Understanding Common Household Pests And Their Control

Whether it’s bugs in the cereal or beetles in the red pepper, household pests can cause annoyance and damage. Prevention is the key.

Understanding the life cycle of household pests and their control methods helps prevent infestations. Sanitation is a primary control method, especially for resilient pests like cockroaches. Talk with North Vancouver Pest Control expert to learn more.

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Insects are the most common pest invaders of our homes and the ones most likely to cause serious damage. They can contaminate food, destroy fabrics and paper, create staining on surfaces, and transmit bacteria (including salmonella, coliforms, Staphylococcus, and the hepatitis virus) and other diseases. They also damage or destroy outdoor plants and may cause fire hazards by chewing through electrical wiring.

Identifying and understanding common household pests is critical for pest control. It is important to know what each one looks like, how it breeds, and where it lives so you can prevent infestations. In addition, you should be familiar with different insecticides and how they work so you can correctly apply them.

Look for the presence of cobwebs, mud shelter tubes, insect holes in wood or hollow galleries, and droppings near potential entry points. Insects can cause significant damage to trees, shrubs, and flowers if allowed to multiply out of control, and most house insurance policies do not cover this type of damage.

Prevention is the best method of controlling pests. Eliminate breeding sites, such as stacks of newspapers or cardboard, and keep garbage and recycling bins tightly closed. Seal cracks and crevices, and caulk openings around pipes. Keep windows and screens tight, especially in summer. Vacuum interiors frequently remove pest eggs, larvae, and pupae.

Flies (gnats, fruit flies, blow flies) can enter the home through torn or poorly sealed windows and doors and may be found in dried foods, pet foods, and trash containers. Store foods in airtight plastic or glass containers, and thoroughly clean pet food trash cans and recycle bins. Eliminate breeding sites by removing and draining standing water, and sealing overflow from sinks.


Rodents, such as mice and rats, are among the most common unwelcome house guests. These rodents are capable of spreading several diseases and can damage crops, structures, and buildings. Their urine and feces can also cause fires by burning electrical wires. Moreover, the rats and mice can spread allergens that trigger asthma and allergic rhinitis in susceptible individuals.

Fortunately, identifying these pests is fairly straightforward compared to other types of pests such as termites and bed bugs. The most common signs of rodent infestation are droppings around food packages, drawers, and cabinets. Other clues are signs of chewed-up or gnawed food items. In addition, you might see signs of nesting material such as shredded paper, fabric, or dried plant matter. Holes in walls and floors may indicate the presence of rodents, as well as stale smells coming from areas where rats and mice have been hiding.

Rodent traps are your best bet for removing rodents from your home. Make sure to place them in a safe location out of the reach of children and pets, and check them regularly. Also, keep food sources away from the home. Place food in sealed containers and store it in a secure place. Keep pet food and water bowls away from the kitchen, and take care to wash dishes and utensils as soon as they’re used. Also, turn compost piles regularly to prevent rodents from finding shelter inside them.

Understand how long rodents can live in their natural habitat and your home, then use this knowledge to devise a control strategy that works. Baby rodents mature within 2-5 months, and a female mouse can produce up to six litters in one year. The key to controlling rodents is to remove their food, water, and shelter. That means clearing leaves, twigs, and other debris from the yard. In addition, you should trim bushes and cut grass low to the ground.


Besides being annoying, mosquitoes can carry deadly diseases such as malaria, dengue fever, and Zika virus. The best defense is preventative: Keep your house clean and food in airtight containers, pick up trash regularly and store yard debris securely, and make sure to drain standing water (including garden ponds) after rain or other water events. If your pond can’t be easily drained, consider adding fish that feed on mosquito larvae or the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, commonly known as Bti, to control mosquito populations.

Mosquitoes are most likely to breed in ponds, swampy areas, or landscapes with lots of tall grasses where they can hide and wait for potential blood hosts. The female mosquito probes a host’s skin with her proboscis, piercing a capillary and sucking blood without causing any noticeable irritation. A mosquito’s saliva contains a blood thinner that helps the blood flow into her mouth and reduces its viscosity.

The key to effective mosquito control is regular inspections and maintenance, combined with proper application of insect repellent (especially products containing DEET). When possible, avoid consuming raw or undercooked meats and seafood.

If you do eat raw or undercooked seafood, wash your hands immediately after handling. If you can’t avoid eating such foods, thoroughly cook them to the appropriate temperature and use caution when eating in public places. In addition, regularly inspect the exterior of your home for signs of infestation. Keep bushes and other vegetation well-groomed, trim weeds and other vegetation around the outside of your house and yard, and mow the lawn regularly to limit the mosquitoes’ hiding and breeding sites. Spraying vegetation with a low-volume, coarse mist spray of products containing synthetic pyrethroids such as deltamethrin or lambda-cyhalothrin also can help reduce mosquito populations.


Cockroaches are perhaps the best-known household pest. These scavengers are tough enough to survive freezing temperatures and can live for a week without food or water. But they are more than a nuisance; they spread at least 33 kinds of bacteria, including E coli and salmonella, and six types of parasitic worms. They also pick up germs on the spines of their legs as they crawl through decaying material and then transfer them to food being prepared on kitchen surfaces.

Our area is home to two species of large cockroaches, smoky brown and American cockroaches (Periplaneta fuliginosa and Periplaneta americana). High populations often occur in or around sewer drains, trash cans, dumpsters, piles of lumber and refuse, landscape mulch, and leaf litter. These roaches can also breed and develop indoors where they have access to food, moisture, and shelter.

Signs of a cockroach infestation include observing droppings that look like ground pepper or small mouse droppings and noticing stains from the insect’s fecal matter that appear as dark spots or smears in room corners and on door edges. You may also notice a musty, foul odor that accompanies a heavy infestation. Another indication is seeing shed skins or observing egg cases.

Keeping these pests out starts with denying them access to food, water, and shelter. Keep food in airtight containers and garbage in sealed cans. Remove trash regularly, and don’t let it sit out for long periods. Regularly vacuum cracks and crevices, and repair leaky faucets and pipes.

In addition, place baits in areas where cockroaches are seen, such as behind appliances in wall voids, and under cabinets. Caulk holes where necessary. Also, do not overwater indoor plants; accumulated water provides additional harborage for these cockroaches.


Spiders are another common household pest, particularly in warmer climates. While most spiders cause no harm, Black Widow and Brown Recluse bites can be dangerous for people with certain medical conditions. To prevent their entry, thoroughly seal any cracks or crevices in the home. A well-lit area may also deter them.

These nocturnal insects live outside, but enter the house for weather protection or as a result of an overabundance of food sources. They can carry germs and contaminate foods. They eat decaying wood and can hide under objects. The most effective method of controlling them is to remove the food sources.

To identify a pest, note the shape, size, color, number of legs, and whether it has wings or antennae. Then use an online pest identification tool to match the characteristics of your pest to its species.

For example, this site’s pest guide provides detailed images of different types of pests along with their habitats, habits, threats, signs of an infestation, and control and prevention measures. It is a great resource for homeowners looking to learn more about common household pests and their control. The best way to protect your home from pests is to prevent them from entering in the first place, but if you’ve already noticed a problem it is important to act quickly. Otherwise, you could be dealing with a much larger infestation of pests that will be more difficult to control. This is why you should consider hiring a pest control company for assistance. They will have the tools and experience to get rid of these pests effectively. This will save you time and money and make sure that the problem is dealt with promptly.