Direct Line magazine

Dealing with pests in the home

Updated on: 22 March 2021

Insects spread over a floor.

It's very likely that, at some point, our home will be invaded by unwelcome guests... and we’re not talking about the human variety.

Whether it’s mice, moths, wasps, bees or ants, there are plenty of common pests that take up residence in our properties, causing disruption and sometimes destruction too.

Here’s what you can do to deter household pests, and how you can get rid of them if they’ve already set up home.

How to deal with ants

Ants can be a real nuisance in the summer months, and you’ll only be able to get rid of them effectively if you can locate the nest they’re coming from. This can take some patience, as you’ll need to watch them closely to see where they’re coming from and going to.

Once you’ve located the nest, you can use an ant killer bought from a DIY or hardware shop, or there are plenty of natural deterrents you can try to help encourage them to move elsewhere.

  • Mixing lemon juice with water and spraying it around the nest and wherever you see ants.

  • Cayenne pepper sprinkled around the entry point into your home.

How to deal with mice

If you see a mouse in your house, you can be certain that it hasn’t come alone.

Mice often enter our properties during the winter months, in search of warmth and food. They can cause major damage around the home, gnawing through electrical cables and leaving unhygienic droppings on the surfaces where we prepare food.

Old-fashioned mousetraps are available, but many humane traps also exist if you want to be rid of them in your home without killing them. Traps are most likely to be successful if they’re positioned close to the place where the mice are coming from.

You should also consider:

  • Blocking up any holes the mice can squeeze through ‐ steel wool can make a good temporary fix as they can’t gnaw through it.

  • Keeping all food in airtight containers, and be sure to regularly clear worktops, floors and cupboards of any crumbs which could attract a rodent.

How to deal with wasps

If you’re plagued by wasps in your home or garden, then there will definitely be a nest nearby. Wasps usually build them in sheltered spots, such as under the eaves or in your roof space.

Unless you’re confident about what you’re doing, nests shouldn’t be messed with (particularly if anyone in your family has an allergy to wasp stings). It’s usually a good idea to bring in experts from a pest control company.

You can also try giving your insurer a call. Some home insurance policies include cover that takes care of pests like wasps.

If the wasps aren’t causing you any problems then you’re probably safe to wait for the colony to vacate the nest ‐ typically in the late summer or autumn. A colony of wasps won’t return to the same nest the following year, so once it’s empty you can knock it down or get a professional to do it for you.

How to deal with bees

What action you take will depend on the type of bee‐based challenge you face.

The bumblebee will typically arrive in the spring in small groups, taking up home in a small nest until the end of the summer. You’re usually safe to leave the nest to die out on its own, only seeking professional help if its location is causing a high risk of you being stung.

The honey bee is more likely to cause concern, due to the sheer size of their swarms. Honey bees can swarm in their thousands, often on walls, trees and fences. The good news is the swarm will usually only stick around for a short period of time. If the swarm doesn’t move on, or its location is a danger to you and your family, you’ll need to call a local beekeeper.

Bees have an extremely important role to play in our ecosystem, so treatment which will involve harming bees should only be considered if all other options are exhausted.

How to deal with moths

There are few things more infuriating than pulling out your favourite jumper only to find it riddled with holes caused by clothes moths. Moth larvae love to munch on wool and other natural fibres, including carpets, so you’ll need to vacuum regularly.

Try washing any items of clothing that have been affected and pack them in sealed bags or boxes. Likewise, vintage clothes purchases should be dry cleaned before you introduce them to your wardrobe. Sticking your clothes in the freezer (inside plastic bags) might also help to kill off any remaining moth larvae.

You can buy insecticide sprays to help banish moths, while lavender bags and cedar wood can also be good deterrents if kept among your clothes.

Don’t assume moths won’t find their way under heavy furniture either ‐ if you have an infestation, you’ll often find bare patches on your carpets when you move your sofa or chest of drawers.

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