We all have to share our home with a few unwanted little critters: flies come in during the summer and spiders are not far behind once autumn arrives. Most of the time this type of pest is harmless (unless you suffer from arachnophobia), but there are a few infestations and pests that can cause a lot more than heart palpitations – and here are seven of the ones to watch out for.
Termites can be pretty useful outdoors because they are experts at recycling rubbish. It’s when they head indoors that the problems start. Termites, like woodworm, love wood. They chomp their way through wooden furniture, floors, and anything else made of wood at a frightening rate of knots. If left unchecked, termites will quite literally bring the roof down. To avoid a termite problem, keep firewood stacked away from the house and check wooden sidings regularly. And if you hear munching sounds at night, call in the pest control experts.
Woodworms are the larvae of wood-eating beetles. If left alone they can munch their way through wooden furniture, floors, and even structural timbers, causing untold damage. It is easy to eradicate a small infestation in a piece of furniture, but if you find small holes in the floor or structural timbers, call in the cavalry.
The deathwatch beetle loves old oak timbers, specifically damp ones full of fungal decay. The distinctive clicking noise heard in a deathwatch beetle infestation is caused by the male beetle head banging to attract a mate. The beetle itself isn’t the problem. Rather it is the wood boring larvae that eat away the timber. But if you do have deathwatch beetle, you can bet your life on there being larvae, which live for up to 13 years. If in doubt, have a structural engineer check your timbers.
Moth larvae flourish in warm, modern homes and if they have access to your wardrobes or sheep’s wool loft insulation, they can be highly destructive. In the old days moth balls were the preferred way to keep moths at way. Today we don’t use moth balls, but since moths prefer dirty clothes, keeping up to date with your laundry will help keep them at bay.
Mosquitoes cause more deaths than any other creature in the world. These little blood suckers are responsible for the spread of malaria, dengue fever, and possibly the West Nile virus. Even the smallest amount of standing water will act as a breeding for mosquitoes, and if you end up being bitten by an infected mosquito it could be fatal. To prevent mosquitoes from breeding in the garden, don’t leave standing water lying around, even in drain pipes. And if you have a pond, install a fountain or sprinkler.
Mice are very common and unless you deal with the problem, a few mice will quickly turn into a giant extended family. Mice have a nasty habit of chewing through electrical cable and insulation, which is dangerous. Rats also gnaw through cables and wood, but an even greater problem is the fact that they can carry serious diseases as well. If you suspect you have rats or mice, you will need to call in the experts.
Ants usually appear in the spring and summer time. Some species are a nuisance when they come indoors and raid the cupboards in their search for sugary foods, but they don’t cause much harm. The carpenter ant is a bit different, however, and if you have any damp patches of timber in your home, a carpenter ant may decide to set up a new colony. And before you know it, you are sharing your house with several million ants.
Ticks are small little critters, but they can be extremely hazardous to our health. Deer ticks are the most infamous ticks because they are associated with Lyme disease: a bacterial infection spread when humans come into contact with infected ticks. Once a person is infected, antibiotic treatment is required. If this doesn’t happen or the disease is not detected, they will develop mid and late stage complications, including neurological disorders and painful inflammation of the joints. To prevent ticks from becoming a problem, keep your back yard trimmed.
Never ignore pest infestations as they can do serious damage when left unchecked. Some infestations can be treated using DIY methods, but for serious infestations, particularly termites and wood boring beetles, you should always hire a professional pest control company to ensure the problem is dealt with properly.