Skip to Content

Seagulls

Print

Seagulls

Several species of Gulls have colonized urban areas across the country during the last decades. A British research project has shown that the urban Gull population has a growth rate of 13% per year, which equals 30 new gulls per breeding pair every 10 years. These birds have one brood a year with an average of three eggs per clutch. Incubation takes twenty to twenty-four days with a six week fledging period before the young leave the nest. The eggs are brown, green or blue with blotches of black, brown or gray.

The Gull nest is simple, usually consisting of materials found on the roof, then scraped into a low pile. In their natural environment Gulls are migratory but urban gulls often display non- migratory behavior due to the hospitable urban environment. Many, if not most, Ring-billed Gulls return to breed at the colony where they hatched. Once they have bred, they are likely to return to the same breeding spot each year, often nesting within a few meters of the last year’s nest site.

Gulls are supreme opportunists and readily adjust to new sources of food and breeding grounds. They are capable of making round trips of more than 100 km in just a few hours while searching for food. The flat roofs of many commercial buildings provide near perfect nest sites: spacious flat surfaces that resemble island/beach habitats, water from air conditioning units, shade from roof top structures, available food from dumpsters etc., and very little disturbance. In addition, there are no non-flying predators and the temperature is higher than in the surrounding landscape which allows for earlier breeding.

Noise, plus accumulation of droppings, feathers, and nesting materials cause unsanitary conditions, structural damage, health problems, traffic problems, and have lead to Occupational Safety and Health Administration citations for failure of labour management to properly maintain a safe workplace.

Gull abundance in urban areas causes numerous problems to building owners, such as:

  • Feathers and nesting material clog drains on rooftops causing flooding and prevent efficient drainage of the water which can lead to premature aging of the roof membrane. Nesting material can block air vents or present a fire hazard.
  • The damage from feces accumulating on the roof material has been proven to shorten the life expectancy of the roofing material.
  • Of concern also is the damage to air conditioning units and other roof top machinery, and the mess they make of the buildings they roost and nest on.
  • During chick-rearing, access to roof top machinery is impaired due to the aggressive behavior of breeding birds.
  • Transmission of diseases and parasites (such as mites, fleas, and ticks) through direct contact or contamination of water sources is also of concern, as well as the ability of the parasites to gain access to the building.
  • Risk to indoor air quality can occur from nesting activity in and around air conditioning units and other roof top machinery, not to mention the danger alone of the accumulated feces.

Large concentrations of Gulls sometimes conflict with human interests. Gulls can be dispersed by means of habitat manipulation or various auditory and visual frightening devices. The keys to effective bird dispersal programmes are timing, persistence, organization, and diversity. The proper use of frightening devices can effectively deal with potential health and /or safety hazards, depredation, and other nuisances caused by birds. We will use an Integrated Wildlife Management approach which is a series of methods that may be used or recommended to reduce wildlife damage.

It may take 3 years to successfully move a ring-billed gull colony because young gulls, when they reach sexual maturity at age 3, will return to the colony where they were hatched. Birds are much more apt to leave a roost site that they have occupied for a brief periods of time than one that they have used for many nights. Prompt action greatly reduces the time and effort required to successfully relocate the birds. As restlessness associated with migration increases, birds will become more responsive to frightening devices and less effort is required to move them. When migration is imminent, the birds’ natural instincts will augment dispersal activities.

Dispersal Techniques: Frightening Devices

The more diverse the techniques and mobility of the operation, the more effective it will be. Once initiated the programme must be continued each day until success is achieved. Birds are much easier to frighten while they are flying. Once they have perched, a measure of security is provided and they become more difficult to frighten. Dispersal activities end when birds stop moving after sunset, and can begin again early morning when the first bird movement occurs within the roost just prior to daylight. By the second and third nights of the programme, flexibility is necessary to adapt the dispersal techniques to the birds’ behavior. As larger numbers of birds are repelled from the original roost site, they will attempt to establish numerous temporary roosts. Efforts must continue each morning and evening in spite of weather conditions. Complete success is usually achieved by the fourth or fifth night.

