Our guide to identifying a pest problem early.
Pests can cause a variety of problems in the home, and they’ll do more harm the longer they stay, so it’s important to catch an infestation as early as possible. This will minimise the costs both of their removal and the subsequent repairs, especially since pests can multiply quickly if left alone.
There are many kinds of pests to look out for, with rodents and insects being the most common. While there are some obvious signs – such as mice scampering through the kitchen – there are other early warning signs to be aware of.
Droppings and other leavings
The black pellet droppings of rodents are usually easy to spot and a clear sign of an infestation. If you see any, make sure you clean them up immediately as they can present a health hazard. Look in cupboards and other enclosed or hidden areas regularly, especially in the kitchen.
Insects leave evidence behind as well. Bedbug excrement looks like dark, rust-coloured spots, and they may also leave behind eggshells, as do roaches. Also, if you start seeing a lot of dead bugs from the same species – especially on window ledges or in basements – it’s likely that they live on the property.
Evidence of nesting
Rodents will make nests out of whatever materials they find. Shredded paper is one of the most common, but they are also known to use grass clippings and leaves. Nests are usually found under floors or behind walls, so it can be difficult to see them; instead, you should keep an eye out for shreds of plants or paper.
Smells and sounds
Smells are often one of the first signs of an infestation. Bedbugs have a sweet, musty scent, mice and rats have a smell like musty urine/ammonia. If you notice any of these smells, you should check your home immediately for other signs.
Rodents in particular can be very noisy. Listen for the sounds of pattering feet, scratching, gnawing and squeaking.
Pests can cause significant damage to your property if they aren’t removed early. Look for holes in walls and flooring, especially in darker, less well-used areas. Rodents will gnaw on just about anything, including furniture and electrical wiring.
You should also check plants inside and outside the home for evidence of gnawing and insect trails. Large brown patches of lawn are another indication of possible infestation.
Termites are known for damaging wood and can cause severe structural issues if not found early. Look for weak or damaged timber or widening holes.
Rodents tend to use the same paths over and over, and can leave behind grease trails. Rats usually walk near walls and leave dark spots of grease behind them, for instance. You may also notice urine trails.
If you notice any of these signs of pest infestation, it’s important to act fast. You can use DIY remedies such as traps, pesticides or poisons.
If that doesn’t resolve the problem, it’s best to contact a professional to remove the pests. Once the pests are removed, be sure to close any holes or gaps they used to gain entry into the property to prevent them from coming back.