Archive for January, 2009
Most responsible home-owners and tenants will have buildings & contents insurance so that in the event of fire, flood or pestilence they will have cover for themselves and their………….wait a minute! Did I say pestilence?
Early last year I was called out to a local home, a pleasant modern detached house on a popular local development.
The owners had been away for a week’s holiday and whilst they were away little Mrs Nutkin had decided to build her nest ( a squirrel’s nest is called a dray or drey) in the loft of the property. Being a squirrel she was awfully good at chewing things and one of the things she decided to chew was the water
supply pipe to the header tank in the loft.
The young couple returned home to find the ceiling brought down, the house flooded and carpets and furniture ruined.
A nasty shock but at least they had insurance cover, they were always careful to ensure their cover was adequate……or so they thought!
Bad news was in store!
The vast majority of household insurance policies have a clause excluding damage by vermin, and as soon as they mentioned ’squirrel’ to their insurance company they immediately invalidated their claim leaving them pick up the cost of thousands of pounds worth of damage.
I wish I could say that this was a rare, isolated case but it isn’t.
As a point of interest here in the U.K. The law regarding squirrels is a little complicated.
Although the grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) is now endemic throughout virtually the whole U.K., it is still regarded in law as an illegal immigrant. It was imported from the United States and Canada in the 19th century and has gradually established itself throughout Britain.
However, despite the fact that they are common, it is still a criminal offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1984 to release a grey squirrel in the British Isles, so pest controllers trapping squirrels are not allowed in law to relocate them.
Unfortunately the grey squirrel is a carrier of Squirrelpox virus to which they themselves appear to be immune but the effect has been to devastate our native population of red squirrels (Sciurus vulgaris), the ‘Squirrel Nutkin’ of fame, whose numbers are now down to a few isolated populations.
Squirrels are rodents, the word itself comes from the Latin “rodere” - ”to gnaw, eat away” and this they do very well indeed, especially electrical wiring and water pipes when they enter your home.
If you have squirrels in the garden be afraid, be very afraid!
Fascinating grey squirrel facts
· Their scientific name is Sciurus carolinensis.
· They were introduced from USA /Canada to approximately 30 sites in England, Scotland and Wales from 1876–1930.
· Grey squirrels eat seeds, buds, flowers, shoots, nuts, berries and fruit from many trees and shrubs. They also eat fungi and insects, and occasionally birds’ eggs and fledglings.
· They store nuts in the ground in the autumn, but do not remember where they store them. They rely on scent to find them.
· They can be right or left-handed!
· Squirrels moult their coat twice a year, once after winter and then in the late summer before the weather gets colder again.
· They do not have ear tufts.
· They can live to 5-7 years of age.
· They have four fingers and five toes.
· The upper fur is mainly grey with mid-brown along the upper back, and chestnut over the flanks, limbs and feet. Their underside is white. The tail hairs are grey, banded with brown and black and a white fringe.
· They weigh 450-650g.
· Their body is 24–26cm long and their tail is 19-24cm in length.
· Squirrels live high in trees in a nest made from twigs, leaves and moss. This is called a dray.
· The dray may be in a hole in the tree or set against the trunk and branches.
· Pregnancy lasts 44 days and their young are called kittens.
· Kittens are born with their eyes closed, without teeth and with no hair. After about seven weeks they look just like small versions of their parents and are ready to leave the dray.
· There are generally 2 litters a year (rarely 3), with 3–7 kittens in each litter.
· Average densities in broadleaf areas are approximately 8-18 grey squirrels per hectare, and 0.1-1 per hectare in coniferous areas.
· They do not hibernate over winter, but may be less active when weather conditions are bad.
· They can hang upside down!
· They can swim!
· Grey squirrels do not appear to be susceptible to Squirrelpox virus, but may carry and transmit it.
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Ken_Chadwick
That concludes this article entitled – Squirrel Floods House
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Bed Bugs Are Back In Lancashire
Bed Bugs Are Back in Lancashire – One of the most feared and misunderstood pests known to man is the bed bug (Cimex lectularius). How many of us dropped off to sleep at night as young ones with the words of our parents in our ears ‘sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite’?
Bed bugs probably started to feed on man at about the time we moved into caves, the ‘bat bugs’ Cimex pilosellus and Cimex pipistrella primarily feed on bats and it is probable that bat feeding species of bug evolved to dine on human blood when our ancesters started living in bat infested caves.
Until the invention of DDT in the early 20th century bed bugs were common non-paying guests in most low quality dwellings.
The later part of the 20th century saw pest control companies dealing with very few bed bug problems indeed, their presence being largely confined to inexpenisve vacation camps and student accomodation etc.
Many people mistake dust mites, which are not visible to the naked eye, with bed bugs which very definitely are.
Adult bedbugs are reddish-brown, about a quarter of an inch in size and decidely swollen after a feed of our blood.
They have an incomplete metamorphosis which means that the nymphs are just smaller copies of the adult, they don’t have a pupal stage like fleas or flies.
Bed bugs typically feed on human blood every 7 – 10 days, coming out in the hours before dawn and locating their prey by sensing the exhaled CO2 from our breath and when nearing in on their target, body heat.
In the absence of a convenient human to feed on they can stay dormant for periods of up to 18 months.
Signs of a bed bug infestation are spots of blood on bedding and on the underside of mattresses and many people can react badly to their bites.
The early 21st century has seen bed bug numbers increase across the world, the easy availability of international travel and economic migration have both been blamed for the come back.
What is certain is that thet are now making a real return not only in low quality housing but high class hotels, schools and often hospitals.
One London borough reports a doubling of bed bug call-outs each year from 1995 – 2001.
Just one night away in an infested hotel is all it takes, they catch a ride in your suitcases or bags. Pest control firms are also now reporting cases of transport related bed bug infestations on tubes, trains and buses so a single journey to work on an infested bus or train can be sufficient to spread the infestation to your own home.
They are an expensive pest to eradictate as contrary to popular mythology they do not just live in beds. They hide any nook and cranny conveniently close to a sleeping human, beds, electrical sockets, televisions, bed-side telephones etc and treatment is both difficult and time consuming. They have even been found living beneath the toe-nails of infirm persons and in the folds of flesh on heavily over-weight people.
They are not a pest that can be tackled by an amateur and a professional will almost certainly be |required.
Ken Chadwick B.A. (Hons) is a Pest Controller and author on pest control issues. For further information please visit http://www.waspgo.co.uk
That concludes this article entitled – Bed Bugs Are Back In Lancashire
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- Don’t let the bed bugs bite… (guardian.co.uk)