House pest identification

Written by stephen robinson
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House pest identification
House pests (fight of insects image by Eugene Tokarev from

As any pest control professional will tell you, the key to pest prevention and elimination is identification. Every type of house pest has specific needs concerning its food, shelter (harbourage) and water, and it is absolutely necessary to discover what type of pest you are dealing with to design an effective strategy to remove them.

Where Are They Living?

Knowing where pests live is the first step in identifying a pest. While well known pests such as cockroaches will often be found in and around the kitchen, lesser known pests such as weevils may be around the kitchen but they could also be near (or in) pet or bird food.

Are They Always Around?

Occasional invaders are pests that do not ordinarily spend time in homes but sometimes enter when something that they need is lacking outside. Often, occasional invaders will enter homes in extremely large numbers due to environmental conditions such as excessive or too little water outside.

What Are They After?

Understanding what pests want is another key to correctly identifying house pests. By understanding what type of food they are eating, the number of possible pests can be reduced. For example, ants are not always looking for sweets. While this is true in many cases, some varieties of ants prefer protein foods and others can change preferences at a moment's notice. In addition, some pests do not eat what people commonly think of as food. Silverfish are often found dining on various glues (in rugs, books and wallpaper).

Where Do They Live?

Look for pests or their excrement under and along baseboards, around gaps that lead to hiding areas such as cracks and crevices and electrical receptacles, around plumbing fixtures and in places where food is stored (including pet and wildlife foods).

How Do They Move?

Identifying how a pest moves is good way to make a quick assessment of what kind of a pest you are dealing with. Most house pests crawl, but there are several that fly, and a few that can do both.

What Do They Look Like?

Use glue boards to capture pests to make a proper identification. For crawling pests, place boards in areas where they have been seen (placing a small amount of whatever food they are eating will entice them onto it), or place them along walls because they tend to travel along them for safety.

Flying pests can be swatted with an open glue board to capture them in mid-air. Or place boards in an area they frequent, such as on a window sill. Keep in mind that high temperatures will melt the glue, allowing it to run, so do not leave them there for long periods.

Use a magnifying glass to get a close look at the pest and either bring the specimen to your local county extension office for identification, or use the online pest library of large pest control companies such as Terminix that have pictures and descriptions of various pests and their habits.

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