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NZS MOST DEADLY URBAN PEST

Saturday 30 March 2024, 1:44PM

By ACES pest control

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fear the flea
fear the flea Credit: fleas incorporated

WHICH PEST SHOULD YOU FEAR?

A customer who had recently immigrated from North America asked ACES pest control what is NZs most deadliest pest?  He mentioned that in North America they had some pests that were lethal to humans, and asked if we had similar ones here.

Before we kick off, lets restrict this article to Urban pests, that is the ones you find in homes or businesses.  Also, let’s make define deadly as having the practical ability to make humans unwell or worse.

Right off the back in reply to my North America customer, I said that we lack a few major groups of deadly pests in NZ. The most obvious being snakes.  We don’t have to look too far to see lethal snakes, in fact Australia has 7 of the 10 most deadly snakes in the world. With the Inland Taipan being the world’s most deadly snake in Northeastern inland Australia. The Inland Taipan is relatively rare and remote to people in Australia, therefore not being a real and present danger. However, the Brown snake, found commonly in and around Ozzie houses and is also very lethal. Thankfully, NZ doesn’t have snakes, so we can leave them for the Australians to grapple with.

The second and even more deadly type of pest we lack in NZ is the disease carrying species of Mosquitoes. While we have mosquitoes in NZ, none are the species that can carry fatal diseases such as Dengue. Remarkably, the Mosquito is the animal that kills the most humans around the world. Forget Great White Sharks, Tigers and Hippos it’s that annoying buzzy little thing that bugs you at BBQs.

But what about NZ, what’s our deadliest Urban pest? Let’s start with a few types of pests and work out how dangerous they are.

Spider pest control Auckland

Spiders

There are three main spiders that can pose a risk to humans in New Zealand

Katipo Spider

This spider’s natural environment is the beach. Its is also rare in numbers. While its venom can pack a punch it’s not considered to be highly lethal. The chances of one of these spiders getting into your home is extremely low. Then for one to bite you is lower again. So being practical, this spider presents an extremely low risk to people in homes and businesses.

The Red Back spider

This spider is an import from Australia and is a highly venomous spider. It is rare in NZ and its natural environment is to live outside. It’s a small spider and not considered aggressive. The chances of encountering one or being bitten by one  in an home or business is very low.

The White Tail spider

Generally feared in homes across NZ, the white tail spider is common. It is a wandering (vagrant) spider, meaning it moves around to find its prey. In the case of white tails, they predate other spiders. They are aggressive by  nature and if cornered will lash out and bite in self-defence. The White tail is a nonvenomous spider, but its bites are thought to cause secondary infections from the bacteria found on their fangs. Commonly these secondary infections require medical attention. As they are not considered venomous the risk from their bite to humans is very low.

 

Rodent extermination Auckland

 

Rodents

There are three species of rats in NZ, The Norway Rat, The Roof rat, and Polynesian rat.  Rats have been known to carry diseases, that can be lethal to humans. The black plague that killed millions of humans was attributed in part to rats.

The Norway or Sewer Rat

This is a large rat that is most at home in a burrow under ground. Most  famously  known in the media as the rats in New York. This rat is uncommon in NZ and as a result is rarely found in homes and businesses. This making the real risk from Norway rats to humans low

The roof rat or ship rat

This is a common rat in New Zealand, and is a good climber, often as its name suggests found in roofs. They are very shy of humans, and while in an attic space they rarely come down and interact with humans. This lack of interaction with humans reduces their over all risk to humans.

The Polynesian rat or Kiori rat

This is not present in Auckland and it not considered a significant urban pest in NZ.  As a result the Kiore rat is low risk to humans.

The House mouse.

This a common pest in homes and businesses in NZ. Mice are excellent climbers and at night are often on top of kitchen benches in search of food. Their paws are commonly covered with disease, and they spread this to humans by running over the food preparation areas.  It is not uncommon for a mouse infestation to present with the family having already all been sick.

 

Wasp eradication auckland

 

Wasps in NZ

There are two main types of species of wasps in NZ. Both inject venom, and rare cases large numbers of stings can be fatal.

Asian or Australian paper wasps

While these wasps have very painful sting, their nests are relatively small as are their numbers,  meaning they do not pose a significant threat to human health.

German/Common or European wasps.

When these wasp nests become larger, they can pose a threat to human health. To reach a lethal dose of venom for an adult human takes around 1000 stings. A medium to large nest can easily have over 1000 wasps or more. Mostly, people being stung by wasps run away from the nest and the wasps stop stinging them. However, if the person becomes trapped near a large angry nest, it can be fatal. This however is uncommon and real threat to people is low.

 

Bed bugs cockroaches flies and fleas

Bed bugs

Bedbugs are becoming more common, and as the media tells us they bite and suck out blood for their meals.  Fortunately, they do not carry disease. While it is unpleasant to have some itchy welts or bites the risk to human health is low.

Cockroaches

There are two main types of cockroaches in NZ, the outdoor (bush) variety and the indoor (German) variety.

Gisborne cockroaches

The outdoor ones such as the Gisborne cockroaches are unsightly but not a health risk.

German (and American) cockroaches

These are only found in warm indoor areas and are a health risk. Their bodies are covered in disease and can make humans unwell. Remarkably, while I deal with these cockroaches on a regular basis, I have yet to see people become unwell as result of them.

 

Flies and fleas

 

fleas

While historically fleas have transferred disease (bubonic plague) they don’t do this in NZ and are more of an annoying pest causing itchy bites.

Flies

While the domestic house fly is feared for disease transfer as they often land on unclean substances before flying into your kitchen, they don’t seem t associated with people getting unwell in NZ.

And the WINNER is....

NZ deadliest Urban pest

And the winner is….

We need to be practical here about what pest is ACTUALLY going to make you and family unwell.

Red back spider is easily the most venomous pest in NZ, BUT it's so rare and shy that its real risk is virtually zero.

Large wasp nests  have the volume of wasps and venom to kill an adult human, BUT the chances for this happen are very small.

German cockroaches shouldn’t be tolerated, BUT I don’t see people getting sick even with large raging infestations.

The WINNER of NZ’s deadliest Urban pest…… is the cute furry and adorable house mouse. It’s common, its covered in disease and its on your kitchen bench tonight. In my experience over the last 15 years, it is common to see families infected with Salmonella that have a mouse infestation.

Who would have thought that such a cute little furry critter could take away the title of NZ’s deadliest Urban Pest?

 

written by Owen at ACES pest control