Pest & wild animal management

photo-icon Thomas J. Hunt

Keeping your property and family safe from pests and feral creatures

Surrounded by the Park Lands, Adelaide city and North Adelaide are fantastic places to live and work. Unfortunately, like all urban areas, they are subject to pests and unwelcome visits by wild creatures.

Rats, mosquitos, cockroaches and European wasps are common pests that are of public health concern. They are nuisance pests that are capable of carrying disease and contaminating foods.

The City of Adelaide is working with residents and businesses to prevent and minimise the presence of these pests. Please be aware that wild animals such as bats, possums and snakes make the Park Lands home. Take care not to touch or disturb them.

Mosquitoes are a biting, irritating nuisance that also carries disease. They peak during the summer months, because of stagnant water lying around in natural wetlands and low lying areas. Combined with increased vegetation these conditions provide ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Protect yourself against mosquitos by:

  • fitting effective screens to windows, doors, chimneys and wall vents
  • screening and or sealing openings to rainwater tanks, septic tanks, drains, vents and soakage systems
  • replacing poor draining gutters and removing unused containers holding water
  • ensuring ornamental ponds are stocked with fish
  • using residual insecticide and knockdown sprays recommended for use in the home or burn citronella
  • wearing long, light-coloured and loose-fitting clothing along with mosquito repellent when outdoors

The City of Adelaide has a treatment program where stormwater side entry pits are treated to cut down mosquitoes breeding areas.

For more information, read SA Health’s mosquito control after floods and storms factsheet.

Rats are destructive and can spread disease. The Norway rat and the Roof rat are two common rats found in the City of Adelaide area. The Norway rat, commonly known as a Sewer rat, is not a good climber, instead it builds an elaborate system of tunnels and burrows at ground level. The Roof Rat also known as a Fruit Rat, prefers to live in trees, vines and other dense vegetation. It will infest rafters or roofs and the upper level of buildings.

Signs to look out for if you suspect you have rats on your property include:

  • rat droppings; thin, black and 1 cm in length
  • gnawings; rats gnaw to control teeth growth, usually on wood, soft metals, food containers and wiring
  • eaten food; fruit, vegetables and packed foods with teeth marks in them
  • rat runs; rats have poor vision and oily coats which mark walls along their path, leading to their shelter
  • sounds; squeaking, gnawing or movement in cupboards, ceilings or under floors.

Rats can be discouraged by keeping your yard clean and tidy and denying access to food and shelter:

  • store timber at least 30 cm above the ground. Do not store it on the ground or against sheds or fences
  • regularly clean up fallen fruit or nuts from trees
  • store all poultry and animal food in metal bins with tight-fitting lids
  • keep poultry areas and aviaries clean and tidy. Only allow enough food for each day
  • keep all food in a closed container. Keep the base of compost bins clear of vegetation and do not throw meat or dog faeces into the compost bin.

For more information, read the City of Adelaide’s rat prevention brochure.

Cockroaches carry a range of bacteria, causing allergies and disease. The most common cockroaches that are encountered in the City of Adelaide area are the American cockroach and the German cockroach.

The American cockroach is found in sewers and drains. They are long, reddish brown in colour and on warm nights often come out from the drains. The German cockroach is often found in food preparation areas. They live in warm areas such as around dishwashers, ovens, fridges and hot water systems. They are very small in size and are a light colour. Their eggs are often transported in cardboard boxes.

Cockroaches hide in many areas around the house, including:

  • cracks in walls
  • confined spaces, such as behind the refrigerator or underneath a stack of cardboard boxes
  • kitchen cupboards
  • below sinks
  • around water heaters
  • in drains and grease traps
  • gardens.

Keeping your house and garden areas tidy is the best way to prevent or eliminate cockroaches. Steps include:

  • clean regularly underneath the fridge, stove, toaster and other movable appliances
  • empty the kitchen's rubbish bin regularly
  • clean up any food spills promptly
  • make sure there are no sources of water, such as a dripping tap, as cockroaches need a steady water supply to survive
  • store food in containers with tight fitting lids
  • repair any holes, cracks or gaps in the walls, skirting boards and inside cupboards
  • don't stack newspapers, magazines or cardboard boxes anywhere in the house
  • keep compost bins screened and away from the house
  • use appropriate insecticide and follow the manufacturer's instructions exactly
  • use natural traps such as greased margarine tubs containing a smear of honey as the lure - cockroaches will climb in for the food, but be unable to get out because of the grease (or oil) on the tub.

