Insect control articles and pest control news

01 March 2022

Ask the technical team March 2022

Technical | PPC106

Delusional parasitosis, wasp nest legalities, roadkill and live capture trap dispatch are looked at in this issue of Ask the BPCA technical team.



  • Delusional parasitosis is a tricky subject and should be handled sensitively
  • Assess the location and risk posed by a wasp nest to decide if it should be removed
  • Pest controllers carry out an important public health service - it’s not always glamorous or pleasant but somebody has to do it
  • Lockdowns may have caused larger squirrel populations.

Subject: Delusional parasitosis

How do I spot delusional parasitosis (DP) and how would I handle it?

DP can be difficult to spot but recognising the symptoms is vital so that you can proceed sensitively. Most often, people with DP will describe the insects as being on their body, rather than in the house. 

I’ve seen two cases: one in which the person believed they had insects under their skin and could see them moving around, and another where the person could ‘see’ microscopic insects flying into their eyes and crawling into their body. 

The key thing to remember when you suspect DP is be thorough with your monitoring; using monitoring traps all over the property could actually help the individual to understand that there’s nothing to be concerned about.

Once you’ve monitored and can provide evidence that there isn’t any pest activity, try to explain this to the customer. If they’re still adamant, which they often are, it may be best to sensitively encourage them to speak to their GP.

If possible, you could also try to speak with their family or carer; explain the situation to them, as they may be able to help. 

Other than that, there is nothing else you can do. We aren’t medical professionals and we need to know our limits. 

And remember, if you don’t find any insects then do not carry out any treatment. If you were to carry out a treatment not only would this be contrary to legislation, you may also reinforce the delusion and make it worse for the person. 

Subject: Legal responsibilities with wasp nests

Is there a legal requirement for homeowners to deal with wasps nests on their property, if the wasps are affecting people passing by (such as a hedgerow backing onto a path)?

It’s not necessarily a legal requirement for the homeowner to treat a wasp nest on their property.

However, if a passer-by was to be stung by a wasp in a nest that a homeowner was aware of, and that injured person suffered a serious reaction, then it may be possible that a personal injury claim or civil suit could be filed.

The most at-risk groups are children, elderly people, those with allergies and pets - all of whom can be particularly sensitive to wasp stings.

An assessment of location and risk associated with the wasp nest would be beneficial, so that a decision can be made regarding its removal.

Subject: Increase in roadkill

Why are there so many dead grey squirrels on the roads at the moment? Are they ill? 

Some people have noticed an increase in roadkill, particularly grey squirrels.

Some ecologists have suggested it might be because there is a larger adult breeding population this year. 

Fewer squirrels, as well as many other wild animals, were killed by traffic in the spring and last year because of the reduced traffic in lockdowns, therefore the population numbers may have increased. 

This is all speculative but some interesting food for thought! Readers should feel free to get in touch and let us know if they have any more information on the subject.

Subject: Dispatching pests in live capture traps

How do you get over the feeling of dispatching a live captured rat or mouse? 

To help you deal with that feeling, it’s important to understand why they need to be controlled. 

We manage rat and mouse populations in order to prevent serious diseases from being spread to people. Leptospirosis, hantavirus, and salmonella are just some of the diseases that can be fatal to even healthy people.

We provide a very important public health service.

In my experience, a technician’s anxiety in dealing with live rodents in traps can be resolved with training and understanding the processes for this type of treatment. 

Shadowing other technicians, attending training courses or even talking with other experienced pest controllers is a great way to gather information and support on dispatching rodents correctly, in line with animal welfare legislation.

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