COLCHESTER homes were visited almost nine times more by council pest controllers last year than those in the neighbouring Tendring district, it has been revealed.

New research by Direct Line Home Insurance shows pest controllers employed by Colchester Council made 779 visits to homes in the borough last year.

The data from Colchester Council does not confirm which pests it had to eradicate but nearby Tendring Council made 89 visits in the same period, of which more than 90 per cent were to deal with rats and mice.

Direct Line says councils across the country were called to the equivalent of 734 rat and mouse infestations a day last year.

Freedom of Information requests reveal pest controllers in Chelmsford and Braintree completed the most residential visits in Essex last year, with Colchester sitting in third place.

Harry Wilmore, a pest controller at Pestforce Colchester, says rats and mice keep him busy across north Essex and parts of Suffolk.

“Colchester is a busier place than towns like Clacton which might explain why there’s been more call outs there but I’m always fairly busy throughout Essex,” he explained.

“I wouldn’t say rat and mice infestations are increasing but they’re always among the top issues we’re called to.”

Gazette: Rats are among the top infestations being dealt with in Colchester and across Essex according to pest controller Harry WilmoreRats are among the top infestations being dealt with in Colchester and across Essex according to pest controller Harry Wilmore (Image: Unsplash)

Maria Lawrence, product manager for Direct Line Home Insurance, said: “The public will understandably be squeamish upon learning about the scale of pest problems faced by authorities [in Essex], particularly as they can create real issues for people’s health.

"There is a huge difference in the costs people face, depending on where they live, with either free services or significant charges to tackle these issues.”

How much does it cost to deal with pests in Colchester?

Earlier this year, the city council raised the cost of a visit to deal with rodents at domestic premises from £90 to £100.

The move also saw the cost of bedbug treatments hiked by 46 per cent, with Natalie Sommers, the councillor responsible for communities, previously suggesting an increased resistance to chemicals means it is taking longer to eradicate pests.

Ian Andrew, chief executive of the British Pest Control Association, has warned residents that “failed DIY treatments can make the issue worse”, adding it is “absolutely vital” to consider seeking professional help to deal with rodents.