While you may be grossed out by rodents or insects because of the germs and disease they carry, there’s another major reason to be concerned about certain types of pests.
There are tiny home intruders that can cause thousands of dollars in damage to your house, condo, townhouse or apartment if left unchecked.
Whether they’re 2 millimeters or 2 feet long, these pests can destroy your house from the inside out if you don’t spot the signs of an infestation.
Here are 14 unwanted guests to look out for before they wreak havoc on your home.
Americans spend an average of $5 billion a year to control and repair damage from termite infestations, with the average homeowner dropping $3,000. Termite colonies, which both live and eat wood, take about five years to grow to the size where they start to cause structural damage to your home, though some species can cause significant issues within six months given the right circumstances.
Compared to teeny tiny insects, raccoons are the Incredible Hulks of pests. Because of their size and single-mindedness, they’ll destroy everything in their way in order to make their home in yours. They’ll rip apart ducts, shred insulation around pipes and in walls and force it into places it doesn’t belong, chew through wiring, and even rip holes directly in a wall or roof or ceiling they want to get through.
Unlike other wood-boring insects, carpenter ants don’t eat wood, they simply excavate out both wood and insulation with their jaws, carving pathways and hollowing things out to build nests. Because of this, their destruction is less severe. But if the ants keep multiplying and building new satellite nests that can compound into damage that compromises the wooden structures in your house.
Both mice and rats can wreak havoc on the insides of your house. These rodents keep their teeth sharp through gnawing, and electrical wiring in your walls, in appliances and even in your car will do the trick. So will PVC plumbing, insulation in your walls or attic or the waves of your roof. On top of this extensive damage, exposed wiring poses a major fire hazard and holes in pipes can cause leaks and water damage.
While bees are a vital part of the ecosystem, inside your house isn’t where they should set up shop. In just a few days, a colony of bees can construct a hive that weighs several pounds, while honeybees can fill entire wall cavities with honeycombs. The weight and pressure of this can stress and even break through walls and beams. Bees will also eat through any felt or paper moisture barrier inside the walls they’re living in to make room for and access ways to the hive.
The only non-animal entry on this list, wood-destroying fungi, also known as dry rot, can attack the wood of your house much like an insect pest would. This fungi, which is especially a problem in more wet areas of the country, such as the Pacific Northwest, digests the wood it infects, breaking down the fibers and making it brittle and weak. This insidiously comprises the structural integrity of your home and requires the affected wood to be completely replaced.
While carpet beetles won’t damage your home’s structural integrity, their larvae can cause considerable damage within weeks as they gnaw away at your carpeting, furniture and other natural and synthetic fibers. Unlike moths, they tend to munch in large clumps, so the damage can end up being quite noticeable. They can ruin your floor coverings, leaving slits and holes in woven materials or shaving the nap off carpets.
Powderpost beetles are actually a family of many species of wood-boring beetles that eat tiny, round holes through wood. They will feed on many different types of wood, especially wood that is unfinished, unpainted or unsealed. According to Terminix, they are second only to termites in how much damage they can inflict on the wood in your home.
Compared to mice and rats, squirrels are less thought of as household pests, but these rodents also have a habit of nesting in roofs, attics and chimneys. They will chew through ducts, wiring, insulation and more valuable and vital parts of your home.
A problem predominantly in the southern United States, fire ants are a major nuisance that can do worse than simply give you a nasty bite. Fire ants, which are attracted to electrical fields, can damage transformer boxes, air conditioning and other electrical relay switches, causing power outages, according to Texas A&M’s AgriLife Extension.
Most people want these nasty critters out of their house because they carry disease and aggravate allergies and asthma. They can also be destructive, feeding on and ruining items such as papers, books, drapes, wallpaper, furniture and even electrical wiring.
Wasp queens hibernate in the winter and emerge again in the spring. Wasps are also known to hunker down in cracks and openings in buildings. Places like the eaves of a house are appealing spots to build their hives. Paper wasps and yellowjackets like to nest in attics and in wall voids, which can damage your wallboard or ceiling, though they don’t do as much damage as wood wasps or horntail wasps, which bore into wood. If a tree they’re living in is processed into commercial wood, these insects can survive and emerge after the wood is installed in a home.
Oftentimes, people find holes in their clothes before they see moths fluttering in their homes. That’s because clothing-eating moths are nocturnal and will hunker down in the corners of your closet or dresser drawers until the coast is clear. Left to themselves, moth larvae can eat at your items for months, especially special items being stored or not frequently worn, such as quilts, sweaters, coats and scarves made of natural fibers like wool, silk or cashmere.
While bed bugs don’t do damage to the furniture they infest, their cockroach-like indestructibility causes many people to have to toss their mattresses, couches, bedding and more and buy brand new items. It’s not that bed bugs are not easy to kill, but that they are hard to get rid of because they can hide out in your box spring, on your headboard, in the walls, in the carpet and even between pages in books. This means it can take multiple professional treatments to finally eliminate them, which adds up.