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Effective pest control (including pet fleas!)

Having recently tackled a war on fleas from a litter of puppies, I decided to create an “ultimate guide” to tackling pests in Australia.

It’s a huge topic, and there’s a lot of info on this page.

I’ve collaborated with Tim, a professional pest control expert of three decades, to give you concise information on various types of pest, pest control, dealing with pests in a rental or when buying a home, and individual guides on a per-pest basis.

On the subject of pest professionals, this is valuable advice, especially for us Aussies:

Finding a good pest controller is like finding a good doctor, once you get one, you don’t want to let them go.

John in Redcliffe

Hopefully this information will be useful, and if it has – please let me know in the comments! Bookmark it with Ctrl + D!

About this “ultimate guide” to pest control in Australia

Unfortunately, at times, we find ourselves in terrible situations where pests have decided to move in and use our home as their own.

Quite often they’re very hard to get rid of. If you’ve had an infestation of pests, such as fleas or cockroaches, you will know all too well how hard it is to cope.

Effective pest control isn’t just about dealing with the problem when we’re up to our necks in them, it’s also about using preventative measures.

If pests are already in your home, the best method of getting rid of them is to hire a pest control company.

I spent $$$s on stuff from Amazon which didn’t fix the problem plus expensive flea treatments from the vets, and should’ve hired a professional pest exterminator to do it right in the first place – lesson learned!

What is pest control?

Let’s start with the basics – what is pest control?

Pest control is the management and regulation of pests, which are defined as any organism that is detrimental to human health, the environment or human economies.

That’s the reason feral cats in rural areas are considered pests, whereas in other countries they’re not (although we’re not covering cat control in this article – I love cats!)

A variety of methods are employed in pest control, including chemical pesticides, biological controls, mechanical traps, and repellents. The goal of pest control is to reduce or eliminate the pests population in order to protect humans, their health and property, as well as the environment.

There are many methods of pest control, but they generally fall into two categories: chemical and non-chemical.

Chemical pest control uses synthetic pesticides to kill or repel pests. These pesticides can be toxic to humans and animals, as well as the environment, so they should be used with caution.

Non-chemical pest control relies on natural methods such as traps, barriers, and predators to get rid of pests. These methods are less effective than chemical methods but are safer for humans and the environment.

Any pest control specialist in your area will advise you of what would work best for your situation, but ultimately it’s your decision. How severe your pest situation is will likely be a key factor!

10 ways for effective pest control & prevention

I spoke to Tim from Effective Pest Control in Sydney for some great ways to help prevent pests or limit their numbers. Tim has worked in pest control for over three decades in Australia, so these methods should prove effective:

1. Citrus (to ward off spiders)

Spiders hate citrus!

The best way to use citrus in spider control is to rub entry points (doors, windows etc) with citrus peels. You can even leave the citrus peels on the window sills as a longer-lasting deterrent.

An additional plus side is the citrus will fill your home with a lovely aroma, so it’s win-win!

If you don’t like the idea of citrus peels slowly ageing in your home, then an alternative is a high concentrate organic citrus spray. You can either buy one or make one at home.

There’s a video on how to make a pest control spray at home!

2. Vinegar (for getting rid of ants)

We’ve been using vinegar around the house for years.  Both as a cleaning solution and as a natural bug deterrent.  

In Australia, our houses are under constant attack from ants entering the house.  The best way to keep ants away is to spray the entry areas with high concentrate vinegar/water solution, and they won’t come back.  

Spray down the window sills and other entry points as well to keep away general bugs and small insects.

3. Cedar (keeping moths at bay)

This is an old remedy that my grandmother told me about. Cedar can be used as a natural deterrent for moths in the home.

If you’re lucky to have a cedar tree in the back yard or near by then this is a winner. Then all you have to do is place a few small bits of cedar around the house and in the backyard and that’s it!

The oil can also be used to eliminate bugs from the surrounds.

If you don’t have a cedar tree near by then don’t worry, as most local hardware stores sell cedar.

4. Eucalyptus Oil (a mozzie forcefield)

It’s an Aussie past time to sit outdoors and enjoy the backyard in summer – and the mosquitoes love it!

The best way to keep those little critters away is to rub eucalyptus oil on your skin or have a eucalyptus candle burning nearby. Eucalyptus oil is really easy to buy.

Studies have shown eucalyptus oil to be better than most bug sprays on the market as well!

5. Garlic (for keeping insects AND vampires away)

I’m joking about vampires, they don’t really exist (do they?). But garlic is great for keeping insects away.

If you eat a lot of garlic, there’s a good chance bugs will avoid you as they get a wiff of the body odour from your skin!

If you don’t have a garlic rich diet then you can sprinkle garlic powder around the backyard in trouble areas.

Another benefit of eating lots of garlic, other than good health, is it keeps unwanted neighbours away with your garlic breath.

6. Egg Shells (how to keep snails off plants)

We planted some lovely passionfruit earlier this year, and to our dismay, it was attacked by snails.

Never fear, our local green thumb suggested we sprinkle eggshells around our plants so the slugs and snails can’t slide over – genius!

7, Used Coffee Grinds (further snail prevention)

Following on from the same point above, great use for your old coffee grinds is to sprinkle them around plants that are being eaten by snails.  The snails don’t like the caffeine and avoid it at all costs, easy!

Can you imagine a snail high on caffeine?

Nope, neither can I.

You can also put some grinds on window sills to keep bugs out of the home too.

