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Lunchtime Learning Webinar Pest Control

The first in a series of regular webinars with Kevin Ayres and Andy Harrold from Robinsons Facilities Services in Harrogate serving the whole of Yorkshire. The first topic is pest control in commercial buildings.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

Hello, welcome to today’s lunchtime learning webinar from Robinson’s Facility Services. I’m really excited about this because it’s the first in a series that we’re launching, and today’s topic is pest control.

I’m your host, Kevin Ayres, and I am well-prepared. I never knew what I was gonna use this mug for. It’s my daughter’s mug, but I have to say I’m all set to keep calm and love squirrels because we’re trying to fend them off rather than having to deal with them, right? So this is a subject that’s really dear to my heart because we recently had a moth infestation in our lounge. It’s never happened before. Apparently, moths love the warmth from cables. And I’m letting a bit of cash out of the bag here, but areas that perhaps are not hoovered as regularly, like under sofas, around hi-fi units, etc., we’d taken the carpet up, put the speaker cables underneath. And so we discovered that they’d munched the carpet near the cables. And that’s the problem, isn’t it?

It’s so much easier to prevent a problem than to solve it. And that’s a really little problem. It’s not the kind of scale of thing you might have in a commercial building where a pest control problem can be really disrupting to the business. It could even be a health hazard. So all of those things are things that we’re going to be covering with today’s resident pest control expert, Andy Harrold.

So firstly, let’s welcome Andy to the webinar. So I’ve just got to do a few technical things here, get him online. Hey, Andy. Welcome to the webinar. Yeah, really good. Really good. I’m really excited about this. So it’s been fun preparing for this with you. And one thing I didn’t realize, which I suppose is obvious, but I’m guessing as we’re preparing for this, is the seasonal nature of pest control. You know, with today’s world, we can kind of forget that seasons exist. And so I guess it’s kind of quite a busy time of year for you. Absolutely.

Springtime’s a really, really busy time for most pest control companies, just from breeding cycles from various different insects and mammals that are classified as pest species in this country. So, yeah, we kind of batten down the hatches towards spring and try our best to deal with everything that comes in. Yeah, no, I can well imagine. Like I said, we’ve just had this moth issue, right? And of course, it’s the right time of year for, well, not for us, but for moths, right? So, you know, and had we known that, maybe we would have checked around and, you know, next year we could have checked, but it’s kind of too late now and our carpet’s ruined, and we’re going to have to get a new carpet.

So yeah, it’s a costly business. And certainly with things like clothes moths and things like that, the textile pests, it’s actually the larvae that cause the damage. So you can’t see them because they’re usually within the carpet. The early signs are usually the adults. But at that point, if you’re getting high numbers of those, it means there’s a certain issue somewhere in the house. Yeah, so maybe I’ll be asking you afterwards, like, what should we have done? I don’t know why I didn’t ask you that last week when we were preparing. So we should, like, what do we do? And, you know, is it safe for the dog and the kids and all that sort of thing? So, hey, look, we’ve got something like 27 people online already, which is fantastic. I know that we’re just looking at my list here. We’ve got a couple of schools. We’ve even got a football club. Some people have got larger commercial premises and smaller, a whole range of people. So just so you know kind of who we’re talking to. Now, for those of you watching online, we’ve got a, no, which way is it? That way, I think. There’s a chat. You’re welcome to participate in, but if you’d just rather stay a silent observer, that’s absolutely fine. Just watch along. I think, you know, I’ve heard Andy talk a little bit about this and I learned a lot really quickly.

So we’re hoping this provides lots of value for you. So the format of today’s session is Andy and I are going to talk for about 25 to 30 minutes. And then we’ll have some time for questions at the end. So if you want to either hold your questions till then or feel free to type in questions along the way. If you’ve got something that’s relevant to what Andy’s saying right now, I’ll try to keep an eye on that and maybe interject that. Or if I feel it’d be better later on, then work with me. We’ll try to answer those later on, OK? So without further ado, why don’t we get into this?

And kind of the first, I guess, big question is, well, what are we talking about here? What type of pests are commonly found in commercial properties? And how frequently do they go unnoticed?

