At some point, most of our homes will be invaded by unwelcome guests – and we’re not just 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 often destruction too.
Here’s what you can do to deter them, 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 either use an ant killer bought from a DIY or hardware shop, or there are plenty of natural deterrents that will encourage them to move elsewhere.
For example, mixing lemon juice with water and spraying it around the nest and wherever you see ants will help keep them away, and cayenne pepper sprinkled around the entry point into your home should also deter them.
How to deal with mice
If you see a mouse in your house, you can be certain that he or she 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 electric cables and leaving unhygienic dropping on the surfaces where we prepare food.
Good old-fashioned mousetraps are the best way to dispose of mice, and peanut butter is a more tempting bait than cheese. Traps are most likely to be successful if they are positioned close to the place where the mice are coming from. Block up any holes where they can squeeze through – steel wool can make a good temporary fix as they can’t gnaw through it. Keep all food in airtight containers too, so that they can’t reach it.
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), so it’s usually a good idea to bring in experts from a pest control company to kill them and then remove the nest.
Try giving your insurer a call. Some home insurance policies include cover that takes care of pests like wasps.
If you’re certain you want to go it alone, you can buy a powder which you can puff near the wasp entry points. Bear in mind that this powder is dangerous to cats, so should not be used near or around them or their bedding.
How to deal with bees
Bees have an extremely important role to play in our ecosystem, but that doesn’t mean it’s any fun sharing your home with them. You should aim to remove them without killing them, but again this is a job for the experts. Ask around in your local area if there’s anyone who already keeps bees and would be happy to collect them. Failing that, you should be able to find a swarm collector via the British Bee Keepers Association who will come and collect the bees at no cost to you. A hive will be easier to remove if it’s exposed, but if it’s in your wall cavity, you will definitely need professional help.
Always use a trained pest controller who is a member of the British Pest Control Association. Many experts advise trying to leave the hive alone if the bees aren’t being too disruptive, as once the summer season ends, they will leave and won’t return to the same site the following year.
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 be scrupulous about vacuuming regularly. Don’t assume they 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.
Wash any items of clothing that have been affected and pack them in sealed bags or boxes. Some people put them in the freezer first to make doubly certain larvae are killed off. You can buy insecticide sprays to help banish moths, and lavender bags and cedar wood can also be a good deterrent if kept among your clothes. It’s also worth investing in pheromone moth strips, which are sticky and attract male moths. Once the creatures are stuck, you simply pop them in the bin, safe in the knowledge that they won’t produce any more offspring.