8. Beer (the best way to keep cockroaches away)

Do you have a cockroach problem? The best way to eliminate your cockroach problem is to do the following:

  1. Collect some beer into a 9-inch deep container.
  2. Put your unwanted beer in the container, you won’t need much, just a few mm’s at the bottom.
  3. Place the container where you have the worst of the cockroach infestation.

The cockroaches find the smell of beer highly attractive and end up climbing into the container. Once they’re in, they can’t get out.

As ugly as these blighters are, it’s a very humane way of dealing with them – aka the best way of dealing with cockroaches – as it doesn’t kill them.

You can then relocate them to a place away from the house in the bush.

9. Rubbish / Waste Management (common sense to keep many pests away)

The most effective pest control is keeping your rubbish under control. Waste, especially food waste, is an open invitation for pests.

Ensure you only have a small rubbish bin in the kitchen so you and your family are not tempted to keep a large and stinky bin inside your home.  Empty the bin at least once a day, even if it’s not full.

Additional points if you wash out cans and packaging before you throw them in the rubbish.

Don’t leave your kitchen compost waste in an open container on your kitchen bench for long.  This will breed insects as it’s a perfect food source.

10. Remove Stagnant Water

It may be tempting to keep a pond or other standing water feature in the backyard, but these are a favourite breeding and living place for a range of insects. Mosquitos especially.

Also in this category are wheelbarrows and anything else that can catch water, so regular garden clean-ups are the best strategy.

Even flat roofs and gutters can collect water or wet debris, so keep that in mind as well.

Pest control: By type of pest

Ant pest control

Effective pest control (including pet fleas!)

I guarantee any Australian will find ants in their yard if they go and look. Did you know we have a load of different ant breeds, each with their own individual behaviours and diet which can cause us a variety of problems?

Some of the most common ant breeds in Australia are:

  • Black ants
  • Bull ants
  • Argentine ants
  • Coastal brown ants
  • Funnel ants
  • White footed black house ants

Did you know bull ants have shown to be a pest in Australian cities, even metropolitan areas like Sydney?

Some ants, including bull ants, can deliver a sting which will bring tears to a grown man’s eyes.

All ant breeds can be very invasive and difficult to remove, so be warned!

Ant pest control
Australian coastal brown ant

Many people don’t realise ants can spread disease, so it’s well worth keep your families safe with adequate ant preventative measures.

A pest control company would have experience in your local area and be able to advise what works to get rid of ants. They would find the location of the nest and eliminate the ants from the vicinity. A good pest controller would then follow the trail to find where the ants are or may enter your building.

Methods of ant pest control are generally safe, and should prevent any ants returning to your property.

Why do ants enter homes and buildings?

There are two main reasons ants will create a nest in your home:

  • To seek refuge from the elements.
  • To source food.
Getting rid of ants

Buildings are the perfect breeding ground for ants as many of their predators cannot enter.  This is the perfect storm for ants reproducing.

Quite quickly you will notice the ant population growing, and it doesn’t take long to get out of control.

Ways to prevent ants in your home (quick fire ant hacks)

Here are four ways to prevent ants in your home (including some great ant hacks):

  1. Seal off possible forms of entry.  These can consist of the smallest holes and cracks in building walls.  Use appropriate silicon to seal.
  2. Place a line of salt or cayenne pepper around areas where you don’t want ants – they won’t go near it!
  3. Remove foods that ants find attractive, anything sweet such as honey or sugar.  Ants are even attracted to pet food, which is often the initial cause of the ant invasion.
  4. Ensure that all food is stored in appropriate airtight containers.
  5. Make a sugar water trap by mixing sugar and water in equal parts and placing it near where you see ants coming into your home. You can also make a trap with equal parts sugar and baking soda – more bang.
  6. Essential oils like peppermint oil or eucalyptus oil help to repel ants.
  7. Sticky traps near where you see ants coming into your home to catch them and prevent them from getting inside, but they’ll also collect dirt and debris and will need to be changed regularly.
  8. Pheromone traps are another option for preventing ants entering your home.
  9. Find a local pest control professional to inspect your premises. If you live in a high risk area it can be worth yearly inspections, as some ant infestations may not be obvious at the start.

Signs you have an ant problem

How to prevent ants in your home

Most people only realise they have an ant problem when the evidence is obvious, so here are the various signs from obvious to least obvious:

  • Obvious – you will see tracks of ants around or in your home.
  • Not so obvious – you will see dirt deposited on footpaths or inside your home, that has been transported and left by ants.
  • Look out for holes with ants around the hole.  Nests will have a small hole facing out to fresh air.  These nests can have large and very intricate tunnels.
  • You will be able to smell their distinct scent.

Bees & Wasps

Effective pest control (including pet fleas!)

Ever had a sting from an angry wasp?

Did you know most stings from bees and wasp happen near their nest. Most of the time they’re simply protecting their home.

If you disturb or threaten their nest, such as when they take up home on your property, they can swarm out and chase you, leaving you with multiple stings.

Wasp and bee stings can be very painful, and typically remain sore or itchy for days.

Paper wasps

A common wasp in Australia is the paper wasp:

Australian paper wasp & nest
Australian paper wasp & nest

Paper wasps have an amazing technique to create a nest – they chew weathered wood and mix it with their saliva into a stiff paper-like texture.

Each nest consists of a number of cup like cells which grouped together into a “comb”, like honeycomb.

You’ll find paper wasp nests attached to branches, sometimes multiple branches, but even twigs and rock faces.

If you have a paper wasp nest near your home it’s worth considering whether you want it removed. Paper wasps feed their young caterpillars, so they’re actually very affective at controlling these as garden pests!

