Pest control teams from the Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council dealt with nearly 500 cases involving rodents over the past year, new figures show.
The new statistics show that staff were called out nearly 800 times to deal with vermin throughout the year.
The data emerged following a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).
However, despite lockdown measures being in place for periods since March last year, the overall number from the year before dropped by 266 cases.
In 2019, the Lisburn Castlereagh Environmental team said it dealt with 1,064 cases of pest across the council area.
The local authority didn’t specify where exactly the pest control occurred, saying due to the information being “personal data”, it could not be released.
Wasps were by far the most common problem pest control staff had to deal with as they faced well over 298 call outs throughout lockdown.
Further analysis also showed there were nearly 443 visits made to properties dealing with rodent-related problems last year – up 40 from the year prior.
Meanwhile, Lisburn Castlereagh Council said it was too difficult to estimate the total cost for pest control as the service was “demand led and busy at particular times of the year”.
The spokesperson also highlighted that householders in receipt of state benefits also receive the service for free.
Householders who don’t receive benefits are charged between £50 and £120 for each visit and depending on the type of pest.
A Lisburn Castlereagh Council spokesperson said: “Employees are trained to a high level of expertise in accordance with health and safety regulations. We only use pesticides and methods that comply fully with the law.”
A national trade body is also urging householders and businesses in the area to be aware of pests during another prolonged lockdown period.
The British Pest Control Association (BPCA) warned people to remain vigilant as Covid-19 restrictions remain in place across Northern Ireland.
A spokesperson said a regular pattern for rodents is that, as temperatures begin to drop and food becomes scarce they head indoors.
A BPCA spokesperson added: “As the weather gets colder, field mice will also look for warmer places to nest and begin to move indoors too. They are highly adaptable and won’t hesitate to take advantage of a warm place to nest during the winter months.
“This pattern for rats and mice all points to a need for extra care and attention in the lockdown.
“One of the biggest threats that many closed businesses will have to face is the possibility of a serious pest infestation, which may have established while their premises were left without any activity and unguarded from pests.
“Property owners have a legal obligation to keep premises rodents free, or, if rodents pose a threat to health or property, to report infestations to the local authority.
“Proactive pest management is the best way we can manage the risks to public health and safety.”
BPCA’s website includes an A-Z of pests which outlines the habits and life cycles of different species along with signs of an infestation and the dangers they can pose – including the spread of disease and damage to property.
An online guide about rats at bpca.org.uk/rats, has helpful information on identifying an infestation and offers advice on when to call in the professionals.