Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on February 22, 2022
They love crumbs, but it isn’t leftovers that bring ants to your table -- it’s the weather. They come in when it’s cold and wet, and also when it’s hot and dry. Crowds of these insects on your counters are a bother, but not a harm -- that type of ant doesn't cause damage to houses or carry disease. Keep an eye out for carpenter ants, though. They won't eat the wood in your house, but they will burrow into it to make nests. To keep the crawly critters out, plug up holes in your walls and windows to help keep them at bay.
They’re the most common insect in the world -- and probably in your home. Carpet beetles are known to nosh on dried foods in your pantry, like flour, corn meal, and cereal. They like to hang out in: wool clothes in storage, the carpet, lint, cracks, and corners of closets and drawers.
These many-legged lurkers look scary, but they can actually help make your house less creepy-crawly. Centipedes like to feast on silverfish, firebrats, beetle larvae, cockroaches, and spiders. So if you’re seeing a lot of them, take note: They might have shown up for an all-you-can-eat bug buffet. Look for them near cracks in concrete, floor drains, stored cardboard boxes, and cool, damp nooks like crawl spaces.
Wasps and Bees
Honey bees, paper wasps, yellow jackets, and hornets are all part of the Hymenoptera order, and all of them can set up shop under your roof. Locating their nest can be tricky, especially if it’s inside the walls of your home. Pay attention to any flying insects coming or going from small holes. They could be a sign of an infestation inside.
There’s no doubt about it -- these pests cause problems. They contaminate food, destroy paper and fabric, trigger asthma and allergies, and bring bacteria wherever they go. The most common indoor type is the German cockroach. In a year, one female German cockroach can produce up to 30,000 offspring. You'll find them in: kitchens, bathrooms, warm areas, near food and water, in clutter, behind pictures, and, of course, your nightmares.
Their itchy bites are annoying, but they can also be a health threat. They sometimes carry serious diseases, like the West Nile virus and the Zika virus. Mosquitoes get in your home by flying through windows, doors, or other openings. They feed on the blood of humans or pets.
News flash: All houses have spiders. But despite their scary reputation, they rarely bite people. In fact, indoor spiders are quite helpful to humans. They prey on other bugs in the home and keep pest numbers low. Keep an eye out for them near windows, corners, and quiet areas.
From drain and fruit flies to gnats and house flies, there’s no short supply of these hovering home invaders. Some sneak in through open doors or windows. Others are born and bred right inside your trash can. One reason to tell these pests to buzz off: They can carry diseases, and sometimes cause food poisoning. You'll spot them around drains or fruit, near garbage, and close to warm spots like light fixtures and sunny windows.
Don’t shave your head just yet -- the lice most likely to be in your home aren't that kind. They're booklice, or psocids, which like to feed on fungi and mold. They might also munch on cereal or wallpaper paste. And don’t worry, you can sleep tight at night -- booklice don’t bite. They like to lurk in grains, under wallpaper, in furniture, along sides of windows, on window sills, or in potted plants.
Got gaps in your door and window frames or bright outdoor lights above your entryways? You might be rolling out the welcome mat for field, house, or camel crickets. Luckily, these critters think of your home as a nice place to visit, not settle -- they prefer to lay their eggs outside. On their way through, they might hang out in your basement, on plants, and near fabrics.
You might know this ball of a bug by its nickname, the “roly poly.” Pill bugs are related to lobsters, and actually breathe through gills under their armor-like body. If they dry out, they can’t breathe, so they stay close to wet spots in your home. Check for them under the bathroom sink, in your crawl space or basement, or in the potted plants.
Silverfish and Firebrats
These quick-moving insects are sometimes brought into homes with boxes, or they can slip inside on their own. They binge eat a wide range of things, from cereal, flour, and fabrics to wallpaper, books, and glue. They’re not active during the day -- nighttime is when they roam. They hide away in places you don't go all that often, like basements, closets, bookcases, boiler rooms, and attics.
News release, Stanford University
University of Minnesota Extension: “What to do about household ants,” " Carpenter ants," “Carpet beetles and clothes,” “Crickets,” “Fall nuisance flies,” “Silverfish and firebrats in homes,” “Common Spiders In and Around Homes.”
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension: “What are beetles,” “Indoor flies.”
Bertone, M. PeerJ, 2016.
Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences: “House Centipedes,” “Booklice.”
University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources: “Cockroaches.”
University of Missouri Extension: “Household Flies.”
University of Kentucky College of Agriculture: “Mosquitoes: Practical Advice for Homeowners.”
University of Idaho Extension: “Homeowner Guide to Pillbugs and Sowbugs.”
Illinois Department of Public Health: “Bees and Wasps.”