Pest Control

Please remember bees are vitally important for pollination


For information on types of pests and keeping chickens or poultry please see below

Our responsibilities

Torridge District Council does not have a legal duty to provide a pest control service to domestic premises and is unable to provide such a service currently.  Customers requiring a treatment are recommended to contact a private pest control company, as they should be licensed to use more effective treatments than those available in hardware stores, DIY stores, etc.  Contact details can be found in the telephone listings, the local Press or online.   If you do use do-it-yourself treatments, instructions need to be strictly followed.

Both local authorities and individuals have duties relating to pests on land.  The law requires occupiers of land including  property, to rid their land of any substantial infestations of rats or mice.

Torridge District Council can investigate:

  • pests arising from neighbouring land or property
  • public health issues - eg:  pests in a shop, restaurant or workplace

An officer will be assigned to your request to investigate the matter further and we may be able to advise or to take enforcement action in these cases.


Depending on your own point of view, any animal in any number may be regarded as a 'pest'.  However, for the protection of public health, it is important to control certain animals more than others.  Rats, mice, cockroaches, flies and fleas are often responsible for the transmission of infectious disease, contamination of food and damage to property.  Furthermore, they can create unhygienic conditions and can be a nuisance simply by their presence and habits.

A number of online sources produce pest information and offer identification and treatment.


  • Bees are not a protected species - they are vital to our biodiversity and ultimately our ability to produce food, so colonies should only be destroyed in the most extreme cases

  • Know what type of bee you are dealing with - beekeepers will only collect honey bees. If they are furry and dull in colour they will be bees - wasps and hoverflies are much brighter. Other types of bee such as bumble bees and solitary bees pose very little risk and should be left alone

  • As part of the normal reproductive cycle bees will occasionally swarm late spring. Whilst this can look alarming they will move on after a short period and should be left alone

    The link provided to the British Beekeepers Association website has information and pictures on all types of bees and insects that look like bees. It also gives a link to contact your local honey bee swarm collector.

Honey beeHoneybees

Providers of honey and almost universally viewed with affection in the UK. They rarely present problems as pests, however, feral swarms can set up home in undesirable places such as chimneys and wall cavities. Honey bees are small and vary in colour from golden brown to almost black.

The most common scenario in which you may become concerned is when they swarm. Typically these intimidating swarms will first set up a temporary camp somewhere nearby, such as a tree branch, fence post and even cars. In almost all cases the swarm will take off again within a day or two to occupy a most suitable permanent home elsewhere.

Bumble beeBumblebees

They aren't easily confused with any other bee. They are rounder, larger and furrier and come with a variety of coloured stripes across the end of their tails. Nesting sites are normally found underground in abandoned burrows, bird boxes, under the decking, or in the compost bin.

Bumblebees are social insects: they live in a colony with a queen and her daughters (the workers). Bumblebees have an annual lifecycle, with new nests being started each spring by queens. The queen bumblebees are very large, and from February onwards can be seen feeding on flowers such as willow catkins, bluebells and lungwort, or flying low over the ground searching for a nest site.

Some species prefer to nest underground in abandoned burrows of rodents, while others nest just above the ground in dense grass or leaf-litter. The queen stocks her nest with pollen and nectar, and lays her first batch of eggs. She incubates them much as a bird would, sitting on the eggs while shivering her flight muscles to produce warmth.

When the eggs hatch the legless grubs consume pollen and nectar, grow rapidly, and pupate after a few weeks. A few days later the first workers hatch from their pupae and begin helping their mother, expanding the nest and gathering food. By mid-summer nests of some species can contain several hundred workers. At this point the queen starts laying both male and female eggs.

The females are fed extra food and become future queens. Both males and new queens leave the nest to mate, and the new queens burrow into the ground to wait until the following spring. The males, workers, and the old queen die off in the autumn, leaving the nest to decay.

Tree beeTree bees

A recent addition to the UK's fauna. Their banding is unique amongst the UK species. The thorax is tawny to reddish brown, the abdomen is black and tail is white. Fresh drones have a patch of yellowish facial fur, but this wears off with time. Queens vary significantly in size, and workers are normally quite small.

Some traits of tree bees can be a cause of concern, but there is nothing to worry about. Commonly they establish a nest in bird boxes, or in parts of buildings, and may cause concern through apparent high level of nest flight activity due to 'nest surveillance' by drones, and the sound of bee chatter/activity heard through the ceiling are all signs of activity.

Solitary-Masonary beesSolitary/Masonry bees

As the name suggests, they are solitary insects, and you'll rarely find them occurring in large numbers. They have a reddish-brown bottom and black body. You'll see these small bees popping in and out of the wall or very small holes in the ground.

They nest in a wide range of cavities and have the ability to build nests by tunnelling through soft brick mortar, or exploiting pre-existing gaps left unrepaired. They do not cause a problem to your property from a structural point of view.