Pest control


Identifying pests and self-treatment

There is always a risk that commonplace creatures can cause problems in and around your home.

Keeping your home clean and tidy will help reduce risks of pests but if you suffer an infestation or are concerned about a possible pest problem contact our pest control service.

Small black ants are commonly seen on paths, patios and more annoyingly in the house. They frequently leave small amounts of fine soil and sand at entrances to their nests and particularly in warm weather they can be seen travelling from their nests to sources of food.

Cause of infestation

Ants may nest in the soil under paving stones and sometimes in the foundations of a house. Foraging worker ants may appear from cracks and crevices that are inevitable at most skirting edges.

Once a food substance has been found (often sweet), then large numbers of workers may appear. If a hatch of winged queens and males happens mistakenly to follow this exit route from the nest, large numbers of winged insects appear very rapidly in living accommodation as they try to find a way out to the open air.


The light application of a crawling insect aerosol spray along affected skirting edges only will kill foraging workers. This is best applied in a continuous sweeping motion to wet the skirting edge at several inches of depth. If done last thing at night you will avoid breathing in any aerosol vapours in a freshly treated room.

If using crawling insect powder, put a very small amount along the skirting edges and brush it with an old paintbrush to give a very thin uniform layer that should be barely visible. Dust-containing Bendiocarb is very effective.

The use of poisoned sugar bait is effective in destroying nests, but not if used with dust or sprays. The idea is that as many worker ants as possible, take as much bait as possible in as short a time as possible back to the nest. Killing foraging workers with dust and sprays makes this unlikely to happen. Ideally, attract as many workers as possible to a prebait of syrup, jam, honey etc. on a small piece of card. When large numbers have been attracted, swap the prebait for the poisoned bait. This treatment takes longer but is more likely to destroy the nest.

The easiest way to treat an indoor swarm of flying ants is to open the windows and allow them to escape. Flying insect aerosols will kill them, but will entail a clean-up operation. Hoovering up the emerging insects is effective but condemns them to a prolonged demise in the dust bag!

Bed bugs are not known to be frequent carriers of disease and are mostly related to the irritation following their bites.

There are 2 main types of bed bugs. The most common bed bugs are the Common Bed Bug and the Martin Bug, which normally lives in birds nests but can bite humans.

They breed by laying eggs which usually hatch after about 10 - 20 days. The bugs then grow through a series of stages, at each one of which they need to feed on blood, until they become adults after about 9 to 18 weeks.

They are found in the seams of mattresses, soft furnishings and also cracks in walls and around door frames where they hide when they are not breeding.


If the property is infested we strongly recommend you request the service of a Pest Control Officer. 

We offer no treatment for Bees. The Council offers advice only.

Bees are extremely useful insects that have a valuable role in pollinating flowers and producing food.

There are many types of bee but you are likely to encounter 3 kinds:

Honey Bees
Honey Bees are sometimes kept by beekeepers in hives. They should only cause a problem when they swarm. In the summer months, some of the bees will leave the hive and look for a new home. Thousands of them will be visible as a cloud of insects or when settled, a solid cluster.

Bumble Bees
Are generally larger and hairier than Honey bees. They don't swarm and are not aggressive. Their nest in the garden does not survive past late summer and is not reused.

Solitary Bees
Look similar to Honey bees and can also be known as mason bees (nesting in holes in mortar), Mining bees (nesting in small holes under the lawn), and leafcutter bees (seen carrying small pieces of leaf to line holes of the nest). Nests are often grouped together to form large numbers.


They are non-aggressive and are not considered pests. Nest boxes for bees are now available from garden centres due to their beneficial role in the garden.

Honey bees can be collected by your local beekeeper. The beekeeper may charge for this service.

Details are available on the Northamptonshire Beekeepers website.

A close search of the areas may reveal 'hairy maggots' sometimes very similar in colour to the material affected, or small fragile caterpillars with a red-brown head and possibly small white tubes of a similar size may be apparent.

In the first case the 'woolly bears' as they are commonly called, are the larvae of the carpet beetle. The others are clothes moth caterpillars.

Some common signs are: 

  • large or small patches of carpet vanish into the vacuum cleaner
  • bare patches begin to appear on the skirting board where you would not expect to wear
  • small holes might start to appear in items of non-synthetic clothing that have not been worn in a while


Hidden infestations occurring in bird's nests in roof voids or in debris commonly found in sealed-off fireplaces.

They may also occur where clothing has been worn and then put away without washing and left for long periods of time in wardrobes etc.


Pesticide use should be a last resort and may well be completely ineffective if the source of the problem is not removed or treated.

