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cartoon angry looking bug              COMMON PESTS

When Summer arrives so do the 'creepy crawlies', presumably these differ depending on where you live, below are some common British ones and how they should be treated (my apologies to all animal lovers).

Garden Ants


These are attracted by sweet foods but are generally harmless.

  • Cinnamon is said to repel ants.

  • If you can locate the ants' nest you can use an ant powder or spray which will do the trick.
    If the nest cannot be found, see if you can identify where they are entering the house and the run they are using - it is amazing how they seem to use the same thin route.   Place some powder or bait outside in this run.  MAKE SURE IT IS OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN AND PETS. 


  • If this is not possible try putting some water in an empty jam jar, make sure there is some jam on the edge of the jar and this may tempt some of them for a swim.

  • Apparently ants never cross a chalk line, so get out your chalk and draw a line wherever ants tend to march and see for yourself.

  • If you can find the entrance to the nest pour in boiling water.  This will only eliminate any ants present.

We had a nasty infestation of Ants in our Garden, they were even found in the house. We tried lots of Powders, Sprays and Jellies but non were successful. My aunty then told me to find the main entrance to the "Ant House" then empty a load of Thick Bleach down the entrance hole, leave for a couple of minutes then add a full kettle of "Boiling Water" I did this and we have never seen anymore Ant's, this was over 15yrs ago now, so it does work.

Jacqui Petrella

Nests are notoriously hard to find without spending hours tracking down ant trails and following them back to the nest, however, there is a simple method where you literally ask the ants to sign their own death warrant! Poisoned ant bait attracts ants to what they believe to be food, who will in turn take quantities back to the nest to feed the rest of the colony and will wipe them out from the inside. However, the problem is that ants can be very fussy and will change their tastes to suit the needs of the colony throughout the season so you may need to try various ant baits before finding one that is effective.


These live in crevices, loose wallpaper, beds etc. and feed, at night, on human blood!

The best way to deal with these little monsters is to contact your local authority pest control.


These are not harmful unless provoked, trapped or you are unfortunately in their line of flight.

Best not to attempt to remove yourself, contact the experts, details of which can be found in libraries, local authorities etc.*******

If you have bees in a chimney, light a fire in the grate and this should remove them safely and harmlessly.

Some bumble bees are endangered species.


********  I have been sent the following by Tom Varley-

I keep a few bees and I thought you might like to know that The British Beekeepers Association has a list of beekeepers who will collect swarms.******

Also, from my own experience, rather small looking bees wandering around inside a house early in the year are nearly always solitary bees.

*****  The British Beekeepers Association now has a facility whereby you can locate your nearest swarm collector or beekeeping association.

I have been brought to task for including bumble bees as "pests" as not only are they endangered but deserve protection not extermination.  Natural England are trying to help save this species, for further information visit http://publications.naturalengland.org.uk/file/68016



If booklice are found in cupboards these can be eradicated by  using a hair dryer on a hot setting.

These little devils feed on microscopic moulds found on the glue of bookbinding as well as damp surfaces and food.

Ventilate and dry any infested areas, obviously discarding any contaminated food.
The area can be treated with insecticides for 'Psocids', however, always read the instructions very carefully.

Carpet beetles

Mottled ladybird like pests.  The Larvae, known as woolly bears, eat wool and damage natural fibres.  They leave holes similar to that of moths.

Vacuum all fluff from cupboards, carpets etc.,   Spray mothproofer or carpet beetle killer between floorboards, under carpets and into any crevices. Remove any old birds' nests from the eaves and/or loft.  Clean affected clothes, blankets etc. 

Clothes moths

It is the larvae which are white with brown heads, that damage blankets, wool carpets, clothes etc. the adult moths do not harm at all.

They attack natural fibres having a special liking for cashmere etc.

Clean woollens and store in suitable bags.  Take out an shake on a regular basis.

Conkers (horse chestnuts) can also be used to repel clothes moths.  Just dry them out and then place them in wardrobes, chests of drawers, coat pockets and on carpets and the smell will deter moths from laying their eggs.  

