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How To Tell if a House Has Pests: Infestation Warning Signs

pest infested house

Have you checked that you’ll be living alone before buying or renting a house or apartment? Take time to closely inspect each room so you’re not faced with the unpleasant experience that comes with a pest infestation. This month, Pest Defence are here to share the alarming signs that pests are present within a property. Read on to discover the warning signs…


How to tell if a house has pests

Avoid the costly affair of pests by understanding what it is you should be looking for inside a new home and out. With countless pests on the prowl for shelter and a decent food supply, it’s good to keep watch of these pest and insect warning signs:

1) Finding droppings

Finding brown pellets or small specks could be pest poo. Deposits can be found in piles close to their nest or scattered around the property whilst they’ve been in search for food. The biggest excrement you’re likely to find is squirrels, measuring around 1 inch long, thick and oblong and the smallest excrement you’re likely to find is a bedbug’s – which is the size of a pinhead and red/rusty in colour. Refer to our guide on identifying a pest by its droppings for more info!

2) Gnaw marks on walls and furniture

furniture gnaw marks

Finding teeth marks around holes and small crevices can be the sign of an infestation and it’s likely to be caused by rats and mice. Gnawing marks tend to also be found along skirting boards and around soft furnishings – where they commonly remove the stuffing to make themselves a cosy nest somewhere that’s quiet (likely the attic, behind cupboards or within the walls).

3) Grease marks and tracks

Pests establish their favourite routes around the home by leaving grease/rub marks or tracks along the sides of walls and floors. The grease and dirt on their bodies leaves behind a scented trail that they will be able to safely follow from A to B, usually from the food source, back to their nest. For the majority of pests, it’s likely that they will come out at night, when it’s quiet and they can go unnoticed.

4) Bad smells

bad smells

‘What might a musty smell indicates the presence of?’ – if you’ve been asking yourself this question – it’s likely there’s a plumbing issue, the bins need taking out or, unfortunately, the warning signs of present pests. 

Unpleasant smells throughout a home or apartment could indicate a pest or insect infestation. Rats and mice leave strong smells of urine or ammonia, bedbugs have a sweet odour, roaches pose a vinegary scent and birds, a musty/damp whiff. 

If the bins have recently been taken out and there are no signs of plumbing issues – look for other pest signs and remember – keep an eye out for droppings, grease and gnaw marks.

5) Blood spots

old mattress

If the house or apartment has been vacated, chances are you can get a good look at the mattresses. Inspect the creases in the fabric for red colour pinhead sized spots or dark, rusty coloured spots around the seams – likely to be bed bug excrement. You may also find the culprits themselves or the shells/old casing of their skins. This might be paired with a sweet odour too, so if you smell an overly sweet musk, this property has an insect infestation.

6) Weird noises

Scratching sounds or nibbling comes from mice and rats, they will chew on just about anything including woodwork, soft furnishings, cardboard, wires – you get the picture. What’s more, mice and rats can find their way into basements and attics – anywhere is fair game for a determined rodent. They can fit into the smallest of spaces and won’t be afraid to venture through vents or pipework, so take a good look around to ensure everything in the property has a water-tight seal.Flapping sounds can be really loud, especially if there’s a new nest in your attic, as it’s likely there will be baby birds nesting and in need of a good feed. So if you have a bird infestation, it’s likely you will hear the mother bird toing and froing.

Squeaks and the pitter patter of feet is likely to mean that there’s a mouse inside the walls or squirrels in the attic. Be aware that this activity is likely to happen at nighttime, so if your property viewing is early, chances are you won’t catch these signs.

Humming sounds give the indication that there’s a bees or wasps nest close by and if it’s quite loud, chances are it’s a sizeable nest too.

7) Damage to structures

damaged ceiling

Physical damages to doors, furniture, wiring, wooden beams and rafters, raises a red ‘pest infestation’ flag. Most pests will chew through furnishings and structures because they will utilise the material to make their nests or if they’re termites – to feast on. Pay close attention to anything that doesn’t look uniform as unexplained property damages could be the sign that pests live here.

8) Nests

Old nests found in attics could be a dormant wasps or bees nest, bird nest, squirrels nest or bat hideout. So if the attic looks like it used to be a home for pests, confirm this with the homeowner or landlord to ensure that the pests have been removed and holes/entrances have been sealed – to prevent them from returning.


Pest warning signs outside a property

As well as taking a look inside the property, keep your eyes peeled whilst you walk around the exterior, too. Take a stroll and look out for bee/wasp/termite/bird nests in the corners of windows, sheds, garages and so on. Check the back of bins and be cautious of piles of wood and leaves too, as they also might be home to a nest or two. Take note of any holes or cracks in walls, windows or roofs.


For over 25 years Pest Defence have been providing customers across Colchester, Chelmsford, Brentwood and beyond with a number of first-rate pest control services. Whether you require domestic, commercial or emergency pest control – contact our friendly team today and we’ll be on our way.


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