Bats

Print

Bats

Introduction

Bats are the only flying mammal in the world. They are very beneficial because they can eat over 500 flying insects, (such as mosquitoes) per hour, all night long. Over 40 species of bats live in North America.

Bats need a safe place to roost in the daytime, and much of their natural habitat is dwindling. There is a safe, effective and responsible way to deal with the problem.

Hazards

Like other mammals, a small percentage of bats contract rabies (figures issued by the Health Department may show a higher percentage since sick bats are easier to catch than healthy bats). Exposure to the rabies virus is remote if contact with bats is avoided and pets are properly vaccinated.

Histoplasmosis is an airborne fungus disease that can grow in pigeon and bat droppings (guano), especially in moist environments.

Human inhalation is usually the result of stirring up dust that contains contaminated fungus spores, therefore it is not recommended to clean up guano unless there is a serious odour or health problem. Guano should only be cleaned up by trained personnel with the proper safety equipment.

Bats are host of ectoparasites such as bat bugs (close relative of bed bug). These are usually host-specific and rarely bite humans or pets. Ectoparasites can be controlled by an insecticide treatment to the roost after bats have been evicted.

Damage

Humans object to the bats squeaking, scratching and crawling in attics and walls stains and odours caused by urine and guano. Most bat complaints occur in July and August when bats enter (a dime-sized hole) via overhangs, eaves, under screened vents, and end construction gaps, chimneys and open windows. Some may actually enter the building interior due to getting lost seeking a preferred temperature zone.

Biology and Habits of House Bats

Bats are nocturnal (active at night) and have A 6 to 12’’ wingspan. They are insectivores. They usually breed in fall or winter. Pregnant females congregate in maternity colonies until birth occurs between April and July. There are usually 1 or 2 young in a litter, and they will begin to fly at 4 weeks of age.

Little brown bats commonly invade structures in the spring and summer, while big brown bats use buildings year-round for raising young and hibernation.

Control

Exclusion is the number one priority in bat Management. Thorough exclusion of all holes larger than ¼’’ is needed at all potential openings, especially in the top half of the building. Control should be left up to professionals.

Toxicants

Poisoning bats is illegal as they are a protected species. Repellants are generally ineffective and may actually drive the bats further into the structure.

Management

Bats, despite their obvious value, are Unjustifiably persecuted. Public education on bat conversation and responsible control methods are needed.

For multi units

The Ottawa Health Unit reports a 5% increase in rabies-tested bats in the Ottawa area.

  • Bats return year after year to their roosts. Maternity colonies double year after year.
  • Key areas where bats enter are: – 1/4’’ gap and above
    • Where soffit meets siding
    • Construction Gaps
    • Roof Flashing
    • Roof Vents
    • Under shingles where it meets the Fascia
    • Fascia, Soffit
    • Around exterior light fixtures
    • Conduit holes
    • Wall vents (Stove, Dryer, Bathroom)
    • Roof Soffit Interfaces, etc.

Sealing one unit in a row of units will not solve or deal with the problem. Bats will just move. Multi Units share walls, soffits and roofs. Bats follow air flow. Air flow is key.

There are legal ramifications of dealing with bats in multi unit townhomes when only sealing one unit. For instance, ‘‘ Child bit by bat’’, who is liable? The contractor following the managements orders? Or the management company? The answer is, the management company.

Wasps

Print

Wasps

How do I recognize a wasp?

There are several varieties of wasps in Canada, including the yellow jacket, hornet and paper wasp. Colour ranges from black to combinations of black with yellow, white or brown markings. The slim, winged body measures 10 to 15 mm (1/2″ to 3/4″).

Are wasps hazardous to humans?