Both native bees and European honeybees are prevalent in the Adelaide City Park Lands, with October being the most active time for these insects.

Native Bees

There are over 300 species of native bees in Adelaide and the Mt Lofty Ranges. Native bees are quite different from the European honeybee (Apis mellifera) that we all recognise; some native bees are as small as 2 mm in length and others as large as 2.5 cm. Most species are solitary, non-aggressive and perform extremely important pollination services for our native plants and food crops. Find out more about native bees.

European honeybees

These well-recognised bees live in hive colonies and will sting if approached or provoked.

The City of Adelaide will treat bees if they are a nuisance in a public area. However, if these bees present no danger to the public they are left alone, as they provide enormous benefit to the environment through the pollination of flowers. If the bees are located on your property then you must arrange for the removal at your expense.

European wasps are very common throughout Adelaide. Their nests have been found in a variety of places such as vents, building cavities, holes in trees, holes in the ground and even in ceilings of houses.

They have stocky yellow body and legs and they have black triangular markings on their abdomen. They are larger than a bee and unlike a bee, each wasp can sting multiple times. If left undisturbed, European wasps are not aggressive to humans or other animals.

To prevent European wasps:

  • don't leave fallen fruit or food scraps lying around
  • avoid leaving uneaten pet food outside
  • ensure rubbish bins have tight-fitting lids
  • restrict water sources
  • cover exposed food at picnics and barbeques.

Do not aggravate European wasps. If a European wasp is aggravated it may sting. Unlike the bee, a European wasp can sting multiple times. If left undisturbed the European wasp is not aggressive to humans or other animals.

Council and wasps

The council does not currently destroy nests on private property. Please contact a licenced pest control operator to arrange for the nest to be destroyed at your own expense.

If you spot a European wasp nest in the public realm you must take a photo or know the exact location for Council to be able to remove it. Report it here.

European wasps generally fly in a straight line, so this might help to locate the nest.

Mud wasps and Paper wasps are often confused with European wasps. Mud wasps are also black and yellow in colour but are much larger than European wasps. Their nest is made of mud and their mud tunnels can be found on buildings. They lay their eggs in their nests in captured spiders and they leave allowing the new wasps to hatch. They are not as dangerous as they seldom sting humans.

Paper wasps are a reddish brown colour and their nests are around honeycomb design and are off-white in colour. Their nests are generally located in tree branches and on buildings. They will only sting when they feel that their nest is threatened.

If allowed to roam, our furry feline friends can become the adversary of native animals and can run into trouble with traffic on our roads. Cats have been implicated in the disappearance of at least one bird species from the Park Lands, the Fairy Martin (Petrochelidon ariel). They can also be a nuisance to your neighbours, killing birds in backyards, defecating in gardens and fighting at night.

What can you do?

As cat owners, the best thing you can do is to keep your cats indoors. Evidence has shown that cat bells are not effective in protecting native wildlife. Instead, tying brightly-coloured material to your cat’s collar can alert native animals to your cat’s presence. Better yet, consider an enclosed cat run in your yard to give you cat outside time without impacting on our vulnerable wildlife.

Possums are native to South Australia and are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972 .

Most possums in Adelaide are either the Common Brushtail possum or the Common Ringtail possum. Although found in urban areas, the Common Brushtail possum has suffered a significant decline in abundance and range across South Australia due to predation and habitat destruction.

The City of Adelaide does not provide traps for possums, however traps can be organised through private pest control companies such as Protectamate.

Please note: a permit should be obtained from the Department of Environment and Water prior to trapping the possum.

Flying foxes and bats are often spotted in Adelaide’s Park Lands, the most common type being the Grey-headed Flying fox. Whilst they play an important role in the ecosystem they can also carry a number of diseases that can pose health risks to humans and other animals.

Members of the public are urged not to touch or handle live, injured or deceased flying foxes. Members of the public who come across a dead, sick or injured flying fox should contact Fauna Rescue’s 24-hour Helpline on 8289 0896 to arrange removal of the animal.

Find out more about staying safe around flying foxes.

As the warmer weather arrives, snakes become active especially in the area surrounding the Adelaide Zoo. If you see a snake in the Adelaide Park Lands, do not touch the snake.

Please report the sighting as soon as possible so we can alert our park rangers. Phone our Customer Centre on 8203 7203.