As your already know, excess moisture and mold can grown unseen inside walls, in crawl spaces and behind furniture and appliances. In a recent post, I talked about identifying mold problems by that musty smell! It’s generally foolproof. If you smell mold, you have mold! And you can ‘bet your house’ that you have moisture problems in one or several places. But there are more signs of excess moisture in your home. Certain insects are a sign of water damage. This post deals with water-loving bugs. See the links at the end of this post for sequel articles regarding bugs to watch out for in your basement, and outside your home.
Unfortunately, many people do lose their homes due to the ravages of mold. If you are new to mold and want to understand the most common places to find damp conditions and moisture in your home, click here for more details. Note: You will find many more in depth articles about mold and home care on the Resources and Tools page of our posts.
Another Surefire Sign of Excess Moisture – BUGS!
Many insects live and thrive in dark, damp places. These areas provide protection and are also perfect breeding grounds. Bugs also like wet spaces, because they provide good food sources. Many bugs love to eat mold, mildew, algae, bacteria and other dead bugs. So, with all the rain and snow we’ve had this winter, don’t be surprised if you discover silverfish or a centipede hanging out in your basement or in your bathroom. The folds of a damp piece of fabric are an easy source of both food and shelter.
Insects that Love Damp, Dark Places Inside Your Home
Places and conditions that offer the right moisture and lack of light for bugs (and mold!) include:
- High-humidity areas
- Water leaks, moisture and ventilation problems
- Wet or damp clothing left unattended for some time
- Dark rooms without proper ventilation
If you have any of these areas and conditions, watch out for the following insects that love damp, dark places. To view photos of these bugs, visit Pestworld.com.
Silverfish are found throughout the U.S. and are typically seen in moist, humid areas in the home, such as bathrooms, basements and attics. They tend to hide their presence from humans, which means any damage they have caused could go unnoticed. They’re not dangerous because they don’t transmit diseases. But, they’re most certainly annoying! And they almost always mean you have excess moisture – think MOLD.
Silverfish eat paper and other objects with glue, sugar, clothing, hair and dandruff. They’ll also feast on synthetic fibers, dead insects and the very exoskeletons they regularly shed. They don’t bite humans, but they can cause damage to belongings. Silverfish can live without food for a year or more, so it takes more than a little effort to eliminate them.
Sign of a Silverfish Infestation
Keep an eye out for feeding marks, although they may be irregular whether they are holes, notches along an edge, or surface etchings. Yellow stains, scales and/or feces (tiny black pepper-like pellets) may also be seen on infested materials.
Silverfish Prevention and Control
The key to silverfish control is thoroughly inspecting preferred habitat areas and where appropriate food materials are present. If the infestation is only inside, you can assume that it is recent and was either brought in via infested items or represents a recent invasion from the outside. If you find them everywhere, then pay attention first to the outside. Anything stored against or near the house’s exterior must be moved or removed since silverfish can easily climb up walls and find entrance around window and door frames, utility pipes and vents. Shake roofs should also be cleaned and sealed every other year.
Additional Silverfish Control Tips
- Get a dehumidifier for your home, repair leaky pipes and drains, and eliminate or repair any moldy or wet wood.
- Don’t keep old books and magazines in areas where silverfish are usually found like basements, attics and garages.
- Keep food items such as flour and sugar in tight containers.
Centipedes are originally from the Mediterranean, but are now found all over the world. These creatures with a hundred feet eat meat – their pincer-like appendages may be tiny, but they can be venomous. They like eating silverfish but are also known to bite humans. Their bites can cause serious pain, swelling and redness. Bathrooms and basements are their favorite hangouts.
When it is cold outdoors, we tend to get inside to warm ourselves. That is no different with centipedes. They too want to feel warm when it is cold outside. Pay careful attention in the cold season. However, centipedes can infest your home any time of the year.
They are nocturnal creatures and only come out when it is dark. You can find centipedes in the house in areas such as drains, crevices, basements cracks, bathtubs, and dark regions.
Signs of Centipede Infestation
You may have centipedes if you see other bugs. They feast on bugs in their environment. They leave no evidence of their infestation, but you may see them scurrying along the floor or walls.
You can try to tackle a centipede infestation on your own. Centipedes are sneaky and they are the sign of a much bigger bug problem in and around your home. You may very well need professional help to prevent, get rid of, and control centipedes. Some suggestions include:
- Seek out and eliminate any damp areas inside and outside your home. Keep the house dry as most of them thrive in damp areas. Centipedes quickly die if they live in dry areas. By keeping your house dry, you will kill some of them and keep them away from your house. You can also use dehumidifiers to keep your home dry.
- Centipedes find their way to your house through cracks in the walls. To get rid of them, ensure you seal all the crevices.
