Household Pests

- Insects, spiders and other arthropods found in homes -

Summary: Most bugs found in homes don't actually damage the structure or pose any real health threat but are just more of a nuisance than anything else. Some, however, can cause structural damage, bite or sting, or create unhealthy conditions. See which are which below.

Jack DeAngelis, PhD
OSU Ext. Entomologist (ret.)
my resume

Identifying household pests

There are only a few insects, spiders, and mites that are normally found inside homes. These are the so-called household pests. Certain ants, beetles, true bugs, cockroaches, flies, mites, silverfish, and springtails (collembola) are the most commonly reported.

Household pests differ by region - what's common in one area may not be so common in another region of the country - but the following pests represent the vast majority of questions I get.

ants are common household pests

Ants feeding at a home-made bait station of a drop of liquid bait on waxed paper.

  • Ants. There are several different small, usually brown ants that invade homes looking for food and water. They are often encountered first in the kitchen but can be found in any room. These are the nuisance ants and the best approach to nuisance ant control is baits.
  • Cockroaches. Not as common as ants but in warm climates they can become a major pest. Here again use baits plus attention to sanitation for long lasting cockroach control.
  • Bed bugs. Not common but the media has focused a lot of attention on these biting pests. Don't panic! Bed bugs can be controlled by following a few simple steps, see bed bug control.
  • Carpet beetles. Small, slow moving beetles. Infest stored foods like dry pet food. Eliminating the infested source food is the best approach to carpet beetle control.  

Other Common Household Pests

Pests that damage homes or injure people or animals

Household insecticides

Question: Can I safely use insecticides indoors? Yes and no. First, there is almost no reason to apply insecticides indoors. Most insecticides available to homeowners as aerosol sprays are messy and not very effective, and you should not apply conventional insecticides in a kitchen where food can be contaminated.

Recently, however, new botanical (plant-based) insecticides have been introduced into the homeowner market that can be safely used indoors especially those botanical products that do not contain petroleum distillate and are labeled exempt from EPA registration. While I still hesitate to recommend insecticides for routine indoor use, if you want to use an insecticide use one of these safer alternatives (see Using Botanical Insecticides).

Related Articles

Why Mothballs Should NOT Be Used

Do Electronic/Ultrasonic Pest "Repellers" Work?

Don't forget to bookmark us for next time - press ctrl-D in most browsers.

Mission: To provide accurate, up-to-date and unbiased information for solving common insect and mite problems around your home, business and landscape using least-toxic methods.

Please see the Disclaimer statements as well.

Copyright © 2004-... LivingWithBugs, LLC. All rights reserved.