Yeah, that’s a good question, Kevin. I mean, there are a lot of common pest species in the UK that can cause problems in commercial premises. It really depends on what you’re dealing with commercially, if you’re selling specific products and stuff. But essentially, the most common ones that I can think of are obviously rodents, which are your rats and mice and squirrels. I’ve separated them from normal insects as cockroaches are a big issue, mainly in the inner cities. And this is something that a lot of food restaurants and things will know a lot about, unfortunately. Then you’ve got textile pests, which we just touched on there. The two specific ones I can think of that we get a lot of business through are varied carpet beetle and common clothes moth. And also biting insects. So we’ve got two main issues, which are fleas and bedbugs in the UK. There are different types of fleas that come off different types of animals as well, but I won’t bore you with that just now. And finally, the one that’s really starting to pick up now at this time of year is ants, wasps, and bees. They’re all part of the same family. And yeah, the queens will start laying eggs and nesting probably from about a month or so ago. So that’s starting to pick up now. I think what was striking, so we rent a farmhouse. So there’s lots of nooks and crannies. We’re surrounded by nature. And I know we might sort of touch a little bit on rural pest control versus city pest control and so on. But it really struck me, like our dog had fleas recently. I’m seeing a queen wasp. I saw a queen, sort of dopey queen, wandering around looking for a home. We’ve had moths, we see rats. So pretty much like all of what you just mentioned, I’m thinking, actually, we have a lot of that.

This isn’t something that’s kind of unusual, especially in an environment like this. Or as you say, I’d imagine if you’re in a, especially if you’re dealing with food and that sort of thing, these are common problems. Yeah, absolutely. You know, you speak about rural and city pests. I mean, also where you are and what your business is determines what you classify as a risk to the business. And it’s all down to interpretation as well with pests. So if people don’t mind mice running around their feet, then they’re not going to classify it as a problem. Other people who hate mice will classify that as a huge problem. A really good indicator of this is if you’ve got a food site that’s signed up to British Retail Consortium, one mouse anywhere near any of the production is a huge issue. That’s a major risk. If you’re selling gas out of canisters from a yard in the countryside and a mouse runs across it, it’s not a massive issue to you. So yeah, you’ve got to really look you could have a review and you could have a survey done really for that sort of stuff to make sure you’re getting the right service and to identify what risks there are to your business. Yeah, I guess that makes total sense. And I guess for employers as well, it’s not even… It’s not necessarily the actual risk. As part of risk, I guess there’s a reputational risk. So we’ve got schools and football clubs. So, you know, even if the risk is… you know, the risk to health was low, you know, no one wants in those scenarios mice running around, you know, because it’s your reputational risk, right, as well. Of course, you know, specifically, I look after quite a few schools, and the risk is just not worth having any issues with pest control on a site at all, as far as I can see. So, yeah, there is different…

You could say parent and media power at that point. Reputation is huge in pretty much every sector. We build our businesses on reputation. Once that gets damaged, it can be pretty difficult to recover from that. The loss of earnings is a key one, and that’s the main thing for most places, whether you’re funded or whether you’re a commercial business that generates profit and income. You don’t want to be losing anything that’s going to be able to prop the business up. And that’s the key one. You want to make sure that you’re looking after your staff and whoever, visitors, customers, students, whatever it is, you want to be looking after their health, the main thing. So contamination and health risks are big key ones. Reputation to the business and loss of earnings. Those three things are fundamental to run the business. And they’re the key things at risk here with pest control.

Yeah, I can imagine. Absolutely. So what signs, you know, we’ve talked about some of these different pests, but what signs should property managers look out for that indicate a potential pest problem?

Sure. I mean, I’ll pick on the easy one here, which is rodents. So rats and mice are kind of categorized as the same because they’re rodents and they’re quite small and furry, but they behave very differently. With mice, they are sporadic feeders. So they’ll feed little and often all around, and they’ll go to the toilet as they’re moving. So they’re not careful or cautious about what they’re doing. So the key indicators for those are looking for the droppings, understanding and knowing what a dropping looks like, really. And then small damage to products shouldn’t really be ignored. With rats, it’s a little bit different. They are a bit larger, but they tend to gorge feed. So if they see food, they will feed on it until they’re full and move on. And the other thing with rats is they actually use a latrine. So they’ll have a designated toilet area in a specific place, pretty close but away from their own nest. And it can be very difficult really to identify an issue because they’re not going to the toilet up and about of an area.

