Common Bugs Around the House

Updated February 21, 2017

Homeowners unwittingly share their houses with more than just family and pets. Common household bugs come in all shapes and colours, ranging from petty annoyances to costly or dangerous destroyers. Homeowners can benefit from identifying these pests and their potential effects on a household.


Homes are often invaded by ants. Among other things, they infest plants, food, and sweets. Though there are several species that are commonly found in homes, two types of ants can cause structural problems: the carpenter ant and the moisture ant. Both prefer to build nests in moist wood, but the carpenter ant will also infest dry wood.


The bedbug is a brown, wingless insect measuring about 1/4 inch long. It feeds on warm-blooded animals including bats, birds and humans by puncturing the skin and sucking the host's blood. They hide in mattress seams, behind baseboards, or in cracked plaster near the bed.


Two types of beetles are common in households, the carpet beetle and the powder post beetle. Both are very small and black or brown in colour. Carpet beetle larvae feed on carpet, hair, lint, feathers, clothing and other similar organic matter. Powder post beetles eat small holes into wood, leaving behind a fine powder.

Clothes Moths

The clothes moth is small at only 1/4 inch long with a wingspan of 1/2 inch. It eats mostly silk, feathers, fur and hair.


The American, Oriental, German, brown-banded and Australian cockroaches are common household bugs. Cockroaches range in colour from tan to black, grow up to 2 inches long and move extremely fast. They can contaminate food and leave a bad odour behind, and they also eat paper and clothing.


Fleas enter homes on the coats of cats and dogs. They have small, narrow, wingless bodies and are a dark reddish-brown in colour. They can jump long distances for their size. Flea larvae feed on dried animal matter, but the sole diet of a fully grown flea is blood.


Homes are infested by numerous kinds of flies, including the house fly, fruit fly, green bottle fly, cluster fly, face fly and stable fly. Most flies reproduce in decayed organic matter and carry germs to food and other household substances they come into contact with. Some, particularly the stable fly, also bite.

House Centipede

The house centipede has a wormlike shape and 15 pairs of legs. An adult centipede is at least an inch long, brown in colour and has a pair of long antennae. It eats other household pests such as cockroaches, spiders, moths and flies.


Silverfish are scaly, fast-moving insects. They are wingless and grow to 1/2 an inch. They have two long antennae on their heads and 3 similar antennae on their rear, which give them the impression of having tails. They are silver or pearl in colour. They eat book bindings, wall paper and starched clothing.


The spider most commonly found in homes is called the comb-footed spider, also called the cobweb spider. They build webs in wood piles, stone piles and other irregular spaces. They frequent basements, attics and lower-traffic rooms and hallways. Cobweb spiders range in colour from grey to brown and grow to 1/4 inch long. Few house spiders are poisonous; they are in fact beneficial to the environment and should be tolerated if possible.


There are two types of termites, subterranean and dampwood. As the name implies, subterranean termite colonies thrive in soil, often beneath structures without basements. Dampwood termites do not need soil to survive and will attack decaying wood, often spilling over into structurally sound wood. They are brown or black, 3/8 inch long and have two pair of equal-length wings.

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About the Author

Oubria Tronshaw specializes in topics related to parenting and business. She received a Bachelor of Arts in creative writing from the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from Chicago State University. She currently teaches English at Harper Community College in the Chicago area.