Pest control

Information about the advice we offer for pest control.

We can provide advice regarding pest proofing and treatment of pests. However, the responsibility for taking action to solve a pest problem belongs to the occupant of the property. 

Pest Control officers can offer free advice over the phone, by calling 01642 774774, on a number of different pests, as below:

Pest control advice


What do ants look like?

  • The most common ant is a garden ant and is brown-black in appearance with the three parts of the body visible: head, thorax and abdomen. 
  • They are 3-5 mm in length.
  • Worker ants will invade property looking for food to take back to the nest.
  • Flying ants are the reproductive ants and only mate for a few days during July and August.


How do I know I have ants?

They will be visible going to and from the nest looking for food supplies usually sweet foodstuffs.


How do I prevent problems with ants?

You cannot do anything to prevent ants other than being aware of nests which could be small piles of earth.


How do I treat ants?

  • Locate the nest and pour boiling water over it.
  • Use a sweet liquid to pour over the nest such as boric acid and sugar.  Boric acid is readily available in supermarkets and chemists.
  • Ant treatments (such as gels, powders and bait stations) are available in garden centres and supermarkets.


Are bats protected?

Bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.


How do I know I have bats?

  • “Chattering” may be heard in the loft/attic space or walls particularly in July and August and around about dusk.
  • Bat droppings resemble grains of rice but on touch will turn to dust with very little pressure.


How do I prevent problems with bats?

Please see information at Advice - Bat Conservation Trust ( or

telephone 0345 1300 228  Mon – Fri 9.30 am to 4.30 pm out of hours for emergency calls only or email


How do I treat bats?

Please see information at Advice - Bat Conservation Trust ( or

telephone 0345 1300 228  Mon – Fri 9.30 am to 4.30 pm out of hours for emergency calls only or email

Bed Bugs

What do bed bugs look like?

  • The bed bug is a wingless insect, about 5mm long.
  • They are red-brown and flat in shape. 
  • They feed on the blood of humans. This makes them turn red-purple and they become more round.

What does a bed bug bite look like?

  • The bite is painless at the time, but the skin will become irritated and inflamed. 
  • A small, hard, swollen, white welt may develop at the site of each bite which can occur in rows or batches of three or four. 
  • Some people are sensitive to the bites and may experience an allergic reaction. This can be quite severe and may need medical attention.

Do bed bugs carry diseases?

They are not known to carry disease.


How do I know I have them?

Signs of bedbugs include:

    • red bite marks on upper part of torso.
    • blood spots on bedding and nightwear.
    • brown excrement spots.
    • white unhatched and hatched eggs.
    • large numbers of bed bugs give off a sweet almond smell.
    • bed bugs are not normally seen during the day as they are attracted to a heat source at night from body temperature.
    • Infested bedding and furnishings should be washed on a hot temperature. In severe cases furniture will need to be removed and burnt.

Where do bed bugs live?

  • Bed bugs hide mainly in bases, mattresses, and headboards of beds.
  • They may also be found in carpets, skirting boards and where wallpaper meets the skirting board.

How long do bed bugs live?

  • They may live for up to 18 months.
  • A female can lay between 150 and 345 eggs in her life.

How are they transferred?

  • Bed bugs are transferred from one room to another on clothing, footwear, bags, and suitcases.
  • It is rare but they could also be transferred to soft furnishings.

How are bed bugs treated?

  • It is difficult to treat bed bugs yourself and you should seek professional help, although we do not offer this service.
  • If you wish to try and deal with the bed bugs yourself then vigorously vacuum mattress, base, headboard, skirting board and carpets. 
  • Bedding should be washed regularly on a hot wash.
  • Then, if possible, steam clean everywhere.  Heat treatment is the most effective way. 
  • Chemical treatments can be used but are not advised if sleeping in the same room.


What difference is there between a bee and a wasp?

  • Wasps and bees are often confused as they have a similar shape.
  • A bee has a light brown and light-yellow bands
  • A wasp has deep yellow and black bands around its abdomen. 
  • Bees are hairy whereas wasps are not. 

Are bees protected?

Bees are not protected but care should be taken because of their declining numbers and their proven importance in pollination of plants and crops. 

What do I do if I find a swarm of bees or a nest?

  • Please visit the Cleveland Beekeepers website at
  • They will ask you to take a photograph and send it to them. 
  • This will then enable them to identify whether it is a bee or a wasp.
  • Once identification is established, they will then ascertain what action needs to be taken. 

Do bees sting?

Yes but very rarely.

Are bees dangerous?

  • The venom is slightly different from a wasp sting. 
  • A bee sting pain only lasts a short while and can fade in a couple of hours.
  • A small percentage of people can suffer an allergic reaction which can present itself as a rash or very rarely anaphylactic shock.  If in any doubt visit NHS advice on the internet or telephone 111. 

