rat-catchers with flat caps and whippets, but in 2015 nothing could be further from the truth, although a few do still exist 🙂 . Pest control like many industries has greatly benefited from the march of technology and novel products and systems have made pest controllers more effective than ever before.

We have mouse traps which send a text message to a mobile phone when a mouse enters, gels which repel birds by giving the appearance of fire and equipment which greatly reduces the amount of insecticide needing to be applied to control insect populations.

However it is not just the pest controllers who are changing, so are the pests themselves and here in the Manchester and Liverpool areas we are seeing new pest species which we have never come across before which means that we have had to learn about these species and how to deal with them.

Wasps’ Nests

The wasp population in our area suffered badly in 2012 as did honeybees.

An unseasonal warm spell in late February and early March brought the wasp queens out of hibernation early but then the weather turned cold and there was no food for them and they starved. We estimated that the wasp populations were down by about 90% and they are still recovering.

Honeybees too had a bad year, it was a very wet summer which meant that they made very little honey to see them through the winter of 2012/13 which was a long and cold with spring appearing very late. Many bees simply ran out of food and beekeepers were reporting losses of up to 75% of their hives.

Tree Bumblebees

The Tree Bumblebee - A Stinger

The Tree Bumblebee – A Stinger

The same year saw the arrival of the Tree Bumblebee (Bombus hypnorum) in our area. This species was first seen in Britain in 2001 and has since spread rapidly arriving in the north west in 2012.

We began getting repeated calls from people who had been stung by bumblebees, often whilst mowing the lawn. This is very unusual indeed as bumblebees are normally very docile and rarely sting unless severely provoked.

This new bee is very aggressive and sensitive to vibration and noise, hence the number of people stung whilst mowing. They usually nest high up and often will be found in bird boxes.

The Tree Bumblebee is an incredibly early species and we expect to be dealing with the first nests before the end of April.

It has an unusual flight pattern which makes it look very worrying indeed. The males perform ‘nest surveillance’ which means that they fly in a swirling pattern around the entrance to the nest waiting for newly hatched queens to emerge.

This flight pattern really draws the eye and often causes people to panic.

It is an easy bee to recognise both because of its flight and its distinctive white tail.

Varied Carpet Beetle

Varied Carpet Beetle

Varied Carpet Beetle

The Varied Carpet Beetle (Anthrenus verbasci) is a relative newcomer to the north west although common in more southerly counties. We first saw this in our reqion about six or seven years ago and it is now a regular pest, usually appearing in early spring.

It is an easy pest to identify both in the adult and larval stages. Similar in shape to a ladybird the adults are pollen feeders and do no harm in houses but the larvae, or ‘wooly bears’ as they are known, feed on natural fibres and can damage carpets etc.

They are a feared pest in natural history museums and the larvae also cause another problem for pest controllers.

Their larval skins are hairy, hence the name, and when shed these hairs can become embedded in human skin giving

Wooly Bear

Wooly Bear

a bite-like reaction.

When dealing with potential biting insect cases pest controllers must now also be mindful of these beetles.

Also, because they fly they are often found in beds causing people to suspect that they may have bed bugs.

Because they are universally present in gardens and can fly there is no total cure for them in houses, repeated use of the vacuum cleaner is probably the best defence although an insecticidal treatment can be carried out in extreme cases.

Harlequin Ladybird

Harlequin Ladybirds

Harlequin Ladybirds

The Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) is yet another new comer to Britain arriving in our area just three or four years ago. So named because it comes in multiple colours and sizes this ladybird is now a major threat to many of our native insect species as it is a voracious predator.

The main problem people experience with this ladybird stems from its habit of moving into houses in huge numbers in the autumn, sometimes several thousand at a time.

It has a defence mechanism of producing isopropyl methoxy pyrazine as a deterrent to predation. This is produced by a reflex bleed and is foul smelling and can stain fabrics. In addition it can cause allergic reactions including conjunctivitis.

For this reason it is best left to a professional to deal with.


Whilst the predominant pest species in the north west remains the common, garden or black ant (Lasius niger) some pest controllers are reporting the arrival of new species such as carpenter ants.

We have become much more effective at dealing with ants than we were even five or six years ago.

In order to eradicate an ant colony it is necessary to kill the queen and older treatments such as sprays and powders were very bad at this as whilst they killed worker ants they didn’t penetrate into the nest itself and often the colony would regenerate very quickly after a treatment.

Gels have been available for a number of years now with limited success, often the active ingredient (boric acid or pyrethrum) would be too aggressive and kill the workers before they could return to the nest with the gel.

Now we have novel liquid gels which have a timed reaction allowing the poison to be spread around the colony before taking effect. These new gels are highly attractive to the ants which readily consume them and contaminate the colony through their process of trophallaxis, which is passing food one to the other.

We really do now have the tools to deal with an ant problem inside houses and the best time to apply these gels is in the spring as soon as the ants become effective, this way we can prevent the arrival of the dreaded ‘flying ants’.


Whilst we do have hornets in Britain they are almost totally confined to the south. There is an urban myth in our



region that hornets are like tiny wasps, this is simply not the case.

Hornets are very much larger than wasps but they are a pest that until recently we have never seen this far north.

I personally saw a European Hornet (Vespa crabro) on the Wirral in 2014 and a colleague reported being called out to a hornets’ nest in the Knutsford area in the same year.

So whilst they are rare in our area we may see more of them in the coming summers.

Unlike our native wasps hornets fly at night and can be attracted into rooms through open windows.


It is apparent that some areas are experiencing flea populations which are becoming resistant to over-the-counter flea preparations. Many people are experiencing flea infestations on their cats and dogs even though the animal has been regularly treated. We have found this to be true especially in the Liverpool and also the Blackpool area.

Fleas are being spread by the increase in the number or urban foxes and once established in a home really require a professional treatment to eradicate.

If you have any questions about the above please use the contact form below.

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