So you’re moving to a new country and there are certain things you expect to change, whether it’s the food, language, culture, customs and even (hopefully?) the weather. One of the things you might not have thought about before the big move is what new pests you’re going to encounter in Bavaria…
Now I’m not talking about noisy neighbours, endlessly screaming children or barbecue addicts that just have to cook whilst your washing is outside drying. I’m actually talking about the bitey bugs and nuisance creatures that didn’t reside in your old home… as they may, in fact, be in your new one.
This list covers some of our experiences with just five of the pests we’ve found here in Bavaria… And if ‘Five Point’ lists are your cup of tea, why not check out this post (written by me!) over at 40 Percent German – Munich: Five Unexpected Things. You’ll get to learn all about the mysterious Train Shark… I swear, it’s a thing!
Contrary to the header image, this list doesn’t include rats!
5. Ameisen (Ants)
Ants. Tiny little crawling things that pay no attention to a human’s preference for personal space.
One of the first things we had to do once we got to our apartment in Ismaning was head out and find ant killer. The small paved patio area was crawling with them and as ants tend to do, they found their way inside. Whether they opted to hitch a ride on the Fluffy-Cat-Transport-Creature to the other side of the flat, or were simply setting off on some endless hiking expedition, I’d find them in the strangest of places. Unwanted places. Like at eye-level on the wall beside my head. Ugh.
Even though they aren’t an evil, biting kind of ant – they had to go! The best thing I found to get rid of them came in the form of little green plastic bait boxes. Everything is nicely self contained, so I didn’t have to worry about the cat inadvertently (or intentionally) eating it. Varying kinds of ant bait boxes can be found in the beauty and household supplies stores of Rossmann and DM, in addition to the German B&Q DIY equivalents like Hagebau.
I admit wanting to buy a few boxes for the communal recycling bins. The area is swarming with ants and despite doing my best impression of a cat dancing on a hot tin roof, I still end up with ants thinking it’s a great idea to crawl into my trainers or up to my knees. You can easily tell which areas have an ant problem though: just check the pavements. If you spy lots of little mounds of chewed up, powdered mortar and the ground looks like it’s moving, you’re likely to pick up an Ameisen hitchhiker or two. Or three.
I’ve never seen so many ants on the streets as I have here.
4. Feuerwanzen (Firebugs)
It’s debatable whether the Firebug, Pyrrhocoris apterus, is actually a pest… But it’s irritating me, so I think that qualifies.
Firebugs don’t seem to have a particularly negative effect on their environments. With being decorated in quite feisty colours – a stylish red and black combo – you’d suspect these insects to be dangerous. They’re not though, which significantly improves matters.
Emerging from their winter slumber into April sunshine, all of a sudden there’s hundreds of them in the garden. You’ll mostly likely see them joined together in pairs, endlessly mating as they wander over your patio and try to break their way into your apartment. Wanna know why? These little weirdos will mate for between 12 hours and up to 7 days. If Firebugs live near you, it’s basically impossible to avoid Firebug Porn.
So why do I take such exception to them? Well… the apartment I’m in has a basement, with a huge cool-in-the-summer but warm-in-the-winter room. It’s got two decently sized windows, both covered with a metal grate at ground level, meaning things are less likely to find themselves stuck in the foot of space between our window and the garden surface. Given the location, we’ve put fly screens (Fliegengitter) on the windows so we can open them without having all the bugs and creepy crawlies getting in…
Only the Firebugs are assholes. They start off life small enough to ignore our attempts at bug proofing and just crawl their way though the netting! So until they grow up or relocate to their winter homes, the bedroom windows must remain sealed. In the summer. Assholes, I tell you.
3. Steinmarder (Stone Marten)
Now this isn’t a valid, technical term but in our house we refer to the Steinmarder (or Hausmarder) as a “Dick Marder”. And no, I’m not using the German meaning of ‘dick’ there.
