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When you arrive at your hotel at the start of your well-earned sunshine holiday it's very tempting to just drop your bags in your room and hit the pool. But beware - bedbugs are back in fashion! And they aren't fussy about where they holiday - any hotel, from a flea pit to a five star, can fall victim to them.

Before you even take your luggage into your room it's wise to give it the once-over, as bedbugs can set to work on your belongings before they make a beeline for you. Turn down the bed and check the sheets for specks of blood, which may indicate a bedbug problem. Inspect the mattress itself too - any black spots could be evidence of an infestation, or you may even see live bugs. Other key areas to check are the headboard, beside tables, drawers and carpet edges. It's definitely worth taking a few moments to do this, as you don't want to be taking the pesky critters back to your own home!

Unfortunately even a thorough search doesn't always identify the problem, so if you later discover spots of blood on your bedding it may well be that you've been bitten by the bedbug. So stay alert and take care!

People often ask us what they can do to prevent rats and mice from invading their gardens. There are a few simple precautions you can take to help with this, and it's as important to do this in winter as in summer - if not more so, as rodents are more desperate for food and shelter in cold weather.

The most obvious advice is not to leave any kind of food outdoors, including pet food. Also, don't leave out any plastic bin bags containing food waste, as this is basically a buffet for rodents! Compost bins containing food scraps are also tempting.

Tidy up your garden area. Piles of wood or leaves make great homes for mice and rats.

Check your outhouses, sheds and children's playhouses. As you don't use these much in the winter rodents can live happily in them for weeks or months on end. Before winter arrives fill in any cracks or gaps, as mice and rats can squeeze through surprisingly tiny spaces!

Following these tips should minimise your chances of being invaded by rodents in the winter.

We all know that various animals hibernate during the winter, even household pests. You've probably seen spiders around the house as winter approaches, looking for a cosy nook in which to settle down! However, many types of vermin, particularly mice and rats, are on the go all year round, even if we don't see them very much; and as the weather becomes colder, nights longer and food harder to find outside, your home, garden or workplace becomes much more attractive to rodents. They're always on the lookout for some food or a nice warm place to sleep!

This being the case, our pest control work continues throughout the colder months, and winter is actually a very good time to deal with certain pest problems. Wasps and other insects are dormant at this time, so are easier to remove. It's also a good time to block up any holes and gaps in your buildings and roofs to prevent insects and birds taking up residence when spring comes.

The idea of cockroaches in the home would fill most people with horror, but there is now actually a growing trend to keep them as household pets! Surprisingly, not all cockroaches are considered pests, and more exotic species such as the Madagascar Hissing Cockroach, Giant Cockroach and striped Zebra Roach are becoming really popular.

Pet cockroaches are very easy to care for and will eat almost anything, happy to deal with any food waste you might have. They also breed really quickly! Fascinating to watch, they're a great pet option for those living in limited space. Roaches and other insects such as ants and wasps are also bred in captivity to be used as live food for other creatures, mostly reptiles.

Anyone keeping insects as pets needs to take great care that they don't escape. If they get out of control their ability to adapt quickly to their environment and breed very rapidly can create a real pest problem.

Our advice would be to enjoy insect pets if you like them, but keep a close eye on them at the same time!

You may think that because you don't see much of indoor pests in the winter that they aren't much of a problem. Cold weather does indeed slow down the breeding rate of common culprits such as fleas, moths and bedbugs, but they certainly don't disappear! In fact our centrally-heated homes and offices protect them from freezing conditions that might normally kill them, so they can certainly be a nuisance at any time of year.

Obviously we spend more time indoors in the winter, so pests that feed off ourselves and our pets, such as fleas, actually have more time to feed and spread themselves around during the winter months. Rodents and cockroaches are also still active at this time of year; cockroaches in particular are hardy souls who can survive for a very long time on virtually nothing - possibly in your kitchen!

Pest controllers such as ourselves know that there's no let-up in our work during the winter; we're just as busy as during the summer, and winter is actually a great time to take action to prevent pest problems becoming a serious issue when springtime comes.

The newest addition to the VermEx vehicle fleet is a bit different from the norm and very striking - a Vespa Ape 50! Andy and his wife Kate noticed it for sale outside an Italian pizza restaurant whilst strolling around the small market town of Helmsley and simply couldn't resist it.

Although seemingly a little off the wall, it's actually become a great marketing tool for the business, standing out in the crowd wherever it goes. But it isn't just for show - it's practical too, able to carry rodenticides and insecticides, so perfect for carrying out small jobs around town such as dealing with wasps' nests and delivering electronic fly killer units.

The Ape has since been nicknamed The Hornet for obvious reasons - it's usually heard before it's seen - and can often be found holding up traffic in York city centre due to its leisurely top speed of 25-30 mph. However, with no heater on board it's definitely destined to be a fair weather only means of transport!

The Ape is a common sight in Italy, where its compact size allows it to negotiate narrow city streets and park virtually anywhere. It is also often seen at the roadside where the load area is used as an impromptu market stall by farmers! The Ape is produced in India by Piaggio, and a similar vehicle is manufactured by Bajaj Auto. In India the Ape is a common sight in the form of an autorickshaw (or tuk-tuk).

Look (or should that be listen!) out for the VermEx Vespa if you're out and about in York - this is one hornet we won't be exterminating!