House and Garden

3 July 2012
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Pests

This is not something migrants really want to hear, but Australia has more than it's fair share of household pests.

It's warm here and as a rule of thumb, the warmer it is, the bigger and more active the creepy-crawlies are!

Spiders

While they can cause new migrants a bit of concern, spiders are not really much of a nuisance to most people.

Redbacks like this one live in the garden or shed rather than the house. You just have to keep and eye out for their messy webs and either brush them away or if you have to, use a spray to dispatch them.

Flies

Of course, Australian flies are infamous. Here in Perth, they start appearing in large numbers in November and are a real nuisance through to January/February. They don't ruin your life, but can make an outdoor barbeque a bit of a battle. Around the home, most windows and external doors have flywire, so you just learn to keep those shut.

Another problem caused by flies can be maggots in your rubbish bin - yuck. In Perth, this only happens in the very warm weather (January/February) and can be avoided by ensuring you wrap any food scraps before dropping them in the bin.

Apart from during those summer months, flies are not much of a problem at all.

Cockroaches

Another unfortunate product of the warm climate and something a lot of migrants are unfamiliar with - cockroaches. Not all homes would get cockroaches inside, but if yours does get the odd one, it's not unusual so don't panic.

Basically they can live behind kitchen units or in wall cavities and come out looking for scraps when all is quiet - not a nice thought. There are sprays, baits and 'roach bombs' available, but if things get out of control, you may need to get an expert in.

Ants

Here in Perth, most gardens have plenty of ants and as long as they stay outside, the worst they do is mess up your pavers by building sand-hills. If they come inside, looking for food, you have a problem. There are a few potions on the market which may get rid of them, otherwise you may need expert help.

Rats & mice

I'm not sure how things are in the rest of Australia, but in Perth, there are quite a few rats around some suburbs. They generally live outdoors, moving around the suburbs quite easily on the tops of fences and feasting on whatever is ripening in people's back yards; citrus, grapes and stone fruit especially. I think they are probably more common in older suburbs, which have bigger blocks with more vegetation for them to hide in.

In the colder weather, they may look for somewhere warm to stay, so if there is an access point into your roof space, you may get an unwanted guest.

Termites

Also called 'white ants', these pests have the potential to be a bigger problem than any of those above. They are common throughout most inhabited areas of Australia, except Tasmania. They feed on cellulose, which means they will munch on any wood, especially soft wood, that they can find.

For this reason, structural timber used in building is either hardwood (jarrah in older houses in WA), or CCA-treated pine (CCA being a blend of Copper, Cadmium and Arsenic which the termites are not so keen on).

Nevertheless, you would not want termites inside your house, so it is common to have termite inspections when you are buying a house and periodic inspections are worth considering. If white ants are found, they may need to be professionally eradicated.