There’s nothing nice about discovering a few unwanted houseguests in the form of a pest infestation.
At best, they can make you feel ill-at-ease in your own home, and at worse, they can damage your fixtures and fittings – and even your health!
Read our blog for a guide to some of the most common household pests – and what to do about them.
It’s not unusual to spot ants out in your garden, but if you start noticing more and more scuttling across your carpet, it could be a sign of an infestation. Ants don’t carry disease, but they can bite, so they aren’t guests you want to stay.
There are sprays and powders available that are designed to kill ants, although you should always read the instructions and take care using them around electrical fittings or if you have children or pets.
Not too long ago bedbugs had all but disappeared in the UK, but they’ve started to make a comeback. Signs you have bedbugs include finding itchy red bumps on your skin and spots of blood on your bedding – not nice!
You might also spot the lentil-sized insects in your bed. If you think you have them, wash all your bedding at 60 degrees C and dry it at 30 degrees C if you have a tumble dryer. However, your best bet to be rid of them for good is to speak to a professional pest control firm.
It’s hard to think of anything more distressing than discovering a cockroach in your kitchen – or anywhere for that matter. These are insects that carry diseases like dysentery and salmonella. They eat almost anything but can survive without food for a few months too, so they can be tough to get rid of.
To prevent them visiting in the first place, keep your home clean and tidy, and seal up any gaps around doors or under the sink where they could get in. If you find one in your home, call a pest control firm straightaway.
If you’re a pet owner, you may already have had a brush with these tiny pests. These parasites can live on dogs or, more commonly, cats, and a few can multiply fast. You may first notice your cat scratching a lot, but within the space of a few weeks, you might be able to see fleas jumping around your carpet – this is a sign you have an infestation.
You can reduce the chance of your pet getting fleas by putting a flea collar on them or purchasing a spot-on treatment from your vet. If you discover an infestation, there are insecticides available at many household stores, and a vigorous vacuum of all your carpets, rugs and pet bedding should remove the eggs and larvae.
It’s not uncommon to find a moth fluttering about your home, and certainly not something about which you need to worry. However, if you have a few living in your home, their larvae can do real damage to your soft furnishings and clothing.
You can try to catch the large moths yourself, and then vacuum the area they’re living in and wash all your effected fabrics to remove any larvae.
It’s unusual to spot an actual mouse or rat in your home, but signs you may have a problem include unexplained scratching sounds, droppings, footprints in dust, a strong smell of ammonia and holes or scratches on your walls. Both rats and mice can damage your belongings, eat your food and spread disease. Even if you’re not frightened of them, you should never encourage them to visit.
You can prevent a problem from starting by keeping all of your food securely stored in containers with lids, putting your rubbish bags in a wheelie bin or metal bin with a lid and making sure there is no food waste left out in your garden or kitchen. If you notice signs of rodents in your home, you’re best off getting professional help.
These little insects are also known as carpet sharks, and if you spot one you’ll understand why – they move just like a fish. Silverfish can be a sign of damp – so you may have that to deal with as well as the pest!
To get rid of existing silverfish and prevent any more from coming, you’ll need to deal with your damp. You can speak to a builder or damp specialist about this, but you may require re-plastering or a new damp proof course. Solve the damp and you should also solve the silverfish problem.
You might not think of squirrels as a pest, but if you have one living in your home, it needs to be treated this way. Of course, we’re talking about grey squirrels rather than red squirrels, which are protected.
If a squirrel decides to move into your attic, it can damage your insulation and woodwork and may get into your water tank. You can keep them out by blocking up any entry holes, but if they’ve already come to stay, it’s a good idea to contact a professional. There are various ways of getting rid of squirrels in your home, but if you catch one alive in a trap, you must be aware that it’s illegal to release it outside.
We all know why you wouldn’t want to find a wasp nest in your home! Wasps are incredibly aggressive and their stings can be dangerous for anyone with an allergy, as well as children and animals.
Never try and tackle a wasp nest on your own as it can be dangerous. Instead, you should contact a trained pest control company to come and treat the problem.
As with silverfish (above), woodworm can be a sign of a deeper structural problem with your home. They can infest your wooden flooring, beams and even wooden furniture, and weaken it from within with their tunnels. Over time, this can seriously weaken the timber structure of your property – which is a BIG problem.
You’ll need to call in the specialists if you think you have a woodworm infestation. Signs include the sudden appearance of tiny round holes in your woodwork, fresh dust beneath the timber and spotting that your wood looks like it’s crumbling.
Find the right people for the job
Whatever pest you’re fighting, you must be certain that the company you hire to tackle the issue is registered with the British Pest Control Association. Try your local council first, as they often offer a pest control service – you can search for your local authority here. If the pests have caused structural damage to your home, you can look for a specialist that’s a member of the Property Care Association.
Remember, a pest infestation can be cured – but we’re sure you’ll agree it’s best to take steps to avoid getting one in the first place.
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By Hayley Cox