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Native Bees

Here is a hive of a native stingless bee of the family Apidae. These tiny bees are approximately 4mm long and all black, so tend to be mistaken for flies. There are 11 different varieties that look like this. This particular hive is on a property owned by one of our operators who has a passion for saving native bees. Due to world bee populations declining due to Hive Blight there is a concerted effort needed to “Save the Bees”. Bees are an integral part of our food chain as they pollinate all of the crops that we enjoy to eat… as well as providing us with honey, honeycomb and bees wax.

Native Bees aren’t very prolific honey producers but they still provide a vital role in the food chain and the preservation of many native species of plants and trees. There are 1700 species of native bees to Australia. They come in a variety of colours including Black, Yellow, Red, Metallic Green and even black with blue polka dots.

A few of the interesting native bees are the Teddy Bear Bee. This little chubby furry looking bee is unique to our generally thought of bee behaviour as it is a solitary creature. (Not hive creators like the honey bee we learn about in school) Each female builds an individual nest for herself in a small burrow in the soil. Though you can often find multiple nests in the same area. These bees are 7 – 15mm long and found all across Australia, except for Tasmania.

Another native bee with unique behaviours is the Dawsons Burrowing Bee. These are usually 20mm long with yellow face markings and a smooth red brown abdomen. They build nests in the arid mud flats of central WA and the only visible sign of their nests are mounds of clay on the ground.

So not all bees behave the same way the honey bee does but they all play a vital role in the environment. If you find a swarm of small black flies don’t spray them until you know they aren’t bees! If you aren’t sure or want us to come out to identify if you have an infestation of a creepy crawly or just a bee hive don’t hesitate to call. 1300 665 665. We will relocate any hives to licenced Apiarists we work with to ensure that the hive has the best chance of surviving and thriving!

Snakes in Suburbia

In suburban Brisbane we often have wildlife that wanders into our properties. As winter closes in rats and mice search for a warm place to set up home (often choosing our ceilings) and this will draw in snakes that see the warm ceiling as a perfect place to see out the winter months… especially if it comes with a ready food source… ie rats and mice… Allan recently found this beautiful snake in a homeowners roof and removed itm as the homeowner wasn’t keen on sharing their home with the reptile. Allan then found some bushland nearby and released the snake into the wild. Placing the snake in a hollow log so it could get used to its new surroundings and not immediately be eaten by a creature higher up in the food chain.

What can you do?

So what can you do about it? Well during the warmer months its a good idea to plug up any entry points… even rolled up chicken wire is great for this as it stops them gaining entry. Block any entry points in walls, brick work and around the roof line. This will mean when the cooler months roll around the rats, mice, possums and snakes won’t be able to gain entry to your roof. Trim branches and trees from around your home to minimise access to your roof for snakes and possums. Possums and rats and mice will gain entry via the powerlines.

Keeping your home clean and clutter free will also minimise the risk of vermin infestation. I have had success keeping mice out of my home when my neighbours had a big infestation problem by using peppermint essential oil in my cleaning products and pouring peppermint tea around my boundary line as mice don’t like the smell of peppermint.

Of course ensuring there is no available food for rodents will help keep them out of your home. Make sure all the food in your pantry is covered. Sealed containers are a good idea.. although I have seen rats chew through plastic, but if the food is harder to get to and the entry points are more difficult this will encourage them to move to your neighbour’s house which could be an easier target. When I had horses we had rats chew through plastic bins to get to the grain and salt licks. So if they are desperate enough they will chew through a storage container! But the idea is to make it as hard as possible for them to enjoy your home… encourage them to move on and maybe see if your neighbours house is more hospitable.

If possible install your compost in a location as far from the house as possible. If there are a lot of grass clippings in the compost this will raise the temperature of the compost and create a lovely warm home for rodents. Turning your compost regularly will deter rodents from setting up a home and breeding there. If you have a chicken coop try to minimise grain lying around as this will also encourage rodents. Planting Chilli, mint and citronella around your chicken coop will also help to deter rodents but of course if the coop is filled with grain and seed this will lure them in!

What to do if there are creatures in your ceiling?

Call your local pest controller to deal with rats, mice and other pests. For possums and snakes it is best to call a specialist in this field to relocate them safely. Identifying what creature has taken up unpaid residence in your home is the first step! Mice and rats will also usually make noises in your walls.. Possums are usually heavier and you will mostly hear them at dusk and dawn as they travel in and out of your roof leaving their dark daytime sleeping spot for their night time feeding on neighbourhood fruit trees. Snakes will generally be much quieter and usually only come in to feed on rats and mice.

Our operators are trained in the identification of termites and pests and will give you a treatment plan to deal with any infestation. If the problem is simple then the operator can usually deal with it on the spot with a simple treatment or bait system depending on the kind of pest your are dealing with.

Pest Control in the trenches in WWI

My little Terrier “Max” here he is kissing his brother our cat TK.

ANZAC Day (Australian War Memorial Day) was yesterday and it got me thinking about the issues that our soldiers faced during World War I. One of those problems was RATS! I hate rats! I’m blaming Stephen King and his book which was turned into a movie that I unfortunately saw as a teenager..many a nightmare was had due to that!

