Top 10 Pest Urban Myths – Busted!


The top ten list of Unbelieveable truths surprised a few people judging by the comments we got, so here we go again but this time with our top ten list of pest urban myths!

10. Bees can only sting once:

Bees do die after they sting humans, but that’s only because their sting is barbed and gets stuck, ripping  out half their abdomen. The bee’s sting evolved originally for inter-bee combat between members of different hives, and the barbs evolved later as an anti-mammal defence. A barbed sting can still penetrate another bee and retract safely.

9. Boiling water destroys ants:

Boiling water will kill those ants that are exposed. However, the water will cool down before it gets to the centre of the nest where the Queen and all her eggs live. This means the nest won’t be destroyed and the ants will return.

8. Mice love cheese:

Not true! Mice much prefer food with a higher sugar content than cheese. Pest control experts recommend peanut butter, dried fruits or muesli as an alternative – a bit like your average marathon runner’s diet really.

7. If daddy long legs had better fangs they could kill you:

The term ‘Daddy Long Legs’ is used interchangeably and sometimes wrongly for different species. The creatures we all see running around at home are actually called crane flies or harvestmen and are insects. And then there is the Cellar Spider, also commonly known as the Daddy Long Legs. The myth may have arisen because this Cellar Spider has been known to attack Black Widows, hence suggesting it has strong venom. However, although the cellar spider can bite a human with its fangs, only a mild irritation is felt.

6. Moles are blind:

There are many different kinds of moles, but the majority are not blind – they’re just very short-sighted. Most moles use their eyes solely for the purpose of sensing light and have exceptionally good smell and hearing to make up for this shortage. If you examined a mole, you might well struggle to find the pinpoint eyes that are protected with a membrane and hairy eyelids.

5. Adult moths damage clothing:

Your Prada is safe if you only have adult moths. The damage to that vintage woollen jumper and priceless cashmere dress is actually done by the moth larvae. However, many experts believe Carpet Beetles do most of the damage that is blamed on moths. Like moths, it’s their feeding larvae (known as “woolly bears”) that will munch through any accessible natural fibres. So we advise you not to keep/chuck your clothes on the floor.

4. Cockroaches can live without their heads:

This one’s actually partly true. Because its brain is dispersed throughout its body, the cockroach only needs its head to drink. A female cockroach can live for several weeks without water. That means it can live headless for the same amount of time! Cockroaches can also hold their breath for over 40 minutes.

3. Rats are unhygienic:

Not really, and it depends on the rat. Pet rats are actually quite compulsive when it comes to cleaning, spending approximately 60% of their time cleaning – can you imagine that! Since they’re very social animals, they will often help each other out to clean those hard to reach places, which means if they have passed by a bait box the baits get transferred from one rodent to another.

2. Fleas will die off if they have no host:

It depends on the stage that the flea is at, but the short answer is that fleas are really really good at surviving without a host. They can even lay dormant in the carpet or furniture of an uninhabited property. The bad (even worse) news is that if fleas are forced to abandon their usual host they will aggressively hunt for any source of blood – which could well be you whether you’re visiting a potential new home or a friend whose pet has fleas.

1. Bed bugs are only found in cheap accommodation:

This really is wishful thinking. Bed bugs like a touch of luxury as much as anyone else, and are happy to live near any bed, as long as there is food around (that is, human blood). Bed bugs were nearly eliminated but have recently had a massive comeback and are known as the “scourge of America”. Hostels and hotels are often infested because of the number of people passing through them, and there really is no link between the cleanliness of your sleeping area and the likelihood of having bed bugs.

There are loads more out there since these are only UK ones – what’s your favourite that we can try to ”bust” for you? To find out more about these and other pests click here.

Category: Debugged - the lighter side of pest control
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  1. Posted April 29, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    This is all pretty interesting. I hate cockroaches more than anything else. They move so damn fast. I know someone who came back from Bali with a deadly snake in her rucksack – that’s pretty bad too.

  2. Posted May 3, 2009 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    That’s a really nice but creepy list

    quite a few surprises in there as well. You guys sure the Cockroaches aren’t machines transported back in time to destroy future leaders??

  3. Posted May 12, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Good information on these pests. Thanks for the post.

  4. Posted November 2, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    that’s really a fantastic post ! ! added to my favourite blogs list..

  5. Posted November 9, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I have been reading your blog last couple of weeks and enjoy every bit. Thanks.

  6. Posted January 11, 2010 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    That’s so true. Love the myths. Its amazing how many urban legends get twisted up.

  7. Posted February 15, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    very useful read. I would love to follow you on twitter.

    • Posted February 15, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

      Please feel free to follow us. @rentokil is our Corporate Twitter account or @debugged gives you notification of all new blog posts.

  8. Posted February 22, 2010 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    It always seems a evolutionary failure to me that Bees die once they have stung.

  9. Posted August 11, 2010 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Woah its funny how these have been twisted so much over the years, i dont think alot of people would know about the the moles and mice ones though.

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  1. By Urban legends busted - The Exodus of Cockroaches | deBugged on August 16, 2010 at 8:25 pm

    [...] appears to be yet another one of those urban myths about pests but was reported by the Russian media at the beginning of this century. Basically, scientists and [...]

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