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Reporter Hermione Wright swaps newsroom for pest control
I’m terrible with creepy crawlies. I have a fit when I so much as hear the hum of a daddy longlegs, and wasps are enough to ruin my entire summer.
So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my morning as a pest controller.
I suppose there was method to my madness. Enfield Council has called in its pest control experts to tackle the “exploding” rat population in Broomfield Park so it was only fair I took a trip to see what they are up against each day.
I met John West, pest control officer for Enfield Council, based at Carterhatch Depot, in Melling Drive. I was greeted by a lot of blokes – in fact, not a single woman was in the office – and instantly realised my red pencil skirt was frankly ridiculous. All I’d cared about was selecting a pair of boots which would prevent cheeky rats from scampering all over my toes.
John grabbed his lengthy list for the day, and we set off to investigate a wasps’ nest hidden in a tree behind a line of terraced houses. I tried to be brave, but I thanked my lucky stars we only spotted one lone wasp buzzing about the tree. We spared him, and headed to the next job, ominously entitled Rats on the Ninth Floor.
Yikes. We pulled up outside a block of flats, and I knew this would be the moment I’d lose my cool. John said he didn’t expect us to find rats as he questioned how on earth they would make it up so many steps. I thought he'd underestimated them.
We knocked on the door of Pat Norton’s flat, who'd reported the critters. She showed us a dead mouse which lay in her hallway – her clever dog had stopped it in its tracks. She said: “I was so scared. I’m glad I had a dog because it zig-zagged all the way around the hall.”
John popped two pots of poison down in the flat and promised to visit in two weeks' time to find out if the issue had been resolved. He was concerned the mouse’s presence on the ninth floor might signal an infestation.
I was showing off, but I removed the dead mouse with minimal squealing. It had "passed away" a few days before, so I was grateful it remained intact. I can consider it an experience, but it’s something I will leave to the experts in future.
I was intrigued to give the bug-clearing gear a try - when was I ever going to get another chance? I didn't expect John to whip out a veil, but I felt if a few wasps had been about, they would have known I meant business.
Interestingly, John said rats and mice don’t bother him. His real issue is bed bugs after being called to an elderly gentleman’s house a few months ago. He said the chap had bought second hand furniture plagued with the pests, which can grow up to 5mm long. He left it for a year before contacting the bug-bashing team, and when they arrived, they were wriggling all over his bed sheets and even his walls.
To make matters worse, Enfield's bed bug population is rising. John said the creatures are exotic, and the rapidly growing numbers could be due to people bringing them back to the borough as an unexpected holiday souvenir. I'll leave you with that thought - oh, and watch out for blood spotting - their excrement is made from regurgitated blood.