Carpet Beetles

What do carpet beetles look like?

  • The larvae are known as woolly bears. 
  • The Variegated Carpet Beetle is 2 to 4mm long and resembles a small grey and cream ladybird.
  • They can fly through open windows.

How do I know I have carpet beetles?

  • The larvae are about 4mm long and are covered in brown hairs.  They roll up when disturbed.
  • As they grow they moult and the cast-off skins could be the first sign of infestation along with bald patches on carpets near skirting boards.  
  • Adults are often seen in April, May and June as they are looking for places to lay their eggs but the grubs are most active in October before they hibernate.
  • They can be found on any organic materials around the house.

How do I prevent problems with carpet beetles?

  • Vacuum regularly and thoroughly carpets and upholstery.
  • Check airing cupboards and pipe work leading to the airing cupboards.
  • Inspect plants and flowers before bringing them into the house.  The larvae feed on plant pollen. 
  • Check any accumulated fluff in corners.
  • Seal any cracks around doors and windows.

Do carpet beetles bite?

No but the rough hairs on larvae can cause a rash or bumpy skin.

How do I treat carpet beetles?

  • Check the loft and eaves for old birds’ nests or dead birds and remove them.
  • Vacuum clean all fluff and debris from airing cupboards, shelves, floorboards, carpets and upholstery.
  • Lift carpets and underlay and clean floor and carpet thoroughly.  This is their main egg-laying area.
  • An insecticide is needed to deal with the larvae and affected items should be sprayed or dusted with a product labelled for carpet beetle control.
  • Treat between floorboards, under carpets and underfelts and into crevices where fluff may collect and attract the insects.


A professional company will be more experienced in dealing with treatment.

Cluster Flies

What Do Cluster Flies Look Like?

  • Cluster flies have distinctive stripes behind the head, short golden hairs on their thorax and a mottled light/dark grey abdomen.
  • The sizes vary between species but can be from 6 – 10 mm long. 
  • They are slightly larger than the house fly and appear to fly more sluggishly.

Can they be found in the UK?

These flies are commonly found throughout the UK and Europe.

How can you tell they are cluster flies?

  • They can usually be found clustering together in large numbers.
  • They hibernate in buildings, usually lofts and attic spaces, towards the end of autumn.
  • They are often found in mixed swarms.
  • Once the weather starts to warm again in spring then they will become more active.


Their eggs are laid on damp soil, worm holes or beneath dead and rotting leaves. 

What Do They Feed On?

The adult flies feed on the nectar of garden and wild flowers.

How Long Do They Live?

  • The length of their life cycle is weather dependent but they have been known to live up to two years.
  • In Britain two generations of cluster flies are common in one summer, but in hot summers up to four are possible.

Do They Cause Any Health Issues?

They are a nuisance but do not cause any health problems.


  • Kits for the treatment of cluster flies can be purchased at various outlets or on-line and consist of sprays, powders, or mist treatment. 
  • Follow instructions on the packaging carefully and be mindful if treating attics or loft spaces of bats being present.  Bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and treatments should not be used if bats will come in contact with it.
  • Alternatively, a private pest controller may be able to help for which a fee will be charged. 
  • Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council do not offer a service for cluster flies.


What do cockroaches look like?

  • The most common cockroaches in Britain are the Oriental and German varieties.
  • The sizes are usually between 10 – 23 millimetres.
  • The Oriental cockroach is dark brown-black and very shiny and is 20 -24 mm long.  It has a flattened body and a long antennae.
  • The German cockroach is light yellowy/brown and is 10 to 15mm long, with two distinguishable dark stripes on its thorax.

How do I know I have cockroaches?

  • The German cockroach prefers warm and moist environments such as heating systems.  It can swim, fly and climb smooth surfaces and hide in inaccessible places.
  • The Oriental cockroach are mainly found in heated buildings such as hotels, restaurants and blocks of flats.  It may sometimes be found outside near bins or rubbish tips.
  • Cockroaches live in large numbers and give out an odour of almonds.  They hide in cracks around sinks, drains, cookers and extractor fans.
  • They are nocturnal and feed on anything including refuse and even other cockroaches.

Do they cause diseases?

Germs can be spread from their body or droppings coming into contact with food causing food poisoning.

How do I prevent problems with cockroaches?

  • Keep food sources away and sealed in proper containers.
  • Ensure kitchen surfaces are cleaned including floors under and behind appliances.

How do I treat cockroaches?

Kits such as gels, sprays or traps can be bought on-line.

It may be better to get a professional treatment from a pest control company.


Does my dog need to wear a collar and tag?

Yes – under the Control of Dogs Order 1992 Articles 2 & 3 and the Animal Health Act 1981 Section 13, 73, 75. 

