Pest control officer wearing protective suit spraying under kitchen cupboards

Dealing with pests

Nobody likes sharing their home with pests such as rodents or insects. If you have an infestation problem in your home, below is a helpful A-Z of common pests with advice on what you need to do. Unless your tenancy agreement or lease says otherwise, it’s your responsibility to remove pests from your home. For some pests, you might be able to treat the problem yourself. For other types of pest infestation you may need professional help. For pests in communal areas or to seal openings that allow pests into the home, contact GCH.

You can check if your local authority has a pest control service here. Most will charge you for this. It’s best to check their website first as not all local authorities deal with all types of pest. There are also private pest control companies, but their fees are likely to be higher.

If you find ants in your home, try vacuuming them or using an ant spray or powder.

If you still have a problem, you should seek expert help

It’s illegal to kill or disturb bats in their roosts.

Contact the Bat Conservation Trust for advice.

Bed bugs are unlikely to spread disease, but they can cause you irritation and distress. If you suspect a bed bug infestation, you should act immediately by contacting a professional pest control company.

Signs of an infestation include:

  • small bugs or tiny white eggs in the crevices and joints of your mattress and furniture – use a bright torch to check for these 
  • bites on your skin 
  • tiny black spots on your mattress 
  • mottled bedbug shells
  • blood spots on your sheets – these can occur if you squash a bug after it has fed 
  • an unpleasant, musty scent in your bedroom.  You may need professional help to get rid of bed bugs. Check your local council’s website to see if they’ll assist. Or contact a company that’s a member of the British Pest Control Association or National Pest Technicians Association.

The standard treatment for any infested premises is the application of an insecticide, either as a liquid spray or powder. The insecticide is applied to all floor surfaces.

They may also advise you to:

  • Wash everything at a hot (60°C) temperature setting; tumble dry at a hot setting for at least 30 minutes; dry clean everything; or place everything into a bag and then in the deep freezer for at least three days. 
  • use a vacuum cleaner with a hose to suck up any bugs you can see – dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner in a sealed bag 
  • consider throwing away any mattress or furniture that’s heavily infested 
  • use plastic mattress covers that encase the entire mattress – this will stop any bedbugs getting in or out.

The British Pest Control Association has issued a strong warning to anyone using insecticides – always follow the instructions on the label. Take all necessary precautions to ensure you do not cause collateral damage or suffer personal injury.

Bees are endangered, and nests should only be removed if they pose a threat to people nearby. 

You can contact the British Beekeepers’ Association, who may send someone to remove the nest without killing the bees.

Nesting birds are protected by legislation, so you’ll have to wait for them to leave then block up any holes to stop them coming back.

If you’re blocking up holes or clearing gutters yourself (if it’s your responsibility), make sure you take appropriate care working at height.

Local authorities may not assist with bird control, so seek professional advice if you’re concerned.

Cockroaches love warm, dark, and humid parts of the home.

They tend to group around pipes, stoves, and sinks and will often stay hidden during the day.

Cockroaches can cause food poisoning and health problems such as asthma and dermatitis. 

You could try using an insecticide spray, but you may need expert help to deal with cockroaches. Always follow the instructions when using insecticide and keep it away from children and pets.

Dust mites live in mattresses and bedding.

They can make your condition worse if you suffer from eczema, asthma, or other breathing problems.

Dust mites like warm and humid environments.

To keep them under control, wash your bedding regularly at 60°C and try to keep your bedroom cool and well ventilated.

Flea bites can be itchy and uncomfortable for you and your pets. They might also pass diseases to your pets. 

Prevent and get rid of fleas by regularly using flea treatment for your pets. Speak to your vet for advice on the best products.

If you’ve got an infestation, you’ll need to treat your bedding, furniture, and carpets with a special spray or powder. Get advice from a vet on the best one to use. 

Go to the RSPCA website for more advice.

Mice and rats spread disease through their urine and droppings. They may also cause damage to your home, including chewing through electrical wires.

You may be able to control mice using traps or poison, which you can usually buy in DIY stores. Always follow the instructions and keep them away from children and pets.

It can be very difficult to get rid of rats yourself, so it’s a good idea to get professional help.

Carpet moths and carpet beetles damage woollen carpets or rugs in your home.

You can buy ‘killer kits’ to tackle them from pest control companies.

Tiny holes in your clothing could be a sign that you have an infestation of clothes moths, particularly clothes made of wool and silk.

You can buy moth traps and place them in wardrobes and cupboards where you store your clothes.

Wash all your clothes to kill the eggs.

Silverfish live in damp environments such as bathrooms.

They don’t carry a serious health risk, but they can swarm if you don’t deal with them.

Use an insecticide to kill silverfish, and keep kitchen and bathroom cupboards clean and dry to prevent their return.

Wasps like to make their nests in sheltered spots.

You’re likely to find wasp nests in areas like bushes, lofts, sheds, wall cavities, and under eaves.

It’s dangerous to go near or disturb a wasp nest, so it’s a good idea to get expert help if it needs removing.

When wasps feel threatened they release a chemical to call for help. While being stung by one wasp isn’t usually dangerous, 30 or 40 stings could kill you.