Pest Control Melbourne
The A to Z of Pests in Melbourne. Part 3.
In this instalment of our continuing series of articles about pests in Melbourne, we focus on two groups of pest organisms that are particularly reviled by mankind.
There is probably no insect that incites loathing and disgust more than a cockroach. However, most of the cockroaches encountered in Melbourne homes, especially during hot, dry weather, are likely to be harmless native species that do not pose any risk to health or hygiene. For example, the native Common Shining Cockroach, which is common around Melbourne’s suburbs, only ventures indoors by accident, or in search of water or a moist spot in which to lay its eggs. The Common Shining Cockroach consumes leaf litter, and until comparatively recently was hardly seen around Melbourne. Then, with the advent of drought and accompanying water restrictions, mulching became far more prevalent and these native insects spread inside bags of mulch. Pest treatments are not only unnecessary but also largely ineffective, as these insects normally hide away unobtrusively in the garden.
There are also three introduced species of cockroach found in Melbourne; the American Cockroach, the Oriental Cockroach and the German Cockroach, and it is the latter that is a real pest. Probably originating from Southeast Asia (ironically, in Germany it is called the Russian Cockroach), the German Cockroach measures only around 1cm in length. It is strongly associated with kitchens (often commercial facilities) where it will scavenge upon a wide range of foodstuffs. The German Cockroach can carry a number of diseases, as well as the bacteria that induce food poisoning. Like many other cockroaches, it is primarily nocturnal.
Infestations of the German Cockroach are notoriously difficult to eradicate for a number of reasons: they have a short lifecycle and are able to reproduce prolifically; they can hide in very small refuges; and they are immune to some pesticides. In addition, nymphs tend to consume the excretions and moults of adults, which means they are less susceptible to baits. Various forms of chemical control can be used, along with glue boards and other non-chemical measures. If you believe you may have an infestation of German Cockroaches, you should seek the assistance of an experienced pest controller. Obviously, good standards of hygiene are important in avoiding a reinfestation.
To many people, fleas probably rank a close second to cockroaches as the most abhorrent of pests. And with good reason; fleas can transmit serious diseases such as bubonic plague and typhus, as well as tapeworms and other parasites. Domestic dogs and cats may suffer from allergic dermatitis caused by flea bites, and hair loss may also result from habitual scratching of the source of irritation.
There are more than 2,500 species of fleas worldwide, of which Australia is home to around 90 species. Fleas are ectoparasites of mammals and birds, and some are extremely host-specific. The tiny, wormlike larvae are often found in sand or soil; they covered in bristles and have no eyes. Their favourite food is the faeces of adult fleas – yuk! Adults are also covered in backward-pointing hairs and spines. Their bodies are extremely tough and they are
unique amongst insects in that they do not possess compound eyes. The hind legs are perfectly adapted for jumping, enabling fleas to jump more than 50 times their body length. Fleas can sense the approach of a potential host, and will start jumping as it draws near. The mouthparts are modified to suck blood and adult fleas must enjoy a meal of blood in order for their reproductive organs to mature.
Fleas are capable of reproducing extremely rapidly, and given appropriate climatic conditions, can quickly become a problem pest for the Melbourne household – especially given our love for pet dogs and cats. Collectively, Melbournians spend a fortune on specialist veterinary flea treatments, which fortunately are very effective. For the worst infestations, pest controllers will use pesticide sprays.
Remember, for all problems associated with bees and wasps in the Melbourne area, contact Ben’s Bees. We are happy to assist at any time.