Does my dog need to be microchipped?

It is a legal requirement for all dog owners to have their dogs microchipped and recorded with a government compliant microchip database from the age of 8 weeks.

What is microchipping?

  • Microchipping is a simple and quick procedure which makes reuniting dogs with their owners much more likely.
  • A microchip is the size of a grain of rice.
  • The procedure is carried out by a vet or trained microchip implanter and takes only a few minutes but lasts a lifetime.
  • Your dog’s microchip is given a number, which will show up whenever your dog is scanned.
  • The professional who microchips your dog will also take your contact details. These details are kept alongside the microchip number on a database so that your dog can be returned to you if it’s lost or stolen.
  • You must make sure that your dog is registered on either Pet Log or Identibase and that your details are kept up to date.   For Pet Log (part of the Kennel Club) telephone 01296 336579.  If you lose your dog telephone 01296 737600 – these calls are answered 24 hours a day. 
  • You can check the microchip number by contacting your local vet. 
  • The Council provides free microchipping for dogs in partnership with Dogs Trust but due to the recent pandemic this service has been suspended until further notice.
  • If your dog is not microchipped or your details on the database are not up to date, and is brought to the attention of this authority, you will receive a 21-day notice requiring you to rectify this.
  • It is very important to keep your contact details up to date – especially mobile numbers.

Failure to comply with a 21-day notice is an offence and you may face criminal prosecution and a £500 fine if you do not comply with the notice.

What do I do if I lose my dog?

  • As soon as you realise your dog is missing, please contact the Dog Warden service on 01642 774774 to inform the council.
  • Also contact Maxi’s Mates (the Council’s re-homing provider) on 07507 104636.
  • Also, if you have access to social media a post on a local group may also help.
  • A scan for a microchip will be undertaken and if details are found contact will be made where details are up to date.

What is classed as a stray dog?

A stray dog is classed as a dog that is roaming without any evidence of an owner or keeper in the vicinity.  All Council stray dogs are taken to Maxi’s Mates Re-Homing Centre where no healthy dogs are put to sleep.

What should I do if I find an injured dog?

  • If you find the dog out of hours, if you can, take the dog to a local vet.  They will then be able to scan the dog and get in touch with the owner if the contact details are up to date.
  • Out of hours please ring Cleveland Police on 101.

What is classed as a dangerous dog?

  • A dangerous dog is open to interpretation but in most cases is classed as a dog which is out of control whether on or off a lead.
  • Out of control either with or without an owner.
  • The dog has attacked either another dog or a person.
  • A dog chasing, barking, or jumping at a person or child.

What do I do if I find a dangerous dog?

  • During working hours contact the Council’s dog warden service to inform them where the dog is.
  • Every effort will be made to seize the dog and inform the Police.
  • Out of hours notify Cleveland Police on 101 or if a danger to life, then 999. 

What do I do if I am confronted by an aggressive dog?

  • Avoid eye contact.
  • Turn your body to the side slowly.
  • Cross your arms.
  • Ignore the dog.
  • Stay still for a while then move slowly away.
  • Try to get to a place where there is a barrier between you and the dog.
  • Do not hit the dog with a stick.
  • Do not scream or shout.
  • Try and cover the dog’s head with a jacket or shirt blocking the dog’s vision which would disengage the dog.

What do I do if I find a stray dog?

Cleveland Police will not deal with stray dogs.  If you find a stray dog, please report it to us so we can help:

  • During office hours Monday to Friday 8.30 am – 5.00 pm: Call our office on 01642 774774 or email to arrange collection.
  • Out of office hours or weekend Stray dogs must be collected from premises only.  Our out of hours service is in conjunction with Maxis Mates.  Please telephone 01642 774774 to advise that you have found a stray dog. 

You will be asked to provide the following information when reporting that you have found a stray dog:

  • Your name and contact details.
  • A description of the dog, for example its breed, colour, size, age.
  • The time and date when you found the dog.
  • Where you found the dog.
  • Where the dog should be collected from.

How do I claim my dog back from Maxi’s Mates?

  • Dogs will be retained for 7 days at Maxis Mates for owners to claim their dogs within this time period.  After 7 days the dog, if suitable, will be placed on the website for re-homing through Maxi’s Mates.
  • Dogs can be picked up from Maxi’s Mates, Carlin How Farm, Redcar Road, Dunsdale      TS14 6RG.
  • A fee of £25.00 (which is a statutory fee) plus kennel costs will have to be paid. 
  • The phone number for Maxis Mates is 07507104636. 
  • Identification in the form of a photo driving licence or proof of address will need to be provided.  This will be matched with the microchip if there is one and if the details are up to date.

Is it illegal for my dog to foul and for it not to be picked up?