Yes. A wasp sting, aside from being very painful can prove serious and sometimes fatal. If you suspect a reaction to a wasp sting report to your nearest hospital immediately.

Do all wasps sting?

No. Only the queens and workers possess an ovipositor (egg-laying tube) which forms the stinger. Normally the stinger is used to kill prey on which wasps and their larvae feed, but will use it on animals and man if provoked.

Do wasps cause damage?

No. Since they feed on flies and other insects, they are considered beneficial. However, because they are attracted to sweet substances such as fresh fruit and juice their presence can prove to be a nuisance.

When are wasps most common?

During warm spring and summer months when workers are foraging for food.

When am I most likely to see wasps?

Wasps are most active during the daylight hours.

Where do you find wasps?

Wasps are social insects and build paper-like nests made from wood fibres and other plant material mixed with saliva. Nests can be found around buildings on verandas, under eaves, ceilings, attics or in trees and shrubs. Several varieties of wasp build nests underground.

What are their breeding habits? Do they multiply quickly?

The queen (female reproductive) lays all eggs. Most eggs develop into sterile workers. Late in the season, the queen produces eggs which develop into queens who overwinter and establish nests the following spring. An average of 1,000 to 3,000 eggs are laid per nest which hatch and develop on a daily basis.

Do wasps die off in cold months?

Yes. Only the new queens survive the winter while the rest of the colony dies off when weather becomes cold. The queen overwinters under loose bark or in crevices and lays eggs in the spring to start a new colony.

Can weather conditions affect the size of a wasp infestation?

Yes. An abnormally cold, wet spring or hot, dry summer can have an effect on the size of a wasp colony.

Can I do anything to prevent wasp activity on my property?

Yes. Whenever possible try to eliminate fallen fruit and refuse which will attract wasps. Scaling holes and other potential sites may help prevent nesting. Once a nest is established do not seal the hole until after treating and there is no more activity.

If I have wasp nests on my property what can be done to eliminate them?

Your local PCO Service and Products Centre has products developed for the control of pests such as wasps. Due to the potential danger from a wasp sting, it is advisable to contact a PCO professional.

Please remember all pesticides can be harmful if misused. Follow the label directions carefully.

Squirrels

Print

Squirrels

Can squirrels cause damage to my home?

Squirrels can damage your home first by trying to gain entry by chewing holes in the exterior and then by nesting in attics where they can chew wires and damage insulation. They can also cause damage to lawns and landscaping as they scavenge for food by burrowing in the ground, chewing on the bark of trees, and eating tree fruits and nuts.

Are squirrels dangerous?

Squirrels can carry parasites and diseases which can be contracted by pets and humans. A mother squirrel can be very aggressive and protective of her young.

What are their breeding habits?

Squirrels breed twice a year and will sometimes maintain multiple nests. In the wild, a squirrel will live 3-6 years but in an urban setting they can live as long as 20 years. Some species of squirrel hibernate during the winter and will be looking for a place such as a tree or attic to nest.

How can I prevent squirrels from nesting in my home?

The summer is a good time to take preventative measures as squirrels will often find attics too hot to stay in. Be sure to identify and block easy access points to your home such as chimneys and open vents. Tree limbs overhanging the roof should be trimmed back to prevent roof access for squirrels. You may consider removing tempting food sources such as bird feeders and garbage cans.

How can I get rid of squirrels?

Your local PCO Service and Products Centre has products developed for the control of pests such as squirrels. They may employ a variety of methods from live trapping to habitat alteration. They are trained to remove adult squirrels as well locate and remove any nests or abandoned young. They can also help you seal entrances to your house to prevent them from returning. It is not advisable to try removing squirrels on your own as certain species are protected under the wildlife act in Ontario. Please contact a professional first.

Spiders

Print

Spiders

How do I recognize a spider?

There are many varieties of spiders in North America. All are easily recognizable by four pairs of legs and a large sac-like abdomen. The size of a spider generally ranges from 10 to 20 mm (1/2″ to 1″) in length. Colour varies from browns and greys to black.

