Pests: The Unwelcome Guest

December 15, 2015

You are not alone.  Your home is a sanctuary to thousands of freeloading pests – including millions of bed bugs and dust mites.

Then there are the bigger pests that can take over – bats, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and skunks.

These guys can make some homes uninhabitable (bats are a protected species) so get them out as soon as possible.

But discovering them is a challenge all by itself.


For example, a termite is whitish, looks like an ant and the size of a rice grain. But you’ll likely never see one since they live underground or inside the wood they eat.

termite tubes

When termites travel, they build tube roads made of sand, mud, and excrement to help them get there. You can see these on walls and floors.

Once inside a tasty stud, nobody can see the banquet they’re holding because it looks solid on the outside. To keep them away, don’t store scrap wood or firewood on the ground.

And keep crawlspaces and basements dry because termites thrive in moist wood.

Carpenter Ants

carpenter antsCarpenter ants also chew wood, but instead of eating it, they tunnel through it. They’re much bigger than regular ants and leave piles of sawdust behind.

You can even hear them munching away inside a wall or ceiling.

Which tells you the nest is near so it’s also where you should spray. Because poisoning the queen means your problem is over.



Cockroaches are less destructive and just as unwelcome.

They love dark, moist areas and come out at night to scavenge food scraps. But even a spotless

house isn’t immune. These voracious little critters will eat the glue and paste in books and wallpaper!

To get rid of them, you’ve got to find the nest or put out poison bait. Be careful to keep it away from children and pets.

Rats And Mice

mouse trap

Rats and mice won’t bring your house tumbling down, but they are a serious health threat to humans (heard of the black plague?).

They can squeeze through openings 1/4 inch wide so it’s important to seal cracks and holes around your home. You can often hear them in the walls but also look for droppings, chewing marks, and smudge marks.

You can get rid of them with traps and bait but you should choose a method that doesn’t involve direct contact.

Large rodents

large rodents

If you find a raccoon, skunk, squirrel or other large animals in your home, call a wildlife specialist. Larger animals can be dangerous or carry serious diseases, such as rabies.

To keep them out, seal all openings. Since bats eat at night help them leave by turning off lights and opening a clear exit.

If you find raccoons or squirrels in the attic, leave a light on and play a radio. This may scare them off.

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Steve Rodriguez

Steve is a Certified Master Inspector® and owner of Bulldog Professional Inspection Services in Kansas City, Missouri. He is the author of The Ultimate Consumer Guide To Home Inspections and has been a professional home inspector since 2003.

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