During WWI the problem of Rats in the trenches was a big problem. The rats were drawn to the battlefield due to the scraps of food that littered the trenches, the sewage and the many bodies that were buried almost where they fell.. often in quite shallow graves.

The rats feasted on the dead bodies, which there was a plethora of.. and not surprisingly they grew in size and numbers! The rats carried lice which was another issue the humans had to deal with. There were also reports of these rats biting the soldiers.

By 1918 Doctors identified lice as the cause of trench fever, which plagued the troops with headaches, fevers and muscle pain. This plague had reached considerable proportions before a concerted effort was organised to deal with it.

We slept in our clothes and cut our hair short so that it would tuck inside our caps. Dressing simply meant putting on our boots. There were times when we had to scrape the lice off with the blunt edge of a knife and our underclothes stuck to us.” (Elizabeth de T’Serclaes – a nurse on the front line)

The water in the trenches through which we waded was alive with a multitude of swimming frogs. Red slugs crawled up the side of the trenches and strange beetles with dangerous looking horns wriggled along dry ledges and invaded the dugouts, in search of the lice that infested them.” (unknown journalist)

So how did they deal with this problem? Well Terriers! So my little dog Max (above photo) might have been confisgated to aid in the war effort! Trains full of dogs were despatched to the front! The dogs along with poisons and the instigation of a competition. A reward was offered for every dead rat bought in by men in the trenches. In a single fortnight one army corps captured/killed around eight thousand rats. The men were rewarded with a halfpenny a rat compensation. You can see photos online of men with their haul of dead rats they were presenting to get paid for.

I’m extremely grateful that isn’t an issue we need to deal with anymore… First sign of a rodent at my place and I call for one of our operators quick smart!

What to do if you discover Termites?

Termite nest in a customers’ property.

As a homeowner it can be blood chilling to discover some termites in your home. Its usually during home renovations that the highest number of active termite nests are discovered and this Easter long weekend has been no different!

This morning the girls in the office took 6 phone calls of customers who have found live active termite activity over the break. Usually we would be lucky to get a few phone calls a week of live active termites!

Typically as a proud homeowner and in a panic many people do the worst thing you can do in this situation, says our Operations Manager, Allan Holland “Panic! When people panic they tend to uncover as much of the nest as they can and then they start attacking the termites they can see with an over the counter product like Pea Beau or Mortein, and although these products are great for the purpose they were designed they aren’t designed to eradicate the entire nest.

What this sort of action tends to do is cause the immediate ants to be killed and the rest to scatter in all directions making it harder to find them all. Usually the nest you have uncovered isn’t the main colony, it’s just a satellite nest. It is our aim to eradicate the entire colony utilising products designed to be carried back to the nest and wipe out the entire colony.

What Should you do?

If you discover a termite nest the best thing you can do is carefully cover it back over. On being exposed to light subterranean termites will disperse looking for darkness again. Next step? Call a licensed termite company to come out and assess the problem.

As part of that process our operators will identify the species of termite involved and knowing how that species behaves will give our operator all the information he/she needs to wipe out the colony. We will quote you on the price to treat the termites and advise you how to minimise the risk to your property in the future.

Step 1. Cover it back up! Make it dark again.

Step 2. Ring a licensed pest control company

A recent happy customer wrote:

” Just awesome, when we discovered termites I panicked, thinking it’s going to cost a bomb. Alan was fantastic , very knowledgeable it put my mind at ease. The goal cost was much less than thought and so reliable. Very happy ” Kelly Logen

An interview with Melinda

As a new employee of the company I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Melinda and talk to her about the beginnings of Stevie Redback Termite and Pest Control and find out how we got to where we are now.

It’s actually a great story of small business success. The company started in 1998 with Steve and Melinda running the business from home. Over the years that staff of two has grown with Allan (our operations manager) joining the company in 2001 and Gayleen (our office manager) joining the company in 2003, and now we are a staff of 18. My name is Kyra and I’m one of the newest recruits here in the office. I look after all of the social media for the business and I’m looking forward to showing you our great team and the work we do so if you aren’t following us on facebook and linkedin yet please do so!

Steve has always had a passion for growing the business so he could help as many people as possible. One of the things he prides himself on is the great service and reliability of his operators. “It’s the care we show and guarantee of work that is important for our customers and why they refer their friends to us” Melinda said during my conversation with her recently. “We really do get alot of friend referrals and that’s awesome! It means everyone is looking after our customers… from the office staff right through to the operator in the field”

When I started I was impressed with the team environment and friendliness of everyone and when I mentioned that to Melinda she went on to say; “I think our staff retention says alot about the team we have here and the culture of the business. Alot of our staff are long term team members and tend to stay a long time! We strive to find people who are not only good at what they do but focused on customer service and that shows through to each other in a great camaraderie”

Here at Stevie Redback we are still a family owned and operated business with pest control specialists that cover the greater Brisbane region from Ipswich to Beenleigh and north to the Sunshine Coast. We specialise in all areas of pest and termite eradication and control.

We are specialists in termite control and treatment in every stage of building… in pre construction we have a dedicated team of boys who are specialists in this area.. so if you are doing any renovations or building a new home you should give the office a call to find out what we do in this respect.

Steve and Melinda Hughes of Stevie Redback Pest & Termite Control