7 signs pests are hiding in your home.


Dealing with a pest problem in your home is a hassle (and can be pretty gross). It can also get pricey — especially if the pests damage your home and belongings. That’s why it’s important to recognize the early telltale signs that indicate you might have a serious problem on your hands. 

We’ll walk through some of the most common signs that there may be pests — cockroaches, ants, rodents, and more — lurking somewhere in your home. In some cases, you may want to contact a pest control company to exterminate or remove them.

1. Damaged wood. 

damaged wood in home caused by termitesDamaged wood in and around your home is a possible sign of termites. A colony of termites can wreak havoc on your home by causing structural damage. 

They’re able to chew through your wood, including walls, wallpaper, flooring, furniture, window sills, decks, and more. As a result, you may see:

  • Piles of wood shavings or sawdust 
  • Small holes in wood 
  • Wood that sounds hollow when you tap it
  • Thin wood that is easily punctured
  • Wood that has suspicious mud or dirt on it (these could be "mud tubes" that termites create) 
  • Painted wood surfaces that look blistered

According to the National Pest Management Association, the annual cost of property damage caused by termites in the U.S. is $5 billion. Fumigating your home can be expensive (and inconvenient), which is why you’ll want to address a termite issue immediately. 

Find a termite control company near you, and ask them to inspect your home.

Did you know? Carpenter bees can also damage wood by creating smooth holes in surfaces. Ask your pro to inspect the damage to help you identify what kind of pest caused it.

2. Little black pellets in your home.

mouse droppings on tableDo you see tiny granules that look like black grains of rice in your kitchen, garage, or attic? These are most likely droppings that rodents left behind. You may find these droppings near their food sources, like your cabinets and pantries. 

Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and a face mask, when cleaning up any droppings. If you’re unable to find, catch and remove the rodents on your own, contact a pro. In fact, you may want to take this route from the start. Rodents can carry diseases, and pros are better equipped to remove them safely from your home.

Tip: You may notice other droppings in your home that weren’t left by rodents. For example, if you see droppings that resemble ground coffee or black pepper, it’s likely a sign of cockroaches. 

Get free estimates from top-rated exterminators.

3. Strange noises coming from walls or ceilings. 

woman holding cup up to wall to listen to strange soundsRodents, birds, squirrels, raccoons, and even insects can make strange noises inside walls or ceilings. For example, you may hear scratching sounds at night, which could be a tree branch (or something else outside) rubbing against your home’s exterior or roof. However, it also might be a mouse scurrying about.

If you have protective gear (and you feel comfortable doing so), you can search for the cause of the noise. Or, hire a pest control service that specializes in animal or rodent removal to inspect your home. 

Once the issue has been resolved, consider sealing any potential entry points around your doors and windows. Make sure there aren’t any gaps or openings in your roof, as well.

Tip: If you have a dog that keeps barking while staring at your wall or ceiling, it may be reacting to the sound of pests hiding inside.

4. Wet dog smells, mustiness and other bad odors.

wet dog shaking water off furUnpleasant odors in your home could also be a sign of pests. For example:

  • Wet dog odors could be a sign of rats, raccoons, or squirrels. 
  • Musty smells might be coming from termites or cockroaches. 
  • A coriander odor is often associated with bed bugs.
  • Rotten coconut smells could be due to odorous house ants that were crushed.

Investigate further to determine what kind of pest may be causing the odor. Look for any signs of insect activity or droppings that can help you narrow down the culprit. 

5. Dark patches or stains on the walls or ceiling.

honey beehives inside home on ceilingDark patches on your walls could be a sign you have a bee infestation — specifically, honey bees. Their honey could be causing a sticky, dark stain to appear on your ceiling or walls. You might also hear buzzing sounds or see an alarming number of bees flying around.

Do not attempt to remove the bees (or hive) yourself. It’s a dangerous task that should be left to the bee removal pros.

6. Many spider webs. 

spider web at the bottom of chair furnitureOf course, the presence of many spider webs obviously means you have spiders inside your home. But, it could also be a sign that more insects — flies, ticks, mosquitos, etc. — are present. 

So if you notice more cobwebs than usual, monitor the area closely to see if you also notice other insects. Decide if you want to try DIY remedies to get rid of the pests or hire an exterminator.

7. Rub marks and grease trails.

mouse rub mark and grease trail on wallGrease trails (or rub marks) are common signs of rodents in your home. As mice and rats travel throughout your home, they might leave oil (from their fur) or dirt tracks along your flooring, baseboards, and walls. 

Find a top-rated exterminator near you.

Specific signs to look for when you suspect pests.

If you believe you have a pest problem, you can try to identify what type of insect or rodent has settled in your home. Use the table below to help you figure out what kind of pest is present:

If you notice…

You might have…

  • Piles of wood shavings or sawdust 
  • Damage to wood surfaces and structures 
  • Discarded wings from swarming termites
  • Tiny mud tubes on exterior walls or along the foundation


  • Droppings that look like coffee grounds or black pepper flakes 
  • Dark smears (fecal stains) in room corners, on doors, and on walls
  • A musty odor comes from cracks and crevices 


  • Blood stains on sheets and mattresses
  • Mysterious bites on your arms and legs
  • Dark spots of bed bug excrement on sheets, mattresses, bed clothes, and walls
  • Tiny pale white eggshells 

Bed bugs

  • Small holes on wood surfaces
  • Sawdust or wood shavings

Carpenter ants

  • Rotten coconut smell

Odorous house ants

  • Constant buzzing noises are heard throughout a home
  • Larvae crawling around

Flies/flying insects

  • Scratching noises within walls and ceiling, especially at night
  • Pellet, granule-like black droppings near food sources
  • Grease trail and rub marks on walls, baseboards and floors
  • Chewed-up wires and cords
  • Gnaw marks on furniture and items
  • Musty or urine smells


  • Buzzing sounds
  • Unusual bee sightings close to or inside your home
  • Dark patches or stains on your walls caused by honey

Bees, wasps or hornets

Find top-rated pest control services near you. 

Ready to get those annoying pests out of your home? Download the Thumbtack app today, and start connecting with nearby pest control services. Tell them the signs you’ve spotted, and ask for free cost estimates. 

The sooner you remove pests from your home, the better. 

Find local pros for your project

Tell us what you’re looking for and we’ll show you pros right for the job, with prices.