One key thing that both… They’re highly intelligent, aren’t they, rats?

Absolutely. I mean, with rodents, most of them have been preyed upon for thousands of years, so they’ve developed a very, very specific set of skills to look after themselves and make sure that they can stay alive.

Yeah, so the damage that it causes is usually from gnawing through stuff. With regards to rodents, they kind of work on a nocturnal basis because they don’t want to be seen by people, and they’ll use muscle memory as opposed to anything else when they want to flee from an area. So they’ll use well-trodden routes, and they’ll use the same routes all the time, and what you’ll end up with is what we call either body grease or smearing, and it’s very similar to… I don’t know if anyone’s ever seen this, but if you’ve been into a property where the light switches, the plastic light switches haven’t been cleaned and there are all brown and grey markings on them, that’s a similar principle. That’s off people’s thumbs, and it’s dirt and grease that’s just building up. Well, that comes off the pelts of the rodents, and they’ll leave like a dark brown or grey staining, and it’s quite an obvious indicator that there’s something an issue. Smells are a good one; they are mammals at the end of the day. And if they’re regularly using an area or they are nesting in an area, you’ll get a smell emitted. Obviously, with the mortality rate, decaying dead animals, which isn’t great, is also a really good indicator that you’ve got a pest issue as well. We had a dead rat somewhere, and you know, like, what’s that smell, you know, in an outbuilding? And eventually, you know, it’s… we’ve had a big chest freezer and a little sort of outbuilding, and of course, in the winter, it’s nice and warm back there, isn’t it? So, you know what I will tell you is you never get used to the smell. I’ve been doing it for 15 years; it’s like, what the heck is that, you know?

Yeah, no, well, that’s kind of good in a way, right?

Yeah. It makes it easier for them to find. If we just move on a little bit to some of the other pests. So with cockroaches, there are some common types that you’ll get in the UK. The main ones that people will likely have seen are either oriental cockroaches, which are dark black ones, and they’re synonymous with drains and sort of below ground, and then German cockroaches, which are smaller, lighter brownish-coloured ones. The German cockroaches tend to pack into an area and have a harbourage there. Oriental ones will be in drainage systems and down into the bowels of the roads and premises. But they’re the two most common ones.

Key signs for those are live sightings, and they’ll be on products and things like that. Another thing is, with German cockroaches, especially behind fridges and vending machines and anywhere like this, people’s locker rooms as well, where they’re usually quite warm from showers and things, humidity. I was going to say, again, with the rats and my freezer, I guess looking out for a place and my cables even, right? It’s free energy, right, for them if it’s warm somewhere or there’s some motor. I’m guessing also things like air conditioning units outside, that sort of thing?

Yeah, absolutely. Around drainage points as well, from your building, they’re key ones for oriental cockroaches. They live a lot under the ground, but they’ll come up to feed, and they’ll try and find a way in. So poor drainage and things like this are key indicators of an area where you could have potential issues with cockroaches.

Well, brilliant. That’s really helpful. And I remember you saying when we were talking last week that something I hadn’t really considered is that because of, say, like with the rats with the latrine and so on, some of these areas, because of the way they’ve left them, they can be really unhygienic, can be really quite dangerous, but you can’t see that.

Yeah, absolutely. Contamination’s a big problem, especially after it’s… like that’s post-infestation. Companies like Robinson’s and myself, we will provide cleaning services afterward as well with appropriate products. Again, with latrines, if they’re in false ceilings and things, you tend not to want electricians or the like popping their heads up and getting a mouthful of old rat droppings.

So, yeah, the cleaning is key to the end. One of the main things that I would stipulate is there are a lot of diseases and harmful bacteria that are associated with rodents, but viral disease is huge in this country. And we have a lot of warnings through the BPCA and National Pest Control Technicians Association as well about looking after ourselves. What I do know about viral disease is it’s carried through rats or through urine. But I only learned this over the last couple of years, that it can actually stay dormant in dry urine. And if it gets damp, it can reactivate and become dangerous again.