Therefore it’s worth assessing the pros and cons – is there a risk of you being stung, as if not you’re getting free caterpillar control.

Removing a wasp nest

Brave Aussies have been known to knock down a wasps nest with a stick, but apart from the risk of getting stung multiple times it’s rarely effective.

If a nest is knocked down it’s common for the wasps to rebuild in the same spot. They’re creatures of habit.

It’s well worth hiring a professional to remove a wasp nest, but I’ll cover DIY steps as well.

Here’s how to remove a wasp nest safely:

  1. It’s best to remove a wasp nest after nightfall. This is when the wasps will be less active, which means less risk for you.
  2. Use a flashlight to locate the opening of the nest. This will be where wasps are entering and exiting.
  3. Cover the opening with a piece of cloth or tape. This prevents wasps escaping and coming into contact with you.
  4. Using a long-handled tool, such as a broom handle, gently knock the nest down. Be careful not to damage it, as this can release the wasps inside.
  5. Relocate or dispose of the nest immediately.

If you can’t remove the nest yourself, call a professional pest control company.

Australian bee vs European bee

Australian pests are bigger, nastier, and more dangerous than anywhere else in the world. Aren’t they?

In fact, in the case of bees this isn’t the case!

This photo shows a comparison beetween an Australian native stingless bee (left) and a European Bee (right):

Australian bee vs European bee size comparison
Australian bee vs European bee

Bed bugs

Effective pest control (including pet fleas!)

The worst thing about Bed Bugs is that they love to be where you sleep, and for most of us the thought of sleeping with bed bugs is horrible.

Being bitten and having sleepless nights is the worst!  

A local pest control company would know the best Bed Bug control strategies for your area. They should be able to correctly identify and initiate the best solutions for getting rid of them, and in most cases know how to stop them coming back.

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs are small insects who tend to take up residence in your bed or couch, around areas your pets may sleep, and sometimes in areas where bats, birds, or rodents are present, such as a roof space.

These nasty little critters bite you and feed on your blood, and the blood of your pets – sounds like a horror film! 

Bed bugs can be transported in luggage, or if you carry infected bedding or clothing from place to place (make sure you read the “what not to do” section below so you don’t spread bed bugs to other areas).

Bed bug pest control

Adult bed bugs are reddish-brown in colour, being round and flat in shape. The adults grow to 5mm in length and up to 3mm wide.

The bite marks you wake up with (those itchy ones) are an allergic reaction to the bites – so the scary thought is you may have bed bugs and don’t know it yet.

Bed bugs are once again becoming a major problem in Australian cities, so it’s worth having an inspection done of your bedding and couches if you have any telltale itchy bites!

What are bed bugs?

Signs you have bed bugs

Signs you have a bed bug problem are as follows (they’re not always obvious):

  • You will notice you are itchy and covered in bites when you wake up.
  • If you pull back the bedding to expose the mattress, you will notice what looks like dirt in the seems of the mattress.
  • There may be a pungent odour (which is excreted from bugs scent glands).
  • Rusty coloured markings on mattress and linens (which is the excrement of the bed bugs).

Bed bugs – What NOT to do

If you discover you have a bed bug problem it may be tempting to start sleeping in another room on a different bed, but this will cause the problem to spread.

It’s also tempting to stay at a relative or friends house, which is another way to risk spreading the bed bugs to a new premises.

Did you know bed bugs can lay dormant for 18 months? That makes them resilient!

Leaving them to starve is not an option!

Throwing your bedding and furniture out will feel like a good (and costly) idea, but usually a pest control company will eliminate the bed bugs AND allow you to keep your belongings.

Avoid buying chemicals to treat bed bugs yourself.  It goes without saying these chemicals are harmful.

Remember, this is where you sleep and your health is important.  Get a trained professional to rid your home of bed bugs – it’s the most effective way.

How to fight bed bugs

As said above, your best option is hiring a professional.

A beneficial course of action is to bait your room, or where you have the problem. This at the very least should ensure the bed bugs are contained in one place, and help eliminate them.

Cockroachs

Cockroach pest control Australia

I live in Perth, which has a unique climate in which cockroaches have adapted extremely well. Wherever you live in Australia cockroaches are a pest.

Successful cockroach control requires finding the nest, so we cut off the supply at the source.  We can then advise and solve the issue of how they entered and got there in the first place. Ongoing inspections can be arranged so that you can be assured that the problem will not resurface.

What are cockroaches?

Did you know cockroaches can grow up to 1.5 inches long and would likely withstand an atomic fallout!?

They’re voracious breeders and multiply fast, which is another reason they’re considered a pest worthy of a Stephen King novel.

Unfortunately, cockroaches can carry with them a multitude of diseases as often part of their diet is from faeces of other animals – pretty gross!

Cockroaches love to live in moist places of most temperatures, but can also thrive in dry places as long as they have access to water. This is how they survive in dry states like Western Australia, as there is often water sources around or bores.

Cockroaches are normally a more active creature at night when they come out to breed, feed and forage.

Cockroach prevention Sydney

Generally, there is limited contact between humans and cockroaches, which I’m sure is a fact which pleases you.

But…

A rule of thumb to be aware of with cockroaches is this – if you see cockroaches around your home or premises then there is a good chance the population is quite large.

How to tell if you have a cockroach infestation

These are the best ways to tell if you have a cockroach infestation:

  • Dead cockroaches around in the morning or found under furniture.
  • Fecal droppings.
  • Egg casings – these hold multiple eggs inside.
  • A distinct and sharp odour.
  • Actual cockroaches scurrying during the day.

