Pest control

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The best way to avoid ants in your house or building is to minimise the chance of them finding a food source.

Ants are often found around foundations of buildings and in kitchens, lawns and gardens. While ants generally live in nests located in soil, wood or among rocks, poor conditions can force a colony to relocate. When ants discover a food source, they travel along well-defined and scented trails back and forth to the nest.

Avoiding ants

The following steps may help you avoid an ant infestation in your home or building:

  • maintain a high level of sanitation and hygiene
  • remove rubbish and food scraps from benches, tables, cupboards and floors
  • store food in sealed containers
  • wash utensils, crockery and cooking items soon after use
  • seal gaps and cavities around doors and walls

Eliminating ants

Direct treatment of the nest provides the most effective long term control of ants. Follow the trail to locate the nest. Alternatively, you can create chemical barriers between the nest and possible food sources.

If your ant infestation is out of control, you may require a pest control expert to perform an inspection and treat the nest.


Cockroaches are attracted to the food, shelter and temperature of houses and other buildings, and can be found in cracks and crevices.

Cockroaches eat almost any human or animal food, and any dead animal or vegetable matter, including leather, cardboard, glue and dog biscuits. They are mostly nocturnal creatures, becoming active after sunset.

Cockroaches are considered pests because:

  • they contaminate food, utensils and various areas, with droppings, dead cockroaches and vomit marks on surfaces
  • they can carry diseases, especially food poisoning organisms such as Salmonella spp.
  • many people are scared of cockroaches due to their fast unpredictable movements or spiky legs
  • a substantial cockroach infestation often creates an unpleasant odour
  • some people are allergic to cockroaches, including skin reactions in sensitive people
  • they have been known to bite people

Avoiding cockroaches

The following steps may help to avoid a cockroach infestation in your home or building:

  • maintain a high level of sanitation and hygiene
  • remove rubbish and food scraps, including leftover pet food
  • store food in sealed containers
  • wash utensils, crockery and cooking items soon after use
  • seal gaps and cavities around doors and walls

You can also use insecticides such as surface and space sprays, insecticidal dusts or baits and traps to eliminate cockroaches.

Eliminating cockroaches

If your cockroach infestation is out of control, you may need the help of a pest control expert.

European wasps

European wasps are about the same size as bees but have yellow bands with black V-shaped markings down their backs. They have the ability to sting repeatedly and can trigger allergic reactions.

European wasps are attracted to sweet food and drinks, and have become a pest at outdoor events and barbecues.

Preventing wasp stings

  • Never drink directly from a can or bottle outdoors, as wasps can crawl inside unnoticed and sting the throat, causing swelling and possible choking. Instead pours cans of drink into a glass, or use a straw.
  • Check each mouthful of food when eating food outdoors.
  • Wear shoes when walking on grass.
  • Don't swat or annoy wasps that are hovering around food, as wasps are attracted to moving objects.

To avoid wasps coming onto your property, you can do the following:

  • keep compost heaps and rubbish bins covered at all times
  • remove old or damaged fruit if you have any fruit trees in your garden

Treating wasp stings

If stung, apply an ice pack to the sting. If an allergic person is stung, apply pressure to the limb or sting area and seek medical help immediately. Ventolin may help to treat breathing difficulties.

Controlling European wasps

The only effective way to control a European wasp problem is to destroy the nest. Local Law requires residents to ensure a wasp nest does not remain on their premises. The safest way to remove a wasp nest is to contact a pest control expert to treat the nest, as the wasps can become extremely aggressive if the nest is attacked.

Preventing nest development

In winter the queen wasp will hibernate, usually in firewood, stacked materials or in roofs and sheds. In early spring, they fly around looking for a new nesting site. This is a great opportunity to prevent a nest being developed. Queen wasps are large and slow moving, making them an easy target for spraying with an insecticidal spray.

Wasp nests

European wasps make their nests in sheltered areas around buildings, rubbish heaps, rocks, trees or shrubs. The nests look like grey cardboard and are usually the size of a football. You can often locate a nest by the constant stream of wasps flying to and from one particular location.