Yeah, absolutely. So cleaning after an infestation is a key point that we would always emphasize needs to be done.

Yeah, absolutely. So look, this is obviously what’s happened when something’s happened. But back to my moth in that example, we really want to try and stop these things. We want to look after the squirrels. We love squirrels. So we don’t want to be killing them and trapping them and that sort of thing. So what preventative steps can building owners and managers take to deter common pests in the first place?

Sure. I mean, the best way for commercial premises is to have a pest control professional looking after you. Proactive pest control is far better than reactive for a multitude of reasons. It’s early identification. Within the contracts, if you’re identifying an issue early and you get on top of it early, it’s less costly. You’re heading it off before the risk becomes an actual problem. You’re stitching time, right?

Absolutely. I mean, the list goes on. If you’re, you know… Alarm and distress to your workforce is another key one that we get a lot of. People simply refuse to come into work because they’ll say that it’s not safe for them or they’re stressed out or they’re unhappy about certain things. And that’s productivity to the business to me.

And all of these things can be avoided from a proactive approach to pest control. Yes, the key there is making sure we can identify the risks and report it back to the customers and give them options of how to solve the issues before it becomes a problem.

So in terms of interventions and so on, how often should people be having inspections or risk assessments or whatever?

Yeah, I mean, in the industry, we can carry out an annual report. These are usually built into contracts that are like food production and things, but they can be done specifically just for low-risk sites where you would get, it’s called a risk assessment and a pest survey. And we would give a full written report on the area, the location, what risks we think there might be, what we would recommend, and what frequency of visits we would recommend. That’s really the basis of any pest control contract going forward.

But realistically, for low-risk sites in commercial that aren’t synonymous with food or production, we wouldn’t go any lower than a quarterly inspection. This is quite important information. So in pest control, as a rule, it’s usually four visits for very, very low-risk sites, just to make sure that you’re belt and braces. Eight visits are every six weeks, and then you’ve got 12 visits, which is weekly. The reason why they’re the basics that we work on is essentially from pest breeding cycles and seasonal pests and making sure we’re able to identify stuff through the year. We’ve already touched on at the start how different species of pests have got different breeding cycles and different times of year where they become active and more busy.

So you don’t want to be having a pest control survey in January and then say that there’s no problem with flies on your site, and by May or June, you know you’ve got flies all over your bins and in your back. When you told me that before, I was like, “Oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense.” It’s not like it’s just really convenient for you because you want the revenue, well of course you do, you as a business, but it totally makes sense. If, like you say, the last thing you want is just the day afterward you start getting a problem three months later, it’s like way too late again because they’re breeding like crazy.

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we are bound by a lot of law as well in pest control. So a lot of the products that we use, we have to use in a specific manner. And any pest controller worth their salt will be affiliated with an association like the British Pest Control Association or the National Pest Control Technicians Association. And these guys give best practice and guidelines. It just doesn’t sound very fun.

Yeah, it’s interesting if you’re interested in it but that’s about it. So they’re the reasons why we operate in a certain way. Now, a lot of the products we use, because of wildlife as well, so there’s been a lot about raptors and secondary poisoning recently and a lot of this sort of good stuff that we’re trying to stop happening. So 12 visits prime allows us to operate within the law and with best practice and responsible use of pesticides and rodenticides and insecticides as well. So there are reasons why we have these figures.

They weren’t just plucked out of the air. And so I guess what you’re saying with that is that you don’t want to use things that are too harsh that might last longer. Like, that would be a good thing, but actually, I might be barking up the wrong tree, pardon, but you know, the… you might have to use milder chemicals or something like, is that what you’re saying?

Yeah, you use an appropriate chemical for the insects, so they’re, without boring you to tears, a larvae for a common clothes moth will react to a chemical far quicker than an adult bed bug will, and it’s to do with how the bodies are built, exoskeletal waxes that cover them, the way they breathe and feed. So you’ve got to have all this. The easiest way to explain this, and I say this to customers all the time, is you wouldn’t hang a… put a tack in a wall to hang a picture frame up with a sledgehammer because there’s absolutely no point. You’d use the appropriate hammer to do that. It’s the same thing for pesticides and rodenticides in pest control. We wouldn’t start with the strongest stuff first. We may do if we deem it after a survey that it is required that we get a quick knockdown or it’s heavy enough that we need to. But again, that’s our professional view and we carry the can with what we do with our governing bodies and the law. As you have to, absolutely.