  • Failure to clean up after your dog is an offence under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. 
  • The Act enables a local authority to put in place an order in an area where dog fouling should be cleaned up. 
  • If this is not done the Act allows a person to be prosecuted with a penalty of up to £1,000.  
  • Allowing a dog to foul and to not clean it up is classed as anti-social behaviour. 
  • Dog waste bins are located across the borough, but you can also use litter bins. 
  • If you would like to report a problem relating to a dog waste bin, please ring 01642 774774.
  • Remember to always take a poop bag out with you whenever you are walking your dog and dispose of it correctly. It is not acceptable to forget to take a bag with you and not clean up after your pet. 


How do I know my pet has fleas?

  • If your pet starts scratching more than usual.
  • You find bites on your body.

Where are fleas found?

The most common types of fleas are cat and dog fleas. Human fleas are rare.

How are fleas spread?

  • Fleas are spread by jumping onto a host (dog or cat). 
  • A female flea can produce up to 25 eggs a day. 
  • Faeces from the flea will fall off the host together with eggs which can then hatch within 14 days allowing the infestation to spread quickly. 

What do fleas look like?

Dog Fleas: Adults are brownish/black in colour and are about 1 – 4 mm long.  The larva is off-white and can measure up to 5 mm long.

Cat Fleas: Adults are brownish/black in colour and are about 2.5 mm long with a flat shape.  The larva again is off-white and can measure up to 5 mm long.

How long do fleas live?

  • Fleas pass through four stages: eggs, larva, pupa, adult. 
  • The stages can vary from two weeks to eight months. 

Where do they usually live?

Dog Fleas: The fleas live on the host ie dog and can be caught from dogs walking through long grass or on garden lawns as the fleas can jump up to 6”

Cat Fleas: The flea’s nest where the host is resting ie cat basket and then when the host returns i.e. the cat will then jump onto the cat and feed off the cat.

How can you treat fleas?

  • You can treat minor infestations yourself. 
  • Firstly, thoroughly vacuum your whole house and if, possible, steam clean areas. 
  • If this does not work then use insecticides which can be brought from chemists, vets, or pet shops.
  • It can treat all soft furnishings, but it is recommended that you leave rooms un-vacuumed for at least 14 days after applying insecticides. 
  • Remember, it is not simply a matter of only cleaning your pet’s bedding.
  • Use flea collars and/or flea powder/drops as part of your usual welfare routine for your pets.
  • Regularly washing and cleaning pets’ bedding will help to prevent infestation.
  • Regular vacuuming is also important.

Do they cause disease?

  • In the UK fleas are not often responsible for transmitting disease. However, dog fleas can transmit the dog tapeworm to humans.
  • If you are concerned about the bites, you should contact your pharmacist.


What do foxes look like?

  • The fox is orangey red above, white below and has black tips on it’s ears.
  • They have dark brown feet and a white tip to the tail.

Can foxes carry diseases?

  • Mange or toxoplasmosis (an infection carried through faeces) but this will more likely be carried through pet dogs or cats rather than foxes. The risk of catching diseases from foxes is very low unless you're in direct contact with them or their faeces.
  • Roundworm (Toxocara canis) found in dog, cat and fox droppings.  This can cause toxocariasis in children. The risk of children picking up this parasite from foxes is extremely low. To cut down on the risk remove any fox droppings in your garden while wearing thick gloves and try using a fox repellent. If you have any concerns about health risks from animals, contact your doctor for advice.

How do I know I have foxes?

  • Evidence of a den built in the garden in a secluded area or under decking.
  • A strong smell where foxes have used scent to mark their territory.
  • Droppings around the garden.

How do I prevent problems with foxes?

  • Don’t let bird food spill onto the ground and if it does ensure it is cleared away.
  • Protect crops using fences or solid mesh.  Don't use flexible netting as there's a risk of wildlife getting tangled or caught in it.
  • Clear away fallen fruit from trees.
  • Ensure dustbins and composters have a fixed lid and it is secured in place.
  • Ensure rubbish is put in bins and not left in plastic bags.
  • Ensure that any pets kept outdoors have secure enclosures.
  • Ensure any pet food dropped onto the ground is cleared up.
  • Try using plant-based fertilisers.
  • Check with your neighbours to make sure they haven't been feeding foxes.
  • Cut/clear areas of long grass, weeds or overgrown plants – these provide a safe, sheltered area for a fox to rest.
  • Keep your garage, greenhouse and shed doors closed.
  • Make sure any gaps under sheds/decking are blocked up (autumn and winter is the best time) as these are ideal locations for fox dens. Always check to see if the den is being used first.
  • Check where foxes are entering your garden so you can target those areas.
  • Erect sturdy fencing or plant prickly plants around the edges of the garden.
  • Use an approved repellent for use with foxes.  These are available from garden centres or hardware stores.  It is illegal to use any substance to deter foxes that hasn't been approved for that use

How do I treat foxes?

