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Which pests are most likely to infest homes?

Whether it’s a scuttling in the shadows or the pitter-patter of tiny feet in the loft, one thing’s for sure, pests cause problems everywhere. A pest infestation can be a worrying problem for many homeowners. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have the correct home insurance.

A person spraying pesticides in a garden

Choosing home insurance that covers pests means you don’t have to worry about paying to remove sudden infestations of rats, mice, or wasps. It usually covers the costs of call-outs, labour, and extermination of the pests.

We’ve analysed survey data of 2,000 UK adults to find out which pest is most likely to make its way into our homes. We’ve also looked at the damage they might do, and how people respond to them.

 

Which pests are people dealing with the most?

Infographic showing the top 13 pests people are using pest control methods against

Ants and flies are the most common pests people deal with, with over 1 in 4 (28%) people recently taking pest control methods against them. This was followed closely by spiders with almost a quarter (24%) of people tackling them.

Bees and beetles were seen the least often, with more than 1 in 8 (13%) people saying they'd treated infestations in their homes. Bed bugs on the other hand, were treated by 1 in 7 (14%) people.

Pests that deserve honourable mentions

While we couldn’t list every pest, we still wanted to know what other pests people found in their homes. This is why we left one question open where participants could share the creatures that crawl their walls most frequently.

=1. Fleas and moles

In joint first place, are fleas and moles. Fleas are acrobatic little blood suckers that often get tracked into homes in the fur of dogs and cats. However, they can also take residence in our soft furnishings.

Meanwhile, worm-eating moles can be a common nuisance in gardens, leaving piles of earth in manicured lawns and shredding plant roots.

3. Greenfly

In third place is greenfly. Most commonly found in the garden and greenhouses, greenflies (or aphids) are small flies that can also be found indoors, on our beloved houseplants.

=4. Slugs and silverfish

In joint fourth place are slugs and silverfish. These slimy molluscs are most commonly found in the garden, munching through plant leaves. But they can also creep indoors in search of food, leaving glistening trails in their wake.

Joining slugs, we have silverfish. While not really fish, they can in fact be silver-coloured and in some circles are considered pretty. That doesn’t mean they are entirely welcome when they crawl out of the shower drain, though.

6. One-off wonders

Last place is taken up by solitary mentions; snails, rats, ticks, squirrels, and foxes have all proved bothersome to homeowners and renters alike.

 

How do people tackle these pest invasions?

If you have specialist home insurance that covers pest infestations, your best bet to tackle them would be to contact pest control. This is because you’re usually covered for the cost of calling professionals out and the extermination techniques they carry out.

Read your policy details carefully as some providers define a 'pest' differently. An infestation of rats, for instance, might be covered, but removing cockroaches may not be.

Other home insurance policies might not cover you for any damage caused by pests. For example, if a rat or mouse chews through wiring or pipes. In these instances, taking action early and preventing pest damage is the best course of action.

However, there are some circumstances where you might be able to tackle these pests alone…

Everyone has a different approach to tackling pests. For some, it’s stomping, for others, it’s relocating, and some like to call in reinforcements. However, a number of interesting patterns emerged from our survey showing an interesting divide in the response from men, women, and non-binary people.

On average, men and non-binary people are more likely to buy pest control measures themselves than women.

Almost a third (30%) of men said they would hire a company to come in and remove the infestation, compared with more than 1 in 5 (22%) of women. While only 1 in 20 (5%) of non-binary people said the same, nearly two thirds (65%) said they would buy a product to deal with the infestation themselves.

Women are also more likely to ask for help, with 1 in 15 (7%) saying that they would ask for someone else to take care of the problem. This is compared with less than 1 in 20 (2%) men who would ask the same.

 

How do people notice pests?

There are a variety of creepy, crawly creatures that can live indoors. All manner of insects and creatures can infest our living spaces and they’re almost universally unwelcome.

