Brisbane's Most Unwanted(and how to deal with them)
The uniquely sunny and warm Queensland climate has for decades been at the centre of our identity and lifestyle, but it is also a contributing factor to what pests we typically encounter. Squeezing honey onto your Weet-bix only to end up with the unwanted garnish of an ant is frustrating, but there are plenty of pests you’d rather not find scampering around the house. If you’re new to the area or just want to be more informed, here’s what you can expect from Brisbane’s Most Unwanted.
Australian Cockroach (Periplaneta Australasiae)
The Australian cockroach has noticeable yellow edges and dark brown highlights and, despite not being native, is one of the most common species across the country. It makes its home in the dank, darker areas of the garden – under bark, foliage and firewood. In cooler months, they’re likely to make their way indoors where food is readily available.
American Cockroach (Periplaneta Americana)
Unlike its Fauxustralian cousin, this more reddish-brown species dwells in more urban spaces. Drains, sewers, and compost heaps provide the moist environment they thrive in. If these critters make their way up pipes, they’ll reside in warmer spots around the fridge or dishwasher.
German Cockroach (Blattella Germanica)
Smaller and lighter in colour, this species is the most frequently encountered here in South East Queensland. A fast-breeding species, they appear by the numbers in cupboards, drawers, boxes and even amongst the electrical wiring.
It’s not just their unappealing looks that turn us off the idea of sharing our home with a cockroach. These insects are notorious for spreading bacteria (including E. coli and salmonella) and pose a serious risk to our health. When managing cockroaches seems to be part of everyday life, chances are you’re not dealing with some stray that’s found its way up the sink but more likely there’s a nest close by. Standing at the ready with a shoe or Mortein spray isn’t always a viable option, so consider these tips to manage current and minimise future encounters:
- Avoid bug bombs (without proper consideration for the size of your house and the scale of infestations, these pesticides can pose health risks to humans and pets).
- Set glue traps or bait stations in the nooks and corners of the kitchen, laundry, and garage.
- Keep garden beds away from the entry points of your home.
- Create a clean and fresh-smelling environment. Food scraps are enticing, but citrus and specifically lemons are a natural deterrent against cockroaches. Scented cleaning sprays, a lemon juice/water mix, and even essential oils will help keep these pests at bay.
Similar to the white ant in appearance, the C. acinaciformis is a native subterranean termite and is one of the most destructive local species. This aggressive insect will typically build their nests close to the ground; on tree stumps, resting up against your property wall or potentially tucked away inconspicuously under the patio.
Comprising several subspecies, these termite soldiers are one of the most commonly found across Brisbane. Living in mulch, tree stumps or under piles of timber, their nests can consist of hundreds of thousand soldiers. Once inside, these pests chew through your rafters, support beams and timber flooring at an alarming rate.
Whether it’s one nest or five, the only solution (and an immediate priority) is to call licensed pest control to exterminate the current threat and to set up a barrier to prevent future incursions. Spraying or destroying a nest with a shovel may seem therapeutic, but it won’t remove the ones already boring into your home. Disrupting termites only forces them to scatter, making them harder to find and remove in the long run. Awareness and vigilance are going to be best for limiting the risk of an outbreak:
- Keep mulch, debris and firewood piles away from the home
- Check exterior walls or stilts for nests
- Maintain a schedule and ensure your termite barrier is always up to date
- Don’t stack wood or cardboard against the house and trim branches and vegetation that press against or overhang your property
- Remove dead trees from the yard
- Clear gutters regularly
Common Bedbug (Cimex Lectularius)
These flat, rounded critters can be hard to spot because of their size (5mm) but can be identified by the horizontal stripes along their bulging abdomen. Considered a major pest around the world, the common bedbug primarily feeds on human blood. This disturbing fact makes behind skirting boards, bed frames and even inside the mattress itself, a desirable nesting ground for the bedbug.
Tropical Bedbug (Cimex Hemiperus)
Almost indistinguishable from the common bedbug aside from its narrower prothorax (just behind the head), this species prefers to inhabit warmer, more humid climates, such as Queensland. Much like its common cousin, the tropical bedbug will hide within wall crevices, behind power points and wallpaper, emerging to feed during the night.
While infestations are stereotypical of short-term stays, such as motels or backpackers, a distinct increase in incidences has been noted throughout SEQ homes over the last decade. Despite carrying harmful pathogens, there’s no evidence to suggest they can transmit them to humans. The problem is not only your sleep becomes disrupted, but their bites trigger the well-known skin reaction resulting in irritation, rashes and, in extreme cases, anaphylaxis.
- Maintain good housekeeping and reduce opportunities for infestations to grow (Seal any gaps in floorboards or walls in the bedroom).
- Regularly wash bedsheets.
- Check and clean your clothes and luggage after returning from a trip to ensure no unwanted bugs have hitched a ride into your home.
- Be cautious when purchasing second-hand mattresses, bedding or other fabric-based furniture and always treat them with an insecticide before bringing them indoors.
Brown or Sewer Rat (Rattus Norvegicus):
With a shaggy coat varying in shades of black, brown, and white, this sewer and drain dwelling rat intrudes into various industrial and urban spaces. Often seen in warehouses or homes near constructed waterways and pipelines.
Black Rat (Rattus Rattus)
These common rodents sport a smooth brown to charcoal coat with a white belly and can be identified by their scaly tail, which is longer than the rest of their body. This rat finds shelter in roofs, underneath verandas and within wooden foundations.
House Mouse (Mus Musculus)
This small, brownish grey rodent nestles into the darkest and most secluded nooks of your home. Easily distinguished by its large round eyes and protruding chisel-shaped yellow teeth. Holes in walls, cracks between floor spaces, or gaps behind counters are indicators of their presence.
Domesticated rats are clean and disease-free, but it is a fact that these pests will harbour bacteria dangerous to humans and animals. Unlike insects where tactile contact is the primary means of transmission, urine and droppings from rodents contaminate dust particles that can naturally be inhaled. If you’re hearing scurrying or chewing noises through the night, it’s probably time to act as it could be your electrical wiring they set on next. Professional removal is always the most efficient way of dealing with a rodent problem. However, there are various traps and DIY methods of deterring and eliminating rodents—providing you’re ok with the clean-up and disposal:
- Set snap traps in cupboards or drawers, under the couch or near the garage door.
- Use chemical baits or poisons outside and avoid them entirely if you have pets.
- Keep home and garden clean, organised and free of food scraps and clutter.
- Seal cracks and holes (rodents can collapse themselves to fit through spaces as small as 1cm, so seal off any cracks or holes in your roof and exterior walls you can find).