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How to Find the Warning Signs of Pests (Before They Find You)

Having pests removed is a costly affair, but the costs of not finding an infestation early can be much greater. Because pests tend to multiply very quickly if left to their own devices, the greater the size of the infestation, the more costs you will incur; both through removal of pests and property damage they cause in the meantime.

Pests nibble, scratch, break and contaminate almost everything they touch. The best way to minimize the effect they have is to stamp them out early, but this isn’t as easy as you might think. You may now be sitting in a house that is in the midst of a pest takeover and not even know it.

Pests are sly creatures that inhabit the darker, and previously uninhabited, areas of a house; only venturing out at night or when it is very quiet. As a result, you are not likely to notice them until it is too late, and the whole house has become part of their territory. However, there are small, less obvious signs, as opposed to a mouse scampering across your kitchen, which you can look out for. The key is to remain vigilant.

scavengers
Photo courtesy Flickr

Where to Look for Signs of Pests

Ideally, it is best to look all over the house on a regular basis to ensure that you don’t miss anything. Failing that, there are three high risk areas that we recommend are checked as often as possible.

1. The kitchen. A lot of pipes find their way up and out into the kitchen, which often provide pests with entry points. Given this is where the food is, and therefore their primary reason for being in the house, this is probably the most important place to keep watch.

2. Anywhere that you have appliances, links to the outside such as pipes or ground level windows, or isn’t inhabited by you very often. Basically we are talking about laundry rooms, utility rooms, basements or attics. These are warm, easy-to-access environments that pests like to settle in.

3. The garage. This is effectively ground-zero for pests. Easy to get into, this is where you are most likely to find evidence of an infestation. Unlike other areas, however, this is not a high risk area in terms of contamination and health risks. Finding pests in the garage is not cause for alarm just yet, rather a strong indicator that pests are around your house, allowing you to take preventive measures to ensure they don’t make it past said area. As for why pests like the garage so much, just like a home it is warm, sheltered and has plenty of things to nibble on; unlike a home however, it is easily accessible through the garage door, as there is often a gap between it and the floor large enough for many pests to slip through. If you are concerned about having pests in your garage, near where children might be getting things like bikes from, then seal that gap. It will make your problem a lot easier to deal with.

5 Warning Signs of an Impending Pest Infestation

1. Noise
While pests are quiet, they are by no means silent. Listening at night is the best way to hear them, as this is the time they are most active. Putting your ear against the walls of your home will allow you to hear any movement in the wall cavities—one place pests tend to hide out. It is also important to listen to the ceiling, especially if there is an attic, or any location that has a crawl space. A little pitter-patter sound is all you need to confirm that they are inside the house.

2. Smell
If you are in high risk areas for pests, such as the kitchen or basement, and catch a whiff of a musky odor, it is important that you investigate properly. The nasty smells pests leave behind are often described as being similar to a pet rabbit’s hutch if said hutch hasn’t been cleaned in a while, a musky odor with a distinct note of ammonia. Not a fragrance that is going to smell well. Tracking down the source of the smell will often lead you to the next items on our list, and concrete evidence of pest infiltration.

mouse nest
Photo courtesy Flickr

3. Nesting
Once a pest enters the home, it is probably going to want to stay there. If you think about it, the pest has just found a warm environment which is safe from predators and has plenty of access to food and water. This means that they’ll have just one more thing on their mind: reproduction. To make their tenancy long-term, pests like to make nests. They will do this in the darker, less-trafficked areas of your home, such as behind appliances, in wall cavities or within loft insulation. However, as mentioned above, smell is a strong indicator of a nest, so follow your nose!

damaged wire
Photo courtesy Flickr

4. Damaged Furniture and Wiring
Nothing says mice more than a gnawed chair leg. Rodents in particular will chew at anything, as it helps wear down their constantly growing teeth. This means nothing is safe: pipes, insulation, wood, plastics, wires, you name it, they’ll eat it. Check around the skirting boards, at the base of cupboards and other pieces of furniture, especially in high risk areas. If you spot a mysterious chunk taken out the side of your bread box, for example, it most likely wasn’t a hungry burglar.

5. Leavings
Something of a delicate matter, the finding of foreign animal droppings in or around your home should be met with extreme caution. Be it urine or fecal matter, the waste of a pest is not only a clear sign they are there, but also a vessel for dangerous pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. Make sure any contaminated area is cleaned thoroughly after contact. The trick now, however, is identifying the pest by its leavings. Larger pests, such as mice, rats and raccoons all leave rather obvious droppings, but smaller animals, such as cockroaches, are a bit more subtle. As with the example of cockroaches, their droppings tend to look like coffee granules, so be weary of anything that looks like granules but is distinctly out of place.

Now What?

If you’ve looked over your home and spotted none of these signs then you should be okay, for now. Keep up a routine of checking for these simple signs and you’ll be sure to catch pests early. However, what if you come across evidence of pests, what do you do now? You can either do your own, DIY pest control through pesticides and poisons, but that's no guarantee that you’ll get them all. To make sure you are pest free, contact your local expert. Reputable pest professionals will often offer a free survey and estimate, so there’s no harm into giving them a call. But, for those of you without pests, check out our article on how to prevent pests from entering your home, and make sure your pest-free home stays that way.


EBS Pest ControlEBS Ltd are urban pest and bird control specialists who have been operating in London since 2003. The company was founded, and is run, by Jeff Nelson a pest control expert with over 20 years industry experience.