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Summer pest control measures announced

Bell Bar
A hornet photographed in Brookmans Park in 2001
Image courtesy of Steve Heliczer
With the wasp season here again, the council has set out details for its services for dealing with insect and public health pests.

A member of staff at Welwyn Hatfield District Council (WHDC) is on hand to book all pest control visits.

Bookings can only be made for a morning or afternoon visit depending on your address.

Exact appointment times are not available as the council says it is impossible to estimate the length and complexity of each treatment.

The service can only deal with 20 calls a day, so the authority is asking for patience.

The charge for the treatment of wasp or hornetís nests is £35, with a reduction to £10 for those on state pension or means tested benefits.

The council says it does not treat beeís nests as some species are protected and bees tend to be more docile than wasps if left alone.

WHDC will also deal with other pests it considers to be of public health significance and which have the potential to spread disease or cause damage to food products. These including rats, mice, wasps, fleas, bed bugs, carpet beetles and cockroaches.

The council does not have a service for dealing with squirrels, bees or bats. Treatment for rats is free as the council considers them to be the most dangerous pests.

Treatments for mice cost £10 and treatments for insects cost £35; reduced fees are charged for pensioners and other residents in receipt of benefit.

For all pest control bookings and enquiries ring 01707 357000.

The authority says that if people do not qualify for the reduced rate it will be best if they contact a local pest control company through the Yellow Pages.

The following advice is taken from the WHDC website.

During the summer months our main problem is the demand for treatments to destroy wasps. But the summer is also a time when flies and ants are a nuisance and sometimes a serious problem.

Early indications suggest that there's going to be a bumper crop of wasps this year and we are taking bookings for the council contracted pest control service.

Bees cannot be treated as they are protected but advice and help can be obtained from volunteers from the Hertfordshire Beekeepersí Association.

Due to the amount of calls we are receiving, please be patient. We will do our best to accommodate you and book the next available appointment. If you do not qualify for the reduced rate, it may be in your interest to contact a local pest control company who may be able to assist you sooner. Numbers are available in the Yellow Pages.


Wasps do not spread infectious diseases in the same way that flies and cockroaches do, but they can contaminate food and can deliver a painful sting, which to hypersensitive individuals can be life threatening. Wasps are social insects; queen wasps, the only individuals that survive over the winter, start a new nest in the spring, these nests are usually underground or in buildings.

Early in the summer wasps present few problems and, in fact, are useful garden predators because the workers feed on a number of plant parasites such as aphids. Later in the summer, the workers main job is done; they become semi-redundant and have time to indulge their attraction for sweet foods. They enter kitchens and other food premises - especially bakeries. The use of mesh screens and covers for food products help prevent contamination.

Treatment of nests is always best left to professional pest controllers. If you have an active nest in or around your property and the wasps are worrying you, phone the number given above; we can usually arrange a treatment within two working days of your call.


The common housefly is uncommonly dangerous, probably the most dangerous pest of all. This is because it is so difficult to control and has the ability to spread a large number of diseases; particularly those linked with food.

Flies lay their eggs in filthy material, become grossly contaminated and then contaminate our food, not just by landing on it, but also because of the unpleasant way they feed. They don't have biting mouthparts, so they vomit their digestive juices out onto the food and then suck back these juices together with some partly digested food. These charming table manners mean that the food becomes contaminated with all sorts of unpleasant bacteria. When the flies have finished eating, it's our turn!

Other types of flies are attracted to our food and contaminate it in a different but equally unpleasant way. Blowflies, for example, don't just feed on our food, they lay their eggs directly on it. The eggs rapidly turn into maggots.

It's almost impossible to keep flies out, but covered, clean and tidy refuse storage reduces the problem and covering open food helps to prevent contamination. In commercial kitchens fly screens and electric fly killers are often necessary to protect food products.

We don't carry out treatments against flies because their breeding sites are so widespread and once inside premises, spraying large amounts of insecticide into the atmosphere carries obvious health risks; but we are happy to advise on fly control.


Like wasps and bees, ants are social insects and not usually involved in the spread of disease. They nest underground and are mainly found outside, but where nests are close to or under buildings ants will come inside. They are particularly attracted to sweet tasting foods so can cause contamination problems.

In the summer the male and female ants leave the nest in large numbers over a short period of time. Often this happens at all of the nests in an area. The male and female ants are larger that the worker ants, which we are used to seeing, and they are winged. If they get indoors in large numbers they can be quite frightening.

Pharaoh ants are much smaller than the common black ant; they are found inside and often infest hospitals, where they are capable of spreading infections.

Ants can be destroyed with insecticide sprays, powders and baits, but this tends to be unnecessary unless they are getting into premises.

To contact the Council's pest control service please ring 01707 357242

You can discuss this issue in this site's forum.

14 July 2005

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