Organization & Cleaning

7 Bugs You Can Find In Your House And What You Can Do To Be Rid Of Them

7 Bugs You Can Find In Your House And What You Can Do To Be Rid Of Them

Photography, iStockphoto

Organization & Cleaning

7 Bugs You Can Find In Your House And What You Can Do To Be Rid Of Them

Creatures great and small have their place in nature, but when certain creepy crawlies enter your home, they can become a problem. Though few are very dangerous, they can damage the structure of your home, cause irritation to your body and get into your food supplies. Here are some of the most common interlopers and what you can do to be rid of them.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter ants are social insects that live in a hierarchical organization with one or more reproductive queens, hundreds of sterile female workers and several males that are only produced occasionally for the purpose of reproduction. The worker ants maintain and protect the colony, rear young and gather food for the queen.

Generally, ants that are found in the home are scouting out new food sources or locations to establish a new colony. Trapping or eliminating individual ants is a fruitless task because if the original team of ants does not return to the colony, a new team is sent to take over. So long as the queen is alive and well, she will continue to reproduce; especially if the workers find a good source of food nearby.

One way to rid your home of ants is to use a small amount of borax in areas where you see them, which successfully kills the ants. To entice the ants to take the borax back to the colony to share, make sure to incorporate
a sweet bait, such as sugar or maple syrup. This effectively eliminates the entire colony, including the queen and larvae. It’s important to note that borax can be toxic, so keep it away from children and pets. An alternative solution is to place food-grade diatomaceous earth where you see ants; this will cause them to dehydrate and die but is generally harmless to humans and pets.

Carpenter ants do not actually eat wood. They build their colonies by excavating wood and prefer soft or decaying wood. In your home, for example, this may be an area that has been damaged by water. To prevent carpenter ants from taking up residence, replace or remove any decaying wood materials, fix any water damage or humidity problems, keep food in sealed containers and regularly clear away crumbs.


Carpenter ants are not to be confused with termites, which do consume wood. Termites do not occur in most parts of Canada; however, they are found in the southernmost areas of the country, especially along the coasts and in major cities. Termites can do major damage to the structure of your home, and can greatly reduce its value, so contact an experienced pest control company if you suspect you have an infestation.

German Cockroaches

These critters spare no time moving in and can quickly become invasive. In the home, cockroaches tend to live in tight spaces such as behind the refrigerator, sink or stove, or in walls—places that can be difficult to access. They come out at night in search of food sources and reproduce quickly. Cockroaches can spread bacteria and produce allergens.

Thorough cleaning and disinfection behind furniture, appliances and in every corner are essential to eliminating them. It’s also necessary to ensure that food is stored away in airtight containers, and that garbage cans are emptied and washed frequently. Diatomaceous earth, borax and other products can be effective against cockroaches; however, these are hardy creatures that are sometimes resistant to conventional approaches. As such, the intervention of a pest control operator may also be necessary. Cockroaches are opportunists, taking advantage of available food resources, so it’s important to keep your space clean.

In an apartment building, the problem can be more complex. If the neighbouring unit is also infested with cockroaches and the tenants do nothing, the insects can pass through the bottoms of doors, walls, vents and along lines of plumbing or wiring. These areas should therefore not be neglected during treatment.

Multicoloured Asian Lady Beetle

Native to Siberia, China and Japan, the Asian lady beetle is an introduced species in North America. Many lady beetle species have been brought in as a form of pest control since they voraciously eat aphids, which helps farmers and other growers preserve their crops.

In the early 2000s, the population of these critters was high enough that they were threatening native lady beetle populations and becoming a nuisance to homeowners. They can sometimes be found congregating in large numbers on buildings and will seek out the warmth of indoor spaces to overwinter. While they are not dangerous, they can be irritating when they emerge in the spring. When threatened, they release a harsh smelling odour and squishing them can leave a yellowish stain.

One line of defense against lady beetles is to properly seal the entry points of your home or building. Repellents such as garlic oil, menthol or camphor can be effective in small areas but may need to be reapplied frequently.

