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How to Identify and Eliminate Common Household Pests

Every household occasionally contends with unwelcome visitors – pests. These intruders, whether they fly, jump, or crawl, can disrupt our daily lives and even impact our health.

In this article by pest exterminators we aim to help you identify common household pests and discusse ways to eliminate them. Let’s dive in.

Key points to identify household pests

Correct identification of pests is a vital step in the elimination process, and determining the methods and substances you use to eliminate these unwelcome guests. Here’s what you need to pay close attention to, according to pest control experts:

  • Physical Appearance – This is often your first clue. The size, colour, shape, and any distinctive features of the pest can guide you towards its identification. For instance, cockroaches are usually a reddish-brown colour with a flattened oval shape, whereas mice and rats are considerably larger and characterised by their long tails and sharp incisors.
  • Signs of Infestation – Pests leave behind various traces of their existence. These can include droppings, as is common with rodents, or shed skin and egg cases, frequently left behind by cockroaches. Material that appears chewed or nests in secluded areas could indicate an infestation. Damage to woodwork could signify the presence of wood-boring insects like termites and beetles.
  • Behaviour – Observing the pest’s behaviour can also provide valuable insights. Some pests, such as cockroaches and mice, are primarily nocturnal and tend to be more active at night. Others, like mosquitoes and flies, are attracted to damp places and stagnant water. Many pests, such as ants, bees or wasps, are attracted to easily accessible food sources. By identifying these behavioural patterns, you can pinpoint the type of pest and tailor your control strategy accordingly.

Flying household pests

Houseflies – Houseflies, scientifically known as Musca domestica, are a common sight in many households worldwide. With their dark grey bodies, these pests are much more dangerous than they appear. They can carry over 100 pathogens, acting as vectors for numerous diseases including dysentery, cholera, and salmonella. Their attraction to waste and rotting food makes them prime carriers for these pathogens.

Mosquitoes – Mosquitoes, from the Culicidae family, are easily distinguishable by their long legs and telltale buzzing sound. Known for their biting habit, they can transmit serious illnesses like malaria, dengue and zika virus. Their breeding grounds are often stagnant water bodies, so eliminating these can be a key step in controlling their populations.

Moths – Moths, a part of the Lepidoptera order, are generally harmless to humans but can be problematic in other ways. It is their larvae that pose issues, known to damage natural fabrics like wool and silk, causing significant damage. Regular inspections of stored clothing and immediate clean-up of food spillages can prevent moth infestations.

Jumping household pests

Fleas – You may be familiar with fleas if you have pets at home. The most common culprits are Ctenocephalides felis and Ctenocephalides canis, also known as cat and dog fleas, respectively. These tiny, dark critters are exceptional jumpers, with the ability to spring up to 200 times their body length. They thrive by latching onto hosts, be it your beloved pets or even humans, for a blood meal.

Fleas can transmit diseases like murine typhus, incite allergic reactions such as flea allergy dermatitis, and serve as a vehicle for tapeworms. To combat these pests, regular grooming of pets with flea combs and consistent vacuuming of homes, particularly pet resting areas, is crucial. Always empty the vacuum cleaner immediately after use to ensure fleas can’t make a return.

Running and crawling household pests

Cockroaches – Cockroaches, especially the Blattella germanica (German cockroach), are a common sight in many British households, as all pest exterminators will tell you. They can be identified by their oval-shaped body, long antennae and rapid, evasive movements. These nocturnal creatures are carriers of various diseases and are particularly attracted to food, warmth and damp conditions.

Ants – Ants, usually seen in trails, have a complex social structure consisting of workers, soldiers and queens. Their small size and ability to squeeze through tiny spaces makes them persistent intruders, often seen near food sources or moisture.

Bed Bugs – Bed bugs, or Cimex lectularius, are small, nocturnal insects that feed on human blood while their victims are asleep. Their presence is usually identified by itchy bites and tiny blood stains left on sheets.

Spiders – Spiders, belonging to the Araneae order, are characterised by their eight legs and the webs they spin, serving as both a home and a trap for their prey. While most are harmless, some species can deliver venomous bites.

Rats – Rats, specifically Rattus norvegicus (brown rat) and Rattus rattus (black rat), are larger rodents known for their long, scaly tails. They are carriers of diseases like leptospirosis and hantavirus. Their propensity to gnaw can cause significant property damage, including electrical fires due to chewed wires.

Mice – Mice, specifically Mus musculus (house mouse), can be identified by their small bodies, large ears, and long, hairless tails. Like rats, they are prone to gnawing on various household items, including electrical wires. Mice can carry and transmit numerous diseases, including salmonella and hantavirus. Their rapid reproductive rate often escalates small infestations quickly if left unchecked.

Bees and wasps

Bees – The honey bee (Apis mellifera), is vital for pollination and our food systems. While their stings usually cause temporary discomfort, they can lead to severe reactions in individuals allergic to bee venom. Additionally, honey bees emit pheromones when they sting, attracting and provoking other bees to sting as well.

Wasps – The German wasp (Vespula germanica), the most common wasp species here, is known for its aggressive temper and can sting multiple times, injecting venom. This is particularly hazardous for people allergic to wasp venom. Wasps, exhibiting social behaviour, may attack en masse if their nest is threatened. Hence, wasp nests in residential areas must be handled cautiously, ideally by professional pest control services.

Wood household pests

Termites – Termite ants, part of the Isoptera order, are “silent destroyers” that consume cellulose-based materials commonly found in our homes. They can hollow out wood, undermining structural integrity before signs of their presence become apparent. Mud tubes and droppings, known as ‘frass’, can often indicate an infestation.

Wood-boring Beetles – These beetles, like the furniture beetle (Anobium punctatum), lay their eggs in wood. The hatched larvae then burrow into the wood, creating a network of tunnels over several years. When they emerge as adults, they leave behind exit holes and a distinctive frass. These signs can indicate an active infestation, potentially causing significant damage to wooden structures

Selecting the right pest control services

In severe infestations, it’s advisable to hire professional pest control experts who possess the necessary skills and tools. Here’s what you should consider:

  • Expertise – Look for professionals who specialise in dealing with your specific pest problem.
  • Reputation – Check reviews and recommendations before hiring.
  • Certifications – Reputable pest exterminators should have the necessary certifications to ensure they follow industry standards.
  • Guarantee – Many services offer guarantees on their work, which is important given that some pests can be particularly stubborn.
  • Environmental Consideration – Choose pest control services that use environmentally friendly products and methods.


Addressing the challenge of identifying and eliminating common household pests requires patience and a good understanding of each pest’s habits and behaviours. Armed with this information, it’s entirely possible to protect your home from these unwelcome invaders.

However, there is no shame in reaching out for professional assistance should the situation escalate beyond your control. The expertise of pest control services can be invaluable in such scenarios. Your health, peace of mind and the safety of your home are paramount, and this information can help you maintain these things.

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