Just like the changing of the weather, seasonal changes bring out new bugs that can both help and hurt your home, property and family. Just like us, bugs have favorite times of the year, and luckily their predictability can make their presence easy to prepare for.
We’ve put together this guide to help you ward off harmful bugs while also encouraging beneficial bugs to find your garden. We cover the seasonality of bugs, what regions you may encounter them in and what parts of your house they will infiltrate if you aren’t prepared. Jump straight to the infographic to learn about how to keep pests away from your home.
How big is the bug problem?
If you think that your house is too clean and organized to have any unwanted squatters living with you, think again. A recent study found fewer than one percent of a sample of 554 rooms and 50 homes surveyed were completely bug-free.
While it’s not possible to completely bug-proof your home, not all of these bugs are actually doing any damage. On average, the homes surveyed had 93 different species of bugs living in them, but only a small percentage found were considered pests.
Understanding where and when you may encounter bugs that really do cause damage can save you from thousands of dollars of damage to your home. For example, homeowners who discover termite damage will usually spend over $3,000 to repair it, so prevention is key.
Eighty-nine percent of pest control professionals report treating single-family homes for bed bugs in the last year, and eighty-eight percent report infestations in apartments and condos.
Read on to learn more about the bugs that can cause damage to your home and your health, plus get tips on how to prevent them in the first place. In addition to preventing bugs, you’ll also want to make sure your home insurance policy is giving you the protection you need.
Seasonality of bugs
Although many bugs are around all year long, homeowners may notice some bugs appear more often in certain seasons. Here’s a breakdown of the bugs you can expect to see in each season.
Springtime brings about warming temperatures, melting snow, blooming flowers and lots of moisture. The critters that emerge in the spring usually only have a few things on their mind: food, water and finding a mate!
A couple bugs to keep an eye out for during the spring:
- Ants: These warm-weather foragers start to venture further from their colonies. Spring rain can also cause them to seek higher ground.
- Tip: Seal up any sweets or pet food containers to keep them out as long as possible.
- Termites: Spring marks the beginning of termite season when they begin to swarm and search for places to make new colonies.
- Tip: Ensure there is adequate airflow throughout your home to prevent any areas from retaining moisture, which can attract termites.
- Spiders: Arachnids become more active in the spring as they start looking for prey that is also venturing out.
- Tip: Use citrus or mint around your entryways to deter spiders from coming in. Given that they hate acetic acid, this should keep them far away.
- Stinging insects: Bees and wasps begin to proliferate after the queen’s hibernation period over the winter.
- Tip: Make a bee trap using a clean two-liter bottle cut in half and invert the top. Use sugar-water and honey to attract them and then use dish soap as poison.
Ah, summer. The days are long and the temperature is hot. You should notice fewer bugs inside your house, and that’s because all their mates and food are outside!
When they do make their way inside, the following bugs can become a nuisance to you and your family:
- Mosquitoes: The warmer months bring newly hatched mosquitoes while the next generation of mosquito eggs are laid in still, shallow water.
- Tip: Remove items that collect water to keep them from laying eggs throughout your yard.
- Flies: Most active during the summer, flies breed fast. They spawn in your pet’s waste, rotting food and garbage.
- Tip: Take out your trash regularly to reduce their urge to come inside. Make sure your compost is sealed tightly to prevent them from finding spoiled food.
- Stinging insects: Bee, wasp, yellow-jacket and hornet populations reach their peaks during the summer months. Most of the time they build their nests in any openings of your home, under any overhangs or in the ground near the base of your house.
- Tip: Build or buy decoy wasp nests. Decoys work because of the territorial nature of wasps who will fight to the death to defend their nest.
- Ticks: Capable of transmitting a number of dangerous diseases, like Lyme disease, ticks are particularly a threat if you live in a wooded area.
- Tip: Cut down tall grass and remove loose brush from around your home and lawn — but remember to check yourself for ticks afterward.
- Bed bugs: Although they are a year-round problem, the higher rate of travel in the spring and summer increases the chances of bringing hitch-hiking bed bugs home with you.
- Tip: Wash your clothes with hot water and vacuum frequently to keep them from moving in.
3. Fall and winter
As both the temperature and the leaves start to fall, bugs begin searching for a cozy place to ride out the winter months. These critters are looking for food, shelter, and warmth, and your home just so happens to be the perfect accommodation.
