Having a pest infestation is no fun, but it’s not an uncommon problem for a homeowner to experience, especially in transition times like from fall to winter or from winter into spring. Many pests come indoors seeking warmth from bitter temperatures in the late fall, stow away all winter, and then become active again as spring sets in. Others come indoors and remain active throughout their occupancy. In older homes, especially, it can be tricky to decide if you’ve got a pest problem or just a creaky old house and an active imagination, but it’s easier when you know some of the most common signs of pests.
Common Signs of Household Pests
Because there are armloads of different sorts of pests that can occupy a house at any given time, it’s impossible to list all the signs and symptoms you might notice, but this list should get you started with the most common pest animals in homes.
Staining on ceilings or walls can be a strong sign that you’ve got an insect colony setting up shop. Often bees, wasps, or even ladybugs will take up residence in voids in wall or attic spaces. If you hear buzzing, do not attempt to exorcise your insect pests without the help of a professional. Mammals and birds can also leave staining, depending on where they’ve built nests.
Rodents love to get into the voids in walls, under cabinets, and in all those dark places in your home. They use these openings like little highways to get safely from their nests to food sources and back. While they’re at it, you may hear them in the walls, scratching, scraping, even gnawing.
A lot of pests give off distinctive odors that aren’t normally associated with homes. If you’re shopping for a house and notice a smell that’s “off,” don’t automatically assume it’s full of mold. There may simply be a pest infestation that can be far more easily remedied. The same goes for your own house; if someone mentions a smell you’ve not noticed because you live there all the time, ask for more details to help figure out what’s bugging you.
Holes or Gnaw Marks
Holes and gnaw marks can come from any sort of creature that would nest in your home. You don’t always get staining, depending on where the nest is; sometimes you only get a good view of the front door. Wood-consuming beetles like powderpost beetles, for example, will drill tiny holes in hardwood flooring and other wooden trim pieces. Mice, of course, will also chew through wood and other materials to better facilitate their successful lives in your home.
If you find an actual nest, or nest material, this is a great sign you’ve got an issue and one you can’t ignore. Rodents tend to chew up paper or other thin materials like plastic bags to create their nests, but waxy secretions might be the sort of nest material you’d find for bees, or leaves, mud, and grasses for birds that often nest in chimneys and attics. Whatever the nesting material, make sure to collect some for further evaluation.