So I guess you covered this to some extent, but I just wanted to give you the opportunity. What are the other, any other primary risks associated with pest infestations, commercial settings, or have you already covered that?

So we’ve got… Yeah, I think, I think we’re so, so risk associated is like your, your loss of your loss of earnings, your, um, uh, risk to your reputation and, uh, it’s health, health and safety, essentially. They’re the three key ones for it.

Okay, cool. And could you detail any other types of damage? And I guess it would be fun or interesting for us to hear any specific war stories you’ve heard, like damage that pests typically cause in commercial properties. We want to know, like, oh, my goodness, I had this horrible…

Yeah, so proofing is a key part of pest control as well. And we… take an outside approach usually um where we’re trying to find ingress points and stop them from actually getting into a premise this is a great way of doing things because you’re actually reducing the need to use anything toxic or chemicals as well right um rodents specifically if we if we touch on your favourite animal the squirrel here um they cause so much damage especially at this time of year because the females have gone in and they’ve bred and they’ve had kits and they’re running about now with their incisors growing, and they are chewing everything. The biggest dangers to a business will be software infrastructure. So comms rooms, you know, mice, rats or squirrels getting into these places, they’ll strip the cable in, I’m dealing with a job at the moment where they’ve chewed through, I may have this wrong, but is it fibre net cable or something? I don’t deal with that, fortunately, but I am dealing with the issue that they’ve got in the premises.

So yeah, and these sort of things are huge for business, especially in our day where data and software and things like that are used all the time. Some of the interesting ones that I’ve had is where I’ve gone into attic spaces and they’ve had squirrels or rats for a period of time and they’ve actually started chewing through the beams of the roof. I’m not a roofer, I’m not a structural engineer, but my recommendation, if I see anything that’s damaged like that, to that point is always to get someone in. So you’re not just talking about the cost of pest control and dealing with that, you’re talking about the cost of building and surveys and it’s time for people as well especially if it falls in your room if you’re a facilities manager it’s head in hands time you’re like all right Yeah. Yeah, I bet. I bet.

So we’ve got we’ve got some time for questions now. Thomas has asked. Just put that up. So Thomas is asking, I was hoping you could provide further advice on preventing pigeon infestation. By the way, that was my alternative. I also have a mug with a pigeon on by you. And the key steps and actions required for a commercial premises to remain environmentally safe. What do we do about pigeons, Andy?

Absolutely. So pigeons… You don’t poison flying pests at all because you can’t control where they’re going to go, what they’re going to do, dosage rates, etc., etc. So that’s ruled out. With pigeon problems, you tend to be looking at culls and proofing as a way forward.

If you’re in an industry that’s audited like British Retail, looking at the areas of ingress, is that right? Oh, sorry. Yeah. So if you’re but essentially if you’re if your unit’s got like open opening top windows, let’s pick on warehouses, for instance, they’ll have sort of loading areas or on first floor, so they’ll have roller shutters that come up and are left open by your staff usually. You’ve got warehouse access where they’ve got the deliveries coming in and out. Fire doors are being left open. All of these areas are areas where birds will get in. The key thing for us is making it as inhospitable as possible. And then the proofing that you can get on these sort of things is quite varied. But yeah, Good housekeeping, we call it, where doors are kept closed, roller shutter doors are kept down on access points. With older buildings, you can have stuff where brickwork and fascia’s have come off and fallen away. And if they can get through and it’s safe and warm and they can nest there, then they’ll find a way in. So, yeah, they’re a pretty significant issue. Proofing from a building point of view, if you’ve got high usage of places like roller shutters if you’re if you’ve got a warehouse or a delivery point, we install strip curtains for those sort of areas and netting and meshing. That’s all good stuff for higher up open windows and things like this. And then if remedial repairs to the building can be identified, I had a job that I went to years ago and there’d been some works done on a factory and they’d had some pipe work that was coming out the side of the building. Essentially, what had happened was the pipe work redundant had been removed and not patched the hole up, and there were probably about 50 to 60 pigeons that were nesting in a roof void that nobody really knew about for a long period of time.