It’s easy to pay less attention to the outside of your home in the autumn months, especially as leaves begin to pile up and landscaping feels less of a priority. However, this can create an open invitation for bugs to move in with you and your family for the winter season.
Bugs to watch for in the fall and winter months are:
- Cockroaches: Unable to survive the colder temperatures in the fall and winter months, cockroaches begin to migrate into your home, congregating in moisture-rich areas near pipes and drains.
- Tip: Do your best to clean dishes promptly when you’re finished with them. Dirty dishes are a popular feeding ground.
- Spiders: Flying insects, a spider's favorite food, die off in the colder months, so spiders seek out refuge and food inside your home.
- Tip: Declutter and clean your home to limit hiding places for spiders and their prey.
- Stink bugs: It’s implied in their name, but stink bugs emit a foul odor when disturbed. They bask in the warm sun on the side of your house and can often find their way in.
- Tip: Spray a mint and water solution on entryways.
- Bed bugs: Like with summer months, increased travel during holiday months also means bed bug populations may be on the rise.
- Tip: Check your luggage before unpacking after a trip and wash in hot water as a precaution.
Where unwanted guests become destructive pests
Living rooms are often one of the most frequented rooms in the house. Being such a popular gathering spot, living rooms offer opportunities for bugs to gain entry to the room and even more reasons for them to stay and get cozy once they’re there.
Bugs that you’re likely to find in your living room can be:
- Ants and flies: These guys are more than willing to help finish whatever snacks or meals you may not have finished and enjoy feeding on most foods or liquids.
- Bed bugs: These talented hitchhikers can find a ride home with you from a trip and then make their home in your living room sofa. After passing out from a late-night Netflix binge, you might awake to find irritating bites.
- Other bugs: Carpet beetles, ladybugs and stink bugs can also be found in the living room. Ladybugs and stink bugs usually stick nearby to entry-points like doors and windows while carpet beetles usually go for, well, the carpet.
Although they may not be as impressed with your sweet home theater setup, living rooms do have lots of other features that make them bug-friendly. Typically larger rooms and located on the ground floor, living rooms provide plenty of hiding spaces for bugs to wait for you to leave behind crumbs for them.
What damage do they cause?
Having a tiny, bug-based cleaning service might not sound that bad, but in fact, many of the bugs found in your living room can be a problem. Bed bug bites leave itchy, red welts on your skin, while ants and flies can contaminate your food and are capable of transmitting over 100 different pathogens. Other bugs such as carpet beetles can feed off your rugs and pet hair.
The mesmerizing aromas that come from the kitchen don’t only draw your family and friends, but also critters like ants, cockroaches, flies, and other pantry pests. Kitchens provide necessities for life like food, shelter, and water. Not only for us, but for bugs too. The moisture and warmth from appliances in the kitchen also create a bug paradise.
Bugs that you’ll likely encounter in the kitchen are:
- Cockroaches: These prehistoric insects dominate kitchens, and are a frequent cause of health code violations in commercial kitchens. Being skilled travelers, cockroaches will hitch rides in cardboard boxes, grocery bags, and beverage containers.
- Flies: These flying foragers aren’t picky, they’ll feed on just about anything you leave out. But they are more likely to feast indoors during the warmer season.
- Ants: Attracted to food and moisture, ants will go marching in search of sweets, meats, bread, oils, and fats.
- Pantry pests: Merchant Grain Beetles and Indian Meal Moths gravitate towards pantries and kitchen cabinets to satisfy their corn, nuts and dried fruit needs.
What damage do they cause?
Leaving your kitchen untreated against bugs can pose a serious health risk for you and your family. Bugs can transmit a ton of different pathogens, carry serious diseases, trigger allergic reactions and carry parasitic worms and bacteria.
Finding bugs in your bathroom can leave you feeling icky, no matter how well you clean under your nails and behind your ears. Your steamy showers are luring in bugs who crave the moisture you leave behind for them.
Bugs in the bathroom include:
- Cockroaches: They take a particular liking to sewers, drains and warm moist environments. Bathrooms often become safe-havens for cockroaches if left unkempt.
- Ants: Are there any rooms that don’t attract ants? Not really. Ants seeking moisture will find their way behind baseboards and under floors and may even attack wet wood.
- Silverfish: These bugs like the mold growth caused by moisture and congregate near drains.
- Spiders: Less attracted to moisture than the others, spiders can be found in the bathroom preying on the other bugs that frequent the room.
What damage do they cause?
