How to Identify, Eliminate and Prevent Insect and Animal Infestation

Infestation by insects or animals can be a harmless nuisance, or it can have serious consequences for house structure. Learn to identify common pest infestations, then find out how to get rid of them and prevent their return.
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Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Woodworm - Furniture Beetle

A group of wood-boring beetles, commonly known as woodworm, can cause serious structural problems. Obvious signs are small flight holes in lumber; dust around the holes confirms that the worm is active. Immediate treatment is essential. The Furniture Beetle is a small brown beetle and is generally found during the summer months. It is usually about 1/8 inch (4 mm) in length.

Woodworm - Deathwatch Beetle

This gray-brown beetle prefers old hardwoods. Up to 1/4 inch (8 mm) long, it lays its larvae in wood; years later, the larvae emerge as beetles.

Woodworm - House Longhorn Beetle

The house longhorn beetle is less common than other woodworms, but is equally destructive. It can be up to 1/8 inch (4 mm) long.

Woodworm - Weevil

This has an elongated snout which it uses to bore into the wood. Weevils are found in a range of colors and sizes.

Flies (Bluebottle Fly Maggots)

Apart from the flies themselves, maggots are the most obvious sign of fly infestation. They may be found in decaying food or in any rotting organic matter.

Wasp Nests

A wasp nest is the obvious source of a wasp problem in your home. It may be found in the open (e.g., in an attic), or hidden in a cavity wall.

Wasps

Wasps commonly nest in attics. If situated above a ceiling, a nest can drip an unpleasant secretion into the drywall, breaking it down and staining the ceiling. Sections of drywall may need to be removed and replaced. Special insecticide can be injected into the nest, or have the nest removed professionally.

Bee Hives

Some bees live in nests, while others are solitary and live alone. They tend to nest in enclosed spaces.

Bees

As well as attics, bees tend to nest in inaccessible areas such as wall cavities. They can enlarge holes in mortar and burrow into wall structures to gain access to a cavity. Insecticide can be injected into nests, but large nests should be removed professionally.

Fly

Poor hygiene can cause fly infestations. They pose no structural problems, but their body fluids can stain decorated surfaces. They also pose a general health hazard by spreading bacteria. To prevent infestation, keep food covered, promptly dispose of garbage and use insecticides.

Silverfish

Silverfish can indicate a moisture problem. They are nocturnal and enter the house looking for food and moisture. Among other things, they feed on paper and adhesive, and so can damage wall coverings. To remove, treat excessive moisture and use insecticide on infested areas.

Cockroach

Cockroaches appear when hygiene is a problem. This may be due to blocked drains, food debris on surfaces, or lack of cleaning in cabinets. Poisons are available, but professional help may be necessary.

Ants

Ants are mainly attracted by food debris on work surfaces and on floors. The nest can normally be traced by following the line of an ant column. To remove, pour boiling water into the nest, then apply insecticide. Insecticide lacquer can also be applied to thresholds.

Woodlouse

Woodlice feed on damp wood, suggesting a moisture problem. They also destroy plants, both indoors and out. Treat dampness and use insecticide on plants and thresholds.

Earwig

Earwigs are easily recognizable by the pincers on their abdomen. Though harmless, they are scavengers and eat kitchen waste and plants. To remove, cut back vegetation from doorways and windows. Use insecticide spray or vapour strips.

Moth

Moths tend to feed on natural fibers, damaging clothing, carpets, and upholstery. Clean stored clothes, vacuum all cracks and crevices, and use insecticide or mothballs.

Bat

Bats are likely to be found in attics or in basements that have exterior access. They pose no structural problems. Contact a professional for removal.

Rodents: Rats and Mice

Frayed wires, gnawed woodwork, holes in woodwork, nests in attic insulation, and rodent droppings all signify a rat or mouse infestation. Rodents cause minor structural damage, but gnawed electrical wires and cables can cause considerable trouble. Rodents, especially rats, are disease carriers and should be kept well away from the home. Rats and mice chew all manner of items, including wires, woodwork, plastic, and even metal pipes; damage to all of these can cause serious problems. To prevent and remove, keep food covered, promptly dispose of garbage and use traps and poisons.

Rodents: Squirrels

Squirrels tend to live in attics, where they can chew plumbing, wiring, and insulation. Physical barriers are the best deterrent; various vent meshes and fillers are available.

Birds

Nests can be found in cracks and crevices in masonry, as well as in attics, or attached to downspouts and soffits. The damage they cause is limited, but in large numbers, droppings can stain painted and masonry surfaces. Like squirrels, birds are best discouraged with physical barriers. Bear in mind that some birds are legally protected species, so tampering with nests and eggs can be illegal. It is best to discourage nesting before it occurs.

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