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Pest control: how to get rid of mice, wasps and ants

This post has been edited to reflect updated information. If you have a read of our previous posts, such as such as how to attract insects to your garden, you’ll see that we are a fan of attracting insects and bees to your garden. The post below offers advice on tackling wasps nests and we have made this clearer in the copy.

It’s not only people that enjoy summer. Pests such as mice, wasps and ants come out to play when our doors are open and we’re dining al fresco whenever we can. Sometimes it seems they’re having a right old party at our expense, bugging us until we actually start wishing for winter.

clean kitchen

Image source: larkandlarks.co.uk via flickr

There’s nothing worse than discovering you have an infestation, it’s disheartening and frustrating. Getting rid of pests is entirely possible but there’s one golden rule: you must have absolute air-tight persistence. Half-hearted attempts often backfire, so if you want to de-pest, you have to commit to the cause.

How to deal with mice

Mice are ingenious little things and because there is a vermin epidemic in our cities, they will at some point pass through your home in search of food and shelter.

Make sure there is no food for them – a messy, untidy kitchen with plenty of crumbs is heaven for mice. Be fastidiously clean and tidy, hoovering up crumbs on the floor and inside cupboards. Put all your food in plastic boxes and jars as they will nibble through paper and plastic packaging. If food is left out for just one night, mice will find it and come back to that spot. Do this in summer when mice are on the move, otherwise you may find mice camping over for winter.

jars on shelf

Image source: Pixabay

It can take months to get rid of mice this way, but it really is the most effective method.

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Seal the holes – while every single hole in your kitchen should be sealed, this isn’t always realistic. Floorboards, holes in the wall for plumbing or electrical wires, air bricks: mice will find a way in and around as they can shrink down to the diameter of a pencil. You can tell when they’ve been using a hole as it’ll be greasy, smelly and covered in faeces.

Read also: How to make your home pest-proof

Use traps – instead and only if you’re willing to, use traps and poison. If poison pellets are taken, keep replenishing. Killing just a few mice is problematic as it creates a temporary increase in food supply (if your kitchen isn’t clean), causing the surviving mice to eat plenty and then reproduce, leading to more mice in the long run.

There are humane traps, but these must be used properly. A caught mouse that is deposited in your garden will head straight back inside. Take it at least a mile away before you set it free.

Other natural deterrents include peppermint, which can be used as an oil or grown in your kitchen, or a cat, whose smell will deter mice from entering the room.

white kitchen

Image source: Susan Serra, CKD via flickr

How to get rid of wasps

Wasps might just be the most infuriating creatures out there and if you have a nest in your garden, it’s bad news for your barbecues. Unfortunately, it’s just not advisable to tackle a nest on your own. They’re often high up, meaning you’ll need to use a ladder to reach them – not the best position to be in if a swarm of wasps come out stinging.

You should always call a pest control expert to do the work as early as possible in the year. Late summer cases are trickier as colonies are bigger and more aggressive.

Calling in the professionals doesn’t mean you can’t deter wasps in the meantime. Food is key: don’t leave protein or sugar out in the garden, which includes wine. Seal off all your rubbish bins. Mint, that magic herb, is a natural repellent.

garden pot

Image source: Pixabay

Never kill a wasp, as when they die they release a pheromone that attracts more of their kind. Catch them using halved plastic bottles filled with sugary liquid, with the spout end turned upside down.

Finally, if you find yourself a wasp’s delight at a party, it probably means that your perfume or cologne is too sweet. Avoid spraying yourself with anything that smells too saccharine. Similarly, avoid bright colours like white or yellow and wear red instead, which wasps can’t see.

How to get rid of ants

Ants are another pest that invade the home in search of food. Notice a common theme? So keep your house clean and tidy and food stored away.

You can deter entry into your home by lining doorways with salt, chalk, talc or baby powder. Spraying vinegar works too, as do liquids containing alcohol. If you see any individual ants in your kitchen, these are most likely scouts searching for food sources. Kill the messenger before it returns home.

That said, going aggressive on ants isn’t recommended, as they do important work such as killing other pests like bedbugs and fleas, turning and aerating soil and spreading seeds. If you find yourself overrun then it’s time to act by finding the anthill and pouring boiling water down it. This should be considered a last resort.

While you can do most of the above tasks yourself, in some cases it’s better to get professional help. At Rated People we have registered pest control specialists to help you get rid of mice, wasps or ants. Post a job for free and get your home pest free.

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52 Comments

  1. Bees are not pests. We need to do all we can to protect bees, not eradicate them. Without bees, we wouldn’t be able to grow the crops that feed the (ever growing) population. May I suggest you reword your post?

    1. Hi Carol,

      You’re right – this post has now been amended to remove all reference of bees.

      Thanks,
      Natalie

  2. Concern over talcum powder re baby’s bottoms. Used substance in that area. Could an ingredient in this substance possibly be the cause of cancer in later life. What is it that kills the ants?

    1. Excuse me ? What on earth are you talking about with talcum powder being cancer causing ? Where did you pick that gem up from !

