The Top 7 Bugs In Your Home And How To Remove Them
I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here is back for 2019 and those Bushtucker Trials can really turn your stomach. They make us scream at the TV, scratch, shiver, and avert our eyes. They also make us search online. When we see those pesky critters crawling all over a celebrity, we head in our droves to our tablets, computers and mobile phones to find out more about those creepy crawlies.
tombola have crunched the numbers and identified the most searched for Bushtucker Trial insects and arachnids across 2018. When I’m A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here airs, the numbers jump dramatically, proving just how much they can burrow into our conscious.
Once those pesky bugs take up residence in your mind, you start to wonder if they’re also in your home. And yes, some of them will be.
The Top 7 Bugs You Might Find In Your Home
- Carpet Beetles
- Fruit Flies
Seven of the top bugs that are regularly searched for online in the UK have search volumes in the tens of thousands. Queries around them mainly relate to how to spot and infestation and what to do about it.
Before you start disinfecting your entire house, you might want to read tombola’s “Detect & Deter” guide below. With handy hints on how to find out if you have an infestation, what to do about it and how to prevent another one in the future - all in an environmentally friendly way.
You’re never more than 6 feet away from a spider, apparently. While this has become a bit of an urban myth, it most likely has more than an ounce of truth to it. There are billions of spiders. Not surprising when you know a female spider can lay as many as 3,000 eggs at one time.
In any given year, all the spiders in the world eat between approximately 400 million and 800 million tons of prey. Compare that to the total population of the world consuming approximately 400 million tons of meat and fish every year and you get some sense of how dramatically outnumbered we are.
What attracts spiders to your home?
Like any other creature, spiders need food and shelter and many species have adapted to the indoor environment. Some spiders crave dark and damp places; therefore you’ll find them hidden in basements and under sinks. Others prefer the dry, so you’ll find these in the upper corners of rooms, air vents, attics and behind furniture.
How to spot a spider problem
- An unusually large number of spiders around the home
- Frequently appearing spider webs
- Spider egg sacs attached to surfaces or in webs
How to deter spiders
Only a handful of spiders in the UK can bite. While this may cause a little pain and swelling, their bites are not serious. Most spiders are harmless, so if you have an infestation, it’s more of a nuisance than a problem.
Spiders can actually be good around the home as they eat other pests such as flies and ants and are a natural form of pest control.
If you do need to control and infestation though, here’s what to do.
- Spiders don’t like scents of peppermint, eucalyptus, citrus or tea-tree, so make a spray with 15-20 drops of any of these essential oils and water and spritz around corners and cracks in your home.
- Patch up any holes and gaps in doors and windows or cracks and crevices in walls where spiders might be able to sneak in.
- Keep your doorways clear of rocks, plants and shrubbery. These are ideal hiding places for spiders, so when you open your doors it’s a quick simple and short scurry for them to enter your home. Keeping plants further away means it’s harder for them to reach indoors.
- Spiders like the dark so clearing any clutter and regularly vacuuming corners will stop them from building a web and hiding out.
There are 10 quadrillion ants on earth and when you unknowingly drop a piece of food under the kitchen table, they all seem to descend on it. Why so many?
What attracts ants to your home?
Well, some species of ants are fond of warmer temperatures or damp climates, so they can be drawn to indoor areas or around kitchens and bathrooms. Mainly though, they are drawn in for food.
How to spot an ant problem
- You find a piece of food overrun by lots of ants
- You discover an army of ants marching in single file across your kitchen
- You see ants gathering around door or window thresholds
- An ant nest maybe near your doorways. It can look like a small pile of dirt.
Ants are one of the strongest creatures in the world, in relation to their size, able to carry 50 times their own body weight. They’re pretty resilient as a species, considering they are found on every continent except Antarctica. They also work as a colony and communicate through pheromones and their antennae. They can send out a warning when danger is near or to attract a mate, but more importantly for us to know, they can lead trails to food sources. That’s how one ant can suddenly turn into hundreds or thousands.
How to deter ants
Most ants are quite happy outside, so you don’t need to start looking for nests or colonies to destroy unless you spot one camped right outside your door. To keep them out of your home, follow these simple ideas.
- For a natural way to stop ants from marching into your home, sprinkle salt, turmeric powder or paprika at their entry point and this should deter them.
- Keep your work surfaces and floors free from food crumbs and stickiness.
- Store open food and drinks in the fridge - don’t leave them on the counter.
- Seal up any entry points they might be squeezing through, like cracks in the walls or doorways.
- Destroying a nest should be a last resort as ants are vital to our ecosystem. They eat other household and garden pests like fleas and bed bugs. If you must however, you can squeeze lemons into the entrance and leave the peels around the sides. Ants will avoid the citrus smell at all costs and their scent trails will be destroyed. Just remember to repeat the process with a fresh lemon every day until they have moved on.
