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How to protect your home from pests

Jane

‘Pests’ is an emotive word, especially in relation to insects, parasites and vermin that may invade our homes and outbuildings. How do you protect your home from pests? Before answering this, we need to define what we mean by pests.

What is a pest?

Originally, from pestilence, or plague, it relates to a harmful insect, first defined in relation to those that spread the plague. Pests that invade our houses are not usually carriers of fatal epidemic diseases, but they are often destructive to the fabric of the building, and its occupants.
They may cause illness and unpleasantness, if not dealt with promptly.

What are the common household pests in the UK?

The household pest category includes both animals and insects. Below is a list of typical household pests. The list is not exhaustive, as some creatures not usually associated as being a pest maybe in certain circumstances. For example, birds or squirrels living in roof spaces.

Infestation with any of the above, in a home or outbuilding, may prove difficult to get rid of. Pest prevention is usually cheaper and easier to instigate then pest removal from your home and outbuildings. Some pests are more common at certain times of the year, and preventative measures put in place prior to these times will be most effective.

How to protect your home from pests:

Pest Protection from Bed Bugs, Moths, Spiders, Wasps and Ants
How to identify if your home has 5 of the most common insect pests, with tips on pest prevention and what you need to protect your home from pests.

Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs are becoming a more common problem, with more people travelling between places and picking up bed bugs inadvertently on luggage or clothing, and bringing the creatures into their home. The ease of infecting your living space makes knowledge on how to prevent bed bugs essential for every householder.

Signs of bed bug infestation are:

  • Bites on your body - they need blood to survive
  • Small black dots of faecal matter
  • Tiny dark red dots of blood, which are squashed bed bugs
  • Skin that the bed bug sheds as it grows
  • Visible live or dead bed bug in cracks and crevices of your bed or home

How to prevent bed bugs:

  • Wash and dry bedding and clothing at a high temperature
  • Don’t give them anywhere to hide, reduce any clutter in your bedroom and home
  • If you suspect a bed bug infestation, don’t spread it to other rooms, or houses
  • Tidy your bedroom, especially the areas near your bed and bedside table, and underneath the bed
  • Vacuuming your bed and surrounding area will reduce the number of bed bugs - concentrate on crevices if you can’t see them. Empty vacuum after use, to stop the spread of bed bugs
  • If you suspect bed bugs, you can treat with DIY treatments (professional treatments are available if required)
  • When travelling check beds for signs of bed bugs
  • Don’t put the suitcase on the bed, hang clothes in wardrobes rather than drawers, store suitcases in garage (not house) between trips

Moth prevention

Adult moths tend to lay their eggs on clothing made from natural yarn, like cotton. They eat the fabric, as they grow. Carpets and upholstery are also food sources, if made from natural fibres. Moth prevention is necessary, to reduce damage to natural fabrics in the home, such as cotton, linen, silk and wool. Moths are not a known source of disease spread.

  • Not allowing moths into your home is the best moth prevention
  • Use of fly screens or shutting windows and curtains at night
  • Regular vacuuming of areas under furniture to remove any eggs laid
  • Only store newly washed clean clothes
  • Store clothes in vacuum-sealed bags
  • Regularly check, little-used rooms, especially under furniture, cupboards, wardrobes and loft areas for signs of moths

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How to stop spiders coming in the house

Spiders are positive insect predators; they eat flies and other unwanted insects in the home, but their numbers need to be limited. Here are some tips on how to stop spiders coming in the house.

The essential guide to spider prevention:

  • Removing or reducing a spider’s food source will reduce their numbers
  • Seal up possible entry points to your house, such holes in walls and woodwork, gaps underneath or on top of doors and door and window frames
  • Vacuum webs that appear regularly
  • Keep garden rubbish and other stored items away from the house

Wasp Prevention

Wasps are normally associated with summertime and early autumn in the UK, where they frequently find their way into homes, through open doors and windows. Wasps become problematic if they locate their nest in or close to your home. There are often thousands of wasps in a nest, and so wasp prevention from your home is important.

Common places in your house for wasp nests are the eaves or in the loft. The Queen wasp builds her nest in spring after hibernation. This is time to check for nests around the house. They should be small and contain fewer wasps. Removal may be tricky as they may aggressively defend the nest. Professional help is advisable.

  • Keep bins tightly closed and away from the house
  • Remove sources of food, especially sweet things
  • Treat your bird table with foil or an application of soap to repel wasps
  • Keep windows and doors closed in your house
  • Keep away from wasp nests, call in the professionals
  • Perfume and bright colours attract wasps and other insects, so remember this when you are outside
  • Certain aromatic herbs like thyme repel wasps naturally - keep these near the house and in areas of the garden where you sit

Tips on how to stop ants in house taking over

Ants normally live outside, where they do not usually cause any problems. But ants in the home are problematic. They are attracted to the house looking for food, so the following tips aim to stop the attraction and keep them in the garden where they belong:

  • Clean up any food or liquid straight away - ants are tiny, so a small crystal of sugar is an attractive food source
  • Store all food in sealed containers
  • Keep doors and windows closed - block up any holes in the wall or woodwork.
  • Keep bins outside closed, especially if they contain food waste

Termite Prevention

Termites are not indigenous to the UK these ant-like creatures are more common in hotter climates, and they are destructive. Just in case a hotter UK means these creatures come to visit, here are some termite prevention tips:

  • Termites thrive in moisture and humidity, so reducing humidity in the home is a good preventative measure
  • Repair leaks to water pipes and taps
  • Fill in any holes house’s roof and fascia
  • Divert water away from home, repair waste pipes and guttering
  • Check basements and brickwork for soundness
  • Store firewood away from the house
  • Check any wooden parts of the house are clear of soil
  • Check wooden areas of the house for signs of infestation

Pest control insurance is specialised insurance, so most home insurance policies won’t cover it as standard. The type of pests a pest control insurance covers can also vary from one company to the next. You’ll need to do your research to make sure you’re adequately covered if pest control insurance is a necessity for you.

To protect your home from pests, pest prevention, as discussed above, is worthwhile, whether or not you opt for pest control insurance.

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