Living with Bugs: How Many Pests are Typically in Your Home?
People have always lived alongside other creatures, from domesticated pets to microorganisms. Some of these relationships have been beneficial, and some of them have been downright irritating — especially those relationships involving invasive pests and wildlife. A new study published in PeerJ gives some insight into how many arthropods (insects and arachnids) are typically found in our homes every day.
The research team visited 50 homes in North Carolina and collected every arthropod they could find, which ended up being on average close to 100 species per home. Their findings matched up pretty closely with what we at Arrow see most often when evaluating people’s houses: quite a few flies, spiders, beetles, wasps and ants (though in the South, we usually see more mosquitoes than beetles). The researchers picked them up from windowsills, on and under furniture, and between rug and carpet fibers.
Many of these areas tend to be overlooked by most homeowners, leaving them un-cleaned and undisturbed — the perfect conditions for pests to take up residence, especially in rooms that aren’t used very often. It’s always a good idea to periodically move furniture around when you clean, so you can dust and vacuum under and behind places. And vacuuming is always important, even if the floors don’t appear to be dirty; you never know when food particles might be hiding in the carpet, inviting pests to come in for a snack.
We mentioned the top five pests that were found in North Carolina homes, but that seems like a lot fewer bugs than the 100 species the study reported. That’s because the vast majority of the bugs you live with are benign. These are non-pest species, and they won’t bite you, take over your pantry or destroy your home, so they aren’t a nuisance most homeowners need to worry about.
But when it comes to the pesky ants crawling on your kitchen counters, wasps taking over your yard, and spiders spinning webs up in high room corners, you’ll want to take action. There are a few steps you can take as a homeowner to prevent those five common pests from becoming permanent houseguests.
Flies love to snack on garbage, excrement, rotting food and any other icky thing you can think of. Common houseflies can spread diseases like food poisoning and dysentery, so you definitely don’t want these guys flying around your home. Make sure you take out the trash regularly, mop up spills and clean up any pet waste as soon as you can. Having screens on windows and sliding doors will help keep these guys out as well.
Spiders tend to look for undisturbed areas to call home, so you can usually find them in cupboards, under furniture or in the corners of rooms. Most aren’t dangerous, but you should always be on the lookout for the venomous black widow and brown recluse spiders. Keep your property clear of woodpiles, and clean and vacuum storage areas regularly to prevent black widow and brown recluse spiders in your home; but if you find them, always call a pest professional like Arrow. These spiders can be dangerous if they’re disturbed, and a bite is nothing to mess around with.
Wasps and bees will build nests in a variety of areas, from trees to empty structures (like barns or attics) to chimneys, and they’re typically attracted to sweet flowers and garbage cans. Stings from wasps can be considerably painful, and even deadly for those with allergies. It’s always best to call on a professional to remove wasp nests, as they become very agitated and dangerous when disturbed.
Ants create nests outside in the soil near or below buildings, but they’ve also been known to make homes in warm, damp locations (like under floors or near heating systems). They’ll snack on just about anything in your kitchen or pantry, and, as they tend to be very social animals, seeing one means an infestation isn’t far away. Always clean up in the kitchen, and don’t leave anything out overnight — especially sugary drinks or snacks. Not all ant species bite, but those that do leave painful, itchy welts.
These buzzing, biting pests are one of the top nuisances to homeowners in the South. They regularly bite people and animals, and have been known to transmit diseases (like the Zika virus that’s currently making headlines). Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so be sure to clear any problems areas on your property. Keeping screens on windows and doors will help keep them outside as well.
Taking a few extra precautions can go a long way in preventing these pests from taking over your home, but, as evidenced by the report, it’s often difficult to keep bugs from living alongside your family. If any of these common pests start to be a problem, be sure to contact us for a free, whole-home evaluation. We’ll find out which pests are causing problems, where they’re coming from, and create a customized treatment plan to get rid of them for good.