Best strategies for cockroach control

Controlling a cockroach infestation is hard, but there are ways to limit their numbers or help prevent an infestation occuring:

  • Ensure that entry points such as cracks in walls, and voids under doors are blocked off.
  • Keep garbage away from premises, they love to breed next to a food source.
  • Store food in airtight containers.
  • Keep high standards of hygiene in premises.
  • Remove potential sources of water to reduce the amount of drinkable water for the cockroaches.
  • Keep wet timber and/or firewood away from the premises, as cockroaches love to find refuge with all the hiding holes found in these stacks.

Mosquito pest control

Effective pest control (including pet fleas!)

Ross River Fever, Dengue Fever, Malaria and Heartworm (in dogs) are all diseases and parasites carried by mosquitoes.

Not to mention their irritating and persistent buzzing and biting which ruins otherwise enjoyable BBQs or relaxing in your garden.

What to do to prevent mosquitos

Mosquitoes can breed pretty much anywhere, as long as there’s a small amount of fresh or brackish water.

This can be as little as a bottle or can, a plant pot or watering dish, discarded tyre or tarp, or more so in an open rainwater tank, guttering, or even a tree hollow that captures water.

Have a look around your property and if there’s anything collecting water, then empty it and figure out how to stop it collecting water in the future.

Fish ponds are notorious for mosquito infestations, but this can be preventing by stocking it with fish which feed on mosquito larvae (see below for which fish eat mosquito larvae).

Most of the time mosquitos fly in from a nearby water source, such as a neighbours pond, nearby saltwater marshes, or similar habitats.

If this is the case, your best bet is to politely tackle it with your neighbour or local council.

Local councils will often treat areas where mosquitos breed to keep the population under control, but it’s nigh on impossible stopping them breeding altogether.

Which fish eat mosquito larvae?

Gambusia affinis (better known as mosquito fish) are fantastic for eating mosquito larvae. They’re your best bet for getting rid of mosquitos in standing water, like your pond.

Otherwise most predatory fish will eat mosquito larvae to some degree. The most common fish in Australia which eat mosquito larvae are largemouth bass, bluegill, crappie, minnows, sunfish, or catfish.

Mosquito repellant hacks

Here are some simple mosquito repellant hacks without hiring a professional:

  • Soak a cloth in lemon eucalyptus oil and dab it on your skin for natural mosquito protection.
  • Make a homemade mosquito repellent by mixing 1/3 cup of witch hazel with 2/3 cup of apple cider vinegar. Add 30 drops of lavender oil, 30 drops of eucalyptus oil, and 30 drops of lemon oil.
  • To keep mosquitoes away from your patio or deck, try planting citronella, basil, catnip, lavender, marigolds, or peppermint.
  • Mosquitos hate windy conditions, so a fan or two can keep them at bay.
  • Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Empty out buckets, kiddie pools, old tyres, and anything else that holds water.
  • Hang mosquito nets over beds, playpens, or strollers when you’re outdoors.
  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when you’re outside to protect yourself from mosquito bites. If the Aussie heat allows.
  • Use mosquito repellent when you’re outdoors. Look for products that contain DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.

Mice

Mouse pest control Melbourne

Mice, similar to rats, are prone to carrying disease and damaging property.

A mouse infestation can lead to a sharp odour in your home, not to mention chew on wiring (which can prove very costly to fix).

Worst is, the presence of mice is obvious to your visitors, and you don’t want that, do you?

Where can mice be found?

Generally, if your home has poor hygiene in the form of food scraps, this could be a major reason for the presence of mice.

Another big cause of a mouse infestation is unwittingly providing a place for the mice to nest – which can be as insignificant as a cool and dry corner.

Mice tend to move into our homes in the cooler winter months as they want to seek refuge and comfort.

How to tell if you have a mouse problem

There are a number of ways to tell if you have mice in the house, or a potential infestation:

  • Mice are frequent urinators, so you’ll likely see tracks of urine along with a pungent smell.
  • Footprints are another giveaway. As mice walk through dusty areas they leave paw prints in the dust.
  • Ripped food packages are an obvious sign.
  • Scurrying and scratching in ceiling and wall cavities.
  • Chewed wiring and structure.  Mice love to chew and create damage and destruction.  Little pieces gnawed out of timber, plastic and wiring are signs of mice.
  • Droppings around the premise or house.

Strategies to prevent mice

Mice can enter premises easier than rats due to their smaller size and nimble abilities. Did you know they can fit through a hole the size of a pencil?

So how can you deal with mice in your home?

First and foremost, the best form of mice eradication is prevention. A pest control professional would inspect your home and give you a list of tasks to prevent mice, which will include waste management and sealing any gaps.

How to get rid of mice

Usually with mouse control traps will be used.  There are many varieties of traps available, and some are more humane than others. 

Live mouse traps are the most effective, which allows trapped mice to be relocated back to the bush where they belong.  Most people with a mouse problem opt for this technique, and it can prove successful.

If you have pets, like most of us do, the use of traps is of no risk to them or to us.

Top tips for mice prevention

If you have any concerns of mice entering your home or yard, then these are the best preventative measures:

  • Remove all forms of food sources for mice, such as uncovered food (even uneaten dog food) that can attract them.
  • Store food in containers.
  • Store garbage away from the premises.
  • Maintain strict hygiene standards.
  • Consider calling a local pest control company to inspect your home periodically.

Possum pest control / possum removal

Possum removal

Ah the lovable and cute possum!

Hold on, wait…

No they are not lovable!

Have you ever tried to sleep with a possum in the ceiling cavity?