Ideally the following should be maintained to prevent infestations:

  • the vacuum cleaner is the surest and safest pesticide
  • all roof voids should be kept free of bird's nests
  • all fireplaces where sealed should have a removable vent to allow the clearing out of the debris
  • clothing should be cleaned before long-term storage

Adult fleas are small (averages 2mm in size) wingless insects, with flattened and red-brown, with backwardly directed spines and legs designed for jumping.

Flea bites will be seen as a tiny dark red spot surrounded by a reddened area. The bite will remain irritating for 1 or 2 days.

All fleas live on warm-blooded animals and although they have a preferred host, they will feed from others if their preferred host is removed.

Most often fleas are brought indoors by cats or dogs -  but local bird nests or hedgehogs may produce an infestation.


If the property is infested we strongly recommend you request the service of a Pest Control Officer. 

Maggots are generally 4 to 12 mm in length depending on their stage of growth. Most maggots range from an off-white colour to a light brown, though some can be a yellow or reddish colour. Maggots have one pair of tiny hook-like parts to aid in feeding and have no legs.


We recommend that you apply the following guidelines to reduce the occurrence of maggots in your bins:

  • if possible keep your bins and boxes out of direct sunlight and away from open doors
  • keep the bin lids shut at all times
  • if you notice flies, maggots or smells ensure your bin lid fits securely when it is closed
  • report and replace your bin if it is damaged 
  • do not leave food waste, cat or dog food exposed in the home so that flies lay their eggs on it
  • wrap all food waste in old newspaper and then in plastic carrier bags or bin liners before disposing of it (black bin only)
  • rinse all cans and bottles
  • squeeze any excess air from the bags before tying them
  • empty any solids from used disposable nappies into your WC before bagging
  • regularly clean and disinfect your bins
  • compost as much organic waste as possible
  • double bag dog and cat faeces (black bin only)
  • add newspaper, card, straw or hedge clippings to loads of grass to absorb the smell

By following these tips any problems with maggots should greatly reduce.

You are required by law to treat any rodent problem on your property.

Rats and mice spread diseases that can be serious and life-threatening. They can be diseased, have droppings that spread disease, contaminate food, or be carriers of fleas and ticks that transmit disease.

Evidence of rats and mice may include:

  • scratching and scurrying noises in the roof or cavity walls
  • chewed food, paper, cables, etc.
  • droppings

The most common reasons for infestation are:

  • food left out in gardens for birds
  • other food sources
  • attracted indoors out of the cold

They can get indoors:

  • through a cavity wall
  • a void between floor levels
  • any gap the size of a pen top
  • under eves of roof spaces


If you decide to treat them yourself you should be aware that legal requirements also cover the type and safe use of poison and traps, so you should always read the labels on the product and strictly obey the instructions.

Wasps are bee-sized insects with yellow and black bands. If very large wasps are seen they may be queens, hornets or what are now commonly called European wasps.

The nest may be in a roof space, hanging in a tree, shrub or the eaves, in an air vent, or in the ground. Old nests are not reused and when dead can be carefully removed by knocking them into a bin liner and then disposed of in your normal waste bin.


If the location of a wasp's nest makes normal life difficult e.g. the nest is very close to a door, it may be necessary to have the nest destroyed. There are some products available on the open market which should always be used with caution.

There are many species of fly you may find indoors but the most common are as follows:

House Fly
More common in the warmer months when there are more outdoors. If find their way indoors can cause a nuisance and a risk of food poisoning. The reason for large numbers outdoors could be damp soil, organic waste, leaking waste or local landfill.

Cluster Fly
The most common fly is found in large numbers in roof spaces during autumn, winter and early spring. Land on south-facing walls and retreat indoors until after the winter. 

Fruit Fly
Look like very tiny house flies. Attracted to over-ripe fruit or old beer cans or wine bottles left out for recycling, containers containing compost or moist areas like waste traps, sink units etc.


Treatment must involve finding and removing the source altogether, although flying insect aerosols will reduce the free-flying numbers this will not prevent new hatches.

Keeping doors and windows shut or screened will prevent flies from reaching indoors.

Flies indoors can be reduced in number by sticky traps, electronic fly killers and automatic or manually operated aerosols containing pyrethroids.

Static in offices and other buildings

Within buildings, in particular large offices, people can sometimes get insect-like bite marks on exposed skin - this is often caused by a phenomenon known as the 'cable bug'.

It's caused by static electricity caused by synthetic materials within the building. Managers can get complaints from their staff that they think insects have bitten them (e.g. fleas or mosquitos).

This can't be treated by standard pest control methods, but electrostatic sprays and environmental changes may help.

Further advice

Visit the British Pest Control Association for further advice on all pests. 

Last updated 16 January 2024