- Do away with the spaces around the windows and doors. Cover the ground floor fixtures with window screen. This will not only do away with them but also other bugs.
These are tiny insects that are only a little bit bigger than the head of a pin. As their name suggests, booklice love to burrow inside the pages of books, especially those that have been left untouched for a long time.
You will often find them in the pages of old books. This is because they like to eat the mold and mildew found on the glue and bindings, or even the leather covers. These little creatures need moist areas to be able to grow, which is why you will find them in damp, dark places.
Booklice cannot survive in low humidity and therefore only infest areas moist areas. In fact, These pests are often associated with the presence of mold, which makes it imperative to look for signs of an infestation in warm, damp, dark places around the house where mold is likely to grow.
Signs of Booklice Infestation
- As their name suggests, booklice love to burrow inside the pages of books, especially those that have been left untouched for a long time.
- Booklice are tiny, and hard to spot. They are mostly an annoyance when munching through books but can contaminate household food with their carcasses and excrement.
- If you find book lice, you know for sure that you have mold, because mold spores are their favorite food.
- Eliminating the moisture that fosters the growth of the mold they eat.
- Reducing the level of humidity around the home with the use of dehumidifiers or fans.
- Keeping high-risk areas such as bathrooms and attics properly ventilated will also help with the reduction of moisture levels.
- Keeping books and papers off the floor and stored in a dry place to prevent the items from becoming damp, growing mold, and attracting booklice.
Woodlice (Armadillidiidae or ‘pill bugs’) may not be harmful to your health, but they can cause damage to a your house. And moreover, they are a dependable sign that you have moisture problems in your home. Damp is important to them because it assists them in breathing.
Another popular name for this insect is armadillo bug, which describes its appearance. Outside the house, such as in the garden, they’re actually useful because decaying organic matter is their chosen breeding and living spot.
To reduce the presence of damp and dark-loving insects in your home, try these tips:
- Keep your surroundings clean. Don’t forget to completely sanitize the nooks and crannies that don’t receive much sunlight.
- If you have a moisture problem in your home, have it checked and addressed by a professional.
- Improve your insulation and ventilation system.
- Establish the optimal air cooling and heating temperatures to for each room to control the moisture in your home.
All of these bugs could live unobserved in damp areas and moisture in your home for some time, especially places that lay undisturbed for months. It takes your eyes (see mold, see bugs), your nose (smell musty and moldy odors) and your physical response (how does your house or certain areas in your house make your feel sick) to alert you to the damage caused by water intrusion in your home.
Problems with dust mites and other indoor allergens and pollutants are becoming more prominent with each passing year. Dust mites and their feces spread a wide variety of allergens that will cause many health issues. When thinking about dust mites, consider these numbers:
- There are a thousand dust mites in a gram of dust.
- A single dust mite defecates 20 times a day, creating 200 times its body weight within two months.
Dust mites love living in an environment where the temperature is between 75°F and 80°F (24°C and 27°C), and the relative humidity is around 70% to 80%. Anything outside this range won’t necessarily kill them but will push them outside their comfort zone. 70% or less relative humidity reduces their reproductive rate, so try to keep the relative humidity in your bedroom and home to less than 50%.
Signs of Dust Mite Infestation
Since you cannot see dust mites, you have to be award of their symptoms. Dead skin and other waste from dust mites are major causes of allergies and asthma. Symptoms of dust mite allergy include sneezing, runny nose, itchy nose, and nasal congestion. If you have asthma, dust mites can cause you to wheeze more and need more asthma medicine. You may have more asthma symptoms at night, when you are lying in a bed infested with dust mites.
Dust Mites Prevention
- Test humidity – moisture in your home – with an electronic humidity monitor. If you find that relative humidity levels are greater than 50%, try to get air circulating through your house by using vents and fans and by frequently opening windows. If this doesn’t work, or if it is too inconvenient, it’s also possible to control humidity with air conditioning units and dehumidifiers.
- If you want to help kill dust mites and work to eliminate the symptoms of dust mite exposure, you’re going to need a reliable basement dehumidifier.
- Follow the suggestions already mentioned to lower the humidity level inside your home.
- Encase your pillow and mattress with dust mite-proof covers.
- Wash linens in hot water every week.
- Maintain a dry environment in your bedroom with a dehumidifier. Keep the dehumidifier tray clean and dry.
- Consider removing carpet.
- Keep rooms clutter-free. Keep stuffed toys off the beds. Close closet doors.
- Use carpet treatment on existing carpets to kill mites.
Although completely eliminating dust mites from your home is impossible, these are several precautions you can take to drastically reduce their numbers and neutralize their threat by reducing the moisture in your home.
For additional information on insects that most likely reveal water and mold problems, read Dangerous Mosquitoes Love Water and Insects in your Basement May be a Sign of Water Damage.