Jul 28, 2017

Invaders!

Let’s all collectively sigh a big sigh of relief and give thanks that, no matter how moving out to Australia might seem on so many levels...

...better climate, outdoor living, friendly people, barbecue culture, no petty squabbling over Brexit and similar and, best of all, no Britain’s Got Talent...

...there is one overwhelming advantage to living it up here in jolly old Blighty. Because whilst Oz might have its distractions, the one thing that we don’t have here that they most definitely have over there, is a surplus of dangerous animals that can kill you as soon as look at you.

Let’s face it, you can’t even go and hang the washing out in your typical Aussie back garden without running the risk of death in the process. Deadly snake snuggled down in the laundry? Check. Venomous spider crawling up your leg? Yep.

You can’t even go for a swim without putting your records straight first and checking that your will is up to date before you immerse yourself in the hideously dangerous waters incase you float into the path of a box jellyfish or twenty.

Not a nice way to go. But one of many exit options available to you down under that will send you down under as you potter about your borders or spend what you thought would be an uneventful afternoon cutting the lawn...that is, of course, until you disturbed a now feisty Eastern Brown snake which, bless its scales, has opted to make the major population centres of Australia its preferred habitat.

This is a snake, ladies and gentleman that, if suitably annoyed (and simply existing in the first place seems to be reason enough to rattle its cage) will chase you, catch up with you and bite you.

And, as if by magic, weeding out your hardy perennials seems to be the most wonderful task you can ever have. Because no earwig has yet chased after a human being with the set intention of savaging one to death.

And yet, and yet...

We are subject to a few nasty pests in this country. Yes, really. And guess what? Not only do they want to invade your house, they also want to raise several families and set up permanent home there.

So then. What and who are these personal space invaders, how do we know they are in-situ and, most importantly of all, how do we get rid of them?

We’ll start with an old favourite and what might be the worst case scenario as far as the UK is concerned.

A wasps nest.

Now, if your typical Australian found a wasps nest in his home, he’d aggravate them for fun. He’d invite them to sting them before asking his neighbours around to have a good stinging as well. “Bonzer mate...”, they’d tell him, “...it fair dinkum tickles”.

Because let’s face it, if you live with the day to day possibility that you might get chased down your garden by an Eastern Brown snake, a few thousand wasps are a bit of a Sunday School picnic.

But they’re anything but that here.

The best way to ascertain that there just might be wasps nest close by is if you are experiencing a high number of wasps in and around the confines of your home and garden. And yes, whilst that does sound like a case of stating the obvious, most people put up with being dive bombed at their barbecue and just assume that there are “...a lot of them about today”.

Don’t be fooled. If there are a ‘lot of them about’ then it’s likely they’ve just moved in and are acquainting themselves with the area.

And that is quite literally. They’re finding their bearings, seeing where there is easily available food and drink (‘Barbecue? Don’t mind if I do, can I invite 4,999 of my mates?’) and generally getting used to the lie of the land.

A mature wasps nest can, by mid-Summer, contain thousands of wasps. Take, for example, a town like Dartmouth (population 5,068). Now imagine all of Dartmouth condensed into a space around about the size of a football.

Yep, such is the fullness and potential fury of wasps nest in your home.

So you need to work out where it is or at least might be. And fast. Don’t go blundering into your loft or garden shed with a rolled up piece of newspaper or a duster as that would be no more effective than Pitcairn Island declaring all out war on China.

You need a bit of stealth. So, to try and locate the nest, carefully watch the flight path of the wasps, something which, as their numbers increase, becomes a lot easier.

It’ll start off looking very small and insignificant. Infact, when a Queen Wasp starts to build a nest in the Spring, it is usually not much bigger than a golf ball. So, clearly, it isn’t the easiest of things to spot.

But fear not, they’ll get a lot bigger than that. And that is when they can become a problem. A nest can easily become as big as a football-and then some. So even if you notice a few hanging around at this time of year, it’s worth just keeping an eye on things incase they’re looking to settle down, in which case you can, with the help of local experts, do something about it.

The places to look are sheltered spots which have easy access-for wasps, that is. Therefore you’ll often find a nest in a wall cavity, under an eave, in a shed or garage or even in a bird box. And no, don’t try and get them out yourself. Seriously. This isn’t fixing a shelf or dabbing a bit of paint on the skirting board.


Let someone else come and do it for you.

Whilst we’re on the subject of garden and home pests that might, given the opportunity, give you a bit of a sting or a nip, it’s worth mentioning the False Widow spider.

They’ve had a bit of bad PR of late with various media outlets claiming they’re heading over here in their millions amidst our oranges, bananas and pineapples and are so deadly that, even if one of them looks at you in funny way, you’ll collapse and fall to the floor in a state of deathly paralysis.

Quite.

The thing to remember is that they are not called a FALSE Widow spider for nothing.

So let’s deal with the facts.

It’s been given its rather unfortunate name because it resembles, on a rather superficial level, the infamous Black Widow spider which is, of course, notorious for being amongst the most venomous of all spiders but which is, thankfully, a non-resident here.

It can bite. But the bite is usually no worse than a wasp sting and certainly not as deadly or toxic as some of the tabloids would tell you.

So on that basis, a couple of spider related tips from your all round green good guys and girls at Loft Blinds whilst you’re pottering about your home and garden this Spring.

Firstly, don’t assume every spider you see now is a False Widow and squash it. Let them live please. All of them. They do an incalculable lot of good and, in a fast disappearing natural world, we need all the wildlife we can get.

Secondly, if you do come across or disturb a False Widow, it is going to be a thousand times more frightened of you than you are of it. So let it go on its way. This isn’t Australia and it isn’t going to chase you.

More about house and garden pests next time around so keep reading. In the meantime, if you’ve any tales of your own about unwanted invaders in your home, drop us a line here, we’d love to hear how you managed to deal with it and any tips of your own you’d like to pass on.