  3. You dont mention call a bee keeper to remove bees. People can go to BBKA bee site, enter post code and find nearest to them

    1. I tried to contact the bee people to ask advice on removing bees from my loft and got no useful advice. I was informed that they do not deal with bees in this situation.

  4. while I understand the advice you are trying to gice, it is so wrong to lump bees in with wasps! It is criminal to suggest killing bees – they are under threat from pesticides and without them so are we, as they pollinate most of the food we eat…please amend your advice to exclude bees as pests. If they swarm they are not harmful and any experienced beekeeper will gladly come and take them away for you.

    1. Absolutely right. Bees need our protection. Unlike wasps the are. Not a ‘pest’ but useful creatures that play a key role in the human Nd animal food chain!

    2. Not true. They won’t happily come and take it away. I’ve phoned three numbers a week ago, given to me by the local council and one said that he was no longer in the business of removing bees’ nests. The other two didn’t even bother to reply to my messages I left on their phone.

      1. I was sorry to read your post re bees.
        Most reputable beekeepers are members of a local Beekeepers Association [BKA] as this also gives the beekeeper appropriate insurance cover.
        All BKA’s nominate a Swarm Liaison officer and should be approached with regards to a suspected Bee Swarm.
        However a Bee Swarm that is in a building or has taken up residence in a building and is now a Hive and may not be suitable for removal. If they continue to be a nuisance or safety hazard they mat have to be destroyed.
        Better luck next time.

  5. A magic smelly liquid to clear ants. They hate it . What is it? Urine ( PEE ) The older and smellier the better. Pour it into every hole you see ants going and out of.They hate it You may have to do it a couple of times I last did it 3 years ago and have not seen even one ant since What about the smell you say? It goes remarkably quickly so your garden won’t smell like a urinal. It really does work. It doesn’t kill them just chases them. Bees can be chased by spraying petrol in a pump spray bottle or trigger bottle. Ordinary fly and wasp killer sprayed into the bottom of a hanging nest at night when they are asleep. When you are sure they are all dead or gone burn the nest. If you don’t they may return to it

  6. Why have you lumped bees in with wasps? We should be doing everything to encourage bees because as pollinators they are vital to our food supply chain and they are endangered enough as it is.

    1. Hi Matt, I wholeheartedly agree and apologise for the editing oversight here. This should have been left at wasps as the paragraph focuses on this.

      Kind regards,
      Natalie

  7. This article is utterly lazy, misleading and offensive. To categorise bees as a pest alongside wasps and mice shows a complete lack of knowledge of the vital role bees play in the food chain. At a time when so much is being done by so many (from government and charities to schools and businesses) it seems your contributor has been living in bubble. Bees are not a pest. They are vital to our economy.

    1. Good evening folks,
      how much harm / benefits do wasp provide? Bees are oobviously the knight’s in shining armor black and orange?? , butterflies go without question

  8. Agree with wasps. Honey bees can be (and should be) removed by a local beekeeper and not killed. You can find the phone number of your local beekeeping association online and there will be a swarm collector who you can contact. Bumble bee colonies are usually small, they aren’t aggressive and should be left alone. If you get hornets, they’re rarely aggressive unless you disturb them, but can be unnerving and can be a threat to pets and roaming small children if they approach the nest.

  9. Don’t think you should be considering bees a pest and you should certainly not be recommending they are ‘exterminated’.

  10. With all the publicity about the dangerous and troubling decline of bee numbers, which has serious implications for our food supply, I am saddened that anyone would knowingly contribute to their demise. Bees are assets, not pests, they do not spread disease and are not a threat to humans!

  11. Disgraceful that you should treat bees as pests – our survival depends on them, and our pesticides and sprays are killing them. Shame on you!

  12. leave the poor creatures alone ( unless they are a plague ) do not kill bees or wasps, they are our planets insect farmers.

    1. I have to disagree regarding wasps, which eat largely rotting fruit and carrion. They have no active role in pollination; indeed there is nothing wasps do environmentally which is not done better and far more prolifically by other creatures. In addition, their feeding on carrion and in rubbish transfers significant quantities of rotting flesh and other putrefying material to anything they land on, so to classify them as “insect farmers” is far from the truth. They do not even lay eggs in detritus (as flies do) so do not even participate in recycling that material through their maggots. If ever there was a beast without a purpose, it is the wasp!

      1. I think you’ll find that by this criteria humans are as much a ‘pest’ as wasps. Heartwarming to read so many concerned comments about bees. We need to learn to respect all living beings. AND QUICKLY!

  13. Hi everyone,

    Thank you for your comments. I’m certainly not endorsing that we get rid of bees – I apologise for the editing oversight here. So thank you for pointing this out to me. If you have a read of our previous posts, such as this one: http://www.ratedpeople.com/blog/how-to-attract-insects-to-your-garden/, you’ll see that we are a fan of attracting insects and bees to your garden. We meant to help tackle wasps nests and should have made this clearer. This post has now been edited to reflect the correct information.