Do spiders cause damage?

No. Since they feed on other insects they are considered beneficial.

Are spiders dangerous?

The presence of spiders and their webs are considered a nuisance. An exception to this rule are the poisonous species of which two are the most dangerous – the Black Widow and the Brown Recluse. Bites from any spider should receive immediate medical attention.

Do all spiders build webs?

No. Many varieties of spiders do spin webs for catching their prey, but an equal number are ground dwelling.

When are spiders most common?

Spiders are found year-round, but are more prevalent during warm months when their prey is readily available, in cold months spider activity drops off dramatically due to the lack of food. However, if the home has an infestation of another insect pest, spider activity will continue. Outside, the adult spider will die in cold months, but the young will survive overwinter in a dormant state.

When am I most likely to see spiders?

Spiders are generally shy and are more likely to be found in lesser used areas of the home and property, such as basements, crawl spaces, closets, wood piles and under debris.

What are their breeding habits? Do spiders multiply quickly?

The female spider lays or carries approximated 250 eggs in a silken sac and up to nine sacs may be produced in a year. The young mature in about 40 days and are capable of reproduction. Under ideal conditions where food is plentiful, an infestation of spiders can number in the thousands.

Can weather conditions affect the size of a spider infestation?

Because spiders trap and eat other insects, ideal conditions for a spider infestation exist when their food is readily available.

What can I do to prevent an infestation of spiders?

Good housekeeping, including sweeping and vacuuming basement or other unused areas of the home, as well as removing wood piles and high grasses away from the home will limit spider activity. However, since they feed on other insects, it is necessary to remove their source of food to ensure proper control.

If I have an infestation of spiders, what can be done to eliminate them?

If you are treating your properly for other pests, you are going a long way in controlling the number of spiders as well. However, if you are experiencing a continued number of spiders on your property or in your home, your local PCO Service and Products Centre has products and kits specially formulated for the control of spiders. Due to the nature of spiders, a single control method may not be effective and a PCO professional should be consulted for thorough results.

Please remember all pesticides can be harmful if misused. Follow the label directions carefully.

Sowbugs

Print

Sowbugs

How do I recognize a sowbug?

There are two common species of land-adapted crustaceans —the sowbug and pillbug. The sowbug is dark brown or grey and measures 16 mm (1/2″). The pillbug is a shiny grey and measures 10 mm (1/4″). Both are easily recognizable by seven overlapping shells resembling armor and have seven pairs of legs. The main difference between the sowbug and the pillbug is the pillbug’s ability to roll into a ball when disturbed.

Do sowbugs cause damage?

Although sowbugs are principally beneficial because they assist in the breakdown or decaying organic matter, they can be a threat to young plants. Indoors, they are more of a pest and will eventually die out.

When am I most likely to see sowbugs?

Sowbugs prefer darkness and are most active at night. If the ground becomes overly moist especially after a rainfall, you will see them moving around in the garden seeking dryer areas.

Where do you find sowbugs?

Sowbugs prefer moist locations and are found under stones, boards and vegetable debris of all kinds. Indoors, sowbugs will at times invade damp basement areas, and wander to other areas of the home seeking moisture.

Are sowbugs hazardous to humans?

No. The presence of sowbugs does not constitute a health hazard.

What are the sowbugs breeding habits? Do they multiply quickly?

The female sowbug carries approximately 40 eggs on her underside until they hatch (approximately 44 days), and has an average of two broods per year. The young molt every two weeks until maturity at 20 weeks, when females become capable of reproduction. An infestation of sowhugs can number in the thousands.

Do sowbugs die off in cold months?

No. Sowbugs become inactive during cold months, but live for up to two years.

Can weather conditions affect the size of a sowbug infestation?

Yes. Since sowbugs prefer dampness, a moist spring will encourage a larger number outdoors. Therefore, if summer months are dry, sowbugs will invade homes in search of moisture.

