The “extra uncertainty and risks” posed by climate change should also be considered – as increasing average temperatures enhance the spread of pests – Mark Williams, head of technical for UK and Ireland at Ecolab Pest Elimination, claimed.
During cold and frosty winters, many pests will be looking for food and shelter, and business premises offered an enticing environment, Williams said.
“The most common problem during winter is rodents. They are excellent climbers, and mice can squeeze through a gap the width of a pencil. If rodents gain entry they may not be immediately noticeable due to the fact they are nocturnal creatures,” he added.
“My advice is to repair any structural damage – both internal and external – and seal all gaps in building structure, including around pipes and doors.”
Two biggest pest problems
With the arrival of spring, the two biggest pest problems were birds and wasps, Williams claimed.
“It’s commonly thought that a cold winter will kill off many hibernating pests and reduce the potential risk later in the year. However, when it comes to wasps it’s just the opposite, as a warm winter will encourage queen wasps to come out of hibernation early and, with limited nectar sources, they are likely to starve, therefore, reducing the population,” Williams said.
“Pigeons start breeding in early spring, and gulls generally become more problematic during late spring and summer. Use measures to prevent birds nesting and landing on roofs and ledges of buildings,” he added.
By summer, fly and wasp colonies will be fully developed – creating an unwanted distraction for staff, he claimed.
“Summer also gives way to a peak in garden ant activity, and infestations can lead to contamination. Strict waste management and proofing can help prevent this – but ensure thorough cleaning procedures are in place for all threats,” Williams advised.
Create fear among staff
While spiders generally do not cause damage, they can create fear among staff – particularly in autumn, when males move inside in search of a mate.
“There are certain species that can bite so it’s important to look out for webs and egg sacs to ensure early treatment,” Williams said.
“There is also an emerging concern that suggests false widow spiders are moving further north due to milder conditions. Previously, they have only been seen in southern UK.”
As the anticipated milder climate takes hold, a further worry is that the south of the UK may become warm enough to support disease-spreading mosquitoes.
“Taking a proactive approach by being armed with knowledge and advice from pest elimination experts to spot potential problems and put preventative measures in place is the best way to protect your business,” Williams said.
Meanwhile, last month, Poundland was fined £134,000 for a mice infestation.