There are over 3,000 species of cockroaches in the UK alone. They might be used as harmless critters during Bushtucker Trials, but cockroaches are one of the more harmful pests when it comes to invading British homes. This is because they multiply very quickly and can spread germs and bacteria fast.
What attracts cockroaches to your home?
Food and water are the main reasons that cockroaches come to your home. Shelter helps them too, but they don’t mind about warmth as they can survive temperatures as low as 0?. Water is more important to them than food too, as they can go without food for a month, but without water for only a week.
How to spot a cockroach problem
- Cockroaches live and feed in the dark. If you spot one, it’s likely that you already have an infestation, not just the one.
- You might spot cockroach poop, which looks like black pepper or slightly larger, more cylindrical droppings.
- An unpleasant, musty, almond-like smell indicates a rather large gathering of cockroaches.
Cockroaches are resilient, so if you find you have an infestation, you’re best off getting the professionals involved. However, if you think the infestation hasn’t taken hold yet, there are a few things you can do to try and deter them and future proof your home from any further problems.
How to deter cockroaches
- Mix two parts water, one-part white vinegar and 10 drops of peppermint oil in a spray bottle and spritz around the home, wherever you think the cockroaches may be entering.
- Fix any leaking pipes and fill any cracks or holes in doors and walls.
- Keep your home clean, especially in the kitchen where they will be drawn to any food left out, food residue or crumbs.
- If you’re at all worried or think your infestation may be serious, call a professional or your local council.
There are an estimated 80 million rats in the UK, compared to the human population of 67.6 million people. Once again, we’re a little outnumbered. Rats have a bad rap, but they’re actually very compassionate animals. They take care of sick and injured rats in their group and tend to become very low in mood when isolated. They are however, known to transmit several potentially fatal diseases to humans, so having them scurrying around your home is not ideal.
What attracts rats to your home?
Food and shelter are what attract rats to your home. If you have bits of rubbish lying around, food or open water sources such as a leaking pipe or even water bowls for animals outside, you could be unwittingly making your house look like an attractive place to scavenge.
How to spot a rat problem
- Rat droppings that look like dark brown grains of rice
- Smudge marks - the dirt and grease on their bodies leave rub marks across surfaces
- Rat nests - rats shred material such as cardboard, books, blankets and loft insulation to make homes for themselves
- Gnaw marks - you might find cables and wires that have been gnawed through
- A strong urine smell indicates an infestation
- Unusual pet behaviour is a clue that they may have spotted something you have not
How to deter rats
The kindest way to remove rats is to set live traps. These work by using a mechanism whereby a rat will wriggle into the trap to investigate but not be able to get back out. You can therefore transfer and release the rat elsewhere. The traps have to be regularly inspected and emptied though and if you have a serious infestation, you may need to call in a professional.
The best way to deal with rats is to prevent them from seeing your property as a source of food and shelter in the first place.
- Keep food in containers with tight fitting lids
- Place rubbish bags directly into an outdoor bin, which is not close to your doorway
- Keep gardens and outdoor spaces clear of debris
- Damp-proof areas like garages or outhouses
- Fix leaking or cracked pipes
- Keep drains clean, especially from bits of food that might go down through the sink. Rats can climb up through drainpipes and sewerage systems, even, very occasionally, swimming up through the toilet bowl - “Like a rat up a drainpipe” is a saying for a reason.
5. Carpet Beetles
Carpet beetles are tiny textile pests, eating your fabrics bit by bit. They have now overtaken clothes moths as the number one textile pest in Britain. They can live for around a year and the larvae can survive in starvation mode for many months.
What attracts carpet bugs to your home?
Carpet beetles come to your home looking for material to feed on. Their food source is not just carpeting but clothes, sofas and even pet hair. They’re interested in natural fibres only though, as this is a source of keratin, an animal protein they can digest. The adult carpet beetle feeds on pollen and nectar from garden flowers, but they seek a place to lay their eggs that’s warm, dry and full of food. It’s the larvae that do the damage, as they move around feeding on fabric material found around the house.
How to spot a carpet beetle problem
- Shed skins - as larvae grow, they moult and leave behind their skins that look like shells. They are pale brown with bristles.
- Droppings - dark brown or black, faecal matter may also be present
- Holes in fabrics - clothes, carpets, and sofas may have holes where the beetles have fed. They tend to follow seams though, so you might see a concentration of holes in just one area.
How to deter carpet beetles
You might notice carpet beetles more around late spring and early summer as this is when they start to search for places to lay their eggs. Here’s how to deter them from making your home, theirs.
