As winter bites we’re not alone in wanting to keep warm and dry in our homes. There are plenty of other creatures seeking out our homes as a safe and comfortable refuge.
Such as queen wasps, queen bumblebees, ladybirds and Lacewings, field mice, rats and squirrels to name a few.
The phone calls start in late autumn. Reports of strange noises in ceilings and wall cavities. Problems with chewed plastic plumbing, fascia boards or lead flashing. The most worrying of all, chewed electric cables !
Although it is rare for rodents to cause a house fire by chewing through electric cables it does still happen so we obviously take it seriously However one wouldn’t imagine insects could potentially burn a house down.
We were called out to a property recently by a concerned home owner reporting noises in the roof along with intermittent smoke alarm alerts. The obvious assumption was that a rodent had got in and was chewing away at the wiring. This was not the case, there was evidence of recent mouse activity found but the smoke alarms weren’t caused by wire chewing but instead by cluster flies.
Cluster flies are a member of the blowfly family. A parasitic insect the larvae of which feeds on earthworms. Not considered a health hazard in the way that a housefly or bluebottle is as they don’t contaminate human food. They are somewhat of a health hazard when they encrust themselves around a back of hot lightbulb.
The problem is, that the cluster fly will seek out shelter in the cold months. Most commonly it will be a hole in a tree, or behind peeling bark. Better still a nice cozy roof space. They can be found in their thousands and once in will hibernate or winter down until things warm up in spring. Now the problems arise from the way we light our homes these days. Most of us have flush fitting ceiling lights and it’s the top part of the fitting that is often exposed in a roof space. A nice warm spot for insects to nestle in that is until they get fried and encrusted around the lamp. Smoke then drifts around setting of the smoke alarms. Mystery solved! Simple.
The not so simple part is keeping these insects out. Unlike rodents they can get through the tiniest gap under a roof tile, between the soffits and fascia boards for example. Making it impossible to proof against them. There are insecticide treatments available to eradicate them but a survey and risk assessment must be carried out first. After all there may be other animals sharing the loft space like bats for example. Bats are heavily protected and there is a hefty penalty if one should come to any harm through negligence.
If you’re concerned at all, call us on 01243 717606 to book in with one of our experienced Technicians.