Identifying Common Household Pests

  • 3rd July 2024
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Identifying Common Household Pests

They’re in your walls! Maybe. Pests are generally small so can get in and out and make themselves at home fairly easily in many parts of your property. And as it gets warmer, you’ll be more likely to encounter a wide variety of insects, amongst other pests.

Whilst a tiny bug may be easily ignored, bigger infestations, nests and rodents can pose health risks like stings, bites, and diseases. The environments that attract certain creatures, such as damp spaces, can also be hazardous to your health, so addressing that problem will also have the double effect of making you feel better and lessening your chance of a crawly encounter.

Sometimes you may suspect you have some sort of uninvited guest, there may be signs (is your cat or dog sniffing at an area it doesn’t usually?), but you’re not sure who (or what) that uninvited pest may be.

So, to make sure your house remains an undisrupted place of tranquillity where no unwelcome visitors can squeeze in, here’s a list of common household pests and how to identify them. Including tips such as signs of an intruder, how they behave, what attracts them and how to prevent or get rid of them…

House Mice

House mice are common pests in the UK, often seeking shelter in homes and buildings during colder months, but it can happen in warmer times too. This can be due to heat, dehydration, seeking food/water, better conditions for breeding, and because you’re more likely to leave doors and windows open during hotter times.

They are mostly nocturnal creatures and can squeeze through small openings, making them difficult to keep out. Signs of a mouse infestation include droppings, gnaw marks, and nests made from shredded materials.

Identification Tip: People can often be unsure whether they have a rat or a mouse problem, so look for small, greyish-brown rodents with pointed snouts, large ears, and long tails.

Prevention and Control: Seal entry points, keep food in sealed containers, maintain a clean and clutter-free environment, and use traps or baits to capture and eliminate mice

Rats

Rats are larger rodents than mice and are known carriers of diseases such as leptospirosis and salmonella. They are adept climbers and can enter buildings through openings in roofs or walls. Signs of a rat infestation include droppings, gnaw marks on food packaging or wiring, and greasy rub marks along walls and baseboards.

Identification Tip: Look for larger rodents with blunt snouts, small ears, and long, scaly tails.

Prevention and Control: Seal entry points with steel wool or caulk, keep food stored/sealed, maintain a tidy garden, and use traps or baits to control rat populations.

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals (you are usually asleep when they feed).

They are small, flat insects that can hide in cracks and crevices near beds and furniture. Signs of a bed bug infestation include itchy bites on the skin, blood stains on sheets, and small black dots (faecal matter) on mattresses and bedding.

Identification Tip: Look for small, reddish-brown insects with flat, oval-shaped bodies and six legs.

Prevention and Control: Inspect second hand furniture and luggage before bringing them into your home, wash bedding and clothing in hot water, vacuum regularly, and use mattress encasements and bed bug interceptors to detect and prevent infestations.

Bed bugs can be notoriously hard to get rid of, so whether an infestation is affecting your home or your business, don’t hesitate to contact a professional.

Cockroaches

Cockroaches are not as common in the UK as they are in some warmer, more humid climates, but they do exist and can be a problem in certain areas, particularly in urban environments.

The two most common species of cockroaches found in the UK are the German cockroach and the Oriental cockroach, both of which were most likely introduced to this country by factors such as travel and global trade.

Identifying these different types:

  • German Cockroach: This species is smaller and more commonly found indoors. They are typically light brown with two dark stripes on their backs. German cockroaches thrive in warm, moist environments such as kitchens, bathrooms, and other areas where food and water are readily available.
  • Oriental Cockroach: Larger and darker in colour, the Oriental cockroach is often found in cooler, damp environments such as basements, drains, and sewers. They can also be found outdoors in rubbish heaps and other moist areas.

Generally, they are nocturnal insects that can spread diseases and trigger allergies. Usual signs of a cockroach infestation may include droppings, egg cases, and a musty odour.

Prevention and Control: Keep your home clean and dry, seal cracks and crevices, store food in airtight containers, and use appropriate baits and traps.

Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are small insects that feed on natural fibres such as wool, silk, and cotton. They are often found in carpets, upholstery, and clothing. Signs of a carpet beetle infestation include damage to fabrics, shed skins, and small, fuzzy larvae.

Identification Tip: Look for small, oval-shaped beetles with colourful patterns on their backs.

Prevention and Control: Vacuum carpets and upholstery regularly, wash bedding and clothing in hot water, store clothing away in wardrobes, perhaps even airtight containers or boxes whilst you deal with the problem, and use insecticides or traps.

Flies

Flies are common pests, attracted to food sources and breeding in decaying organic matter. They can spread diseases such as salmonella and E. coli. Signs of a fly infestation include the presence of flies indoors, particularly around food sources, and the presence of maggots in bins or compost heaps.

Prevention and Control: Keep food stored in sealed containers, clean up spills and crumbs ASAP, dispose of garbage regularly, and use fly screens on doors and windows to prevent entry.

Moths

Moths are common pests that can damage clothing, rugs, and other textiles with their larvae. Signs of a moth infestation include the presence of adult moths flying around, larvae crawling on textiles, and holes in clothing or rugs.

Moth or Butterfly?: Look for small, powdery-winged insects with feather-like antennae and a distinctive resting posture with wings folded over their bodies.

Prevention and Control: Store clothing and textiles away when you can, clean rugs and upholstery regularly, vacuum carpets and closets, and use moth repellents or traps to capture adult moths and disrupt their life cycle.

Also don’t leave the lights on or windows open in a room at the same time as this is what they are most attracted to besides textiles. Net curtains or anti-fly nets/screens might help too.

Wasps

Wasps are stinging insects that can build nests in and around buildings, particularly in roof spaces and wall cavities. They can pose a threat to humans, especially those allergic to their venom. Signs of a wasp infestation include the presence of wasps entering and exiting a nest, typically located in sheltered areas. You may be able to hear their buzzing.

Wasp, Hornet or Bee?: Look for insects with slender bodies, distinctive yellow and black markings, and long, narrow wings.

Prevention and Control: Seal entry points (try to leave your windows on a trickle vent if you can or use anti-fly screens/nets), avoid leaving food or sugary drinks exposed, dispose of food waste properly.

Consult a professional pest controller to remove wasp nests safely.

If In Doubt, Call Able

It’s good to stay vigilant and do everything you can to prevent and get rid of pests yourself, but in some instances, especially overwhelming, reoccurring cases or dangerous situations, like wasp nests and disease risks, it’s better to call an expert.

We can help with a variety of issues, including:

We also specialise in 6 other trades including plumbing, electrics, and glazing. So, if a rat has chewed on a wire, a leak is causing a damp and attractive environment to pests, or your windows need improving so you can keep flies out without having to sacrifice ventilation and cool air, give us a call on 0330 108 4111

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