Floods and problems with pests


Floodwaters often bring mass devastation, flooding homes and other premises, causing stress and deprivation. The presence of floods also frequently heightens the risk of disease.

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Floods can create the perfect environment for pests, such as rodents, since they are often displaced from sewers and burrows. The standing water, waste, sewage and debris left behind provide ideal breeding grounds for insects such as mosquitoes and other flies. Such favourable conditions can result in an abundance of disease carrying and nuisance causing flies, posing a significant risk to health.


Coliform bacteria and other faecal organisms can be associated with floods, stormdrains, sewer back-up incidents, etc. Weil’s disease or Leptospirosis, carried by rodents, has been associated with flooding. Some studies have found a 15-fold risk of the disease associated with walking through floodwaters. A recent report revealed that there were 42 cases of Weil’s disease
reported in England in 2010. Epidemics may be associated with changes in human behaviour, animal or sewage contamination of water, changes in animal reservoir density or following natural disasters such as floods. It is important to be aware of the flu-like symptoms caused by a Leptospirosis infection. Those who may be exposed to Leptospirosis should take relevant precautions listed on the ‘Leptospirosis (Weil’s disease)’ cards, which should be kept with you at all times.



Filth and debris left by the floodwaters create excellent breeding conditions for houseflies, mosquitoes, other flies and insects associated with decaying organic matter. Those insects may be capable of causing significant nuisance and in some cases spreading disease.

Control of such insects involves removal of the breeding source, which can be standing/stagnant water, and accumulations of organic matter in drainage systems. Flooded cellars in particular, can harbour Culex pipiens biotype molestus, a human-biting mosquito. Accumulations of decaying organic matter can provide breeding sites for a number of different ‘drain’ flies that may be involved in disease transmission and can certainly reach nuisance proportions. Such families of flies include the lesser dung flies family Sphaeroceridae, fruit flies family Drosophilidae, owl-midges or bathroom flies family Pyschodidae, fungus gnats family Mycetophilidae, sciarid flies family Sciaridae, window gnats family Anisopodidae and others. Sites that are very wet, for at least part of the year, may favour the development of biting midges, family Ceratopogonidae.

Sewer rats, or brown rats, are sneaking into houses in the UK to escape the flooding
Sewer rats, or brown rats, are sneaking into houses in the UK to escape the flooding


After flooding, many rodents are displaced from their natural habitat. The rodents will then find areas that provide food, water and harbourage. Inevitably, rodents enter houses, sheds, barns, and other buildings. Flood-damaged premises are particularly attractive and provide easy access for rodents. These unwelcome rodents may cause damage to property directly by gnawing or indirectly by depositing faeces and urine. Rodents can threaten public health, as they may carry diseases such as E.coli, Salmonella and leptospirosis. The high instance of recent flooding in the UK has increased concern regarding exposure of householders to these diseases and rodent control is likely to become increasingly important.


The Environment Agency recommends the following Safety Precautions:

Wear protective clothes, sturdy boots and waterproof gloves and face masks when handling debris

• Floodwater may be contaminated by sewage, chemicals, or rat’s urine (leading to Weil’s disease)

• Keep your hands away from your face while cleaning and always wash your hands if you come into direct contact with floodwater or silt

• Wash all cuts and grazes and cover with a waterproof plaster. Get a tetanus jab if you are not already inoculated

Contact the Environment Agency for further advice on cleaning up after a flood: 0845 988 1188.

Thanks to Killgerm Chemicals for the information.

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News – Are cat flea infestations increasing?

BBC Radio 4’s consumer programme You and Yours has been flooded with reports of cat flea infestations following its broadcast on this topic last month. Articles have also appeared in the national press and on the BBC News website, with some of the pest control forums taking up the story too.

Some are putting the increase down to two mild, wet summers which, combined with well insulated houses and relatively mild winters, have allowed populations to thrive. Others suggest that it’s the rise of online sales of flea treatment products which has meant that pet owners now often bypass vets and the advice that they can give on tackling flea problems. Yet others are putting the increase down to a rise in resistance to some of the most commonly applied treatments?

Dr Tim Nuttall, veterinary dermatologist at the University of Liverpool, has no doubt that fleas have been increasing, at least over the past five years and particularly over the last two. He says that while resistance is an inevitable part of evolution, the current problem largely appears to be pet owners not properly applying treatments.

So what is going on? Not that long ago, flea treatments were a significant part of a pest controller’s workload, but, with the introduction of spot-on veterinary medicine products, like Frontline, the amount of flea work being done has declined.

Source: Pest Magazine


News – Retired civil servant pleads guilty in squirrel shooting case

On 17 January, Stockport Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Worthington, known locally as ‘the verminator’, trapped the squirrel and shot it twice at point-blank range with a .22.

He assumed it was dead, and went out shopping. On discovering it was still alive when he returned, he shot it a further three times. RSPCA officers turned up after a tip-off from a neighbour and took the squirrel, which was still alive but ‘unresponsive’, to a vet to be put down.

Jamie Foster, a solicitor advocate specialising in animal welfare and fieldsports law, told Shooting Times: “This is yet another example of the RSPCA’s complete lack of perspective in relation to prosecutions. It cannot be said that taking a 75-year old man to court for attempting to kill a squirrel that he had trapped is in the public interest. It is a waste of court time and public money.”

“The suggestion that he should have taken the squirrel to a vet to have it put down is absurd. The journey and the time spent in a waiting room with other animals would have added to the animal’s suffering.”

“In Raymond Elliot’s case [Mr Elliot drowned a squirrel in 2010 and was prosecuted by the RSPCA], the RSPCA argued that a trapped squirrel should be shot. That is exactly what Mr Worthington has done and he has been prosecuted.”

He added: “If people do not want to be prosecuted they should shoot squirrels without trapping them. This way, even if the squirrel is injured and caused suffering, no prosecution can result because the creature has never come under the control of man. This is the sort of absurd result that the RSPCA’s new-found animal rights agenda under the leadership of Gavin Grant is creating.”

Source: Thanks go to Shooting UK for posting this story

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