Bed Bugs

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs are not a sign of uncleanliness. Humans have been afflicted by bed bugs for more than 3,000 years, and anyone can be susceptible to an infestation. Since they don’t have functional wings, they’re often present in the home simply through proximity to an existing population or by the movement of goods or people from one place to another.

Through every stage of their life cycle, bed bugs feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals, leaving behind a trail of itchy bites. These sneaky insects feed while we sleep and can go into a dormant state for
several months before emerging again. Bed bugs are small, about the size of an apple seed, and brown, but after feeding may appear engorged and reddish in colour. They often live in tight spaces such as mattress seams,
in nightstands or under peeling wallpaper.

Heat can be an effective means of eliminating bed bug populations. Steam-cleaning mattresses, pillows, couches and chairs, and washing and drying affected textiles on high heat is one way to go about treating the issue. It’s necessary to treat several times for several weeks to cover their entire life cycle. Using a mattress cover is another solution: It herme­t­ically seals existing bed bugs within it, which contains the infestation and does not allow more bugs to crawl in or out and multiply. Prevention is the best course of action—a thorough cleaning of your belongings after moving or when returning from a trip is necessary, as is careful inspection of any second-hand items before bringing them into your home.

The most effective solution for treating an infestation remains the use of professional pest control. The operator will use several techniques to combat these tricky intruders, including treatment of the mattress with hot steam, using liquid or aerosol insecticide sprays or even freezing items using pressurized carbon dioxide snow. Do your research beforehand to ensure that you contact a reputable and competent company.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies are attracted to sugar. Every day, these insects can lay hundreds of eggs on fruit or any other decaying organic matter; the eggs then hatch to release tiny larvae barely visible to the human eye. Keep an eye out for these pests around garbage cans, drains and produce lying out on the counter.

To limit fruit flies in your home, immediately wash any produce you bring home, protect nonrefrigerated fruits with a fine mesh, and empty garbage cans frequently. To flush fruit flies from your drain, pour a mixture of salt, baking soda and white vinegar down the drain, let it sit overnight and then follow up in the morn­ing with boiling water. You can also create a simple trap by putting about two centimetres of vine­gar mixed with a few drops of dishwashing liquid in a container—the vinegar attracts the fruit flies, while the soap makes them unable to fly away.


Mice can fit into the tiny holes and often come inside for warmth during the fall months. They nest in walls and can become invasive because they reproduce very quickly and in large numbers.

While mice come in for the warmth, they stay for the food, so it’s imperative to store food in airtight containers that are made of material mice cannot chew through. Glass, metal or hard plastic is preferable to canvas or paper bags.

To prevent these pests from entering the home in the first place, seal any areas in which they’re likely to enter, and put covers over any cracks that should not be filled, like weep holes. If they’ve already settled in, set traps where they’ve left traces, such as excrement or scattered food. Peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils or cayenne pepper have been known to deter mice. The presence of a cat can also dissuade them from taking up residence in your home. Once again, if you can’t fix the problem yourself, call in a competent pest control company.


An uncommon household intruder, wasps do occasionally make their nests inside the home, often in the attic under the roof. As social insects, wasps will work together to defend their queen and hive. Because removing them can be very dangerous, it is strongly recommended to call in a specialist.

Proper Upkeep & Natural Products


  • Carefully and regularly cleaning the house, repairing damaged structural com­ponents, storing food in solid, airtight containers and emptying and disinfecting garbage cans frequently are some of the most effective ways to deter many pests from settling in your home.
  • Use natural products like diatomaceous earth, essential oils and vinegar rather than chemical insecticides. The latter can harm people, pets and the environment, and are often inadvertently misused (for example, using more than directed). Moreover, some insects have become pesticide-resistant, so although some commercial products can be  ineffective on them, the chemicals can still linger in the house for months.


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Organization & Cleaning

7 Bugs You Can Find In Your House And What You Can Do To Be Rid Of Them