No matter how small or large your home, chances are there’s an unwelcome critter lurking somewhere.
And while they might not be harmful, it’s frightening to think household bugs could be breeding, causing allergic reactions or simply making a nuisance of themselves.
Here’s how to be a bug detective and keep those creepy crawlies at bay…
1. The kitchen
The busiest room in the house is paradise-found to colonies of ants… they’re attracted to all types of food, especially sugary stuff.
Once you’ve identified their entry point, you could try using natural home remedies to deter them, such as drawing a chalk line in front of the ant hole, or placing lemon peel there.
Otherwise, Mark Smithson, CEO of Marks Electrical, suggests peppermint oil: “Ants dislike the smell of peppermint. Mix around 10-15 drops into a mug of water and, if you add it to a spray bottle, you can spray this in problem areas. Repeat regularly.”
If all else fails, try an ant repellent such as Lemongrass Atomiser (500ml, Coopers of Stortford) which is eco-friendly and suitable for ant holes inside and outside the house.
Spiders also spike in springtime and similarly to ants, dislike strong scents so citrus, peppermint oil, mint or lavender might deter them; otherwise you could try Peppermint Spider Repeller (Coopers of Stortford).
2. The living room
“What’s known as ‘woodworm season’ typically runs from April to September, as this is when they’re most active,” says Steve Jameson, national operations manager for property preservation company Peter Cox.
“You should keep an eye out for holes about 1mm-2mm in diameter in wooden items such as furniture, floorboards, timber beams or window sills,” he continues. “You may also notice small piles of fine powdery dust (known as frass) near the holes, which indicates an active infestation.
To lessen the chances of a wood-boring beetle infestation in your property, Jameson says to ventilate your home by opening windows to reduce moisture and humidity levels.
“Take care when bringing in second hand or antique wooden items into your home, making sure to check them carefully for any holes and take immediate action to treat the item if you spot any sign of an infestation,” advises Jameson. He says DIY products, like wax, oils and water-based preservatives, can help to kill the beetles and prevent further woodworm infestation.
If you think a wooden item or property you are considering buying has had a woodworm problem that’s already been professionally treated, Jameson says to ask to see a guarantee certificate for when the treatment took place. “They should come with at least a 10-year guarantee.”
3. The bedroom
Another nasty, dust mites are the most common household allergen and love bedding and carpets – but they’re often missed because you can’t see them.
“These microscopic mites are a problem because they excrete enzymes in their faeces, which can cause an allergic reaction, resulting in skin rashes and other unpleasant symptoms,” says Steve Payne, sleep hygiene expert at Sleep and Snooze.
“They multiple easily in our warm bedding, feasting on flakes of dead skin and hair,” explains Payne. “They can trigger unpleasant year-round symptoms, so it’s worth taking the time to rid your bed of them as part of your spring clean.”
He says there’s no point cleaning your mattress of mites if they’re living in your sheets, so first remove all your bedding and put it through a high-temperature wash to kill off any mites.
“The easiest and most economic way to clear dust mites from your mattress is to use baking soda and a vacuum cleaner,” suggests Payne.
“Simply sprinkle baking soda across the surface of any fabric mattress and leave it for 15 minutes to an hour, then vacuum the baking soda off the bed, making sure to get it all from between any crevices.”
He says to help tackle this, ensure your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter to contain the mites, rather than inadvertently spreading them around the rest of your home.
4. The Bathroom
Sophie Thorogood from the technical team at eco-friendly pest control brand Green Protect says: “In these humid areas, pests such as silverfish, German cockroaches and booklice can thrive due to the high level of moisture in the air. Therefore, the first thing to do is eliminate sources of moisture wherever possible.
“You can do this by using a dehumidifier, having a properly working extractor fan, ventilating the room and hanging up damp laundry and towels,” suggests Thorogood. “Additionally, any damaged tiles or cracks in the room should be fixed and repaired as they can provide harbourage spots for the pests.”
She recommends trying Green Protect Silverfish Killer Trap (Pack of 2, Espares), but says German cockroaches are difficult to treat, and a professional should always be called in.
“If not adequately managed, the infestation can spread to other areas including kitchens. If you live in an apartment building, neighbouring properties can also be affected,” Thorogood warns.
5. The utility room and/or airing cupboard
“Moths like warm, dark and undisturbed places, making utility rooms and airing cupboards the perfect hiding place for them to feed and breed in your home,” says Paul Blackhurst, technical academy head at Rentokil Pest Control.
“The textile-loving species can irreparably damage garments and soft furnishings, and they particularly enjoy feasting on non-synthetic materials such as wool, fur, silk, feathers, felt and leather.”
He says in order to get rid of the larvae to prevent further infestation, it’s important to wash the infested fabric at a minimum of 55C. For those fabrics that require a lower temperature wash, Blackhurst says you can always store them in the freezer for a few weeks to eradicate the larvae.
“As with any pest problem, prevention is key, but if you do have a moth problem in the home, it’s wise to seek professional help,” says Blackhurst.