Back in the day, silk plants did not look real; you could definitely tell that…
London pest control hit the headlines in early June 2010, when nine-month-old twins Lola and Isabella Koupparis were mauled by a fox cub in east London. The baby twins were sleeping in their cot when a wild fox entered their home and badly mauled them. Although both twins were released from hospital a few days later, doctors said that they will both be scarred for life. The incident naturally raised questions about pest control in London, including whether Londoners are focusing on the right threats in their quest for effective pest control.
London mayor Boris Johnson felt moved to comment in the aftermath of the tragedy, “People like to think foxes are a wonderful addition to the flora and fauna of London,” he said. “But they are undoubtedly a pest. They are a menace in their scavenging for rubbish and, as we’ve seen the last few days, they can in rare circumstances present a threat to humans as well.” He also called on local authorities to do their part in terms of fox pest control. London officials, however, moved quickly to emphasise that Mr Johnson was not calling for a cull of foxes, but rather a careful programme of pest control.
London has long been a place where residents and businesses have to think very carefully about pest control. Tony Halliday is MD of Bypest, a leading London pest control provider. In his view, the threat of foxes has been blown out of proportion as the result of a single, high-profile incident. “Obviously, the case of the Koupparis twins was a terrible tragedy, and our thoughts are with the girls and their parents,” he says. “But we shouldn’t over-react and fall into the trap of victimising foxes. In most circumstances, humans and foxes can live side by side in an urban environment such as London without too many pest control problems arising. The truth is that children are far more likely to be attacked by a domestic dog or cat than they are by a fox.”
The facts back up Tony’s sentiments. In Bristol, a large UK city comparable to London in terms of the environment, 5480 households were surveyed on the topic of foxes and pest control. Just 2.7% reported that foxes often rifled their dustbins, 16.4% occasionally and 80.9% never. Wheelie bins, now common throughout much of London, have made the problem even less frequent. “London pest control is a real issue, but foxes aren’t a big part of it,” confirms Tony. “In fact, foxes derive a large part of their nutrition from food that is willingly provided by homeowners. Much of the rest comes from wild mammals, wild birds and even fruit. And it’s important to remember that those categories include animals such as rats and pigeons, which can be far more of a pest than the foxes themselves!”
What’s more, many see foxes as a welcome visitor, rather than a target for pest control. London and the rest of the UK was quizzed in a wildlife survey that took in nearly 4000 households. It turns out that 65.7% of us like urban foxes, 25.8% have no strong views and only 8.5% of us really don’t like urban foxes.
Some householders may feel that foxes threaten their pets, but again the facts don’t bear this out. “Before they start moving towards drastic pest control, London residents should be aware of all the facts about foxes,” says Tony. “The truth is that foxes and cats generally ignore each other if they do encounter each other at night. Your cat is probably more likely to be hit by a car than attacked by by a fox. It’s true that foxes occasionally eat pets such as rabbits or chickens, but you can avoid this by securely housing your pet so foxes simply can’t access them.”
As Tony points out, there are many other more important concerns when it comes to pest control. London residents are more likely to have serious pest problems with rats, pigeons or wasps. “As our climate gets generally warmer, all these pests are finding it easier to breed and find food,” observes Tony. “Rats are far more likely to forage among rubbish and scraps than foxes, while pigeons probably represent more of a threat in terms of disease. Wasps can be a real physical danger to both adults and children, particularly if they are angered or their nest is disturbed.”
Tony Halliday wrote the article ‘Pest control London: The importance of effective pest control in London’ and recommends you Google ‘Bypest’ for more information.