“So, the actual proof in itself consisted of access equipment and tacking some five mil aluminium mesh to the hole. The cleanup and call cost thousands. Yeah, just for the sake of a little bit of match, right? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, I can imagine a nasty, nasty job. Um, so, Thomas, hopefully that answers your question. And so, okay, so we’ve got a follow-up question from Lee here. We’re on it. So, what are the risks and precautions to be taken when proofing where there’s droppings? So, you know, maybe that area, you know, they’re doing proofing, but it’s covered in bird poo. Like, what should they do? Yeah, anything where proofing is required. If there’s been an infestation of any kind of pest species, a clean and sanitized or viricide or biocide or whatever would need to be done by a professional, and it would need to be signed off with a completion report, in my opinion, to make sure that it’s safe to have the proofing works done. A lot of pest control companies will be able to do proofing work if it’s real like building fabric remedial repairs that are required, but if there’s still contamination, a lot of companies will refuse to do it until it’s cleaned anyway, so essentially, you would need the cleaning to be done before the proofing’s carried out. And I’m guessing it’s one of those things where even if it’s relatively basic, it’s an insurance issue, right?”

“So you don’t want to be employing staff to go and clean stuff up if they’re not trained or they’re not covered by insurance because you’re just presumably massively open to being sued by an employee. I mean, never mind whether they should be doing it or not, just from a point of view of risk. Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, having a professional company do a professional clean means that you’re going to get completion reports, you’re going to get risk assessments, you’re going to get MSDSs, you’re going to get the full shebang because a company coming in to do something isn’t going to take a risk on anything. And if they’re doing it professionally and they know what they’re doing, you’re going to reduce the risk of anything happening. None of us want anyone to get hurt or anyone to have time off work or any of that sort of stuff in our workplaces, but if you’ve got a company that’s professional coming in, sometimes jobs don’t work out, they don’t go great and we have to deal with them at the time. But you know, if you’re using a professional company to do this, you’re going to know that they’re covered under insurances and things like that anyway. So it’s taking a lot of the risk and the problems off. A lot of companies like ours, Robinson’s, they have risk assessments set up for specific stuff anyways, and they know what they’re doing with the writing of them. It’s not a one-off and they’re not just doing it for a specific job. So nothing gets missed off essentially.”

“I always remember my wife’s photographer, and it’s like you’ve got to ask the right question of companies you deal with because she was once asked, ‘Do you take photographs of cats?’ which is the wrong question. The real question is, ‘Have you ever taken pictures of cats? Do you know what you’re doing, right?’ So yeah, I guess you want to be dealing with companies that, you know, if you ask the wrong question, they’re going to go, ‘I could do that. Here’s a risk assessment. We’ve got a risk assessment, right?’ You want to know that these people know what they’re doing. Absolutely.

We’ve got another question here. It’s quite a long one. I don’t know whether it’s going to appear on the screen. Yeah, I think it’s going to. So hi, Kevin and Andy. I’ll read this out. But in a rodent infestation situation with unknown ingress, would you suggest constant baiting or baiting only when there’s signs of infestation? My concern with constant preventative baiting would be that this may attract further rodents to the premises after the initial infestation has cleared. So what’s your view on that, Andy? Yeah, there’s a lot of bits in that that I can answer actually so I’ll try to get everything in. The first one that I want to just touch on there is concern about encouraging pest activity to the building. Pests, rodents will only feed in an area where they already are anyway, so it’s a bit of a misconception that you put bait outside and it attracts or encourages stuff to you. Okay, with regards to external baiting, I’m not a massive fan of it. And a lot of companies now won’t do it because you have to show that you’re… you have to, it’s a lot of paperwork.”

