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Are insects pests?

Are all insects pests, you may wonder? It may not seem like it, but most of the UK’s 27,000 insect types has its part to play in maintaining our ecosystem. It’s just a relatively small handful of insects that are pests, causing issues for homeowners, tenants, business owners, gardeners and farmers alike. 

Read on to understand what makes an insect a pest, the most common pest insects in the UK (and the insects that aren’t), and how to choose the right insects pest control methods. 


Understanding What Makes an Insect a Pest

The difference between pests and non-pest insects is simple. Insects that are pests are those that cause damage to property or crops, pose health risks or are a nuisance in another way. Conversely, non-pest insects are those that are beneficial to our ecosystem. 

Here are two ways to identify insects that are pests

They cause damage to crops and property

Some insects can eat through woodwork in your property, causing structural damage. Others can damage paper and clothes or soft furnishings, while some head in search of foodstuffs in both residential and commercial properties. 

In the garden and on commercial agricultural sites, insects can damage crops in various ways. They may eat roots, shoots, leaves or even the crop itself – as well as potentially carrying viruses and other diseases that can kill off entire crops if not treated. 


They carry health risks

Flies and other insects that are pests can carry all sorts of diseases, from campylobacter and E. Coli to salmonella. Others can bite human hosts, leading to the risk of infection, while some can get into food supplies and contaminate them. There are others – like wasps and bees – whose sting can be painful, and potentially even fatal to those with an allergy. 

This wide variety of problems caused by pest insects demonstrates why it’s important to identify the cause of any issues as quickly as possible, and choose the right type of insects pest control to eliminate them. 

Common Insects That are Considered Pests

Are insects pests? As we’ve explained before, the answer is yes – but only for a small number of insect species. The below list may seem quite long but in the grand scheme of things it’s pretty short – and different insects listed below may affect residential properties, commercial properties, gardens and agricultural land very differently. 


  • Flies: House flies, fruit flies and bluebottles are attracted to food and rubbish in all sorts of environments, and can spread disease. Cluster flies are not hugely harmful but, as their name suggests, they gather in large swarms and may affect a business’ reputation, or be a nuisance in residential properties. Horse flies, meanwhile, are often found by bodies of water and near livestock and can leave a painful bite. 
  • Fleas: Fleas often make their way into properties via a host such as a family pet or livestock, or even mice, rats and other pest animals. They don’t pose any major health risk but can cause painful, itchy bites – which can become infected if scratched too much. When not feeding on a human or animal host they will often live in soft furnishings – and can be incredibly tricky to remove completely. 
  • Ants: Ants can enter your property through the smallest of gaps…and their numbers can quickly swell. While they’re important as predators of other pests, they can also be pests: they can be upsetting when they swarm in large numbers in residential properties, and can lead food businesses to need to throw away any contaminated food. For gardeners and farmers, ants protect insects like aphids as they use the honeydew produced by these pests as a food source. As a result, they protect the pests from other predators, allowing them to cause more damage to crops. 
  • Bedbugs: Living on furniture or bedding, bedbugs can go several months without food – and that food is you. They feast on human blood – and while they’re unlikely to cause health issues, they can cause itchiness and a great deal of stress and upset. They’re incredibly hard to get rid of without professional insect pest control services.
  • Silverfish: Silverfish can be attracted by food sources, as well as by warm and/or damp places to hide. They don’t cause any health issues but they love to feed on all things starchy – which means that clothing, soft furnishings, books, wallpaper, photographs and other paper-based items are all at risk.

  • Butterflies and moths: In their adult stage, butterflies aren’t considered pests…but caterpillars can decimate entire crops such as cabbages and peas. Moths caterpillars can do the same – and certain adult moths can eat away at clothes and soft furnishings, causing irreparable damage.
  • Cockroaches: Cockroaches love to make their homes near heat sources and damp places, which is why they’re often found in commercial and residential kitchens. They can carry bacteria like staphylococcus and salmonella, which can be passed on through contact with foodstuffs. 
  • Dust mites: These insects, invisible to the naked eye, love warm, damp spots like clothing, bedding, soft furnishings and even cuddly toys. They feed on dead human skin cells and are harmless to many, but can cause allergic reactions in some. 
  • Bees: Bees are pollinators and endangered – but they can be considered pests if a nest or swarm is causing a nuisance, preventing a workplace from functioning or causing distress. Some people are allergic to bee stings, giving another incentive for their removal. 
  • Wasps: Although wasps, like bees, are pollinators, their vicious sting puts them in the pest category – and they can be aggressive and attack unprovoked, too. What’s more if a wasp feels threatened it can call for back-up, leading to a whole swarm attacking.  A single wasp nest can produce up to 300 eggs each day, and with wasp allergies affecting some, a wasp nest can be a fatal addition to a property in certain cases.
  • Aphids: Greenfly, blackfly and whitefly, collectively known as aphids, are a nightmare for gardeners and other crop growers. They feed on the sap of all sorts of plants, which can restrict their growth, and secrete a sticky substance known as honeydew which can lead to plant mould. Some aphids can also transmit viruses which can wipe out crops of plants. 
  • Weevils: Some weevil varieties burrow into dry foodstuffs like flour, causing spoilage. Others, like the vine weevil, can damage crops. Their larvae feed on plant roots leaving plants unable to take up water, while adult vine weevils eat the foliage of all sorts of plants, including strawberries.

