Rentokil fined €60,000 by French court for breaching employee’s ‘right to disconnect’ from work

The French wing of British pest control giant Rentokil has been ordered to pay a former employee €60,000 as it failed to respect his “right to disconnect” from his phone and computer outside office hours.

This ruling is believed to be the first since a new law was put in place in 2016 which gives employees the right to switch off electronic devices in response to the scourge of compulsive out-of-hours email and message.

The decision, dated 12th July, found it unfair for the ex-employee to permanently leave it work telephone on to respond to work queries. The ex-employee was fired in 2011 and took his ex-employer to court for compensation for the extra hours on call. The company did not consider the ex-director to be officially on call and there was no stipulation that he needed to remain close to his home to field calls and deal with emergency business.

However, the court ruled that given that his number was provided as one of the directors to call should problems arise, that amounted to him being “on call”, and that he should be paid for his time.  Legal expert Sylvain Niel said that the simple fact of being “connected” outside work hours was enough to be considered “on call”.

By Lee Silson

Studies show that fleas are to invade now we have had the long-awaited summer downpour. Now the rain has been and gone, millions of homes across the UK are set to see the biggest rise of flea infestations in years.

When the hot weather drops, billions of flea eggs will hatch, invading homes with their unwanted presence. Since last autumn, fleas have been waiting for the humid weather, so they can complete their life cycle.

The female flea needs to feed on their hosts – whether that be a cat, dog or human prior to breeding. One single flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day, which means its crucial to get the infestation under control as soon as you notice it. Fleas can consume up to 15 times their body weight in blood every 24 hours.

If you have fleas, by visiting www.pestcontrolsupermarket.com has everything you will need to successfully get rid of your infestation.

It is recommended and so important to seek treatment for your home and your pet immediately.

 

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New species of wasp discovered

Scientists have discovered a new species of wasp that has an incredibly large stinger. The wasp was discovered by Finnish researchers at the University of Turku.

The stinger has been described as long and wide, and it takes up the whole length of it’s body. Wasps can use their stingers multiple times, with females being able to inject venom whilst stinging making it more painful.

“I have studied tropical parasitoiwasd wasps for a long time, but I have never seen anything like it,” said Ilari E. Sääksjärvi, a professor at the University of Turku.

Pictured: The new discovered species of wasp, Clistopyga crassicaudata. This paticular wasp was discovered in 2018 and is found in Peru.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Flying Ant Day

The UK has seen a sharp rise in temperatures in recent weeks, which might be great for a BBQ or sitting outside, but this rise in temperature is the cause of swarms of flying ants descending on our shores.

The UK’s Entomological Society said the flying ants usually swoop on the UK in July/August but there is a high possibility that the pests could be earlier this year due to increased temperatures. Professor Adam Hart said, “It is definitely possible that due to the warm conditions the UK has been experiencing in recent weeks that we could see some flying ants earlier this year.” He explains the flying ants we see on ‘Flying Ant Day’ are different than the pests we see year-round.

At this time of year, within the colony, ants start rearing King and Queen off spring with the objective being that they will create new colonies. These Kings and Queens develop wings and fly off in search of a mate and to start their own colony. The swarm in their billions to confuse predators and to give the optimum chance of survival. Once they finished mating the male will die and the female will lay her eggs, start a new colony and become the Queen.

David Cross, head of the technical training academy at Rentokil Pest Control, said: “If temperatures remain high, we also expect this to really be a bumper year for flying ants, which could manifest itself at ‘Flying Ant Day’ – the ‘nuptial flight’ stage of ant reproduction where swarms of flying ants are prominent.”

By Lee J Silson

 

Entomopathogenic fungus. Insect Mind Control.

A rare sight indeed when death springs life. Ants can be observed leaving their colony, ascending the nearest plant, clamping down on a leaf in what biologists call a ‘death grip’ only to wait to die, days later growths extend from the body of the deceased, growths very much alive and well.

The cause of this process is a parasitic fungus, a member of the genus Ophiocordyceps.

This fungus forces an ant to find a leaf in a location suited to fungal growth, a matter of precision. In some cases, all infected ants were found on leaves roughly 25cm from the ground, where temperature, humidity and leaf orientation are perfect for the fungus. This fungus can coordinate an ant’s behaviour with astonishing precision all while digesting the ant from the inside.

This highly complex interaction is not yet fully understood, we know the fungus never invades the brain however it is speculated that it could be controlling ants using hormones.

In social insect societies strong defensive measures are common, during social interactions infections can be detected and displays of aggression towards the infected noted, even removal from the nest. However, in the case of the parasitic fungus infected ants appear to continue moving through the nest undetected until leaving to die

The big question here, is does the pathogen change how infected ants interact with others or alter the chemical cues they emit which allow nest mates to detect the infection?

This hypothesis has been investigated, after observing 1,240hrs of footage researchers found no attacks towards infected indivduals and no significant difference in food sharing between infected and uninfected individuals. The key difference was the infected ants spent more time outside the nest, possibly an early signal of fungal manipulation. The significant finding from this research is that the coevolved parasite doesn’t seem to directly affect social dynamics within the colony.

The parasitic fungus is the cloaked assassin, the ant its pawn in the game of life.

How do parasitic fungi relate to pest control?

Not only do parasitic fungi play a vital role in maintaining sustainable insect numbers in the wild, they also hold potential as part of an integrated pest management system. As the fungi is not harmful to mammals the spores can be formulated into sprays, the key hurdle for advanced application and development within the pest control sector is the specific conditions required in temperature, humidity and light exposure. Parastic fungi has been applied with limited success, however with further study we may indeed see this fungi as a feature in mainstream pest management.