Is my house crawling with pests?

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1. Pests in the home

In hundreds of thousands of houses up and down the country we are sharing our homes with unwanted pests of all kinds. In 2013 there was a 31% rise in call-outs for rodent infestations in Britain, according to Rentokil. Bed bugs too are multiplying on an alarming basis; more than 20,000 exterminations were carried out in 2013, the most for over a decade.

Pests don't care who you are, how much money you have or where you live. If the conditions are right, these sneaky critters will find their way inside ANY home or garden, causing a mixture of horror, misery and embarrassment.

But how do you know if your home is infested with moths, bed bugs or rodents? Well, you can play detective and look for the signs and clues that you're sharing your home with unwanted guests.

2. Why are there so many?

1) Weather changes and flooding

Heavy rainfall often drives rats out of their city sewer homes and into our houses.

2) Over-heated homes

We have a tendency to leave the heating in our homes on all hours attracting rodents and insects looking to nest.

3) Overflowing bins and food waste

Pests need a food source to multiply and with food spilling out of our bins we’re giving it to them easily.

4) Council cut-backs

A large amount of councils have cut back bin collections to fortnightly which means more food hanging around for easy pickings.

3. Hunting for clues

Click on the image below to find out more about the signs are that suggest you've got pests.

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4. Looking closer

In order to beat the pests in our home we have to understand them. We need to know at what point in their lifecycles they are vulnerable so we can reclaim our homes and get rid of them.


Cockroaches have 3 distinct lifecycle phases: egg, nymph and adult. They are nocturnal scavengers, and in the daytime are only found among crevices and cracks in your home. Because they eat almost anything, the best form of control is to make the environment inhospitable for them: clean up spilled food, no dirty dishes, no rubbish and more airtight food storage.


Mice will eat around 20 times a day and nibble almost anything. They can squeeze through a gap of just 6mm and will only travel three to nine metres away from their nest. Closing entry and exit points is the best form of control.

Bed bugs

Females lay 200 to 500 eggs over a two-month period. The white specks are very difficult to spot. They can survive for up to a year without feeding. All this makes them very difficult to get rid of. Steam cleaning kills them but must be carried out repeatedly.


Moths do the most damage when they are in their larval stage. See these tiny critters eating your jumpers and carpets, and find out how to stop them, by watching the video.

5. Pest problems

Pest problems

Data sources: BPCA national survey, Natural England, Acheta, Pest Control UK, Penn State University.

6. The great mouse eviction

How do you get rid of mice in your home? Lucy discovers a simple trick in this video.

7. Which pest causes which problem?

Different pests cause different problems at home. Take a look at the following images and see if you can work out which problem is caused by which pest.

Carpets with holes in

These insects eat wool, cashmere, silk, cotton, linen, fur, feathers, fair, lint and carpets.

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Moths are thought to be infesting over 1.5 million homes in the UK. The larvae will eat fabric for up to 50 days.

Gnawed cardboard

Wires, clothing, plastic containers, walls, cardboard and fabric all fall fowl to these critters.

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Mice and rats

Rodents will chew through almost anything.

Bite marks

Red marks found on the body, often in large numbers.

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Bed bugs

Bed bugs are the cause of bite marks on the human body. They need to be removed by professionals.

Eaten vegetables

Holes in fruit, vegetables and leaves.

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Slugs will eat almost any greenery. They are more active after dark or in wet weather.