Article 14 Jan 2015 The Star By Gabrielle Stuart
Hot, dry weather brings out the ants
WARM WEATHER and unstable ground could be responsible for large numbers of ant infestations reported in Christchurch this summer.Elite Pest Control branch manager Mel Horswell said the company had seen a lot more calls about ant infestations than in previous years, and several very bad infestations.
Those included a call to a three-level house where ants had infiltrated every level.
“Over the past couple of months we’ve had a huge influx of phone calls from right across the city, all the way from Aranui to Lyttelton.”
She said the number of ants usually increased over summer.
But she said this summer was proving particularly busy, with around 60 calls coming in each month.
Christchurch Pest Control technician Kevin Gilbert said the earthquakes caused an increase in problems with ants.
“The movement of the earth took a lot of their homes, so we saw a lot more activity. And it carried on right through the winter, when it didn’t in previous years.”
He said that ants usually became active in the summer when the soil reached a temperature of about 20 deg C, and warmer weather could mean more activity.
“If you don’t keep everything hygienic, or store food in sealed containers, they can head straight for your kitchen.”
He said there were a range of products people could buy and spray themselves, which could be effective in less serious cases.
Creeping vermin follow in quakes’ wake
Creepy crawlies coming forth from the darkness to stake a claim in earthquake damaged homes are running Christchurch pest control companies off their feet.
The new pets on the block for many TC3 homeowners include 15cm slugs slithering out of plug holes, water rats taking over garages, ants crawling through beds, white-tail spiders darting across ceilings, and worms writhing in toilets.
Pest control companies across the city have reported a surge of up to 60 per cent demand since pre-quake days, and they attribute the spike to New Zealand’s long, hot summer, the recent cold snap, and the cracks that riddle quake-damaged homes.
TC3 homeowners who did not have problems with pests before the quakes shared their latest hair-raising horror stories with The Press:
Debra Sinclair found a 15cm slug on her kitchen floor, nicknamed it Bruce and fed it a potato chip before scooping it up and flushing it down the toilet.
Sharelle Scott has a colony of ants nesting in her Aranui home and “they are literally everywhere”.
Vivienne Watts has white-tail spiders racing across the ceiling of her Hoon Hay home each night.
Jenny Cameron has mosquitoes nesting within the cracks of her windows, and “mammoth yellowy-brown” slugs shuffling around her Phillipstown home.
Kathryn Robinson has an army of ants marching through her broken window frames and crawling into her bed most days.
A gaggle of slugs shuffle into Megan Hieatt’s St Albans house to “party in the lounge” each night.
Glistening, squiggly slug trails expose their presence each morning, Hieatt said. Avondale mother Gina Oldman has a baby on the way and “a friendly garage rat”.
The “massive” water rat has taken up residence in her garage, and she said its tail is the same length as her cat’s.
A family of snails has annexed Tina Dudley’s bathtub drain and slide out to greet her every morning.
“We never had a problem with insects or rodents before the quakes, but all of a sudden we have baby snails coming up out of the bathtub,” she said.
Her cat used to catch small mice around her Shirley home, but now it’s dumping rats up to 15cm long on the front doorstep.
“I am totally grossed out by it all, I mean what else do we have to go through? When is it going to get better?” she asked.
Elite Pest Control manager Dawn Hendrikse reported an increased demand of up to 60 per cent across greater Christchurch, which she attributed to gaps, cracks and holes in broken homes.
Calls for the removal of rodents and ants had surged this year, but the biggest spike had come from bed bugs, she said.
Fifeshire Pest Control owner Michael Tucker has fielded a similar increase in the usual rodents but said he has also been called on for slugs, flies and mosquitoes.
“There is a lot more vermin around and it’s harder for people to keep them out of their homes now.”
New Brighton was the new hot spot for rodents, and Tucker knew of one woman on the edge of the red zone who had rats scratching on her front door each night.
Before the quakes, rodents would use overhanging trees and open windows to access homes, whereas now the pests could “walk willy nilly” into broken homes.
Maurice David, regional manager of Rentokil-initial Christchurch, said the quakes were not solely responsible for the recent surge in demand for pest-control services.
The latest warm summer had provided good breeding opportunities for rodents, and the cold snap had encouraged the pests to start hunting for warm, dry areas to nest in earlier than usual.
David advised Cantabrians to shove chicken wire into the holes and cracks of their broken homes to prevent access.
Mitre 10 spokesman Dave Elliot reported a 20 to 30 per cent national increase in demand for pest control products this year due to New Zealand’s “long, hot dry summer”.
Rodent traps, bait and other pest deterrents had flown off the shelves faster than other years, he said.
Mice run rampant in Christchurch.
Locals are advised to block any holes as winter approaches.
By Thomas Mead
Cantabrians may be sharing their homes with some unwanted guests this winter, with local exterminators recording a huge increase in rodent activity.
Dawn Hendrikse, of Elite Pest Control, says the demolition work and earthquake damage in the region is making it easy for rats and mice to move around.
“We’re doing a good 40 to 50 percent more rodent work than we would have this time last year or the year before,” she told 3 News.
“It’s actually quite enormous for this time of year, because normally we’re not very busy at all until it gets a lot cooler.”
A long hot summer had created perfect breeding conditions and the pests were now coming inside to get out of the cold, Ms Hendrikse says, with earthquake-damage only accentuating the problem.
“It’s a lot easier for these pests to get into the home… because people’s homes aren’t level, or there are cracks or splits and they’re not doing anything about it.”
The disturbance created by construction work could also move mice on, creating a potential issue in the more damaged eastern suburbs.
The central city rebuild zone was, in particular, a haven for pests, with a “concerning” amount of rodent activity, Ms Hendrikse says.
It wasn’t a “serious infestation”, but mice were being found in levels that the exterminators would “normally never see”.
Glue boards and bait traps are being closely monitored in several central streets to combat the problem.
Locals are advised to cover any holes in their home with a wire mesh or ‘Goldilocks’ pot scrub and pull any foliage away from the gutter of their house.
Busiest season for Canterbury flies in years
Cantabrians will be hoping house flies will buzz off with the cooler weather after what has been the “busiest fly season” in years.
Pest control operators have said the unusually long, hot summer this year created “ideal conditions” for the common house fly to breed.
Roger Dunn, of Pest Free, said business was booming this year after the long, dry summer.
“There’s been a lot more flies to deal with in larger numbers,” he said.
“It’s been a lot more of a problem this year than previous years.”
Dunn said while they had been dealing with a lot of residential properties, there was also a focus on businesses trying to rid their workplaces of flies.
A lot of people “dealt with it themselves”, but Dunn said many had come to him as a last resort after supermarkets had sold out of flyspray.
A Countdown spokeswoman said demand for insect and pest solutions such as flyspray was up 66.7 per cent on this time last year.
Elite Pest Control director Gary Hendrikse said rain and humid weather had combined to create ideal breeding conditions for flies.
“Definitely a few more people have had fly problems, and we’ve had methods in place to deal with that,” he said.
Most people thought of them as “just a nuisance”, but hordes were flocking to him to rid themselves of the pests for good.
“You can get it under control if you’re willing to invest in the whole system, not just spray,” Hendrikse said.
Christchurch is experiencing a similar situation to Wellington where pest controllers had their “busiest fly season in 15 years”.
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