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Types of pests and how to prevent them

Megan

Household pests fall into two main groups; animals and insects. Animal and insect pests vary according to where in the world you are.

For example in areas of North America, termites are household pests. They are similar in appearance to ants but are very destructive. They can eat most of the fabric of the house, therefore, termite prevention is necessary. Termites are not currently indigenous to the UK, although there are recorded outbreaks of termite infestation. With global warming, the UK and environmental temperatures are likely to rise, so termite prevention may be something you need to know about.

Below we will share a few tips on termite prevention, as we explore types of pests, how to protect your home from pests using pest prevention tips, and ways to achieve pest protection from the UK’s common household pests.

The most common UK household pests are:

Animals

  • Rats
  • Mice

Insects

  • Ants
  • Bed Bugs
  • Cockroaches
  • Fleas
  • Flies
  • Moths
  • Spiders
  • Wasps
  • Woodworm

Your home attracts insect pests looking for food, or a place to lay their eggs. Simple household hygiene and household maintenance regimes are important for pest prevention.

Here are some tips for how to protect your home from pests like ants, bed bugs, moths, spiders, termites and woodworm.

How to stop ants in house from colonising your home

Ants are on a constant search for food. They send out scouts to find new food sources. Ants will explore every possible food outlet, so the best way to discourage them from invading your home is to stop them from getting in. Using fly screens or keeping windows and doors closed in the warmer months is advisable. However, they are small creatures, so it’s also advisable to block up any holes in wooden frames or brick walls, where they could gain entrance.

Once inside, any source of food will attract ants, no matter how small. Even just a crystal of sugar on a worktop or flooring will bring them in and then start them looking for more, usually with their counterparts. Good hygiene in areas where you eat, prepare and store food is essential. Clean up food bits and drink spills immediately, and store all food in sealed, impenetrable containers.

If you already have ants, you need a pest protection solution. There are DIY powders and sprays, but if they don’t solve the problem, call in professional pest control. If you have pest control insurance, cover for ants removal and prevention should be included.

How to prevent bed bugs

Bed bugs need blood to survive. They live in cracks and crevices and venture out at night to bite their host. Bites on your skin are an obvious sign of a bed bug infestation, but dark spots of faecal matter, dark red spots of blood from squashed insects and dead or live insects are all signs to look out for too.

Bed bugs are becoming more common, not from poorer household hygiene, but because we travel more. The chances of encountering a bed bug infestation from a hotel or rental accommodation is high. Bed bugs are small and can attach to clothing or luggage and be transported into your home without your knowledge.

These tips will show you how to prevent bed bugs:

  • After travel don’t put luggage on your bed or upholstery
  • Store empty luggage in the garage
  • Vacuum bedding and upholstery regularly and thoroughly, particularly in cracks and crevices
  • Wash clothes and bedding at the highest temperature they can safely be washed at. (This is particularly important after travelling, or if you think you may have bed bugs!)

Bed bug infestations are difficult to eradicate. Call in professional pest control, if in doubt. They will use high heat treatments to completely destroy the bed bugs in situ.

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Moth prevention - How to

Moths which lay their eggs on naturally-derived fabrics like cotton, silk and wool are household pests. Their larvae eat the fabric on hatching and leave it holey and often unusable. Not all moths do this, and they only threaten natural yarn. Moth prevention is relatively straight forward.

  • Keep windows and doors closed or use fly screens especially at night when moths are active
  • Only store clothes that are washed - dirty laundry attracts female moths
  • Store clothes and bedding made from natural fabric in vacuum-packed bags
  • Regular vacuuming under the bed, and sofa and in little-used rooms will remove any eggs laid unnoticed

How to prevent spiders

UK spiders are not routinely considered pests, except where they are present in extreme numbers. However, many people do not like sharing their homes with spiders, even though they remove other less desirable insects like flies and wasps from the home.

Spiders are attracted into the home looking for a warm place to stay in the colder months and in search of food. Spider prevention is possible, if you limit access into your home, by blocking entry points from the outside to in, and remove easy food sources. Pick up dead insects, and remove webs as they appear. Sprays and spider deterrent herbs are also available.

Woodworm prevention

Woodworm, as the name suggests, infest wood in a house. Woodworm is a generic term referring to any wood-boring beetle. The adults lay eggs in cracks and imperfections in the wood, and these hatch into larvae known as woodworm, which proceed to eat the wood and can cause extensive damage.

Any type of wood in the home is vulnerable. This may be floorboards, joists, door and window frames and furniture. Active woodworm may infect non-infected wood. Moving actively infested furniture into a home is the commonest way to spread woodworm, as the larvae matures. The adult beetles will look to lay their eggs in any available wood source.

The main signs of a woodworm infestation are:

  • Dead beetles near the wood in your house or outbuildings
  • Boreholes, which are created as the adult beetle bores out the wood its has lived on
  • Bore dust, the by-product of boring insects
  • Wood that crumbles

If left untreated, it will destroy the house’s wood. If this occurs in structural wood, it can undermine the integrity of the structure.

Preventing woodworm in your home

The best way to avoid woodworm is to keep your furniture and your house’s wooden structure in good condition. Adult beetles, such as the common furniture beetle and the deathwatch beetle, lay eggs in cracks or imperfections in the furniture. Try to prevent these occurring by nourishing your wood. If you do see cracks in your wood, repair them!

If pest prevention fails, there are woodworm infestation treatments available, both professionally and DIY, depending on the size of your infestation. Professional treatments are effective and usually offer a guarantee against future infestation. Pest control insurance protects you against the costs of woodworm infestation, for an annual or monthly fee.

And finally, termite prevention tips...

Finally, as promised if termites infestation become prevalent in the UK, here are some termite prevention tips:

  • Check cellars and wooden areas of the house for infestation
  • Reduce excess humidity in the house
  • Repair any leaks on taps or pipes in the house
  • Repair any holes or cracks in the house’s external fabric

We hope you’ve found our pest control tips useful. If you have any questions, feel free to get in touch! You can read more about our tips to prevent rodent damage here.

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