Pests are a common problem in many houses and apartments. Winter tends to be an especially bad time for pest infestations, since the bad weather causes many such creatures to seek shelter. In some cases, it’s obvious you have pests. If you spot a mouse or cockroach in your house, you have that mouse or cockroach plus all of its relatives. Since cockroaches are usually nocturnal, seeing one during the day indicates a particularly heavy infestation. Here are nine other signs of a pest invasion:
Some pests have a characteristic smell with mice and cockroaches being especially notorious for their odors. Cockroaches leave behind an oily or musty smell, especially if there are a lot of them. A place with a lot of mice or rats may smell of urine or ammonia. There may also be smells of garbage coming from unexpected places that indicate where the pests are stashing their food supplies.
While pests do try to avoid attention, they can make noise. Most pests are active at night, so that is the time a homeowner is most likely to hear them. “Scurrying, gnawing, scratching and squeaking sounds indicate there’s something in your home that doesn’t belong there,” said Choice Pest Management, Inc. Rats and mice will hide behind walls, in the attic, or anywhere else that has a crawlspace.
3) Droppings and/or spots
Pests will leave behind fecal matter. Rodents will leave behind droppings, while bedbugs can leave maroon or brown spots on the walls, especially near a bed or outlet. Depending on the species, cockroaches can leave behind droppings that look like dark smears, coffee grounds or black pepper. Roach feces can be found in sheltered areas or in places where people store their food.
4) Wood shavings or sawdust
Carpenter ants build nests in wood and kick out wood shavings in the process. Termites, of course, also damage wood and leave behind signs of their presence. There are many species that fall into two main groups: drywood termites and subterranean termites. Both types can cause extensive damage to the home; according to the CDC, subterranean termites cause over $2 billion dollars of damage every year. Termites eat wood from the inside out, so the wood’s surface may look fine even during a heavy infestation. Wood damaged by termites will often have a hollow sound.
5) Damaged wiring or furniture
Some pests, especially rodents, like to chew on things. Rats and mice have been known to chew on pipes, wires, insulation, plastic and wood. They will also build nests out of bits of shredded paper, insulation or cloth.
6) Holes in the walls or baseboards
Just like in the old “Tom and Jerry” cartoons, mice and rats do chew holes in the baseboards to give themselves access to a room. In a similar vein, subterranean termites will build mud tubes or tunnels on surfaces like walls.
7) Egg cases and/or shed skins
Cockroaches produce egg cases that are dark brown or black. The size varies depending on the species; American cockroaches, for example, produce egg cases that are 2/10 to 3/10 of an inch long. Cockroaches and other bugs can also leave behind shed skins. Arthropods like cockroaches don’t have skin that stretches as they grow; they have inflexible exoskeletons instead. As these creatures get bigger, they periodically shed their old skins.
8) Piles of insect wings
Both ants and termites swarm when their colonies get too large. Reproductively active members of the colony temporarily grow wings and leave the old nest to find a new one somewhere else. After finding their new home, they then shed their wings.
9) Outdoor signs of an infestation
Pests can leave signs of their presence outside, too. Insects often chew on plants, for example. Uneven grass length or circular brown patches on the lawn can indicate the presence of pests – some of which might seek shelter indoors during the winter.