After the movie Signs came out, I was obsessed with alien invasion preparation. However, over the years, I have realized that there are other invaders out there that are a little closer to home. Pest infestations are both a nuisance and a potential health hazard. That is why it is so important to be able to recognize the signs of an invasion and target those unwanted guests before they do any more damage. Below are a five pests you’d rather be rid of and the signs of their invasion. Once you can read the signs, you’ll be better able to combat these pesky bugs once and for all.
Cockroaches are nocturnal, which means if you see one during the day, there are probably many more hidden in your home. They prefer dark, moist places to hide and breed, so check behind refrigerators, under floor drains, under sinks, and behind appliances. You may also find small oval egg cases in these places, as well as in other hidden places like between books.
If you have an infestation, you will find feces that resemble coffee grounds or black pepper. If the roaches are a larger size, they will be dark and cylindrical. Some types also produce smells that are, let’s just say, unpleasant to your olfactory senses. And a larger infestation will radiate a strong oil or must smell.
If you notice any of these tell-tale signs of a roach, call your nearest professional exterminator to handle the problem.
“Sleep tight and don’t let the bedbugs bite,” isn’t just a catchy bedtime phrase. If you wake up and notice little bug bites that were not there when you went to sleep, it may be a good idea to check for bedbugs. These little pests are about the size and shape of an apple seed, and brown or reddish-brown in color. They prefer small, warm places to hide and breed. And their habitat of choice? You guessed it: your bed.
Therefore, check between the fitted sheet and mattress, or between the mattress and box spring, as well as any other nearby small, dark, places. Although their name suggests they reside only among the mattresses, bedbugs can actually live in furniture, appliances, bookshelves, and even computers.
Keep an eye out for the bugs themselves, shed skins, or their small white eggs. The eggs are adhesive so be sure to check on both sides of the sheetswhere they may be attached. Other indications of a bedbug problem include their droppings. These will be small, and black or dark brown, like coffee grounds, but will smear red when wiped with a damp cloth.
Though their bites generally only cause annoying itching, in more severe cases victims may have allergic reactions or secondary infections (from scratching the wounds). The best solution to a bedbug problem is to take the Godfather’s advice and go to the mattresses—literally.
Ants are mostly active around sundown, so that is when you want to really keep an eye out. There are three particular things you can check for when inspecting your home for ants.
First, do a little reconnaissance. Ants nest outdoors, so they enter your home primarily to find food. Therefore, they are commonly found in the kitchen area and along walls, and in cupboards. . Though a few ants does not necessarily mean an infestation, if there are a lot of ants, along with an appearance of larger worker ants, you could have a problem on your hands.
Second, after you inspect the house at the likely sources, check for frass. Frass is waste left behind by ants, which includes feces as well as small piles of sawdust or wood shavings, as well as other leftover debris. Ants do not eat wood, but they will dig tunnels and push the sawdust out. So if you see accumulations of debris, you may have uncovered an ant problem.
Finally, if you suspect an ant colony is residing in your home, tap on the area in question and listen. A disturbed colony will make a rustling noise that becomes louder the more bothered they become.
Termites are one of the most destructive pests out there, particularly because there are often no immediate signs of damage. They love to eat dead plant matter like fallen leaves and dead trees, and while that is great in nature, when they decide to make our homes a meal it can be a big problem.
Termites are often mistaken for flying ants, so it is important to know the differences. Ants have a cinched waist, while the termite body is just a straight tube shape. Ants’ wings are two different shapes and their antennae are bent, while termites’ wings are both the same size and their antennae are straight.
Check the foundation of your home, as well as crawl spaces, for signs of termites. They will have little mud tunnels running from their underground colonies to their feeding ground.
Watch out for swarms of termites near your home, especially around springtime. If your paint suddenly starts to bubble or crack for no reason you may want to check the walls for termites. If wood sounds hollow when tapped, or you find discarded wings or termite droppings, it is time to call your local exterminator—and no, I’m not talking about Arnold. A quick search on your browser for “termite control Long Island” (or wherever you’re from) should give you a solid list of options from which to choose. The sooner you take care of a termite problem, the better. Because the longer you wait, the more damage you risk to your home and property.
Rats and mice can be fun pets to have for some people, but a wild rodent in your home is a hazardous thing. Both rats and mice carry diseases and parasites, putting your food and home in danger of infection. Moreover, because they are rapid breeders, take care of a rodent problem as soon as possible to avoid a major infestation.
The most obvious sign of a rodent problem is if you see dead or living rodents in or around your home. It is also possible to hear them scurrying and squeaking through walls and floors.
Keep an eye out for droppings in dark, infrequently visited places such as behind furniture, in the back of drawers, the back corner of closets, attics, basements, and in walls and under floorboards. You will also notice damage to food and other things in your home from their constant biting and nibbling. Inspect your pantry and other food sources for signs of nibbling, and make note of any damage to property
Traps are usually the first place we go to when we learn of a rodent in our home, but for larger infestations, traps will be insufficient. Your best bet is to call your exterminator.
The last thing anyone wants is an intruder of any kind in their home. Just as you would call the police if a burglar invaded your home, you should call the exterminator for pest invaders. The sooner you catch the problem and call, the sooner you can once again feel safe and secure in your home—and the sooner you can worry about bigger problems, like aliens.
Leslie Mason is a homemaker and garden expert. Leslie enjoys writing, gardening, do-it-yourself projects, and fixing up the house.