With pest control companies reporting a 50% rise in call-outs, here are some of the housemates you could be sharing your home with…
We often associate house ‘pests’ with mice and rats, which can gnaw through pretty much anything and carry diseases into your home.
Often found in lofts (causing fire hazards by chewing electric cables) and kitchens (where they’ll eat virtually anything that’s on offer, but are especially fond of cereal), telltale signs include droppings, scratching noises and sometimes a musky smell.
Look out for holes and gaps where they can squeeze their way into your home (both mice and rats can get through any hole the size of a pen) and get them blocked up. Brown rats can measure up to 25cm – not including the tail – and the last thing you want to encounter is one of those!
Transparent and less than half a millimetre long, you may not be able to see him but the dust mite and his 1.5 million mates are the making the most of your luxurious lodgings, feeding on a diet of dry and dead skin.
Coming out at night and causing allergic reactions in about 20% of the population, dust mites are known to cause eczema and asthma. There’s no way to get rid of them completely, but you could try replacing your pillows (a two-year-old pillow is made up of 10% dead mites and their droppings) and wooden or vinyl floors are better than carpets.
Other tips include opening windows when cooking and cleaning, hoovering your mattress, dusting surfaces with a damp duster and washing bed linen on as hot a temperature as possible.
About the size of an apple pip, the bed bug is reddish-brown and flattened, and loves nothing more than feasting on blood while you sleep. Using a barbed spike, he’ll repeatedly hammer at the skin’s surface in order to dig a hole before gorging himself on blood for 10-15 minutes. He’ll then crawl away to a hiding place to digest the meal for the next three or four days and invite the family in, while you’re left with itchy, whitish bite marks.
Look out for telltale blood spots, black specks of dried faeces and shed shells on your bed linen. The only way to get rid of them is to call in the professionals.
Apparently, silverfish were the first animals on land, some 300 million years before dinosaurs – and they’re still lurking in our homes today.
This silvery bug can be found in dark, damp places, such as the basement, loft or bathroom, and they like to feed on shampoo, linen and dead insects. Wet towels are a favourite and they enjoy hiding in the cracks in walls and skirting boards, as well as in any nooks and crannies found in your grouting. Open windows and clean surfaces regularly to keep them at bay.
Wasps and bees
No one wants a wasps’ nest in their garden, let alone their house, but it does make a great hangout for those stinging insects. Wasps tend to build their enormous homes in places where they can access the outside world, so lofts, garages and wall cavities are all popular. Call in the experts to have the nest removed to avoid being stung like crazy!
When it comes to bees, however, it’s a bit different. Bees are a valuable part of our ecosystem and should only really be tampered with by professionals who can relocate the site of the nest. You might discover masonry or mortar bees in your home, as they tend to make their home in holes or crevices in walls positioned in sunny places.
What bugs do you have living in your home? Tell us in the Comments box below.