  • People may be concerned about foxes in gardens causing noise or damage.
  • It is an offence under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 to remove a fox from its home range and leave it elsewhere.  This can harm the fox and often won't solve the problem as if a fox is moved and released elsewhere this could be in another fox's territory which could mean that the fox could be attacked and struggle to find food or shelter in an unfamiliar place.
  • The best way to treat foxes is to use the non-harmful deterrence methods as listed in the section above.
  • Other foxes will move in to take advantage of empty territory. If you can remove whatever was attracting the fox - such as food sources or shelter - then this fox will leave, and other foxes won't move in.
  • There is no legal obligation for local authorities to help with foxes.


How do I know I have hedgehogs?

  • Hedgehogs are usually more active at night and will come into the garden looking for food. 
  • There will be snuffling and grunting noises.
  • There will be evidence of droppings: these will be black, slimy and long.
  • Hedgehogs hibernate in the autumn usually under hedgerows and piles of leaves.

What do hedgehogs feed on?

  • Do not feed hedgehogs milk as they are lactose intolerant.
  • Do not feed hedgehogs meal worms or bread.
  • In the wild they feed on slugs, snails, beetles and earthworms.
  • Their food can be supplemented with meaty cat food and cat biscuits and a shallow tray of clean water in a quiet part of the garden.
  • They will also eat fallen fruit from trees.

How do I help hedgehogs?

  • If you are not sure whether a hedgehog needs help or not please ring Tiggywinkles on  01844 292292.  They are also on Facebook and Twitter.
  • The RSPCA may also be contacted on 0300 1234 999.
  • Try not to leave plastic bags lying around the garden.
  • Do not leave netting lying on the ground.
  • Check fires/bonfires before lighting.
  • Check compost heaps before forking over.
  • Hedgehogs do have fleas but these will not go onto pets, humans or inside houses.  Please do not spray them.
  • Hedgehogs are prone to getting ticks but please do not remove them without medical advice.

If a hedgehog is seen during the day this could mean that it is a female who may have just had hoglets and is out looking for extra food.


What do mice look like?

  • They are a small rodent with grey-brown fur.
  • They are usually less than 90 mm in length and weigh less than 20 grams.
  • The colour is generally the same all over with the belly being slightly lighter.
  • The tail is about 75% of the length of the body.

How do I know I have mice?

  • Mice are double incontinent. 
  • The most common sign of an infestation are mice droppings everywhere particularly in kitchens on the floor or in cupboards. 
  • Droppings resemble a grain of rice. 
  • Mouse urine has a strong smell of ammonia which is most evident in confined spaces.
  • Evidence of bite marks, rub marks, the smell of urine, tracks, burrows, nests and damage to stored food are indications of an infestation.   
  • Mice are around all year as they do not hibernate in winter. 
  • Mice are most active during the evening but may become active during daylight hours if food or water are scarce.
  • Pets, especially dogs, may be aware of the presence of mice.

How do I prevent problems with mice?

Mice are part of the British wildlife.  They will invade anywhere.  Noises may be heard in lofts or under floorboards.


  • Store food in sealed containers.
  • Prevent waste from accumulating.
  • Check behind kickboards in the kitchen to ensure that the area is clean.
  • Check cupboards to ensure they are tidy and clean.
  • Keep cupboards free of clutter.


  • Keep rubbish in sealed bins with well fitting tops.
  • Keep long grass to a minimum to reduce places for them to live.
  • Inspect your house for any holes or faults in the brickwork - a hole as small as a 5p piece will allow a mouse to enter.
  • Ensure all doors to the outside are sealed and there are no gaps beneath steps.
  • Repair any damaged masonry.
  • Ensure utility lines and conduits are sealed.
  • Ensure garage doors fit tight without any gaps and check regularly for nests.
  • If you feed the birds use only a feeder for small amounts for short periods of time>
  • Frequently check outside storage areas ie sheds for nests.

Do mice carry diseases?

  • Mice are a serious hazard to public health due to droppings and urine contaminating food. 
  • Diseases such as salmonella bacteria (food poisoning), listeria and hantavirus.

How do I treat mice?

  • The recommended way of dealing with mice is by using mouse snap traps in boxes (modern mouse traps). 
  • It is not recommended to use the old style traps (wooden base) which are very difficult to set and may end up with the user having finger trauma. 
  • These must be placed with the welfare of other wildlife in mind. 
  • Traps can be purchased in hardware outlets or on-line. 
  • Peanut butter or chocolate spread can be used on the traps to tempt the mice.