Honey bees

In Australia the most common type of bee is the European Honey Bee, which is yellow and brown in colour and ranges from 2mm to 6mm in length.

Bee hives and swarming

Swarming is a natural behaviour for honey bees, as part of the reproductive life cycle. Honey bees usually swarm in warmer weather during spring and summer. The swarm may remain on the move for several days in search of permanent nesting site.

If a swarm settles on your property, ensure you keep family and pets away from it.

Removing bee hives on your property

You should not attempt to move a bee hive or swarm by hosing it, poking it, throwing stones or any similar action, as this will only aggravate the honey bees to defend themselves.

We recommend you use either a registered beekeeper or licensed pest controller to remove or treat a bee hive.

Bee keeper

If you find a hive in an open and accessible area, you can ask a beekeeper to come and remove it. For more information and details for the Bee Removal Help Line, visit the Victorian Apiarist Association website.

Pest controller

If you find a hive is found in confined space or hard to access area, you can ask a licensed pest controller to treat and destroy it. Refer to your local business directory.

Treating bee stings

If you are stung by a bee, you should take the following actions:

  • if there are more bees, quickly get away to a safe place to avoid any further stings
  • remove the sting as quickly as possible to reduce the effect of the bee venom, do this by sliding or scraping your fingernail across it, rather than pulling at it
  • wash the wound with water and apply a cold compress with ice to reduce the swelling
  • use a sting treatment to relieve pain
Allergic reactions

If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering an allergic reaction to the bee sting, known as anaphylactic shock:

  • wheezing or difficulty with breathing
  • tightness in the throat or chest
  • swelling of the lips, tongue or face 
  • dizziness or fainting
  • nausea or vomiting

If you know you are allergic to bee stings and carry an EpiPen, use this straight away, rather than waiting for allergic symptoms to appear.

To treat an allergic reaction to a sting, apply pressure to the wound and immobilise the limb or sting area and seek medical help immediately. You can also use Ventolin to help treat breathing difficulties.

Indian Myna Birds

Indian Mynas are a small brown bird with a yellow beak.

They are an introduced species that compete with native birds and animals for food and shelter. They can displace animals as large as kookaburras and sugar gliders from their nests.

Indian Mynas are not a declared pest and there is no legal requirement to control them, but concerned community groups are running programs to reduce the impacts of these birds.

For more information contact the Yarra Indian Myna Action Group.


Foxes are vermin and a danger to local wildlife. If you are experiencing problems with foxes on your property, you should contact a qualified pest control company.

Mice and rats

Mice and rats are rodents that tend to enter homes in search of food and shelter, particularly during winter.

Both mice and rats tend to nest within floors, behind walls and between partitions. They can also be found in sheds, near compost heaps and underneath hedges.

Rats and mice are considered pests because they:

  • are a health hazard
  • can spread diseases through their droppings and urine
  • can eat and contaminate food for human consumption
  • can destroy walls, pipes, household goods
  • can cause electrical problems within the house

Signs of mice and rats

Mice come out at night in search of food, and are rarely seen during the day. However, rats appear during the day and night.

Signs of rats and mice in the house include:

  • gnawing
  • mice droppings
  • holes in walls: 
    • a 20mm hole may indicate the location of a mouse’s nest
    • an 80mm hole may indicate the location of a rat’s nest

    Avoiding mice and rats

    • Make sure you throw out all food scraps.
    • Ensure all food packaging is sealed.
    • Use plastic containers with lids to store grains, cereals and flour.

    Eliminating mice and rats

    You can use poison bait to control the spread of mice or rats within your home. You can buy this from your local hardware store or supermarket. Ensure you follow the guidelines on the product packaging.

    Note: Ensure people and pets do not eat the bait, and take extra care when children are in the house.

    Further information

    For more information and warnings about pest control, visit the A - Z of Pest Animals.

    Last Updated: 12 September 2016


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