Noticing pests

Nearly 1 in 5 (19%) of respondents told us they’d seen living or dead crawling pests at least once a week. This includes cockroaches, ants, beetles, bed bugs, or spiders. This is followed by a further quarter (23%) of respondents who see them every 2 weeks, and nearly 1 in 3 (29%) see them once a month. Less than 1 in 10 respondents (8%) said they’ve never seen any crawling pests in their homes.

But pests aren’t always visible - sometimes we can’t see them, but we can hear them in our homes. Whether this is the buzzing and humming of insect hives, the scratching and squeaking of rodents, or the flapping of birds and bats. Only 8%, almost 1 in 10, of our respondents said they heard 1 or more of these sounds once a week.

However, almost 1 in 6 people (17%) said they heard these sounds once a fortnight. Nearly 1 in 5 respondents (19%) heard them at least once a month. While, luckily, a third of respondents (33%) said they’ve never heard any pest noises in their homes.

Damage from pests

Pests aren’t just annoying and unsettling, they can cause real damage. Whether that’s to people, from the bites and diseases they can carry, or property damage.

Almost 1 in 10 respondents (8%) said they experienced damage to their clothes, upholstery, carpets, or curtains once a week. This is usually caused by moth and beetle larvae, chewing up the fibres. More than 1 in 7 (15%) said they found this damage once a fortnight and another 18% said they found it once a month. But, almost 2 in 5 (37%) said they never found such damage in their homes.

Pests don’t just damage items by chewing them, but also by the mess they leave behind. The dirt and droppings left by these mini-invaders can damage property and could pose a serious health risk.

Thankfully, less than 1 in 10 of the respondents (7%) found droppings in their homes once a week. Just over 1 in 10 (11%) found droppings once a fortnight, and almost 1 in 5 people (18%) found them once a month. Almost half of respondents (46%) said they never found evidence of droppings in their homes.

How often do people find evidence of bed bugs?

Bed bugs are a real and growing issue. Not only do they cause bites that can be itchy, but having an infestation can cause real psychological trauma.

Fortunately, half of the respondents (50%) said they never noticed any blood or dark stains that could be evidence of bed bug bites. But less than 1 in 10 (8%) found these marks once a week, while over 1 in 10 (11%) found them once every 2 weeks. Almost 1 in 5 (18%) respondents found small blood stains once a month.

 

Where are pests located in the UK?

An infographic showing which UK regions have taken measures against pests

Some areas of the UK are more prone than others to get some pests. London seems to be a popular destination for these irksome critters, as London gets the highest scores for a few of them.

Londoners battle more ant infestations than other areas of the country (40%), as well as spiders (41%), mice (30%), and mosquitos (36%). These city dwellers also take on more rats (30%), cockroaches (27%), moths (24%), and bed bugs (24%).

If you hate flies, the South West is the place to avoid as almost half (41%) of the respondents have had to fight off these buzzing invaders. But it’s Yorkshire and the Humber that has the biggest wasp problem, with a third of people (27%) having used control methods against them.

Yorkshire and the Humber has problems with another flying insect, albeit a more helpful one — it scored highest for bees with over a fifth (22%) experiencing them.

Beetles are an equal opportunities nuisance, bothering 1 in 5 (19%) people in the West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, and Wales. But beetles do make a special bothersome effort in Northern Ireland, where over a fifth of people found them (22%).

 

10 top tips for deterring pests

Pests are never fun, so we’ve compiled 10 top tips to reduce your chances of an infestation.