It is not recommended for members of the public to use poison due to the mis-use of poisons affecting wild life and pets as identified in the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU).  Shop bought poisons are not as effective as professional poisons used by pest controllers. 

If poisoning is not working this may be that not enough poison has been used or that the mice are not eating the poison but hoarding it.


What do moles look like?

  • Moles are around 14 centimetres in length.
  • Moles have a cylindrical body, very strong shoulders and broad, spade-like fore limbs with claws.
  • Its pink snout is hairless and extremely sensitive.
  • A mole’s body is covered in a soft, thick, silver-black fur.
  • They have an excellent sense of smell and touch.

How do I know I have moles?

  • Mounds of soil in the garden.
  • Grass will move under foot when nearing the soil mound due to tunnels underneath.

How do I prevent problems with moles?

  • Moles are part of British wildlife. 
  • It is very hard to deter moles.

How do I treat moles?

  • Remedies and potions do not usually work.
  • A mole trap must be used. 
  • The best mole trap to use is available on-line and is a heavy duty mole claw scissor trap.  Other traps are available though.  Videos are available on-line to show how to set them.
  • Caution must be used when setting the traps.
  • If this does not work then please call in a professional pest control officer.


Are pigeons protected?

  • Most birds and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  The Act allows for the control of certain birds, including feral pigeons, by specialists.
  • It is an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971 to intentionally kill a racing pigeon.
  • The council does not provide a pest control service for pigeons.

Should I feed pigeons?

  • Do not feed pigeons in public places. It is littering and encourages pigeons and rats.  If their food source is reduced their numbers will fall naturally.
  • Food is most important for pigeons.  The long-term way of reducing numbers is by reducing the availability of food.  Pigeons prefer to eat grain but will scavenge food from bird tables, household scraps and discarded takeaway foods.

Do pigeons carry diseases?

In people pigeons can cause:

  • E-coli
  • Histoplasmosis
  • Candidiasis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Psittacosis.

Can pigeons cause damage to buildings?

  • In large amounts droppings can cause damage to buildings and machinery as they are acidic.  
  • Nesting material, droppings and feathers can also block gutters and air vents.

How do I prevent damage to my building?

  • Proofing can be carried out in the form of spikes and netting mainly. 
  • Replacing broken roof tiles and repairing broken windows will stop pigeons gaining access to buildings.

How do I treat pigeons?

Since 2015 you need a licence from the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).


How do I know I have rabbits?

  • Flowers and plants will have been chewed.
  • Rabbit droppings will be evident.
  • Tufts of fur.
  • Holes or upturned soil.
  • Gnaw marks at the bottom of fences.
  • Fleas on your pets.

How do I prevent problems with rabbits?

  • Rabbits are part of British wildlife. 
  • It is very hard to deter rabbits.
  • Chicken wire placed as a dome over plants or dug deep below fences can create a barrier.
  • Rabbits are known to not like the following plants: ivy, lavender, catnip, holly and bee balm.
  • Cats and dogs could be let out into the garden when rabbits are around to frighten them away.
  • Make sure that there are no areas in the garden where rabbits can hide or burrow.
  • Mix garlic, chilli and washing up liquid into a spray and spray on the places where they are most prevalent – this will discourage them from coming back to that space.

How do I treat rabbits?

  • It is advisable to call in a professional pest control officer.


How do I know I have rats?

  • The most common sign of an infestation are rat droppings near the nest which could be in lofts, attics, cavity walls and eaves of buildings. 
  • Loud scratching noises may also be heard at night.
  • Evidence of bite marks, rub marks, the smell of urine, tracks, burrows, nests, and damage to stored food are indications of an infestation.
  • Rats are most active during the evening but may become active during daylight hours if food or water are scarce.
  • Pets, especially dogs, may be aware of the presence of rats.

How do I prevent problems with rats?

  • Rats will invade almost any premises although unsanitary conditions encourage their activity.
  • In winter they particularly seek warm sheltered places with available food sources.


  • Store food in sealed containers.
  • Prevent waste from accumulating.
  • Check behind kickboards in the kitchen to ensure that the area is clean.
  • Check cupboards to ensure they are tidy and clean.
  • Keep cupboards free of clutter.


  • Put compost bins on a concrete base to stop rats getting in under the bin.
  • Keep rubbish in sealed bins with well-fitting tops.
  • Keep long grass to a minimum to reduce places for them to live.
  • Maintain drains and inspection chambers - holes or broken drains allow rats to escape from sewers and drains.  Contact Northumbrian Water if there are concerns regarding rats coming from your sewers.
  • Inspect your house for any holes or faults in the brickwork.
  • Ensure all openings to the outside are sealed.
  • Repair any damaged masonry.
  • Ensure utility lines and conduits are sealed.
  • Ensure garage doors fit tight without any gaps.
  • If you feed the birds use only a feeder for small amounts for short periods of time. 
  • All waste should be contained within wheelie bins and the lids should be closed securely.

