Pest Control News

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

What happens to wasps, flies, fleas, bedbugs and other insects over winter?

What happens to wasps, flies and other tiny insect over winter?

We don’t see them buzzing around as we associate the bee, the wasp, the fly and anything else that is small, insect like and with wings, with the warmer summer months of spring and summer.
In fact, for people with an allergy or fear of wasps and so on, the summer can present a tortuous time of dodging stingers. Winter, even with the sub-zero temperatures and the chaos of snow, or endless rain, is a welcome hiatus from flying, buzzing things that seem intent of stinging or hurting us. 
But, where do these bothersome critters go in winter? Do they ‘die out’, only to miraculous appear again in spring? If so, how does that happen?

Cold blood and cold temperatures – a recipe for disaster
For many years, where insects went and how they survived winter in the UK was a mystery. Did they, like migrating birds, fly to the southern hemisphere? The answer – or the start of it – lay in the science and how some insects have adapted over the millennia to not survive but thrive.
  • Lay eggs
Insects are cold blooded and this means that any drop in temperature presents them with a serious issue. And so, the insect has adapted to survive. Some insects, for example, lay eggs that survive the winter because they are insulated, some with hair. The adults die out but in spring, their offspring appear in abundance. 
  • Hibernate
Some insects hibernate, finding a warm, safe place to snooze through the cold winter months. Ants for example, go deep underground, enjoying the heat of the earth and not popping some antennae above ground level until the warmer rays of spring sunshine are obvious. 
Wasps, however, have a different strategy. In the nest, as the days of autumn draw near, adult females will be mated and will then fly the nest in search of a safe place to hibernate over the cold winter months. The common garden shed is a perfect example. Emerging in the warmer months to begin her nest building by instructing the males to gather wood based materials and then to gather food for her eggs.
Fat with eggs and high energy food, the mated female wasp can often be mistaken for being dead and swept away but in some cases, they survive. When spring arrives, they fly off to start their own colony and do the same thing all over again. 
The worker wasps left in the hive have no chance of surviving winter but leave the nest at the end of autumn.
  • Carry on as normal…
… because we think that because it is cold they will die off. Fleas and Bedbugs are active all year round if they have a host to feed on. So yes, you will need to check "Buster" and "Fido" for fleas in November, December, January, February…
Some other species of insects that live in warmer climates in spring and summer do survive the winter months by heading south. The Monarch Butterfly, common in warmer climates will follow the heat of the sun due south but in the UK, most insects take cover because otherwise they would not survive the harsh winter.

Friday, 4 December 2015

The Cluster Fly – friend or foe?

The Cluster Fly – friend or foe?

In effect, the cluster fly is neither. They do not spread bacteria or ill health, but they are an irritation.
Some pests, as we know, are a nuisance, whilst others are dangerous. The cluster fly falls into the aforementioned category. Common across Europe and in the UK, this species of fly is harmless, and does not spread disease that affect humans. 
Many people also wrongly assume that many insects, including flies die out over the cold winter months. They do disappear from sight but this does not mean that they have died out. They are, in fact, like lots of other animals, hibernating. Sleeping out the cold winter months is one way of preparing for the busy months of spring and summer, when they will need to procreate, lay eggs and generally act in a way that guarantees the future of their species. 
And this is why cluster flies, dark or olive in colour and about 6 to 8 millimetres in length can be a problem in winter, and all other seasons.

As the name suggests…
This species of fly – and there are many different type of cluster fly – like to all clump together in large numbers. These swarms of flies can look frightening but they are harmless. It is the plump adult cluster fly that makes it through the winter, starting to cluster together in September. 
When they have identified the place that makes a good clustering site, they send out a pheromone, a smell that can only be detected by other cluster flies. However, get millions of cluster flies in one place doing the same thing and it is possible to smell a sickly, sweet smell – the culmination of large amounts of pheromone being given off. 
In the spring, they all zoom off to make laying their parasitic eggs in compost heaps and so on. On hatching, the larve will hitch a ride on an unsuspecting earthworm, feeding until they break out as a fly. 

Surviving winter
Winter is an unwelcome time of year for many insects. The cold can quickly kill off insects as they have little reserves to be able to fight off the chill. Thus cluster flies, like many other flies, wasps and winged insects, will need to find somewhere warm to last through the winter. 
They will, therefore, congregate in large numbers in places where they are warm-ish, free from draughts and so on. Unfortunately, this may mean in loft spaces, cellars and so on. 

Treatment
You will need more than a can of fly spray to deal with a cluster fly issue. The first and most important thing to do is not panic, and then to call our professional pest control experts on 07879 473298.
We will assess the size of the infestation, and the size of chemical treatment needed and where the infestation is too. Some areas are easier to treat than others but in some situations, there are health and safety grounds to consider when it comes to treatment too. 
Some treatments, for example, will need 48 hours to work before the clear up can begin. 
Do you need help with a cluster fly swarm or any other pest this winter? Call us today on 07879 473298 or our local landline numbers.