Between your sinks, showers, and bathtubs, chances are there is a decent buildup of moisture in your bathroom. Though the bugs in your bathroom may be small, the damage they can cause can be substantial. Spiders can bite and cockroaches can carry pathogens while ants (especially carpenter ants) can cause serious damage to wood and also spread a few diseases.
Basement and garage
Basements are home to man-caves, playrooms, home gyms and storage rooms alike. No matter what you use your basement for, all basements are vulnerable to infestations from a wide variety of pesky bugs. Often being subterranean, basements provide the moisture and darkness that bugs thrive in. Unorganized and cluttered basements offer plenty of hiding places for bugs, which is a reason many of the same bugs may be found in the garage.
Some garage and basement-loving bugs are:
- Termites: Their underground colonies will often find their way into your basement and garage where they will munch on your structural wood, causing serious damage to the foundation, beams, and joists of your house.
- Cockroaches: As you’ve probably figured out by now, cockroaches find a way to permeate nearly every room of your house. Infestations have been known to get so bad that houses have to be burned to the ground to fully eradicate them.
- Spiders: Many spiders like to spin their webs in dark, damp places, making basements and garages common hiding spots.
- Camel crickets: When the weather outside gets too hot and dry, these crickets make their way inside and have been known to jump at you if you disturb them.
- Other bugs: Centipedes, Pillbugs, Millipedes, Silverfish and Sowbugs can often be found in the basement and garage.
What damage do they cause?
Basement and garage bugs can be among the most serious because the bugs found there are commonly known to physically compromise the structure of your home. Wood-boring insects, such as termites, cause more than $5 billion in structural damage to American homes and buildings annually.
Catching infestations early can be the difference between mild chemical containment and invasive measures of extraction. It can also be the difference between hundreds and thousands of dollars in pest and damage control. The best way to catch pests before significant damage is done is to regularly have a pest inspection conducted on your home.
Your bed is probably the last place you’ll want to find bugs, which is why checking your bedrooms for them is so important. Bugs found in the bedroom aren’t usually as concerned with damaging your house or your nice sheets as they are interested in you, and the bedroom also offers lots of places for them to hide.
Bugs you may find in your bedroom are:
- Bed bugs: Probably the most obvious bug you’ll find in the bedroom, they’ll hitch a ride back home with you from vacations or school, hanging on to suitcases or clothing.
- Fleas: Typically, these tiny pests prefer to feed on your pets, but that doesn’t mean they won’t come after you if another food source isn’t readily available.
- Others: Spiders, ants, and cockroaches exist in other rooms, too.
What damage do they cause?
Fleas can transmit diseases and bed bug bites are known to cause itching and swollen red welts. They may not cause as much damage to your home as the pests found in other parts of your house, but bedroom dwelling bugs can certainly cause damage to your peace of mind.
Surprise! There are bugs in your backyard! In fact, many of them are really more like heroes than they are pests, and are hugely beneficial to your garden and backyard. However, there are also plenty of other bugs that are dead-set on crashing your outdoor frolicking, and if they aren’t controlled, they can become an indoor issue as well.
Bad bugs in the backyard:
- Mosquitoes and ticks: These annoying bugs are sure to crash any backyard barbeque, especially ones near wooded areas. To them, you, your friends and family look like tasty treats and they’re widely known to spread some serious illnesses.
- Stinging insects: Wasps, yellowjackets, and hornets can wreak havoc on backyard activities, sending more than 500,000 people to the ER each year. They build their nests all over the outside of your house and surrounding areas.
- Ants: There are a lot of ants out there, so you might find one of their hills in your backyard, under plants, or in the cracks of pavement. Some ants will sting if disturbed.
- Scorpions: Does your backyard happen to be in the arid Southwest? If so, keep an eye out for scorpions, whose painful stings would certainly put a damper on backyard fun.
What damage do they cause?
It turns out your backyard is actually the natural habitat for many of these bugs, and you may encounter them out there. The ones you need to worry about are the ones that can hurt you, your family and your home.
Blood-suckers like ticks and mosquitoes love standing water and are known to transmit diseases, while stinging insects build nests under overhangs and can cause serious allergic reactions. Some scorpions are known to deliver venom that can be fatal, while wood-boring bugs can destroy your home’s foundation.
Check out our infographic below for tips on how to deter these critters from your property and your home, and keep them from damaging your house and your well-being. For more tips on natural bug removal, read our guide on eco-friendly ways to get rid of bugs.