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A Quick Guide to Insect Infestations In Your Home
We like to think we’re the most successful species on the planet, but if they could talk, arthropods would undoubtedly argue that this is far from the case.
Arthropods, the largest group of invertebrate animals that includes insects and spiders, and specialists in survival. They do it so well that they can invade our homes and businesses and even know everything about what we eat and how we live, without us so much as knowing they’re there.
That is, of course, until you discover the telltale signs of an insect infestation and find out just how much damage they’ve been doing right under your nose.
Get familiar with the common types of arthropods and insects that infest properties in the UK, and make sure they remain powerful allies that live in your garden, instead of incredibly disruptive foes that share your home.
Members of the Lepidoptera insect family like butterflies, there are thought to be around 160,000 species of moths around the world. Thankfully, only a small handful of them commonly appear in homes in the UK.
That being said, those four can still cause immense damage. But unlike what you may think, moths don’t actually eat their way through your home; it’s actually their larvae that cause all the devastation.
The four most common moths found in homes in the UK are:
Brown House Moth larvae. The most common type of house moth, with a liking for animal-based materials like leather and feathers.
Common Clothes Moth larvae. Create large, irregular-shaped holes in natural fibres. Love vintage clothing.
Case Bearing Clothes Moth larvae. Create uniform holes in garments and textiles.
White Shouldered House Moth larvae. Not as common as other moths. Tend to prefer dry food products to textiles.
Moth larvae may sound somewhat benign, but by destroying everything from your clothes, rugs, and carpets to all your dried goods and food stores, they can quickly cause thousands of pounds worth of damage.
It doesn’t matter how well contained your clothes or food may be, moths can get to pretty much anything if they want to. And as they’re difficult to spot, if you don’t catch an infestation early, you will not only loose your precious vintage sweater or a bag of flour but potentially your whole wardrobe or pantry.
Despite the name, carpet beetles are most often found in the great outdoors, where they live and feed on pollen and nectar. But like many household pests, they tend to venture indoors due to the habitable conditions of your home — it’s free from predators, protected from frost and rain, and contains an abundance of food.
The problem is, whereas carpet beetles love being in your home, you’re most likely not going to enjoy their company. In the UK, there are three common species of carpet beetle that can settle into homes:
The Black Carpet Beetle. The most common carpet beetle. Loves dry foods such as cereal and pet food.
The Varied Carpet Beetle and Furniture Carpet Beetle. The other two common beetle types that prefer natural fibres such as leather and wool.
You know you’ve got a carpet beetle infestation by the trail of damage they leave behind them. Carpet beetles are all about natural fibres, and you can see their work as holes and damage in carpets, rugs, leather furniture, photos, paperwork, and books, as well as shed skins or black or brown small faecal pellets.
Carpet beetles have no trouble getting into any home, but they’re particularly partial to those that present a healthy array of grub, for instance, a house full of animal hides or a pantry stocked full of pasta, flour, dry pet food etc. This can pose difficulties when trying to get rid of them as to effectively remove a carpet beetle infestation, you need to eliminate them from the source.
Dating back some 320 million years ago, cockroaches are one of the most resilient creatures on the planet and are, therefore, a home and business insect infestation nightmare.
Members of the Blattodea order, which also includes termites, cockroaches are omnivorous scavengers — meaning they eat everything and anything they come across. There are around 4,600 species of cockroach in the world, but again, thank heavens, only around four are associated with homes and businesses:
German Cockroach. Found in kitchens and bathrooms around the world, german cockroaches are identifiable by their two dark stripes and can grow to 15mm in length.
Oriental Cockroach. Oriental cockroaches can grow twice as long as their german cousins and love damp areas like drains, basements, and rubbish dumps.
American Cockroach. Identified by their red-brown colour, American cockroaches live on trees and prefer humid, undisturbed ,and dark areas.
Brown Banded Cockroach. A small pest with yellow-brown stripes, the brown banded cockroach loves heated buildings and can fly, helping it make a home inside appliances, ceilings, and attics.
As mentioned, cockroaches can and will eat anything — from finger prints and hair to soap, glue, leather, and yummy sewage. However, they can survive without food for one month, so once you have an infestation — noticed by a certain smell, droppings, and shedded skins — the likelihood is, the only way you’re going to get them out is by hiring a pest control professional.
As they have eight and not six legs and lack antennae, spiders are not insects but arachnids. They’re also larger than most insects and have a segmented body and exoskeleton — all reasons why arachnophobia is one of the most common fears in the world.
It also doesn’t help that there are around 43,000 species of them, many of which have a dangerous and even fatal bite. The ones you find in gardens in the UK, though, are mostly not harmful but beneficial, helping keep the area free from a variety of pests.
The problem is, as most people think, that they come indoors at the end of summer and infest our homes and businesses. However, in the UK, other than the Giant house spider, most indoor spiders actually breed indoors. And as their populations are typically booming, this can mean having a lot more spiders around than you need.
Other than overpopulation, though, spiders in your home or business can also be related to abundant food sources or an infestation by other insects and pests. Spiders themselves are incredibly effective pest controllers, so they’ll help clear up cockroaches, flies, and ants. But if you want to get rid of them, this means they require nothing less than another pest control specialist (this time a human) for the job.