    Thanks,
    Natalie

      1. Hi Daniela,

        This post has been edited. I apologise if the change wasn’t in place before you took a second read. You should find no references to bees in this blog.

        Thanks,
        Natalie

    1. Agree with all the comments urging people not to kill bees (which are not usually aggressive anyway unless disturbed or threatened in some way) but please don’t automatically and unthinkingly kill wasps: in the spring wasps are good news as predators on greenfly and other garden pests; it’s only autumn when they are looking to gorge on ripe fruit and our sugary drinks and (often) rotting fruit attract them. But they are part of our eco-system and we exterminate any living thing at our peril.

  14. Does anyone know how to humanely get rid of Glis Glis once they’re in the house or deter them from coming in? We are under siege from them and have been for some years and they’re driving us nuts!

    1. They are supposedly edible, just like the grey squirrels. Glis Glis are related to door-mice.

      In earnest, invest in a couple of the Rento-kil small electric mammal repellents. Just plug in the socket, the frequency it releases as a clicking noise seems to scare the mice away. Cats and dogs are not bothered by it. I have two of those electric gadgets, and no longer have a mouse problem (from other gardens in the neighborhood).

  15. Hi,
    I have 2 bee nest in my garden, while there not doing any harm l cant help wondering if a bee keeper woildnt get more benefit from them.. Am in the WF12 0JZ area , happy to let a keeper have them

  16. Despite your apologies, it is disgraceful that the idea of killing bees made it past your so-called editorial checks and was broadcast to your subscribers. Ultimately this is your responsibility and I hope you will do a feature that explains how to encourage more bees and other beneficial insects into the garden, because that is what people want. You seem to be astonishingly out of touch.

  17. Thanks for tips on pests- especially wasps!
    A pot of mint on the table when eating all fresco- from now on
    I never knew that!!

  18. Whilst wasps might be considered a nuisance they play a very important part in ecology and perform vital roles in our gardens and countryside. Please consider this and respect these creatures the same as other insects which all have a vital role. It is their world too!

  19. I totally disagree with wasps being our friends & I know this because I have a phobia spanning nearly forty years. Wasp are not our Friends & most certainly not a bees Friend because they try their best to kill them & get to the lovely golden colour of honey. More often than not one or more of the drones will fight them off by stinging the wasp to death & good for them. Wasp are vermin & there’s nothing for them to do but kill our hard working bees for the nectar or the honey. They crave sweet things like our drinks & desserts. So unlike our wonderful busy Bee that works hard for us the wasp are just scavengers, they work for nothing but will sting us for anything.

  20. Well, your editing is still rubbish, because bees are protected and I hope it will become an offence soon to kill bees or swarms of bees.

    I am also against mass killing of wasps and hornets. There are ethical ways of getting rid of them. Reaching for the poison is not one of them.

    All I could do was shake my head in frustration reading this blog. Is this where the money is going? Misinformation in a grand scale.

    1. Well said Daniela. Obviously some people are unaware of the Bee shortage and the threat to crop pollination.

  21. Human Beings are all to quick to exterminate so called pests. All these creatures are part of a complex ecosystem …… this is why the world is in the state it is….because we do not value these creatures. Pollinators are so important!

  22. While I who;y agree that bees are to be protected, they are kind of pests when they are in your roofspace and keep falling through invisible holes into the bedroom. Any suggestions to humanely manage them?

  23. I have bees in my garden shed, advice on getting them to move out, please, I have a fatal allergy to bee Stings!

  24. I have a nest of bees but they are not the furry bumble bee but more like wasps – maybe mortar bees? They are directly above my back door and when they come out they make a real buzz due to the numbers and although no-one has been stung, I am allergic to bee stings and really need them to go. What can I do?

  25. I have the best advice yet as to how to get rid of bees and wasps. Do what my neighbour did. Remove every plant and every blade of grass and concrete over the whole area. No bees, no wasps, no birds. All neat and tidy and dead. Easy, you see.

  26. This email went into my junk and I only read it because it mentioned getting rid of the bees in the title – thanks Natalie for editing this out of the article.
    I don’t know why people are so anti wasp either – they are important pollinators and predate on many other ‘unwanted’ creatures such as aphids and caterpillars. Not so sure about the mint keeping them away though…my pond is almost overgrown with mint but there was a wasp in the middle this morning having a drink =+)

  27. Just been for a walk 5 adults 4 kids 6 dogs. 2 adults stung, 4 dogs stung. wasps are horrid. if I’d been the one stung I wouldn’t be here now!!!! Never have this with the lovely bees.

  28. Always useful to know. What would be even more useful is how to kill off and repel tiny little mites that are increasing in their numbers. A number of friends and myself are all suffering this same problem.

  29. We have been having a wasp issue in our backyard and there seem to be more every day. I did not realize that the swarms are actually larger in the late summer. We definitely will be contacting a pest control company to come take care of the issue rather than trying to tackle it ourselves. Thank you for the informative article!

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