Spray fabrics/carpets with a mothproofer and put a repellent in wardrobes and cupboards.


cartoon pupa


Like to live in moist, warm, dark places. They eat any sort of food but contaminate more than they actually eat and can, therefore, cause serious food poisoning.

If you can find the source and they are not too prevalent, a spray insecticide may do the trick.  If the infestation persists call in the environmental health officer.


Mix together 2 tablespoons household borax, 1 tablespoon flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of cocoa powder.  Put a small amount of the mixture in tiny unsealed containers e.g. bottle caps etc., and place where cockroaches are known to congregate.

Another way of using this recipe has been sent in by a site visitor -

To make it easier to work with and to prevent spillage make into a ball of dough and let it dry out.  The ball can then be sited under the refrigerator, oven, cupboards, shelves etc., and can be moved and replaced when cleaning.  

This gentleman has also come up with a novel way to disguise this mixture - get a piece of hollow plastic fruit, cut a hole in the side and place the ball of dough inside - can then be put on a shelf etc. WARNING - this could be more attractive to children though so ensure it is well out of reach of tiny hands.


These are commonly caught from cats and birds, with August/September being the worst months.  Larvae are sometimes found in soft furnishings used by cats.

Wash cats' bedding and dust with flea powder.   Clean throughout the house and spray with flea killer aerosol.  Treat animals as instructed by Vet.  Search for and remove any birds' nests in eaves and loft.

Tips sent in by Joe - a regular visitor

My oldest grandson lives with me and has asthma and I am limited on the use of sprays and powders to control fleas. Instead I place a flea collar in the vacuum cleaner bag and vacuum often.....and there is a trick I use with great success.

At night I place a shallow bowl of water under a bright night light. The next morning there are many fleas floating in the bowls. I don't know if it is the heat of the bulb or the light that attracts them but it works for me.


Carry and spread gastoenteric illness and food poisoning as well as being extremely irritating.

Keep food covered and bins scrupulously clean.   Spray dustbins after emptying to kill eggs and maggots.  The use of fly spray or impregnated strips can deter the flies but these can cause discomfort to people with respiratory problems.

Flour moths, beetles or weevils

Feed on flour, cereals, stored food, chocolate, dried fruit and nuts.

Clean out infested food.  Clean and dry the area well.  Storing supplies in closed, plastic containers can help. 


Use fruit and nut chocolate for bait instead of cheese.

Bait can be placed in a milk bottle or similar jar, which should be place on a ramp (with the neck higher than the base).   The mouse will then go in to feed but will not be able to get back out.  The captured mouse can then be allowed to go free in a more suitable area (well away from the house).

Ensure any holes large enough to insert a ball pen in are filled, as mice can use these to enter the house.

When trying to catch mice, site traps horizontally around the edge of the room.  This will then be effective whichever way the mouse runs.

If you don't know where the rodent is coming from, sprinkle flour on the floor around the area and it will then be evident from the footprints.  A tray containing lard or solid fat can also do the trick.

Nick Wareham of www.surreycleaningsolutions.co.uk suggests the following:-

Cat litter makes excellent rodent deterrent.

1) Identify those areas outside your house where rodents may enter e.g. drains, gaps in walls, gaps under doors.

2) Get some cat litter that has been urinated in by a cat (it should not smell since cat litter has built in odour control)

3) Place sufficient quantity in the gaps identified in step 1 above to close off the gaps

4) The rodents (e.g. mice, rats etc) will identify the odour and not want to enter the building since they will view it as a location where there is a predator i.e. a cat.

Tony Scorah has contacted me to advise he has used a plug in sonic device in his garage to great effect.

A. Lee has also been kind enough to send in another solution which has proved effective - "We have learned (the hard way no doubt) that mice don't like the smell of peppermint, so if you put peppermint oil on a cottonball and put the cotton ball(s) in areas that are affected, the don't like it so they stay away. Plus it smells wonderful. The only bad thing is that you need to change the cottonballs periodically. maybe every couple months."

