Ignoring signs of a pest infestation can be costly for your health and your wallet. If you notice any of the following warning signs, consider calling in a professional pest controller.
Mice and rats
Mice and rats, along with the ticks, fleas and mites that live on them, are a significant health risk known to spread more than 35 diseases. Diseases can spread via bites, unsafe handling and disposal of infected dead rats or eating food or drinking water contaminated with rat urine, faeces, saliva or hair, or breathing dust contaminated with rat urine or faeces.
Rats and mice can also weaken building structures by gnawing through aluminium sheeting and chewing through electrical wiring, which can short out appliances or light fixtures and spark fires.
There are several signs of a rat or mice infestation.
- droppings (12-18 mm long)
- debris such as snail shells or fruits with the sides eaten out
- bones in the corners of sheds, under homes and in secluded spots
- greasy trails or rub marks along paths they travel, often supports or beams
- burrow holes
- gnawing damage
- pet dogs, cats and birds more excitable than usual
- squeaking, gnawing or scratching noises
Poison baits and spring back-break or capture box traps using baits such as bacon, fish, peanut butter or sausage are effective ways to destroy rats.
Often, however, a problem will persist or be more complex, and it is a good idea to call in a professional.
- WA Department of Health
Termites are better known for the damage they do to buildings than people but the cost of said damage can be enough to make a homeowner feel very ill indeed. Industry organisation Archicentre Australia says inspections are a thorough and vital tool to help prevent termite damage to homes.
While some suburbs are more at risk than others, all homes - old or new, in established suburbs or new subdivisions - are susceptible to termite infestation, and the aftermath of wet conditions may create ideal conditions for these insect pests to breed and explore for new food sources.
Archicentre Australia director Peter Georgiev said if caught early, termites can be effectively controlled before they cause damage that can threaten the integrity of any home.
"Residents should keep their eyes open for signs of termites, such as discarded wings from swarmers inside the house, but some of the warning signs, such as bubbling paint, strange bits of mud in plasterwork or disintegrating wood, may appear too late to prevent serious damage," he said.
"Residents should make provision for regular property inspections by experts and, if identified, the termites need to be eradicated by experts."
He recommended some measures to help ensure termites did not decide to find a new place to take up home.
"These include eliminating moisture problems, ventilating sub-floor areas, ensuring vents are kept clear, fixing plumbing leaks, ensuring water from gutters and downpipes ends up well away from the house and avoiding having gardens directly against walls."
Mr Georgiev said it was certainly not recommended to ignore them, to leave the problem to someone else by selling the home or to try and remove them yourself because if disturbed they would move to another place in the house.
"The sooner they are removed by a professional, the more chance there is of removing further risk of damage to an owner and their neighbours," he said.
Cockroaches often leave behind signs of an infestation even before a homeowner spots one of the insects, especially as they generally prefer to come out at night in search of food. Cockroaches are renowned for their ability to spread disease, so tackle an infestation as soon as possible.
- Black droppings that look like coffee grounds.
- Where there is plenty of water, cockroaches produce brown smear marks wherever they travel that may be spotted on surfaces and where walls meet the floor.
- Discarded egg capsules and shed skin.
- An unpleasant, musty smell from where cockroaches have defecated.
- Sighting cockroaches, especially when turning on a light at night. Some varieties prefer warm and humid areas such as bathrooms, laundries and kitchens while other like cooler, damp conditions like basements and drains.
Visible ants inside or outside a building, and paths of the insects leading to and from a building are all red flags. While ant nests or ant mounds are normally underground, entry points look like small mounds of sand, soil or dirt with a tiny depression in the middle.