Do rats carry diseases?

  • Rats are a serious hazard to public health due to droppings and urine contaminating food.
  • Diseases such as salmonella bacteria (food poisoning), leptospirosis (Weil disease/jaundice), and typhus are commonly spread by rats.

How do I treat rats?

  • The recommended way of dealing with rats is by using rat traps in boxes. 
  • These must be placed with the welfare of other wildlife in mind. 
  • Traps can be purchased in hardware outlets or on-line.
  • Peanut butter or chocolate spread can be used on the traps to tempt the rats.
  • It is not recommended to use poison due to the misuse of poisons affecting wildlife and pets.


Who is responsible for the management of seagulls?

  • All gulls and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • The Act allows for the control of certain birds, including gulls, by authorised persons using certain methods.
  • Only licensed contractors should be employed to cull or disturb gulls, for example by removing their nests or eggs.
  • The council does not provide any service in relation to the control, removal or culling of gulls.

What attracts seagulls?

  • Seagulls are becoming more common in urban areas. 
  • They are attracted by nesting sites on buildings and tend to nest in colonies. 
  • They will also be attracted by the available food supply. 
  • Nests are usually built in May and seagulls will lay 2 or 3 eggs. 
  • They tend to nest in colonies and can damage buildings, block chimneys and gutters.
  • They may swoop at people to take their food or to protect their young.

How can you deter seagulls?

Seagulls can be deterred from nesting on buildings by using spikes, wires and nets and ensuring that there is no food supply by disposing of food waste in bins with secure lids.

Silver fish

What do silver fish look like?

Silver fish are cigar-shaped, silver-grey, wingless insects about 12mm long.

How do I know I have silver fish?

  • They can be found in damp areas mainly in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • They are nocturnal and are often trapped in baths and sinks as they cannot climb the smooth surfaces.
  • They move quickly and have three long bristles at the tail end.
  • They occasionally damage paper but feed on residues of starchy substances such as glues, wallpaper paste and carbohydrate food debris.
  • This may indicate damp conditions which need attention.
  • Eggs are laid in cracks and crevices. 
  • Adults can live for over three years.

How do I prevent problems with silver fish?

  • Correct any persistent dampness.
  • Spray harbourages with a household insecticide or insect powder labelled for control of silverfish.


What do slugs look like?

Slugs can grow up to 14 centimetres long and the most common slug is black in colour but can also be brown with an orange frill.

How do I know I have slugs?

  • Slugs can sometimes get into houses through air bricks and cracks in doors but are usually found in the garden.
  • They would make their way to a dark damp place such as a cellar or behind kitchen appliances.
  • They leave a mucus trail behind them which is silvery in colour.

How do I prevent problems with slugs?

  • Ensure all cracks and holes on the outside of your building are sealed.
  • Remove food sources and areas of cover around the property.
  • Any condensation or damp should be rectified as soon as possible.

How do I treat slugs?

  • As from April 2022 it has been illegal to use slug pellets containing metaldehyde as it poses an unacceptable risk to hedgehogs and birds. 
  • In the early afternoon water the garden which will encourage slugs to come out and then put them in a bag.  This can then be disposed of or given to someone with chickens or ducks to feed them.
  • Encourage hedgehogs to visit the garden by placing a hedgehog house and leaving gaps at bottoms of fences.
  • Other treatments are available from garden centres.


How do I know if I have squirrels?

The following are signs to look out for:

  • Scratching and rustling sound from your loft or a wall cavity possibly shortly before daybreak.
  • Spotting droppings in the loft – although you might need a pest controller to identify these droppings.
  • Smell of urine in the loft area might indicate the infestation has been going on some time.
  • Spotting lots of other squirrels around your property, particularly near your roof or on high fences.
  • Fruit and nuts being stolen from bird feeders, or the feeders being disturbed/knocked over.
  • Bark being stripped from trees in your garden.
  • Holes in vents or damage to your insulation foam.
  • If you’ve noticed any of these signs, then it might be time to find a pest control company.

What does a squirrel drey/nest look like?

The size of the drey/nest will be slightly larger than a football and will be constructed from twigs, leaves, bark and grass. 

Are squirrels protected?

Only red squirrels are protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Can squirrels cause diseases?

  • With proper hygiene there should be no diseases passed on to humans from squirrels. 
  • The grey squirrel can pass on squirrel pox virus (SQPV) to red squirrels only. 

Can squirrels cause damage?