- Carpet beetles only feed on natural fibres, so if you have any valuable items like a garment or rug, make sure that they are stored safely. Vacuum seal bags can ensure beetles can’t reach them.
- Dry clean or launder clothes that might be at risk. This will kill the larvae and stop the infestation.
- Vacuum thoroughly, making sure to reach the space along skirting boards, under rugs, furniture and in corners.
- Regularly check for signs of damage so that you can repeat points 1-3 if necessary. Holes in fabric may be concentrated in one area, as opposed to moths who feed sporadically and may produce holes all over a garment or item.
Mice have a slightly better reputation than rats, but not by much. Like rats, they’re capable of spreading serious diseases and so deterring them is important. They can flatten their bodies and squeeze through very small spaces, so it’s easier for them to enter your home than you might think.
What attracts mice to your home?
Mice are attracted to the indoors, particularly in winter, as they don’t much like the cold. They’re also on the hunt for food and rotting vegetation from a cluttered and untidy garden or yard can attract them, as well as food left open or uncovered in your kitchen. Mice eat 15-20 times a day, so anything left out will encourage them to go for it.
How to spot a mouse problem
- Droppings - these will be small and pointed on both ends
- The smell of urine indicates a large infestation
- Rub marks from the dirt and grease as they rub against surfaces
- Gnaw marks around wood or through boxes in your pantry
- Scratching noises - mice are nocturnal so you’ll hear them scurrying around at night inside walls and along floors
- Holes - sometimes mice gnaw a hole right through something. It will be clear cut and around the size of a 5 pence piece.
How to deter mice
- Seal all possible entries, including cracks or holes in walls. Mice can flatten themselves to the width of a pencil.
- Keep kitchen benches clear of food and drink and store food where necessary in airtight containers. Keep your home and garden or yard free of clutter and rubbish. Mice aren’t picky so even the tiniest, rotting morsels can be ideal food for them.
- Use caulk and steel wool to close any crevices. Mice can gnaw through lots of things, but not caulk or steel wool.
- Use reusable traps, which means you can release the mice into the wild without harming them.
- Call in a professional. If you’ve seen one mouse, it’s possible you may have more. They are quick movers and can jump and climb too, so you may not be able to deal with the infestation on your own.
7. Fruit Flies
Fruit flies are a nuisance and seem to appear suddenly in droves, but they’re more useful than you might realise. Fruit flies are an intelligent species and they share 75% of the same genes that cause disease in humans. They also have a short life cycle, meaning that several generations can be observed in a few months. For this reason, they are used widely in genetic research.
What attracts fruit flies to your home?
Fruit flies are attracted to, yes, you’ve guessed it, fruit! But not just fruit. Moist, fermenting vegetables will also do the trick, in addition to drains, garbage disposals, rubbish bins, and empty bottles and cans.
How to spot a fruit fly problem
- Adult fruit fly activity - around your home or near kitchens, bins or fruit and vegetables.
- Pupae - the mature larvae of fruit flies crawl to a nearby dry spot. They are sometimes mistaken for rodent or cockroach droppings.
You’ll know you have a fruit fly problem when they start appearing. They have the potential to be dangerous as they carry bacteria and can spread this to humans via contact or by accidental ingestion. The risk is low, however, as your stomach acid should be able to deal with any bacteria you ingest this way.
How to deter fruit flies
Fruit flies live roughly 6 weeks. Female flies will mate and the larvae they produce feed on organic matter (your fruit). They store the energy they take from it and then wait in a dark and dry place to enter the pupae stage. Usually this happens in places we can’t reach, like a small crevice in a kitchen bench or wall or in the soil of a pot plant.
After roughly 1 week, the fruit flies will emerge, fully grown, with wings and 6 legs. They will then return to your fruit to feed, mate and lay eggs, starting the cycle all over again.
Prevention is better and easier than trying to stop a fruit fly infestation once it’s afoot.
- Create a fruit fly trap with apple cider vinegar and a little washing up liquid in an open bowl. Place the bowl near your fruit/veg. The flies will be drawn to the sweetness of the mixture.
- Throw out any overripe produce that has started to rot.
- Wipe down kitchen benches thoroughly and keep bins and drains clean.
- Wash any fruit and vegetables as soon as you bring them home from the shop as larvae are often already present, hiding in your produce.
- Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Especially with fruit juice, pop or alcohol. They have a particular taste for beer with a fruity base note.
- Regularly change or wash your kitchen sponges and cloths as the flies can be drawn to food and drink particles on them.
If you’re ready to start cleaning, head on over to our ultimate cleaning hacks to save you time for some quick and easy ideas. And if you’re equally interested in staying environmentally friendly, take a look at our simple ways to reduce your plastic waste.