SWELTERING temperatures and sun-filled days are a wonderful reprieve after weeks of being locked up indoors – but they come with a terrible cost.
Disease-carrying mosquitos, rats, and swarms of flies are revelling in the record-breaking heatwave too.
And with more food piling up in parks and outdoor waste near homes, people are already having to deal with some shocking pest problems.
Receptionist Faye Joyce from Milton Keynes, Bucks., says her landlords have already spent £1,500 trying to get rid of massive, poison-immune rats this summer, but to no avail.
"The rats are the size of young cats," Faye says.
“They’ll run up to you in the garden and they scurry around inside the cavity walls all day.”
But it's not just mega-rats that are plaguing families during this hot spell – which experts warn is a perfect storm for pests.
Invasion of killer mosquitoes
One of the most serious pest threats facing Britain comes from mosquitoes – some of which spread deadly diseases like Zika, Dengue fever, and malaria.
And with temperatures turned up, the spread of biting mozzies is turbocharged.
"At this present time, there’s a mosquito invasion underway," says Howard Carter, who created Incognito mosquito repellent.
"The warmer it is, the faster they can fly. This is ideal weather for mosquitos.
“The bees and the other healthy insects that we need are on the decline, but mosquitoes are on the rise. It’s a huge, massive problem."
There are 34 species of mosquito native to the UK, many of which can bite people.
And there have been cases of Asian Tiger Mosquitoes found in the south of England.
These beasties are four times the size of normal mosquitoes and are "incredibly aggressive," Howard says.
Keep mozzies at bay with CLOAK
If you still want to enjoy the warm temperatures but don't want to risk getting bit, Howard Carter has devised his 'CLOAK' guide to help you stay bite-free.
C: Cover up arms and legs with suitable clothing
L: Light coloured gardening clothes are strongly advisable
O: Odours, bodily or otherwise, like certain kairomones and perfumes are strong attractants. So wash thoroughly, including exfoliating with a loofah, and do not use perfumes
A: Apply an effective, preferably natural, insect repellent containing a higher grade PMD such as incognito
K: Keep away from stagnant water if possible
They're not thought to be established in the UK yet, but the invasive species has successfully integrated in mainland European countries like France and Italy.
Asian tiger mosquitoes are such a risk because they spread diseases like dengue fever, which starts with joint pains and vomiting, but can develop into a deadly hemorrhagic fever.
They also spread the Zika virus, which can cause babies to be born with unusually small heads if pregnant women become infected.
The warm weather offers the blood-thirsty mozzies the perfect breeding ground in the UK, meaning it could be a matter of time before we see a native population.
And Howard warns that the coronavirus pandemic combined with the heat could mean huge swarms of mosquitoes are about to take to the skies of Britain.
"People have left properties in droves," he says.
"Hotels or anywhere where they’ve got outdoor water like a swimming pool or a garden water feature are a real haven for mosquitoes.
"People just don’t think to empty them.
“And if there’s no one there they can’t possibly empty them because they’ve gone and shielded or isolated.
“There will be mosquito outbreaks in the next- I’m almost certain – week or two.
“There’s already more people getting bitten in the UK than any other year since records began.”
Giant wasp nests and filthy flies
Pest controllers are also battling to keep other creepy-crawlies under control – but the heat is making things harder.
Insects are enjoying an abundance of food at the moment, leading to some truly staggering swarms.
“Insect breeding cycles increase with heat," says Richard Harvey, a Pest Control Technician with East Anglian Pest Control.
“If temperatures are high, their life-cycles will come round very quickly."
Richard says that callouts for wasp nests were quieter than usual at the beginning of the summer, when their numbers usually start to increase.
"Now we’re having this heatwave they’ve grown big," he adds.
"Some of the nests are double the size they were last year because of the ideal temperatures.”
Stinging wasps feast on small invertebrates like aphids – which are in abundance in hot, dry conditions.
This in turn causes an explosion in wasp populations.
The population just grows and grows and they have more and more broods, so the nests are getting far larger.
“Normally, the wasp season finishes about September or October," Richard says.
"By that time, their nests will be very, very big – but they’re already quite big now.”
He also says he's getting a large number of callouts for 'muck flies' caused by farmers spreading slurry without insecticides in fields.
"That creates a breeding site for these muck flies to live on.
"Then they cause a nuisance in everybody’s house. It’s terrible really.”
Rats feasting on mounds of food waste
And of course with rubbish bins overflowing from outdoor parties and food waste piling up in public parks, disease-spreading rats are enjoying their moment in the sun too.
The rodents, which carry killer bacteria like Weil's disease, endured a brutal shortage of food when restaurants closed during lockdown.
Warnings were even issued after starving 'cannibal rats' were found climbing up people's toilets in desperate searches for food.
“Mr Rat is an opportunist, and he can change his ways to fit in with man," Richard explains.
If people reliably leave food waste in parks or in their garden rats will learnthis and come in droves.
"So obviously rats pick up on these bad habits that people have and then they tend to have rat problems," Richard says.
But the pest control expert says people can easily avoid adding to the problem as long as they don't let the sunshine instil bad habits of leaving waste outside.
"All of these things can be adjusted, but it’s just training people to understand what they need to do themselves to help themselves," he says.
"Just keep things tidy and don't create a problem.”
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