Well, they are not as quiet as you think when they travel up and down your home.  Your home is the perfect nesting area for a possum as they love dry and warm areas.

Yes, possums are a pest!

Possums have adapted to suburban life extraordinarily well, and it’s not only the noise they make which will make you want them removed.

Possums can and do taunt and attack our pets, especially our dogs. They can terrorise your garden too by stealing fruit and vegetables.

Being a nocturnal animal, you will only hear a possum in the middle of the night as it awakes and hunts for food.

As well as the fruits and vegetables in your garden, a possum will also seek out insects, reptiles, or birds.

They are excellent climbers and can enter most homes effortlessly.  It’s therefore essential to block off any entry points if you hope to prevent possums.

Possum control strategies

Below are good preventative measures to stop a possum taking up residence in your roof. Failing this, your best option is call a local professional for possum removal.

  • Well lit areas are avoided by possums, so it’s a good idea to have sensor lights installed at your premises.
  • Don’t leave food lying around as this can attract possums. Always protect open food sources such as fruit and vegetables growing in the backyard, with the best idea to install netted fencing around your garden areas.
  • Keep branches that are close to the house trimmed and away from the roof. This is the perfect entryway for possums, and if you’ve seen a possum walking along a power line you’ll know how good they are at “walking the tightrope”.
  • Block any gaps in the roof and other cavity entries.
  • Speak to a possum removal expert who will evaluate your house for any potential issues.

Rats

Rat pest control

The most dangerous aspect of rats is not the rats themselves, but the diseases they bring with them.

Remember that plague which killed off 30-60% of Europe’s population? That was caused by rats.

Not only are rats proven to carry disease, but can also do significant building damage by forming nests in certain places and by chewing wiring.

Keeping rats out of your home and premises is a massive priority, and if in doubt hire a professional for periodic inspections. 

Keeping rats where they belong (in the bush) is two parts science and three parts skill, which is why most home owners fail to keep rats at bay themselves.

Most professional methods of rat control are safe and effective. The first step is finding the source of infestation, such as the rat’s nest, then devising the best course of action to remove the rats from the area.

The next step is ensuring preventative methods are put in place, such as smart bait system, which should serve to keep your home safe and free of rats.

Two strategies for rat control

Pest professionals can use two main strategies to control rats:

The first is chemical, used when there is an obvious rat problem.  Baited traps can be used which have been proven to entice rats.

The second is prevention, in which your property will be inspected to find where rats are entering the building and, where possible, close off those entries. Even when entries have been closed off, it’s possible for determined rats to create new entry points.

Rats may enter your property if they sense open food sources, stagnant water, or when searching for a suitable place to nest.

What are the signs of a rat problem?

Rats are smart and persistent, so once they’ve taken up residence in your home they quickly breed and multiply.

Most of the time rats will stay out of sight, but you may hear scurrying and scratch sounds in the ceiling or wall cavities.

A sure sign is rat droppings. Any sign of rat droppings on the floor or under furniture will likely be accompanied by a sharp odour which is hard to ignore (rat urine).

Other signs of rat problems are chewed plastic bags, chewed wiring, or chewed timber or plastic.

Why do rats chew on wiring?

Rats and mice chew on wiring because of their instinct to gnaw. Rats teeth never stop growing, which means they’re in a constant state of teething.

Wires are often found in the areas where they tunnel or nest, such as along skirting boards and in wall cavities.

Why do rats chew wiring?
Rat damage to wiring

Rats chewing on wires is one of the major reasons you need to control any rat infestation in your home. Chewed wires are costly to fix, and one of the leading fire hazards.

Preventative measures can be taken such as installing wire guards, but ridding your house of mice and rats is a necessity.

Termites

Termite pest control

Did you know that termites do more damage each year than natural disasters?

Termites are the enemy of the structural timber used in homes.  They are a serious problem in Western Australia and other Australian states.

Left unchecked, termites can virtually destroy a building.

To the untrained eye, termites, or white ants as they are also known, may not be detected.

Swift action is required so that you reduce the amount of damage these insects can do.

A local pest control company can devise the best strategies for eliminating and preventing termites in your home, so if in doubt it’s worth calling one. The knowledge and experience gained by pest control companies over years of termite control can prove invaluable.

A professional will be able to ascertain which part of your house was accessed first, and follow their path to see just how much damage has taken place.

They will then advise on the best methods for fighting the termites to stop them in their tracks.

Once a termite problem has been solved it’s worth considering your best course of action to prevent termites in the future.

Strategies available for controlling termites in Australia

There are two key strategies in the fight against white ants.

Both have advantages and disadvantages and depend on the scale of problem you have in your building. A pest control professional will be able to give you detailed advice on which is best.

Baiting

This method of termite control is best for when there is an existing termite infestation.  Baits can exterminate the resident termites so they stop destroying your home.

This method involves baiting the colony, and it can take a few months to take full effect.

Chemical termite treatments

Chemical is the most widely used method for termite control and prevention.

Essentially, this method prevents termites from entering the building, either by introducing the chemical in a set location or by controlling the entire surrounds of the building.

Thankfully there are a few great termite control chemicals on the market, with an active protecting lifespan of 5-10 years depending on the product.

How to tell if you have a termite infestation?

Most importantly, you want to keep a lookout for burrowing lines in your timber.

When you scrape the burrowings, you will notice the sand dust-like material fall away.  Even though there may not be white ants visible, they could still be there, just further along in another piece of timber in another part of your home.

There is no better alternative than to have regular inspections by trained, qualified and experienced termite professionals, so it’s worth finding someone local with a good reputation (such as Google reviews).