More information can be seen here.

Mosquitos, gnats and midges

Females feed on blood, biting mostly at dusk.  Eggs are laid in stagnant water.

Door and windows can be screened and repellents can be used on skin.

Clean out guttering, bird baths, water butts etc. as these are ideal breeding sites.

With regard to mosquitoes etc., breeding in water butts. Apply some cooking oil (avocado smells the nicest in my humble opinion) to the surface of the water in the butt. This prevents the larvae breathing through the surface film and kills them off before they hatch into the airborne biting form.

Simon Caldow

Before publishing this very useful tip I queried whether he knew if it would have any adverse affects if the water  is used for other purposes?  e.g. if the water was used to wash down a patio or  drive whether the oil content would stain the stones or if used to water plants could this affect some of them?

He kindly responded as follows:-

I've only used the water from the butts for watering plants, so don't know about the other uses.

I got this trick from my Grandfather more than 40 years ago and his and my vegetables were and are the envy of all around.

I would think that the fact that the water is taken by a tap at its base of the butt means that you would normally be removing the water from under the oil. I've never noticed any significant oil in the water drawn off from the tap.

As always I need to stress at this point that we cannot guarantee results, any remedy is undertaken at your own risk.



These are harmless but their presence may indicate dampness.  They feed on glue and starch in paper and bookbindings.

Eliminate damp by checking for leaky plumbing, condensation, rising damp etc.  Insecticides for crawling insects will kill them.

Slugs and Snails

Jill Young says she has found the ultimate eco-friendly answer to slug and snail infestation in her garden, which is 100% safe for pets and garden wildlife.  It is called SLUG-X and can be purchased online at http://www.thetinpot.co.uk.

Julie Fegan says that if you wipe a ring of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) around a plant pot the slugs won't crawl over it to eat your plant.

Lydia Dorsey has sent us this innovative homemade remedy - she saves tuna fish cans and buries them so that the top is level with the ground, fills the can with beer and, apparently, the slugs crawl in, drink and die.

Mr. Jim Walmsley is concerned that if the containers are placed level with the ground then not only will you kill slugs and snails but you will, at the same time, kill the beneficial beetles who may wander into the trap.  This would be bad for your garden as well as for the environment.

Once again a site visitor has come up with a solution to this problem. 

My suggestion is to place several very thin twigs or dried flower stems (collected from deadheading) with one-end-in-and-one-end-out of the container. The beetles can use these as a rescue ladder, but the slugs are too heavy. Since I started doing this I have found very few dead beetles in the traps whereas before, sadly, several would have drowned.   Rachel

Riverside Garden Centre have suggested this very innovative and eco friendly solution to the problem.

To protect prized plants and foliage from the onslaught of slugs and snails with a more organic approach, cover the soil around the base of the plant with hair (ask the barber nicely when you next go for a haircut…yes there is the risk that he will find you weird!). The invertebrates will not be able to crawl over this and this negates the need to use pesticides and is safe for other wildlife

Wasps wasp on twig

At their worst during August and September but die naturally by the end of Autumn.

Attracted by sweet food and drinks.

Stay still and they will soon go away.  If you try to swat them this can cause their friends to come and help.

Trap with jars partly filled with water, jam and a drop of washing up liquid, covered with a punctured paper lid.  Individual wasps can be destroyed by a proprietary wasp or fly killer.
Seek advice from environmental health department or pest control company before tackling wasp nests.


Woodlice like moisture and, therefore, if you sprinkle talcum powder around any infestation this should get rid of them.


This is the larvae of the common furniture beetle.  They cause holes 2mm in diameter in the surface of wood and can cause structural damage in timbers and furniture.

Small infestations can be treated with two generous coats of woodworm killer.  Furniture can be treated by injecting the fluid into some of the holes with an applicator.  Large outbreaks should be treated by a pest control company.




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