Despite the number of insects that are pests, though, there are plenty that are purely beneficial to the ecosystem.

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When Are Insects Not Pests?

In the last 50 years, insect numbers have declined by 75%. Their habitats are being destroyed, pesticides and fertilisers are killing insects off, and climate change is playing a large part in falling insect numbers too.

Certain insects are needed for many reasons. They help to recycle waste products. They provide food for other animals, like birds, frogs and fish. They pollinate wildflowers and even provide us with materials and foodstuffs like honey, silk and various dyes. 

For farmers and gardeners, insects play an incredible role. They pollinate our crops and help to keep the soil healthy. What’s more, some insects can help to control pests. Ladybirds, for example, feast on aphids which, as we’ve seen, can cause huge amounts of damage to crops if not treated properly. 

Are all insects pests? Not at all, the majority are hugely important to keep our world working as it should. For those that are pests, though, you might find that insect pest control services are needed to tackle the problem properly. 

Pest Stop Boys’ Insect Pest Control Methods

The insects pest control method we choose depends on a number of factors: the type of insect causing the problems, the size of the problem, the location being just a few. One thing we promise, though, is that we’ll always use safe and reliable solutions – and we’ll always consider the presence of pets and children, as well as the environment. We work to the highest standards, as you’ll see from our high Checkatrade ratings, including compliance with regulations and taking ethical considerations into account. 

We’ll always aim to complete the treatment in a single visit, giving you complete peace of mind. Our innovative treatments include dry treatments, wet treatments and gels – as well as specific treatments designed to eradicate wasps. 

With bees, we’ll always aim to rehome rather than eradicate, taking away the entire nest or swarm and rehousing elsewhere.

As well as our insect pest control services, we also offer various insect-proofing methods with the aim of preventing them from coming back. These include pheromone monitoring pads, insect monitoring systems and bait stations, among others.

How to Avail Yourself of Pest Stop Boys’ Insect Pest Control Services

We work across Brighton, Worthing and the surrounding areas, working locally so that we can get to you as quickly as possible. Call us on 01273 634 826 (Brighton) or 01903 641 362 (Worthing) to give us details of the insect pest control services you need so we can give you a no-obligation quote – or fill out our contact form here

As every insect pest control job is so different, we don’t offer standardised pricing. Instead, we’ll obtain as much information as possible from you before we quote so that we can give you the most accurate quote possible – with our Checkatrade reviews showing just how competitive we are.

FAQs on Insects and Pest Control

Can I DIY insect pest control?

For some insect pests, the DIY route works. If the infestation is small or caught early, over-the-counter pest control products can solve the problem. 

However, insect pests can build up a resistance to shop-bought products – and they may not tackle larger infestations. What’s more, pests like bees and wasps need professional removal and, in the case of bees, rehoming. 

Is pest control safe for pets, children and livestock?

Some pest control products aren’t safe for humans and other animals. However, all of the solutions we use at Pest Stop Boys are designed with health and safety in mind, giving you peace of mind that pets, children and livestock will be safe from harm. 

How can I prevent insect pests from entering my property?

Your property may be spotlessly clean, but insects can enter any business or home through the tiniest of gaps and breed quickly once they’re there. In gardens and farms, as you’d expect, it’s near impossible to keep insects away completely (and many insect types are actually highly beneficial for growth!) 

There are things you can do to minimise the risk of infestations, though. Keeping spaces clear of foodstuffs and open waste will mean that your property is less attractive to insect pests, while gardeners and farmers can go for approaches like planting crops alongside plant species that attract predatory insects. 

Will the insect pests return once the treatment is complete?

There is no guarantee that pests won’t return to your property, garden or farm – but Pest Stop Boys offers a range of insect-proofing methods to protect against this happening. Whether it’s pheromone monitoring pads, insect monitoring systems or bait stations, we’ll offer solutions and our expert advice to keep insects that are pests away. 

Are all insects pests? No, not at all – but those that are can breed quickly and cause damage, health issues and distress. To find out more about insects as pests, take a look at our insects pest control and bees & wasps pest control

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