Any insect, animal, bird, or reptile can be an issue if it takes up residence in your home or is present in vast numbers. Most common household pests come into your home from the garden.
The most dangerous pests carry human diseases, but most common pests bring the risk of bacterial infection because they allow the transfer of germs from one surface to another.
Many gastro-enteritis problems arise from food contamination by harmful pests at home.
Getting rid of pests can be simple with good hygiene and DIY remedies or need intervention by a pest control professional.
Most Harmful Garden Pests
Topping the list of common garden pests is the harmful garden pests that lay waste to your most expensive flowers, vegetable plot, and precious fruit trees.
The distinct species of garden pest depends on your location but include:
- Slugs and snails.
- Beetles – practically every plant has a specialist beetle attacking it.
- Aphids and other sap-sucking insects.
- Scale insects and mites.
- Pigeons and some other birds.
- Rabbits and other mammals.
Mother Nature provides beneficial insects, birds, and animals that eat some of the most harmful garden pests and decaying plant matter, but these, in turn, are food for others.
Unfortunately, some beneficial garden residents are less welcome or harmless when they come into your house.
Common House Bugs
What are the most common house bugs, and are they always coming in from the wild?
Many common house bugs like spiders and ants come in from the garden, but some only live in human houses or prefer to cohabit.
Some of the most dangerous pests target humans, pets, and structures as their preference for habitat and food. These include:
- Bed bugs.
- Opportunistic consumers of stored food.
- Opportunistic consumers of fabric.
- Insects that eat wood and paper.
Harmful pests at home, like bed bugs, need human blood to survive. Other pests like clothes moths prefer the abundant natural fibers found in your home but can lay their eggs on old nests and animal carcasses.
List of Common Pests
There are hundreds of potential pests in your home, but the following are some of the most common pests in your garden and home.
Common House Bugs
The carpet beetle is a hidden tiny insect measuring 1-4mm. The damage to your carpets, soft furnishings, and furniture comes from their voracious “woolly bear” larva (measuring around 2.5cm and covered with bristles).
The adults feed on pollen and are attracted to bright lights. The larvae eat natural fibers resulting in unpleasant holes in fabric and carpets.
If you spot the harmless adults, the not-so-harmless larvae are probably hiding in your home and quietly chomping your treasured possessions.
Carpenter ants are not dangerous to humans, but they cause significant structural damage. Soft, moist wood is their food source, and they can eat enough of it to have your home collapsing in on top of you.
Although they prefer soft, damp wood, they will move onto sound timber if that is all that is available.
As soon as you spot signs of carpenter ants in your home act – they eat wood, nothing but wood, and your house is a feast for them. You have options to deal with carpet beetles, however significant the infection.
Centipedes look scary but class as a beneficial insect. Centipedes eat other insect pests, and they like damp conditions.
An infestation of centipedes is undesirable as most people do not like insects in the house, and it may indicate an underlying issue with dampness and other insect infestations.
You can remove centipedes from your home with simple techniques.
In the garden, the many species of cricket are not harmful, but they are noisy. A cricket infestation in the house results in damage to fabrics and possibly paper depending on the cricket species.
The main issue with crickets is the noise nuisance when you are trying to sleep as they are more active at night. Crickets in your walls can keep you awake all night, and a lack of sleep is unhealthy for you and your family.
Plus, no one enjoys insects jumping out of the laundry basket or finding holes in their expensive clothing, and you want to get rid of crickets from your home.
Cockroaches are universally loathed and with good reason. They are active at night, and they like to hang out where food and moisture are abundant – your home is an ideal habitat.
They are happy to eat human waste and move happily from the toilet to the kitchen. The cockroaches’ eating habits mean they spread disease and parasites.
No one wants cockroaches in their home or outbuildings because they are a human health hazard, and the advice is to kill both the adults and the eggs.
Bed bugs still infest homes because they are not extinct, and humans are their food source.
Bed bugs are found in beds and any dark crevice, emerging at night for a blood meal. The bites itch and can become infected.
You can kill bed bugs and their eggs, making it healthier for you and your family.
Dust mites are tiny creatures that feed on dead skin and fallen hair. Almost all homes, however clean, have dust mites.
If you are one of the 10% of people with an allergic reaction to their feces or a family member has asthma, you need to deal with your dust mite population to relieve symptoms.
Earwigs are scary looking but not a big problem in your house or garden.
They like damp, moist places, and finding them inside your home may highlight other issues such as leaks and rotten wood. Plus, if you have earwigs in your home, you probably have other less harmless insects that can damage your property.
Removing earwigs from your home keeps it free from other insects.
Native US fire ants have a painful bite but are less of a problem than the aggressive and invasive red fire ant.
Fire ants in your garden undermine your soil and are a hazard for anyone in the garden as they defend their territory with painful bites and stings. They eat seeds and a range of small insects, birds, and animals and can wipe out the natural ecosystem in your garden.