You have to do an environmental risk assessment, and you have to show that you’re using alternative methods of control as well. The last thing we want to do is damage wildlife. You don’t want resistance to build because resistance can move into genetics, and then they just become tolerant to stuff. And that’s when you’ll end up having pests that you’re just feeding with rodenticides, and you’re giving them food. I’ve dealt with a site like that a few years ago where it was terribly unfortunate, but the person who was doing the pest control before, I don’t think they had as much knowledge as they should have had. It didn’t sound like the company that I took it over from were using an actual pest controller. In that way, they were using someone who knew a bit about pests. And they’ve got to a point where absolutely there was resistance build on the site. But thankfully, I have access to a lot of alternate rodenticides, and there’s a lot of stuff going on with rodenticides at the moment to move away from chronic and second-generation chronic rodenticides, which a lot of rodents are building up these resistances to because of overuse.

There’s a thing called sublethal dosing. So with a rodenticide like Chronix, you have to persistently bait over and get them feeding, and then they get comfortable feeding, and it activates on a multiple-feed kill over a period of time. And that works really well with rodents so that they don’t get shy from the bait. The problem you’ve got is people tend to go to B&Q to start with and buy the stuff over the counter. That’s half the toxicity of the stuff that we use. We’ll put one block out, and when it goes, it’ll go off, poison whatever I’ve got, and that’ll end up just… a week or two later, ‘Oh, we might have another one back so put another one down.’ That’s sublethal dosing, and that’s how resistance builds can come on. I guess it’s the equivalent of not finishing the dose of antibiotics. ‘Oh, I feel a bit better now I’ll just stop.’ You haven’t kind of followed it through. ‘Oh, we always finish your prescription, right?’ So, yeah, so they’re key points.

With getting back to the external baiting, I have some high-risk sites that I need to manage, and they’re rural sites, so I have absolutely zero control over what is going on around the perimeter fences. But in these situations, I don’t bait with chronic rodenticides at all on the two sites I’m actually thinking of. Purely for safety for wildlife, I use a calcium-based rodenticide, which I could really, really bore you with all the intricacies of, and I’m not going to. It basically means it’s safe for other wildlife. And you can bait with that for longer periods of time, as long as you’re reporting respectfully, and you do need to change the physical control methods over a period of time. But if you haven’t got a major issue and it doesn’t really matter to me if I’m changing back to non-toxic every three months and then we get another spike of activity, we need to find out where the root cause is and try to prevent it from coming in for a start. But with persistent activity that’s out of your control, that needs dealing with. You have to look at other forms of pest control. And also, I’ll always, if I get clear visits on follow-ups, I’ll go back to non-toxic bait and monitoring outside because there’s no reason to be sticking rodenticides down for 12 months of the year, right? And as you said, I guess certain times of year are more active than others anyway. Absolutely. Brilliant. I hope that answered your question. No other questions have come in on the chat, but I’ve got some other ones that we sort of talked about that might be helpful. So are there any particular sectors or locations that are more vulnerable to pest infestations than others that you’ve seen? Yeah, there’s a good few. You know, anything really that’s associated with handling food, so from restaurants and supermarkets through to food production sites, they’re all vulnerable because of what they do for a living. It’s a food source so they’re going to be vulnerable as a place for pests to go. This isn’t just rodents or stored product insects or anything like that. I mean, larger animals like foxes and scavengers like that will come into premises, and if they can get access to bins that have got food in them.

Feral cats is another one. I deal with that quite commonly where cats have just set up camp around an area, and they’ll just target bin stores and things like that.

Can I jump in? So when we were talking last week, there’s a neat little tip you haven’t mentioned. I wanted to make sure we got it in around, you were mentioning your drainage around those kind of big bins that you get outside of practice.

Yeah, that’s actually a quick win for anyone really. A lot of food places will take the buns out the bottom of the bins because it saves them having to clean all the mess out. And it’s one of those things where, you know, it’s a corner cutter really, and it makes it easier for the person knocking off the shift at 11 o’clock to not have to worry about and maybe spray it down at the end of the day. But what ends up happening is if you get pest activity like rats in those areas, they’ll just climb in under the bin and then they’ll go unnoticed because there’s no issue. Abandoning the bottom of a bin is a real quick win to anyone in the food industry.

Brilliant. I just love that tip because, like you say, it’s such an easy thing to do and you can so see why it happens. But like, don’t do that. Right?

Yeah, exactly. Simon’s just asked another good question. I’m like, I’m just thinking, oh, my goodness, I basically live in pest land because I have this problem as well. So let me just take this other question down. So Simon’s asked, have you any advice regarding moles and prevention and management of moles on site?

