Keeping homes sanitized and free of clutter is a big part of preventing arthropod pest infestations, as many insects, like roaches, ants, flies, and wasps are attracted to human food sources that tend to accumulate in homes that are not well-maintained. The most common human food sources that insects gravitate toward within homes include dirty dishes in sinks, food scraps in garbage disposals, food scraps in garbage cans and recycle bins, behind refrigerators and other kitchen appliances, unsealed stored foods, open beverages and spilled drinks. Arthropod pests prefer to make themselves at home within living spaces where clutter is abundant, as clutter provides arthropod pests with numerous harborages and hiding places. Most people can manage keeping their homes clean enough to avoid attracting arthropod pests, but not one particular group of people known as “hoarders.”

Hoarders are people who allow useless junk to pile up within their homes due to their strong urge to avoid throwing away old useless items, and most hoarders have no problem allowing full garbage bags, dirty dishes and old food containers to accumulate within their home. Hoarders create indoor conditions that are ideal for arthropod pests, but the high probability of arthropod infestations are usually not enough to motivate hoarders to change their ways. For example, one homeowner, Sherry, began hoarding in order to cope with the death of her mother. Sherry’s hoarding prompted her husband to relocate to a new home, but even this event could not motivate sherry to make use of a garbage can. Eventually, Sherry had her home inspected for arthropod pests, which confused pest control professionals, as Sherry’s home had been visibly colonized by a variety of insects and spiders.

Cockroaches three inches high were found in open soup cans in Sherry’s kitchen, and her refrigerator was described as an “incubator” by one pest control professional due to the massive amount of cockroaches that had made a home in the appliance. After removing a bag of garbage from Sherry’s kitchen floor, inspectors found several black widow spiders. Pest control professionals likely found several more pests in Sherry’s home after more garbage and clutter were removed. The most common arthropod pests found in excessively cluttered and unsanitary homes include German cockroaches, bed bugs, flies, maggots, spiders, ants, carpet beetles, pantry pests, fleas and clothes moths. In some cases, clearing up filthy homes for pest control purposes warrants the use of a HAZMAT suit.

Have you ever experienced an arthropod infestations due to keeping a cluttered and unsanitary home?