Inside your house, they love to nest (and chew) inside electrical systems. Generally, fire ants in large colonies are unpleasant for you, your family, pets, home, and wildlife.
Get rid of fire ant colonies if you want to enjoy your garden and avoid electrical problems.
A cloud of tiny fruit flies around your fruit bowl or outside drains is irritating, but you won’t suffer from bites or stings.
The main issue with fruit flies is the transfer of bacteria from one surface to another. Unfortunately, you can’t see where the fruit fly has been or what it rests on, making it easy for you to get food poisoning if you have an infestation.
Deal with fruit flies promptly if you want to run a clean kitchen.
Ground nesting bees are solitary insects, and they play a vital role in the environment. The ground bee won’t sting unless you provoke or injure it.
Typically, they are not an issue in most gardens and are essential pollinators.
If you or a family member is allergic to potential bee stings, you may wish to remove the ground bee nests to create a bee-free zone around your house, but the risk of a ground bee stinging you is minimal.
Hornets are larger than Yellow Jackets and other wasps, and they generally nest in old trees.
Your house may provide suitable space in the sidings or other inaccessible nooks that appeal to a hornet queen looking for a nesting site.
Hornet stings are super-painful, and they can squirt their venom into your eyes and blind you for a short time. A hornet nest in your home exposes your family and neighbors to painful and medically threatening stings, and you need to get rid of it.
Hornets are helpful insects in rural settings but not near human habitation.
One house fly is irritating, but you can easily open a window and let it out or pursue it with a fly swatter. A swarm of flies may indicate they are breeding in your house, which is undesirable as the house fly has some disgusting eating habits.
House flies vomit part of their last meal on their current meal. If a house fly moves from a pile of dog poop to an apple in your fruit bowl – you get the picture.
Most remedies to deal with house flies involve a mixture of prevention and killing.
Ladybugs are beneficial insects in the garden as they eat aphids. When the weather gets cold or if they swarm, they can be a nuisance in your house as they can deposit blood spots on your furnishings.
Ladybug blood will not spread diseases, but it causes stains and nasty smells. Some people are allergic to ladybugs with typical hay fever-like reactions.
Remove ladybugs from your home, and avoid the potential mess and bother.
Millipedes will eat rotten wood, but mainly millipedes are harmless and enter your house searching for dampness and shade.
Millipedes die within a few hours or days when they get into your home, and so it is better for you and the millipedes to get rid of an infestation in your home.
Mosquitos are a global pest but are more severe problems in countries where they spread life-threatening diseases. No one enjoys mosquitos in the home or garden.
Mosquitos don’t bite you to feed but to reproduce. Mosquitos will fly up to fourteen miles searching for a blood meal, and they are active at night.
Mosquito in your house give you painful bites and disturb your sleep. In areas where the mosquito carries disease, the mosquito bite is a severe health hazard.
The best approach is to kill the mosquito before it bites you and your family.
There are a lot of moth species but only a few cause problems in your home.
Clothes moths larvae chew holes in fabrics, and pantry moths lay their eggs in stored food. These larvae cause issues with contamination.
There are no positive aspects to having moths in your house; they come inside searching for food and cause a surprisingly significant amount of damage, and good household practice is to deal with moths promptly.
These small insects eat starches and sugars. In large numbers, they cause damage to fabrics and books.
They come into your house in infected packaging from infested areas. They can make their way into unopened packets of food.
Apart from damage to your possessions, they can trigger allergic reactions in sensitive people.
Get rid of silverfish to protect your food and possessions.
Stink bugs are harmful garden pests but more of a nuisance in the home rather than a problem. If they die in a light fitting or you accidentally squash them, they excrete a bad smell – hence the name.
Remove the stink bugs and keep your home smelling sweet.
Most spiders are not an issue, and you don’t know they live with you and your family.
Spiders eat other insect pests and other spiders. Spiders have a toxic bite (only a few are dangerous to humans), and a large proportion of the population fears spiders to the point where they can’t sleep or stay in the same room.
If you have a high population of spiders in your home and it is causing you distress and mess, it makes sense to remove the spiders.
Sugar ants, like humans, love sugar and other sweet stuff.
They may be small, but they have numbers and strong jaws. Sugar ants will gnaw through packaging to get into the sweet treat inside, and they bring along other pests like centipedes and spiders.
A sugar ant is primarily harmless in the garden, but they continue to forage and contaminate your food once they find a way into your home.
It can be challenging to get rid of sugar ants because they mark trails for others to follow.
Termites are fascinating social insects, but they are bad news for your home. There are some health concerns about contact with termites, including irritated skin and asthma attacks, but the significant damage is to your house.
They eat damp wood and cellulose, which means they can wreck your structure and damage your electrics.
The only effective way to deal with termites is to kill the nest.
Animals like deer carry ticks, but ticks are happy to feed on passing humans.
