Pest identification guide for landlords

Some pests can often be hard to identify because they’re hard to spot. In most cases, you don’t necessarily need to identify the pest itself to know you have a pest problem.

Guest post by AMES Group

In most cases, there are a number of signs that you may have a pest problem – the most common is pest droppings.

Here’s how you can identify pests by the droppings they leave behind.

In this article, we’re going to look at three of the most common pests that can occupy the interior and exterior surroundings of a property. Knowing how to spot pests is important because early identification can end up saving you hundreds, sometimes even thousands of dollars on property repairs.

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These little guys probably top everyone’s list for ‘most hated pest’. Cockroaches are notoriously difficult to eliminate thanks to their exceptional survival capabilities. They’re able to withstand most pesticides and even fire, which is why people usually end up calling pest control experts to have them eliminated.

They’re fairly big for bugs, so they can be identified by their oval shape and 3-inch long bodies and their orange/red/brown colouring. Cockroaches do have wings, but they’re rarely able to fly (one thing less to worry about!). They can be found hiding in many areas of your property, but they do prefer darker areas where they won’t be disturbed. Leaving food out is one of the biggest mistakes, as that’s what draws them in (the same can be said with most pests).


Although mice can be found outside, they prefer the warmth of properties. They usually enter houses for food and warmth, specifically to raise their young. Mice are shy creatures and will rarely be seen in the open. They prefer to stay within the dark comfort of their nest. Mice aren’t particularly harmful pests, but if neglected can cause a host of issues, mainly breeding and chewing through electrical cables

They can be identified by their brown/grey colourings and their 3-8cm body size. It’s rare you will spot a mouse in the open (especially during the day) but you can be on the lookout for their droppings. They’re usually grouped together and pellet-shaped. This is the most obvious sign to look out for, alongside any ripping carpet, furniture or curtains (they do this to build nests).

Bed bugs

They’re not nice to have in your property, let alone your bed. Bed bugs are more common than you’d think, mainly because many people don’t know they have them until the infestation grows to a visually noticeable state. They can cause a host of hygiene issues if they’re neglected.

Look out for signs such as dead bed bug skin, smear marks and shells around the place they inhabit (usually furniture). Once they’re identified removal should begin immediately.

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Pests on the exterior of your property have the potential to cause just as much damage as those within. Even if they don’t have the intention of inhabiting your property, they can cause structural damage because of where they nest.


The most disruptive presence of the wasp is the nest. Wasps generally are seen as annoying, but their nests are where they become dangerous. Wasp nests require expert pest control removal tactics and should not be attempted by those with little no to experience.

Wasp nests are commonly found on the underside of properties, usually gutters, rooflines and sheds. However, they can also live in trees or anywhere high up and out of reach from humans and other predators. Spotting them is fairly simple due to their size and the noise buzzing around the hive.


Not necessarily the most invasive pest but foxes can cause damage to your bins and gardens. This is not only annoying but when they rip up bin bags, that can attract other pests such as rats, mice and birds.

Foxes usually appear on your grounds because they’re looking for a safe, quiet place to raise their young. They’re most active at night, so it’s unlikely you’ll spot them in the day. Look out for their dens in your garden and ripped bins. Ensure both your garden and bins are secure so foxes can’t cause disruptions.


If birds are not dealt with swiftly, they can nest, and this becomes a problem. Once they have nested, controlling their population becomes difficult and this goes double for pigeons. Bird droppings can rip the paint off walls and cause serious damage to your property’s exterior structures. Pigeon droppings are especially toxic and have been known to cause irreparable damage to certain surfaces.

Identifying birds is fairly simple, as you’ll be able to spot the mother tending to the nest regularly. If the nest is high up, you’ll need to contact a pest control expert to safely remove it.

Interior and Exterior

Some pests are just as happy causing disruptions to the exterior of your property as well as the interior.


Probably the most common and disruptive pest, rats multiply fast and carry a host of bacteria and diseases. Rats present serious health and safety issues and can also cause structural damage to your property, especially if there are several of them.

Rats prefer to keep a low profile, despite being fairly sociable creatures. They are around 30-50cm in length and brown/black/grey in colour. They can be spotted by their droppings, they’re like mice droppings, only bigger and not grouped. They’re also prone to chewing on furniture and bits of wood to trim their teeth.


Woodlice are not known to cause any harm on their own, but in numbers, they can cause serious structural damage. While they are usually found outside living in woody, mossy areas, they are known to infest houses. When they do this, it’s usually because they’ve noticed damp spots within the property. They’re also found hugging the exterior walls.

They can be identified by their small, grey oval shells. They’re about 1cm long and usually travel in large groups.


Like woodlice, ants aren’t an issue on their own but in groups, they can cause structural damage. Ants usually enter houses in search of food for their nests. This is why it’s important to seal all foods and clean up after yourself. Ant nests and ant hills can cause issues outside as well, especially if they nest in a crack in the wall as this can cause lasting structural damage.

Ant nests and ant hills are commonly found outside, usually in dark, submerged areas of your garden. The nests are mound or hill-shaped (hence the name) and will require a pest control expert to safely remove it from the property. Ants won’t nest inside a property, but they may nest in walls with cracks or fissures.

It’s important to be on the lookout for any pest infestations around your property. If infestations are left to develop, they cause health and safety issues alongside structural damage. Pest control is a very important factor to address for landlords and the housing industry in general. Proper inspection should be carried out to ensure the premises are pest-free.

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AMES Group
AMES Group

The Ames Group provides pest control, clinical waste collection, washroom hygiene services, legionella risk assessments and environmental services for many public and private sector clients. Ames' purpose is to offer the highest quality as an environmental services provider by delivering the best-trained personnel, the latest products, and the innovative and reliable methodology our clients expect.