Why Pests Are Attracted to Your Home

Pavement ants eating honey

Fractality / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Insect and rodent pests are attracted to our homes because they have the same basic needs as humans: food, water, and shelter. While there are both chemical and non-chemical methods to control pests that get into our homes, the better method is to discourage and prevent their entry in the first place by reducing the availability of things that attract them and enable them to survive.

Fun Fact

Cockroaches can live for a month without food and two weeks without water.

Of course, we humans cannot get rid of these attractants altogether because they are essential to our survival as well, but there are things we can do to help limit the food, water and shelter that are attracting and available to the pests.

The first step is understanding the types of foods that attract pests, knowing that something as small as a bread crumb or juice spill can be enough to keep a tiny insect alive – or even feed a whole colony! The second step is taking action to prevent access to these foods.

Pests are attracted by:

You can prevent this by:

Shelter: Warmth in the winter, coolness in the summer, moisture in drought, dryness in rain

Pest proof your home by sealing cracks and crevices that insects can get in

Keep doors closed when not in use

Repair holes in screens, ensure all doors and windows fit well and seal tightly

Food: Any food that is left opened or unsealed can attract pests.

This includes crumbs on the floor, spills on the counter, pet food left untended, as well as bagged foods that are not tightly closed or baked goods and fruits left to sit on the counter.

And, pests will also be attracted to garbage.

Sweep, mop, and/or vacuum all flooring regularly. Get under counters and into corners to get all the crumbs.

After preparing and eating food, clean the counters and tables, wiping away spills and crumbs, discarding or storing leftovers, washing dishes.

Do not leave pet food to sit out after the pet has eaten.

Ensure that all food store containers close tightly and seal well. Stored product pest-susceptible foods should be put in plastic containers that pests cannot chew through.

Empty garbage cans regularly.

Water. Leaking pipes and dripping faucets can provide enough moisture to keep an insect alive.

Rainwater pooling in kids’ toys, planters, buckets, etc. can stagnate and attract mosquitoes.

Inspect indoor and exterior pipes and faucets and make any needed repairs. Check these regularly to maintain in good condition.

After a rain, empty any containers of standing water. If an area of the yard tends to accumulate standing water, consider landscaping.

Whether you are trying to prevent or get rid of cockroaches, ants, rats, mice, pantry pests, or any other pests, keep in mind the basic survival needs of living creatures: food, water, and shelter. Do whatever you can to reduce pest access to these, you will be well on the path of preventing pest invasion and infestation.