  • Regular cleaning: leaving leftovers, rubbish, and open food containers around is like a buffet for many pests. The less there is for them to eat, the more likely they are to move on.
  • Minimise clutter: critters like spiders, rodents, and cockroaches all love clutter. It gives them places to hide. Having a good clear-out regularly is key to minimising clutter.
  • Increase airflow: insects love damp corners, especially beads of moisture. Water drops are the perfect drink for them. Increased airflow reduces humidity and moisture in the house generally, and prevents it from accumulating in forgotten corners.
  • Seal gaps: any cracks or crevices in outer walls and window frames are like a welcome mat for pests. That being said, don’t block air bricks. If you have any intruders coming through your air brick, cover it in a fine mesh instead.
  • Flea prevention: pre-emptively treat your pets with some good quality flea ointment. Not only will this mean they don’t get itchy, but the fleas won't live long enough to make a home in your home.
  • Air out linens: clothes moths love finding old linens and clothes that haven’t been used in a while. Every few months, air out your linens to deter them and spot any larvae before they do too much damage.
  • Fly screens: whether beaded, ribbons, or mesh, a fly screen can keep them out of your house, and away from your food.
  • Remove standing water: some insects start their lives in standing water, so the more you have around, the more of them there will be! Excess water around the property can also provide a drink to thirsty pests who might find their way inside.
  • Invest in a good vacuum cleaner: good vacuums can suck up all sorts of pests, removing them from your carpet. If you suspect you might have fleas or carpet beetles living in the pile, be sure to empty your vacuum outside straight after using it.
  • Remove rubbish promptly: don’t leave rubbish standing in your inside bins and try to keep your outdoor bin a little distance from your house. Not only will everything smell sweeter, but pests are most likely to stay near there instead of your house.

How many people suffer spider infestations?

Many people aren’t huge fans of spiders. From their eerie, quick movements, to their excessive number of legs, some people just aren’t keen. However, most UK spiders are harmless. Unfortunately for those who don’t like them, 2 in 3 (66%) of our respondents said they had found spiders in their homes.

How do people tackle spiders in their homes?

An infographic showing what people would do in case of a pest infestation

When it comes to how people deal with spiders in their homes, the results are varied. A third (31%) of people said they move spiders to the garden and almost a fifth (17%) said they would get someone else to do it for them.

On the other hand, 1 in 5 (19%) of people said they would kill the 8-legged squatters, while 1 in 10 (9%) said they would get someone else to kill it. Only 3 people in every 100 (3%) respondents said they would be happy to find spiders in their homes. A particularly fearful 1 in every 100 (1%) claimed that they’d simply run away if they found a spider in their house.

What species of spider are people more likely to find inside?

There are over 50,000 known species of spider in the world. Of these, the UK is home to around 680 species of spider. Most of these are shy, living in the wild and away from people. But some of them do like to live with us, as the tiniest roommates ever.

Here are the 5 spiders you’re most likely to find in your home:

  • Cellar spider
  • Cellar spiders are also known as daddy long-leg spiders due to their long, spindly legs. Often found suspended in corners, these tiny arachnids are powerhouses of pest control. Despite their diminutive stature, they can take down even the biggest of house spiders.

  • Giant house spider
  • One of the largest species of spider in the UK, giant house spiders are often found indoors in autumn. The males of the species are seen most frequently, as these leggy lotharios head indoors to find romance.

  • Noble false widow
  • While the noble false widow may share a similar look to its more infamous namesake the black widow, they are pretty much harmless. They can bite people, usually when they feel threatened, but this has been likened to a bee or wasp sting.

  • Cupboard spider
  • The cupboard spider is closely related to the noble false widow and is also called a false widow. These are shy spiders that love the conditions presented in our cupboards and pantries.

  • European garden spider
  • You may not want to get close enough to see the stunning patterns these spiders are adorned with, but they are there. While most commonly found spinning webs in hedgerows, these small spiders can be found indoors — especially when the weather turns cold.

 

Find insurance to protect against pest infestation

Jessica Willock, home insurance expert at Confused.com, comments:

“Over a fifth of our survey respondents didn’t know that most insurance policies don't cover pest infestation. A further quarter had no idea if their policy covered it or not. Although household pest sightings are normal, homeowners and renters should find out if their home insurance extends to pest damages as many policies don't automatically provide this.

“Our research shows that less than a fifth of people are fully aware of what their policy covers, while a further fifth are completely unaware. More than half are unsure about the extent of their insurance coverage.

“If it does provide this cover, it’s also important to check what kind of pests your home insurance protects you against. For example, the removal of a beehive might not be covered whereas a mouse infestation could be more likely to be covered.

“This will provide you peace of mind no matter how big, or scary looking, the problem is.”

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