How to prevent termites in your home

We must consider what attracts termites into our homes, and this can be summarised in one word – food.

Termites do not eat trees. Rather they feed on ‘dead’ timber such as the timber found in your home.  

Other sources that may bring termites to your home are:

  • Firewood stacks close to your home.
  • Fence posts.
  • Timber garden sleepers.
  • Fallen, dead trees.

It’s best to get rid of such items to prevent a possible termite infestation. Where possible, only use termite treated timber around your home, such as that used for timber decking.

Always get a termite inspection when buying a property

Termite inspections should be compulsory, but they’re not.

This leaves home buyers vulnerable to buying a building which may have had a long history of termite infestation.

The repair bill from termite damage can be in the thousands, and that is if the building can be salvaged at all.

If you’re buying a property then having a termite inspection is something you should strongly consider from a reputable pest control company. 

Pigeons

Effective pest control (including pet fleas!)

Are pigeons a pest or an annoyance?

It’s a good question, but pigeons can carry disease and damage buildings. Left to their own devices will also lead to large gatherings of pigeons and a great deal of mess.

Thankfully pigeons are very easy to keep away from your home, with the most effective method being bird spikes (available in many shapes and sizes from Amazon).

Most people choose to install bird spikes without hiring someone, but if you have a two story house you should find any local tradie will install them for you.

Netting can also prove effective depending on where the pigeons like to loiter.

Another way to deter pigeons is to set up bird scarers. These devices make loud noises or flashes of light to scare pigeons away.

It’s worth considering your neighbours before you install a bird scarer, which are far more suited to rural properties than inner-Sydney.

Lastly, but not least, make sure the pigeons don’t have a food supply near your property, and make sure nobody in the area is feeding them.

E-Track by Avithor

According to Tim, many Australian commercial businesses now use an electrical bird deterrent system known as E-Track. It works in a similar way as an electric fence, but don’t worry – it’s bird safe.

The E-Track system can be installed along roof peaks, beams, edges, and parapets, and provides a much more appealing (almost invisible) look than endless rows of bird spikes.

According to Avithor who make E-Track, “birds do not feel the electric shock the same way people do. This is because there is less moisture in their feet to cause a shock in the manner that we experience”.

Therefore an electric deterrent such as this could be the most effective and humane way of dealing with pigeons.

Mice & Rats of Australia – Know your rodents!

Correctly known as commensal rodents, there are three main rodent pest types in Australia today. These are all introduced species not native to Australia, and cause numerous problems in urban areas where they thrive.

Given they depend on us for survival, we have to ask ourselves how we let them thrive! One of the reasons is poor waste management, but it’s not the only reason.

Commensal rodents live in the vicinity of us humans – we happen to be very good at providing them with food and shelter. This is particularly true in Autumn and Winter when they take up residence in our homes for dryness and warmth.

Those sharp incisor teeth grow continuously. Yes, that’s right, they never stop growing!

This makes it necessary for rodents to constantly gnaw and chew, which is why they often cause damage to electrical wires – a common cause of house fires. Except where electricity is involved, gnawing is essential for their survival.

Rodents also wreak havoc in our homes with their urine and droppings. We need to be careful as mice & rats of Australia can carry over 50 types of disease organisms.

You’ve heard of the bubonic plague right? You can thank rats for that.

Not only plague, but they spread nasty diseases like leptospirosis, murine typhus, and can cause food poisoning.

The longer rodents are left to nest in your home, the greater the danger they pose to you as their urine and droppings spread around your home. This isn’t good news for you, your children, or your pets.

Another reason you don’t want them nesting in your home for any length of time is because they breed excessively.

Consider this – A female roof rat can have as many as 24 babies a year.

A roof rat cat have as many as 24 babies a year

Mice and rats of Australia survive off every miniscule scrap of food, usually from our garbage or pantry, and this happens to be far easier for them than roughing it in the wild.

For this reason, we need to ensure our waste is managed correctly, food crumbs aren’t left on the floor, and opened packets of food should be kept in air tight containers.

Lets take a look at the most popular mice and rats in Australia:

House mice (Mus musculus)

House mice are known for their high pitched squeak – a sound we know all too well from cartoons.

They vary in colour. Usually grey or brown, but can also be black or white, and often with a lighter belly. Adult house mice vary from 7.5cm to 10cm, with a tail which can be just as long.

House mice have short hair with little to know hair around the ears and tail.

Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus)

The most common rat in Australia is the Brown Rat, also called a Norway rat, sewer rat, or common rat.

Brown rats are the largest rodent to invade our homes, with a stock appearance, blunt nose, short ears, and coarse fur. “Stocky” is a good word to describe them.

They can grow to 25cm in length, brown in colour with a lighter belly, with tales noticeably shorter than their body.

Brown rats are mostly active at night and make great swimmers. Yep, these are the rats you see in and around rivers and sewers. They’re also great at swimming underwater.

Brown rats are great diggers, so when they make your yard their home is common for them to excavate an extensive burrow system.

Roof rat (Rattus rattus)

Roof rats, also known as black rats or ship rats, are smaller in comparison to the brown rat. They can grow up to 20cm rather than 25cm.

Unlike their stockier, larger cousins, roof rats are skinnier with a pointy nose. Their tails are hairless, and ears large and pointy.

Colourwise they’re dark brown and sometimes black, hence the name black rat, but their bellies can be much lighter. Sometimes white.

They’re not good swimmers like the brown rats, but they’re fantastic climbers and can easily get into your roof space and make a nest.