  • Red squirrels are not known to cause damage.
  • Grey squirrels are known to kill baby birds, decimate nesting colonies, raid bird feeders and strip bark of young saplings and trees.
  • Grey squirrels can cause damage when they enter roof spaces of houses and buildings. For example, they can:
  • Gnaw on woodwork and ceilings.
  • Strip insulation from electrical wires.
  • Tear up fibreglass insulation.
  • Contaminate cold water tanks and attic space with urine and droppings.

Should I feed squirrels in my garden?

  • No – squirrels should not be encouraged to feed in the garden either from food on the ground or from a bird table/feeder. 
  • This would encourage the squirrel to look around the environment and may lead to them making a drey/nest in your loft. 
  • Insurance policies may not cover squirrel damage.

How many times would a squirrel have a litter?

Usually only once but if food is plentiful then another litter could be born. 

How can I deter them?

  • Grey squirrels are an invasive pest species, and it is against the law to release a grey squirrel if it’s been caught alive, as per the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019.
  • That means that any person who catches a grey squirrel alive is legally obliged to humanely dispatch it.
  • Grey squirrels often associate humans with food meaning they may approach people.  Some people fear being attacked, however it’s very rare for a squirrel to attack.

In gardens and allotments:

  • Make sure to use squirrel proof bird feeders and do not put food on the ground.
  • Cover any newly planted bulbs with mesh netting to stop the squirrels digging up the bulbs.
  • Cut back trees or branches that are overhanging a building or trim dense ivy.  This can help to prevent squirrels gaining access to a roof space.


  • Ensure roof tiles are secured firmly – squirrels are strong and have been known to lift roof tiles to gain entry.
  • Consider proofing entry points to your roof. For example, block gaps and entrance holes with tightly wedged mesh or metal plates, wherever possible.
  • Although you can potentially do a lot of the proofing work to stop squirrels entering your property, DIY squirrel control is unlikely to be effective – and could potentially be very dangerous and illegal, as you must know the legislation around the control of squirrels.
  • Traps are available online, however not every rodent trap is authorised to control squirrels.
  • Any squirrel you caught alive would have to be humanely dispatched, as per the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (Spring trap approval order).
  • Traps should never be used without adequate training.


What difference is there between a wasp and a bee?

  • Wasps and bees are often confused as they have a similar shape.
  • A wasp has yellow and black bands around its abdomen. 
  • A bee has a light brown and light yellow bands. 
  • Wasps are not hairy whereas bees are. 

Are wasps dangerous?

  • Wasps can sting but in most people the pain of the sting is the most fearful but the pain only lasts a short while and can fade in a couple of hours.
  • A small percentage of people can suffer an allergic reaction which can present itself as a rash or very rarely anaphylactic shock. 

What should I do if I am stung by a wasp?

  • Wasps will not leave their stinger in your skin.
  • Placing an ice pack on the area will reduce any swelling but refrain from scratching. 
  • An antihistamine tablet may be taken to reduce the irritation or an antihistamine cream may be applied to the sting.

Where can nests be found?

  • Nests can be found anywhere. 
  • Wasps go into hibernation in winter and the nest will be the size of a small ping-pong ball and will be placed anywhere: lofts, fascia boards, eaves, air bricks, sheds, compost bins, in the ground and at the base of bushes. 

When are wasps most active?

  • Wasps will start to leave the nest in March/April and will be very visible in May/June.
  • August/September is the peak time for activity. 
  • Wasps will then die-off towards October. 
  • The nest will be dormant in November as the queen has left to hibernate and will be the size of a football. 

What do different size nests mean?

  • Ping-pong/golf ball size nest: queen hibernating.
  • Large football size: empty nest by December/January.

What treatment can I use?

  • It is advisable to use a pest control officer but you can treat wasps yourself. 
  • If treating yourself do a risk assessment before hand and if in any doubt call a pest control officer.
  • Treatments are available on the internet, garden centres, supermarkets and consist of wasp powders, sprays and a wasp foam nest destroyer. 
  • Instructions must be followed carefully. 
  • Treatments do carry a risk of being stung. 
  • A late evening is the best time to carry out treatments. 


What do wood lice look like?

They have oval, grey, segmented bodies 10-15mm long, with 14 legs and prominent antennae.

How do I know I have woodlice?

  • They typically live in dark and dam places:
  • Outside: flagstones, bark chippings, decaying leaves and wood, door mats.
  • Inside: Entrances to doorways, under door mats, dark and damp corners.

How do I prevent problems with woodlice?

  • Keep areas clean and dry.
  • Remove any decaying leaves and vegetation from the garden and near the house.

How do I treat woodlice?

  • If there are damp areas in your house ensure these are kept dry.
  • Any infected vegetation needs to be removed and disposed of carefully.
  • An insecticide powder or long-lasting sprays can be used around entry ways but if these are used then the area must be dry.
  • Treatment may take some time to be effective.
  • For heavy infestations a professional company should be used.