Yeah, so preventing moles is difficult.

Pretty much impossible, unfortunately. I’ve heard it all over the years, if I’m being honest. But you can’t do stuff like rodent fencing for moles because they go far deeper than you may think.

Actually, just before you go any further, I have a brilliant mole story, actually. Can I just tell you this?

Yeah, absolutely. How smart moles are. So we have one of those robot lawnmowers. I think the fencing thing is what got me thinking. It’s got a boundary wire right around the edge. And, you know, the lawnmower seemed to be just getting rid of the moles because it didn’t like the fact that it’s trundling all over their land, right? So I kid you not, molehill under the wire. So now the wire’s exposed, and the mower mowed over the wire and then stopped working. And I’m like, these are some seriously smart moles, right? Like one nil to the moles, right? I had to fix it. So anyway, so that doesn’t work either, right? Sorry, carry on, carry on.


I don’t specifically use phosphine these days for gassing moles, just purely because it really is very dangerous, but also there are a lot of laws around how close proximity for things and all kinds of good stuff like that. And it turns out to be really expensive. The quickest, easiest, and best way is to get somebody who knows about moles and trapping moles to come in and do a mole trapping program. I have known people to have that on a contract basis, but it would usually be a job-by-job because you’re determining the size of it.

One good thing I would let you know about with moles as well is if you’ve got like a backfield on a school or something, I will get phone calls, and they’ll be like, I’ve got 100 moles, and you get there. One mole can have like 25 molehills in a ring.

Really? Yeah, so you can reduce it down to that. We can reduce the worry down. The biggest thing, certainly for schools, sports clubs, and football clubs, is if they’re under the pitches and the training facilities, over a period of time, if they’re not dealt with, they’ll cause disruption to the ground and things like that, and kids can get hurt and sportspeople can get hurt and stuff like that, so they shouldn’t be. I know a guy who’s got a grounds maintenance company who has refused to do work on a place by a bankside because they’ve got moles, and it damages his mower blades, the mounds because it goes over so many. It starts to damage his machinery, so he’s told them unless they get it sorted out, he won’t be cutting the grass anymore, which I found quite interesting because you don’t think of that at all, do you?

Well, it mucks up my lawnmower, as I say. Thankfully, our lawn is kind of more of a field than a rural kind of lawn. So, yeah.

Right, we’ve had, I think we’re pretty much up to time. There is one question I’ve been dying to ask you. Just a fun one to finish with, Andy. So what we have to know, what’s your favorite on-screen rodent?

Well, being a kid of the 80s, it’s obviously Roland Rat. I don’t know whether I’m offended that you haven’t said Kevin the Gerbil or not. Having grown up and been called Kevin the Gerbil, I was very much of that era, so I thought Kevin the Gerbil a lot.

So I don’t know whether I’m offended or pleased that you haven’t picked Kevin, but thank you. Thank you so much for sharing, Andy. It’s been really informative. I hope everybody’s found it really useful. There’s some real nuggets in there, just real practical things, even like, if nothing else, go and check all those bins and put the bungs back in, right? So thank you for sharing your expertise with us today. It’s been a pleasure.

No, it’s been really, really fun. It’s like, yeah, it’s not kind of an unusual experience. As I said, I probably won’t be attending the conference, but I’ve learned to, given, like, clearly we’ve got, I’m going to need to talk to you about pest control on our site because clearly we’ve got most of these issues.

Yeah, of course. So I just want to put some details up just as I finish off here. So, as I said, this is the first webinar in what we’re looking to make a series. And pardon the pun, our next webinar will be a really uplifting experience. We’re going to be tackling all things to do with lifts and lift maintenance and so on, so we’re hoping to run that somewhere in mid-July. So keep an eye on that. You can sort of stand outside the doors, look at the numbers coming down, right, heading into July and so on. Just want to say as we finish, thanks so much to everyone for watching. If you’ve got any further questions or interested in how Robinsons Facility Services can help you manage pests at your property, do contact us. I’ve got the details down here or just look on the website, and we’d love to speak to you. So thank you so much for watching.

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