Dropping comparisons of mice & rats of Australia

If you find droppings in your house or yard it’s worth figuring out what type of rat or mouse left them there, so here’s a description (and picture) so you can compare.

House mice droppings are characterised by being small and almost black, usually around 6mm, elongated with pointy ends (see pic further below).

Brown rat (Norway rat) droppings are large for rat droppings, and like their appearance have a more stocky look and blunt at both ends, grainy in texture. They can be distinguished from having a slight red colour.

Roof rat (Black rat) droppings are a similar size to their larger cousins, but again like their appearance are more slender with pointier ends.

The below image shows the different types of droppings of mice & rats of Australia:

Different types of droppings of mice & rats of Australia
Comparison of mice & rat droppings

3 Reasons to get a Pest Inspection before moving in to a new home (or Rental Property)

Big title I know, but if you’re moving into a rental or new home it’s worth considering a pest inspection before moving in.

Nobody likes pests. Cockroaches, ants, rats, even the dreaded termite – any of these might lie hidden from even the most eagle-eyed non-professionals. Even worse than falling prey to a new infestation is moving into a home you thought was clean, but was actually the capital of the Cockroach Kingdom.

If you have pets like I do, and the rental allows pets, then there’s a possibility of flea eggs lying around. Fleas are one of the hardest pests to keep under control, and even once a house is sprayed it’s possible there’s eggs in carpets or between floorboards waiting to hatch.

Did you know a flea egg can lie dormant for as long as a year before hatching?

Trust me, you don’t want a flea war on your hands, and paying a pest professional will give you guarantees you’re not in for a nightmare

Here are three reasons you should hire a pest professional when moving into a new house:

Pests are good at hiding

Pests are pests precisely because they’ve adjusted well to living alongside us humans. A key reason for this is their ability to hide.

Imagine this: after moving home, you’ve paid the removalists, unpacked your boxes and are settling in for your first night in a new place to call your own.

You wake up in the middle of the night, hungry for a midnight snack.

You turn the light on in what you thought was a sparkling-clean kitchen, only to watch in horror as a swarm of cockroaches scatter for cover…

Too many new tenants have found themselves in this situation. More than I’d like to mention.

Signed on the dotted line, then found an infestation?

With a rental property, it’s a pearl of deeply-rooted wisdom that landlords don’t like paying for anything if they can avoid it. This includes any pests who also consider the house their home.

Unless your lease stipulates it’s the owner’s responsibility, they’re probably going to offload it to you. If you can catch it beforehand, there’s a chance they’ll do the work to make your new home livable – after all, an empty rental property loses them money.

Even worse, if you are buying a property, especially at auction, once you’ve signed the papers there’s no going back.

Now, not only do YOU have to pay to get them removed, but it might impact the ongoing value of your property. Especially if you find an infestation of termites…

Termites can cause your house to collapse…

Termites can chew through wood (they love the stuff), and a fully-stocked termite nest will turn your house into Swiss cheese.

Termites can, and have, caused dangerous incidents in which ceilings, staircases and even whole houses have come tumbling down.

So unless you want to find yourself in an unplanned open-air domicile, get that pest inspection before you move home.

Common questions about pest control

How long do you have to stay out of your house after pest control?

The timing of your reentry after a pest control treatment will depend on the product used and the pest which was being controlled.

For example, if chemicals were used to treat ants, you should be able to return to your home immediately after the treatment is complete.

However, if gasses were used, such as to fumigate termites, you may need to wait until the fumes have dissipated before reentering your home – this can take 3-4 hours.

Always err on the side of caution!

You should always ask the pest control company (who should fill you in completely prior to a treatment), or if you use a product make sure you have read and understand the instructions thoroughly.

If you have any questions or concerns, speak to a pest control professional.

How long does pest control spray take to dry?

Depending on the type of product, it can take as little as 30 minutes to as long as 4 hours to dry.

If you have pets you should always allow as long as possible, and spending the night elsewhere can be a good idea.

Most pest control professionals will tell you to leave the spray on the surface as long as possible, so washing your floor or carpet on your return will not be a possibility.

Do cats eat cockroaches?

This is a question I get asked a lot. Cats are in fact natural predators of cockroaches!

We tend to consider cockroaches as filthy, but they’re one of the most hygienic insects. They’re also a good source of protein and other nutrients for your cat, and will help them unleash some of their natural hunting instincts to boot.

So if you don’t have a cat but have cockroaches, then a cat or two might prove a beneficial pet for pest control!

Do I need to clean my house after pest control treatments?

Depending on the type of pest it may not be advised to clean your house after a pest control treatment.

For example, if chemicals have been used to treat fleas, the chemical residue around skirting boards, nooks, and crannies, will continue to kill newborn fleas over the coming weeks.

In such a situation, cleaning the house may lead to a reoccurring infestation and another visit from the pest control company.

When you have pets or children (especially babies), be prepared to take as many precautions as possible.

Even if you’re unable to clean floors or skirting boards, make sure you clean your children’s toys and areas where your pet resides or sleeps.

Always make sure you fully understand the type of treatment used, and if you have any questions your pest control company will give you all the information you need.

What is the pest control solution for lizards?

There are a variety of methods that can be used to control lizards, but the most effective solution will vary depending on the specific species of lizard. Some common methods include using traps, repellents, or poison bait.

It is important to identify the specific type of lizard before selecting a pest control method, as some methods may be harmful to other types of animals. For example, using a sticky trap to catch lizards may also inadvertently trap birds or other small animals.

If you are unsure which type of lizard is causing problems on your property, it is best to consult with a professional pest control expert who can help you identify and eliminate the problem.