Can I do anything to prevent an infestation of sowbugs on my property?

Yes. Eliminate sources of combined darkness and moisture, such as vegetable or wood debris from your property, especially those close to the building. Proper ventilation in basement areas of the home will discourage an indoor infestation of sowbugs.

If I have an infestation of sowbugs, what can be done to eliminate them?

Your local PCO Service and Products Centre has products and kits specially formulated for the control of sowbugs. Due to the nature of sowbugs, control can be difficult and a PCO professional should be consulted for thorough results.

Please remember all pesticides can be harmful if misused. Follow the label directions carefully.

Skunks

Print

Skunks

How do I know if I have skunks?

Skunks can easily be identified by their odour. They may also cause damage by digging holes in the yard or raiding garbage cans.

If I smell skunks, does that mean one is nearby?

Not necessarily. Their smell can travel several kilometres and you may, for example, smell one if it has been hit by a car in the road.

Are skunks dangerous?

Normally, skunks present no danger as long as they are not provoked. However a rabid skunk can be very dangerous to you or your pets. Stay clear of skunks that are active during the day or appear aggressive.

What can I do to keep away skunks?

Secure your garbage and keep your property free of lumber and debris. Fences buried .5 m deep can prevent skunks from entering your property.

How can I get rid of skunks?

Your local PCO Service and Products Centre has products developed for the control of pests such as skunks. They may use techniques such live trapping or skunk repellents.

Please vaccinate your pets against rabies.

Silverfish

Print

Silverfish

How do I recognize a silverfish?

Silverfish are slender, tapering, wingless insects with long antennae and three-long tail-like appendages at the top of the abdomen. Colour is a silver-grey. Silverfish measure 12mm (1/2″) and young are identical, smaller versions of the adult.

Do silverfish cause damage?

Yes. Silverfish feed on carbohydrates, found in paper, clothing (especially cotton and linen) and certain gums and glues. Silverfish are a particular problem in multi-unit residential buildings. Because of their movement from unit to unit, the task of thorough elimination is a difficult one.

When are silverfish most common?

Silverfish are year-round pests.

When am I most likely to see silverfish?

Silverfish are nocturnal and are most active at night.

Where do you find silverfish?

Silverfish prefer damp, warm areas, especially washrooms, kitchens and storerooms. They are often found among their sources of food, such as books and clothing that have remained undisturbed.

Are silverfish hazardous to humans?

No. Aside from the damage they do to books and clothing they are considered more of a nuisance than a health hazard.

What are their breeding habits? Do they multiply quickly?

The female silverfish lays several hundred eggs in her lifetime, singly or in groups at a rate of two or three per day. Eggs are laid in cracks with the young maturing and reproducing three to four months after leaving the egg stage.

Do silverfish die off in cold months?

Unless there is a severe drop in the temperature of the infested area, they will remain present year-round.

Can I do anything to prevent a silverfish infestation?

Yes. Try to eliminate dampness where possible. Frequent use of a vacuum cleaner in storage areas will discourage their presence.

If I have an infestation of silverfish, what can I do to eliminate them?

Your local PCO Service and Products Centre has products and kits specially formulated for the control of pests such as silverfish. Due to the nature of their movement in multi-unit residential buildings, single unit control procedures may not be effective and a team of PCO professionals should be consulted to ensure thorough elimination.

Please remember all pesticides can be harmful if misused. Follow the label directions carefully.

Rats

Print

Rats

How do I recognize a rat?

The Norway Rat — also known as the brown, house, barn, sewer or wharf rat —is dull brown in colour and measures (from nose to tail) from 325 mm to 450 mm (12 1/2″ to 17″), with small, close-set ears, blunt muzzles and very sharp teeth. The Norway Rat is common throughout North America, with the exception of Alberta. Canada (where large-scale treatment programs have kept the Norway Rat under control). Another common species of rat is the smaller, grey-coloured Roof Rat, which is found principally in coastal areas.