In English, you’ll recognise these critters as Stone Martens, House Martens or Beech Martens. It’s just three different names for the same large weasely ferrety creature. With a long body, fluffy tail and cutely photogenic features, these guys are nocturnal and will start venturing out at twilight. I’ve even seen one run along the roof of a neighbouring building as the bats start doing their evening fly about! So how is it that these cuties made their way to my little Pests in Bavaria list? Two very good reasons.
Number One: They will destroy your car. Most commonly occurring in the spring, Marders will worm their way into your vehicle and begin their Mechanic Apprenticeship by stripping rubber and biting through cables. They’re not particularly interested in the fact you need the brakes to work or that you don’t want a cut fuel line – they’re more focused on destructive disassembly. We’ve walked past cars with a series of little paw prints running a line from bonnet to boot, so if you spot the same on cars near you – watch out! There’s a long thread on Toytown Germany about it all, for those that need more details.
Number Two: Alright, this one is extremely specific. In fact, I’m fairly sure no one else will ever have the same issue. You remember the grate that covers access to my bedroom windows? Well those grates are surrounded by chunky pebbles… And at around 2am, some Dick Marder decided to go digging through the pebbles and whizz them down the grate. Loudly. Clatteringly. Did shining a torch up through the window at it disturb the Marder? No. No it didn’t. I had to go upstairs and raise the Zombie shutters on the window near it, making enough noise to disturb it (whilst hopefully not waking the neighbours!). You know what it did? Looked at me, licked its paw and ran off! Dick Marder.
2. Mücken (Mosquitoes)
Whether it’s a Tigermücken (Asian tiger mosquito) or just a plain old common mozzie, it doesn’t really matter. These guys are absolute pests. Don’t be fooled by the name either, the Tiger Mosquito is here in Bavaria too! Mosquitoes like pools of stagnant water for breeding purposes and in a town with lakes, streams, rivers and plenty of damp wooded areas, it’s no surprise to be bothered by them.
I’m lucky, in that mosquitoes just don’t seem to want to feast on me. Mr. E3 isn’t as fortunate and will be eaten alive by these blood sucking vampire insects. Not only can they leave bothersome itchy lumps after having bitten, which may become infected, their behaviour can also spread unwelcome disease too. Lovely…
Preventing them getting into the home is a good place to start, though with a pet that’s got access to the outside world that’s not always possible. Arm yourself with Raid products (or similar) to keep the noisy buzzing insects at bay whilst you sleep. Believe me, you’ll know if one gets into your bedroom. Even if it doesn’t want to use your body as an all-you-can-eat buffet, the loud buzzing will keep you awake. A midnight game of ‘hunt the mosquito’ isn’t as fun as it sounds.
1. Zecken (Ticks)
Nasty, disgusting, vile, evil bastard things. It’s making my skin crawl to even write this, though thankfully I’ve decided to insert this awful picture after the words are done. I just can’t look at the thing. Ugh. It’s a Deer Tick, by the way.
Ticks are small parasites from the spider family. These horrible things like to stand on their back legs, arms outstretched, waiting to catch a lift on anything that passes by. That includes you, your children and your pets.
They tear your skin open and embed themselves to drink your blood… and they can be very difficult to spot, particularly as they like armpits, groin regions and places along the hairline. They can also be as small as a poppy seed and their bites are usually painless!
If you find you’ve been bitten, ticks need to be removed carefully with tweezers (or a tick remover) in a twisting motion. Any crushing and the thing is liable to vomit up its last meal back into you, increasing the risk of infection. Which leads me to the worst thing about these guys…
Whilst ticks transmit other dieaseses, the most common and a danger to life are Tick-borne Encephalitis and Lyme Disease. There’s no vaccine for Lyme and it can cause extreme and life-long health problems.
There’s one, final reason this is at Number One on my Pests in Bavaria list. We have a cat. It took just four days of full outside access before she brought a huge, crawling, almost indestructible Deer Tick into the house. Seriously, burn them. The vet prescribed tick repellent had failed… And with her having such long fur and hating to be touched, there’s no way we’d be able to check her every day for ticks. It turned my stomach just to think she’d be bringing them inside! So until we go home, she’s pretty much a house cat. I really do hate Zecken.