Blood is the tick’s food. The amount of blood a tick removes from your body is small, but a small proportion of ticks carry serious diseases like Lyme Disease and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Ensuring you kill ticks to create a tick-free zone is beneficial for your family and pet health.
Yellow Jacket build extensive nests out of a paper-like material, and their larvae eat a range of garden pests. If it weren’t for their aggressive territorial nature and painful sting, most people would welcome a Yellow Jacket nest.
If Yellow Jackets build a nest in your attic, basement, garage, or close to your house in the garden, you will want to remove the risk to your family and pets.
Yellow Jackets attack in a mass and can cause a severe allergic reaction.
Wasps in the garden are beneficial insects, but they can be an issue if they build a nest in or close to your home. The wasp sting is painful and can cause a severe allergic reaction.
Although wasps only sting when provoked, a large number of wasps in your home will result in a stinging incident. A frightened wasp releases a chemical that attracts other wasps to the area, and a single sting can rapidly escalate.
Wasps are another insect pest to remove from your home and garden – especially if you have young children.
Weevils are a type of beetle, and two types cause an issue in your home.
One species targets stored food products and contaminate them with their droppings. Another type eats rotten wood and can cause structural damage.
Weevils are one of the most common pests in the garden, especially where you have fruit trees. Most gardeners and homeowners get rid of weevils because allowing the population to flourish creates significant damage.
Mice are a smaller member of the rodent family and seem pretty cute and harmless.
Unfortunately, inside the home, they will chew holes in your woodwork and electrical cables. Mice are happy to chew anything, and like rats, their toilet habits spread diseases if they contaminate your kitchen.
In the garden, they are less of a problem unless you are trying to grow food crops.
There are plenty of ways to get rid of mice, including mouse poisons that help to exterminate a colony.
Pet rats are charming sociable animals. Wild rats are intelligent and opportunistic.
The downside of having rats attracted to your garden and house is that they are rodents and carry an incredible number of human diseases.
Rats will happily chew through wooden structures, electrical cables, dig tunnels, and freely urinate and poop wherever they go.
Rats coexist with humans, and most of the time, you do not see them. If they get into your home, you want to remove the rats as quickly as possible.
Rats cause physical damage and are a health hazard.
Squirrels are cute acrobats in the garden, but they class as vermin in most places because they are destructive in search of food.
Squirrels, like rats, are rodents, which means they chew – wood, electric cables, and anything else that looks remotely edible or interesting.
If you are a keen gardener, squirrels in the garden will dig up and eat your expensive bulbs, chew your shrubbery, and generally forage ruthlessly in your vegetable plot.
Squirrels are bold and curious and may enter your house through an open window or create an entry hole. Once in, they may nest, and generally, you don’t need the damage or the poop in your living space.
You have plenty of options (including humane ones) to deal with squirrels.
Another cute rodent, the chipmunk or ground squirrel, lives in tunnels and loves to forage in your garden. If they get into your house, they are destructive, and they can carry disease and ticks.
Generally, if you want a pristine garden and you want to avoid a destructive pest getting into your house, you want to deal with your chipmunks before they become an issue.
Groundhogs are larger than other rodents, and they dig more extensive burrows that can undermine fences, trees, and lawns. Groundhogs are garden pests as they treat all plants as an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Sadly, they have a nasty habit of taking one bite out of everything meaning if you have a vegetable plot, they ruin the whole crop.
Remove groundhogs from your garden if you want to maintain your flowerbeds, lawns, and fences.
Raccoons enjoy human gardens and houses (especially garbage cans) as accessible sources of food. They are agile and intelligent and use their natural talents to forage and find shelter.
Sadly, a raccoon visiting your yard will eat anything edible and distribute your trash over a wide area.
A raccoon in the house is a wild animal with teeth and claws, and it can do physical damage and carries some health risks for humans and pets.
Raccoons look cute but get rid of raccoons near your house for peace of mind.
Pigeons in the yard may cause damage to your garden plants and create a mess. Pigeons nesting in the attic is a severe health hazard.
Pigeons are a bird that lives in flocks and are large enough to deposit a staggering amount of poop and nesting material. In addition to spreading disease, this material can block gutters and drainage pipes resulting in water damage.
The presence of pigeons attracts other pests.
Remove pigeons from your home because they are not good house guests.
Possums can be garden pests and damage plants, eat your pet’s food and raid your trash. The possum is not aggressive and will play dead to fool you into leaving it alone.
Typically, you won’t notice the shy, nocturnal possum visiting your garden, but occasionally possums will be a nuisance as they can carry diseases and other pests like ticks and fleas.
You may wish to remove possums (and their blood-sucking hitchhikers) from your garden for health reasons.
Deer and Rabbits
Both deer and rabbits will eat their way through your garden while you are enjoying a restful night’s sleep.
Apart from the damage to your garden, both these animals carry ticks, representing a health risk, and you may want to deal with them on these grounds or to reduce garden damage.