Do rats cause damage?

World wide, rats are the most destructive pests known to man. Rats are a known source of numerous diseases affecting man and his domesticated animals. Rats contaminate food and cause extensive damage to buildings and equipment in houses, granaries, restaurants and bakeries —anywhere food is handled or stored. Rats will gnaw through wood and enlarge masonry openings to gain entrance into buildings. In the construction of their nests, rats destroy fabrics and other dry goods and can cause fires by chewing through insulation on electrical wires.

Are rats hazardous to humans?

Yes. Rats are a serious hazard to public health. Aside from contaminating food with their droppings and urine, fleas from rats were responsible for spreading the bubonic plague. Today, such diseases as salmonella bacteria (food poisoning), leptospira (jaundice) and typhus arc commonly spread by rats. Because of their unsanitary habits, secondary infections from rat bites can be serious and sometimes fatal. An infestation of rats must not be tolerated.

When are rats most common?

Rats are year-round pests. Under certain conditions, rats can survive outdoors during the winter, however activity and indoor migration increases as weather gets cooler and outdoor food and water sources decrease.

When am I most likely to see rats?

Rats are most active during the evening and remain so until the middle of the night. If food and water are scarce, or in the case of large infestations, rats become active during day light hours.

Where do rats build nests?

Rats nest in any safe location near food and water. Outdoors, rats burrow into the ground.

Indoors, nesting occurs in double walls, between ceilings and floors, closed-in areas around counters and any area where rubbish is allowed to accumulate.

What are their breeding habits? Do rats multiply quickly?

The average lifespan of a rat is 18 months. Young are born about 22 days after mating and mature rapidly. A single female may have us many as six litters per year, averaging from six to 14 young each. By three months the young are independent and capable of reproduction. If not controlled, an infestation of rats will increase rapidly.

How can I tell if I have an infestation of rats?

Rat droppings near available food sources is the most common indication of an infestation. Evidence of gnawing, rub marks, tracks, burrows, nests and damage to stored products are indications of the extent of an infestation.

What can I do to prevent an infestation of rats?

Rats will invade almost any home or business, however it is the presence of unsanitary conditions that encourages their activity. All goods must be stored in properly sealed jars or tins and waste should be prevented from accumulating, or kept in containers with tight-fitting lids. Seal all openings to the outside, including wood around doors and windows; repair masonry and seal openings for utility lines, conduits and drains.

If I have an infestation of rats, what can I do to eliminate them?

Your local PCO Service and Products Center has products developed for the control of pests such as rats. Depending on the severity of the infestation, a single control measure may not be effective and an integrated program, conducted by a PCO professional, will be required.

Please remember all pesticides can be harmful if misused. Follow the label directions carefully.

Raccoons

Print

Raccoons

How do I know if I have raccoons?

You may find damage around your property such as strewn garbage and holes in the lawn. If a raccoon is living in your attic, you may hear it’s movements, especially at night when they are most active.

Can raccoons cause damage?

Raccoons will disturb garbage cans and destroy lawns in search of food. They may also cause damage to your home in order to gain entrance for shelter by tearing roof shingles or damaging siding. Once inside they can tear up ducts and insulation, chew wires and leave droppings.

Are raccoons dangerous?

Raccoons can be dangerous if provoked. Rabies is common in raccoons and they can also carry parasites such as fleas and mites. Keep yourself and your pets at a safe distance of raccoons that are active during the day or appear aggressive.

What can I do to keep away raccoons?

Secure your garbage and keep your property free of lumber and debris. Fences buried .5 m deep can prevent skunks from entering your property.

How can I get rid of raccoons?

Your local PCO Service is trained to identify and remove raccoons using live trapping techniques. They can help you seal entrances to your house to keep them from returning.

Please vaccinate your pets against rabies.