Do we need to leave the house for pest control?

If chemicals, gasses, or pesticides are used to control your pest infestation then you will likely need to stay away from the house for the duration of the treatment.

Your pest control company may advise you to avoid the house for a longer period, commonly 3 to 4 hours, or longer if you are able.

Other methods of pest control, such as traps or baits, don’t require you to leave the house for pest control.

How do I find the best pest control services in Australia?

When finding a pest control service in your local area it’s important to find one with a good reputation.

If you live in suburbia you’ll likely find there are a few pest control services in your local area, and reading Google reviews for each should offer a good idea of how good they are.

Local Facebook groups are a good place to ask for recommendations, assuming you’re happy telling your neighbours you have a pest problem!

Are tenants or landlords responsible for pest control? Who should pay for pest control in a rented apartment?

This is a tricky area, and it is advisable to have a pest control company inspect a rental property prior to moving in. This will give the best leverage against a landlord, and they will want to rectify the problem so that you can move in and pay rent.

If you are already an existing tenant you will find most landlords will do anything they can to avoid the situation unless it will damage their property (such as termites).

It is easy for a landlord to put the responsibility of pests such as fleas or cockroaches onto the tenant, as it is easily argued poor hygiene, poor waste management, or then tenant’s pests are the cause.

If you are the tenant, and any of the above apply to you, then you should be willing to address the problem yourselves and arrange pest control. You should consider notifying the landlord you intent to hire a pest control company for the infestation.

How long does pest control last?

As a general rule be prepared for multiple treatments, especially if the infestation is severe. It’s common for flea infestations to require multiple treatments to break the cycle, especially in properties with jarrah floors which allow flea eggs to avoid treatment.

The length of time pest control lasts will depend on the treatment used, how much, and whether you clean your floors or carpet after treatment.

For general pests, such as ants, spiders, and rodents, a treatment might last for several months.

For more severe infestations, such as termites or bed bugs, a treatment can last for up to a year.

After a pest control treatment is complete, make sure you keep an eye out for any signs of an infestation reoccurrence, and address it immediately.

Are house centipedes helpful in pest control?

Yes, but also no as they can prove a pest in themselves.

House centipedes can help pest control because they eat other insects, and as they’re not harmful to us or our pets they can be a welcome alternative.

House centipedes can be controlled by easy means such as spraying them with water from a garden hose or placing a rolled-up newspaper or a flyswatter near their hiding places.

Is pest control safe?

You should always use precautions with pest control, particularly chemicals, gasses, or pesticides. However, by making sure you understand the precautions you must take, most pest control treatments can be considered safe.

It is easy for us adults to be careful around the house or garden after a pest control treatment, but ensuring our children and pets are safe is a harder, necessary task.

Children often touch surfaces, such as floors, and then touch their mouths. Pets often lick floors, particularly around food bowls or when food is dropped by children.

Pest control is safe as long as you’re careful, take the correct precautions, and listen to the advice and warnings of the pest control specialist you hire for a job.

How often should pest control be done?

It depends on the type of pest control and the severity of the pests. If you live in an area of higher risk from pests, such as near bushland or a rural area, then pest control or inspections should be more regular.

Generally, it is recommended to have a professional pest control service come at least once a year, or more often if there is an infestation.

It is recommended a termite inspection is done every one to three years, depending on your region and the level of risk for termites.

Some signs you may need a termite inspection include visible evidence of termites, water damage, or wood damage.

Do pest control companies really work?

These days there are many off-the-shelf products which claim to work, but most people find they spend a great deal of money on different products before giving up and hiring a professional.

Often the best, and cheapest, method of ridding your home of a pest infestation is to hire a professional in the first place.

Always keep in mind a severe infestation may require multiple treatments over a period of months.

A good example is fleas, as this requires treatment of not only your house, but also effective treatment of your pets, garden, and very likely a great deal of effort from yourself to clean bedsheets, clothes, nooks in cupboards, drawers, or anywhere fleas may have access to to lay eggs.

Fleas are notoriously hard to get rid of with one treatment, and the same applies to many pests.

A pest control company is likely your best tool to help fight what should be considered a war, and a war where you will also need to play a major role.

What is a reasonable cost for outdoor pest control in Australia?

The cost of outdoor pest control in Australia varies depending on the size and scope of the infestation.

Expect to pay around $50-$70 per hour for services, which can be $200 or more for a treatment (more if your property is large).

If a pest control professional needs to travel to your property, it will be expected this is added to the overall cost.

What is a reasonable cost for indoor pest control?

Prices for indoor pest control in Australia can vary depending on the size of your home, the type of pests, and the severity of the infestation.

Budget around $100-$250 for a treatment, although this can be more or less depending on the factors mentioned above.

Be sure to get several quotes from different companies before making a decision, as prices can vary, especially in rural areas.

In cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, you will find a number of pest control companies in your locality – make sure you read reviews or seek feedback from your community to ensure they’re reputable.

A pest control company may appear cheap, but it isn’t cheap if they don’t do a proper job. Reviews, such as Google reviews, should give you an idea of how good a pest control company is.

Also, make sure to ask each company what their treatment entails so you can compare with other companies. Some products are more effective, and will cost more. Getting it done right the first time saves cost (and frustration) in the long run.

Finally, don’t forget to factor in the cost of any necessary follow-up treatments when budgeting for indoor pest control.

Any further questions on pest control?

Please use the comment section below if you have any further questions on pest control. Hopefully the above information will cover many of the most common questions about pest control and pest prevention, but over time I’ll do my best to keep this information as useful and well-researched as possible!

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