The health and safety of your home is essential. However, pests can sometimes cause damage and health risks. Identifying the early signs of a pest infestation is necessary to maintain a secure home environment that supports your well-being. Let’s look at five common pests – termites, cockroaches, rats, mice, and ants – and the telltale indicators that alert you to their presence in your living spaces.

Signs of a Pest Infestation

1. Termites

Termites are small insects that may be hiding and thriving in your home or yard without obvious signs of damage. These pests consume cellulose and can affect any home with wooden structures.

Mud tubes are an obvious sign of termites. These pencil-sized tunnels adjacent to your home’s foundation are highways for the insects to travel in search of food. Termites consume wood from the inside out, so wood that sounds hollow when tapped may indicate an infestation. You might also notice frass, wood-colored termite droppings near affected areas.

2. Cockroaches and Signs of a Pest Infestation

Cockroaches carry bacteria that can be transmitted to humans and are a known allergen source and asthma trigger, especially in children.

To detect cockroaches in your living spaces, watch for cockroach droppings. They resemble pepper or coffee grounds and clearly signify their presence. Look for egg cases and shed skin in areas where food is stored, water is present, or in basements and dark places. A strong, oily smell may indicate a large roach infestation.

3. Rats and Mice

Rodents are a nuisance and can cause substantial property damage by chewing through walls, wires, and other household components.

If you suspect rodents, look for rat and mouse droppings that are dark and pellet-shaped. Some homeowners notice scratching sounds, typically at night, because rats and mice are nocturnal. Gnaw marks on food packaging suggest rodent activity.

4. Ants in the Home

Ants often enter homes seeking food, and they can be challenging to eliminate once they find a source.

Ant pathways are an obvious sign; you’ll see a trail of ants between their nest and a food source. Look for small mounds of dirt or debris in quiet, dark spaces within the home.

Be Proactive if You Notice Signs of a Pest Infestation

An infestation can spread rapidly once the pests establish a foothold in your home. Proactive monitoring for these signs means early detection and helps prevent extensive damage and health risks. If you notice any of the above indications, consult a professional pest control service for a thorough evaluation and treatment plan.

Regular inspections and cleanliness are a strong defense against pests. By being vigilant and acting swiftly at the first signs of unwanted inhabitants, you can protect your home and ensure a healthy living space for your family.


What steps can I take to prevent rodent infestations in my home, especially during colder months?

To prevent rodent infestations, seal cracks or openings around the home, store food in airtight containers, keep indoor and outdoor areas clean and clutter-free, trim vegetation away from the house, and use traps or baits.

Can I safely clean pest droppings and other indicators of infestation, or is it better to leave it to professionals?

It’s generally safe to clean up pest droppings, but take precautions such as wearing gloves and a mask to avoid direct contact. If you’re uncertain or uncomfortable handling it, leave it to professionals with the necessary equipment and expertise.

Are there natural remedies to deter pests from entering my home in the first place?

Yes. Natural deterrents for pests include planting herbs and flowers like mint, lavender, and marigolds around the home, using essential oils like peppermint or eucalyptus as repellents, and keeping surfaces clean and free of food crumbs.

How often should I schedule a professional pest inspection, even if I haven’t noticed signs of infestation?

Schedule professional inspections annually or biannually, even if there aren’t obvious signs of infestation. Regular inspections detect early indications of pest activity and prevent infestations from becoming established.

MN Pro Home Inspections offers inspections for homebuyers and sellers in the Twin Cities and Western Wisconsin. Contact us to request our services.