Just because you don't see pests running around your home, it doesn't mean they aren't there. Pest infestations are one of the biggest challenges you can face as a homeowner, and the earlier you find an infestation, the better off you are.

So, when you are working and cleaning around the house, look for these subtle signs. If you discover one or more of these, it might help you stop an infestation before it gets started.

17 Signs Of Pest Infestation

1. Odd Smells

woman holding her nose due to smell

If you catch a whiff of an odd, musky odor when you are in places like the kitchen or basement, it could be a sign that you have pests in your home. Pests leave behind nasty smells. Mice give off musty, urine smells, rats smell like ammonia, and roaches have an oily odor that some call a "fecal soy sauce."

Garbage smells also attract pests, so that is also a bad sign. If you have a nasty odor in your home, take the time to track down the source.

2. Droppings

cockroach on a counter

Feces is classic evidence of a possible infestation and if you find some droppings, you should proceed with caution. Pest waste is a sure sign that they are in your home, and it can carry a number of different viruses and bacteria.

When you remove these droppings, be sure to clean the area thoroughly. But, before you remove it, be sure to do your research to figure out what kind of pest it comes from. Larger pests like mice and rats will have more obvious fecal matter, but smaller animals are much more subtle. Cockroaches have droppings that look like coffee grounds, and dust mite droppings look like food balls bound together by mucus.

And, termite droppings (frass), look like little wood pellets. If you see a pile of those outside your home, you have a termite infestation in your future.

3. Spiders

spider in a house

Spiders love insects, so if you see a bunch of spiders in your home, that means that your house has a good supply of insects to feed on. Even if you don't actually see the bugs, the spiders are a sign that they are controlling the insect population, but that isn't going to last.

Simple ways to keep bugs out of your home include storing your food in airtight containers, cleaning up spills and crumbs with soapy water, regularly cleaning your cupboards with soap and water, and sealing cracks and crevices.

4. Signs of Nesting

nesting mice

Pests like to be warm and cozy, so when they find a home with a warm environment and a food and water source, chances are they aren't going to be in a hurry to leave. Pests will make nests to set things up for the long-term and reproduce, and they will do this in darker places that don't have a lot of traffic.

Wall cavities, loft insulation, behind appliances, and garage corners are all places they could possibly nest. Nests do have strong odors, and mice will shred up paper like confetti so they can get comfortable.

5. Ladybugs

infestation of ladybugs

Learn About Nature says that ladybugs are hardcore predators, and if you see a bunch of them inside your house, that could mean you have mites, whiteflies, and scale insects. However, Terminix says to leave the ladybugs alone and go after the mites and other flies and insects.

However, if you see ladybugs outside, that is more than OK. They love aphids - a serious garden enemy - so you want to encourage ladybugs to live in your yard.

6. Grease Marks

mice chewing on corn

Mice and rats like to travel the same paths on a regular basis, and that means they will end up leaving grease marks or streaks on walls, baseboards, and other surfaces because of the oil in their skin.

7. Noise

family of mice

Pests are quiet creatures, but they are not silent. Termites will tap on your walls, and if you hear them banging their tiny heads, that means you have a termite problem and you need to call a professional right away.

You can also hear the pitter patter of rodent's feet if you listen closely. Mice and rats love to hide in wall cavities and under floorboards, and if you put your ear to the wall or floor and hear scratching, gnawing, or scurrying, then you know you have a rodent problem. Also, if you have an attic or any kind of crawl space, listen to the ceiling to see if you can hear them.

8. Mud Tubes


Termites like to use dirt and saliva to build mud tubes to and from their food sources. It is a way to protect their colony, so if you start seeing these mud tubes on external walls, there is no doubt that you have a termite colony somewhere.

9. Peeling Paint

peeling paint

Termites love to burrow into wood and leave behind moisture, and that can mean major damage to your paint. If the paint on your walls is peeling, cracking, or bubbling, you just might have termites in your walls. Also, if your floors feel weak underfoot, that is also a subtle sign that termites may be in your home.

10. Damaged Furniture

mouse damage

Rodents love to chew on furniture because of their constantly growing teeth. They will eat anything, and that includes furniture, any kind of wood or plastic, wires, insulation, or pipes. If you see a chunk taken out of a chair leg or a bread box, chances are you have mice in your house.

11. Holes

mouse hole in the wall

If you discover small holes in your floors or walls, or burrows near the garbage or weedy areas, that is a bad sign. Weird holes around your property can be a dead giveaway that you have an infestation of some kind. And, if you find things like gnaw marks near those holes, you probably want to call an exterminator immediately. Mice and rats will gnaw small holes into thin walls to create new entry points and to help them move around your home.

But, even if the holes are perfectly round, you could still have a problem. Carpenter bees can create perfectly round holes in everything from decks to outdoor furniture.

12. Sawdust Piles

carpenter bees

Speaking of carpenter bees, when they make those perfect holes they aren't eating the wood, they just use it to create shelter. So, that will cause piles of sawdust near those mystery holes. You need to get rid of carpenter bees immediately because they can do some serious damage, and they will return year after year.

13. Anthills

anthills on a patio

A few ants here and there isn't anything to worry about, but if you see that ants in your kitchen are coming from the walls, that could mean there is a colony in your home. And, if they are carpenter ants, that is all bad. Like carpenter bees, carpenter ants will create sawdust while they burrow through wood, and if you see evidence of ants, you need to immediately create a plan to get rid of them.

14. Tracks

mouse covering his eyes

Look at places in your home where dust collects easily. If you see tiny footprints, that is another sign of rodent infestation.

15. Dead Bugs

dead bugs

We aren't talking about the random dead bug here and there, that is just common occurrence for any home or apartment. But, if you see a bunch of dead bugs of the same species near window ledges or in your basement, it means you probably have an infestation on your property.

You might also find things like exoskeletons which have been shed or molted skins in your bedroom, and that is a good sign that you have bed bugs.

16. Odd Pet Behavior

dog with a funny face

If you have a dog or cat that is scratching at walls in a specific area of your home, that could be a sign that you have a rodent infestation. Make a note of where this is happening, so you can tell your pest professional when they inspect your property.

17. Allergies

woman suffering from allergies

The cause of allergies can be hard to determine, but pests can cause them, and that truth is often overlooked. Rodent droppings and fur can cause allergic reactions in some people. The vast majority of allergists believe that getting rid of pests can help combat allergy problems.

If you have looked over your home and property and didn't spot any of these things, then chances are you are just fine for now. But, be sure to check your home regularly for these signs because it can keep you from having to deal with a major pest infestation in the future.

You can also do some different things to keep pests from entering your home, like sealing up cracks and holes, fixing leaks, and storing your food in airtight containers. Taking away food, water, and entry points will make keeping your home pest-free much easier.

And, if you do come across a few of these signs, it is time to identify what specific pest you have in your home and start getting rid of them with DIY remedies or with the help of a pest control professional.

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