The most common pests Americans spot in their homes

Taylor OrthDirector of Survey Data Journalism
June 26, 2024, 4:29 PM GMT+0

The season of pests is upon us, according to nearly half of Americans who say they notice an uptick in household bugs and critters during the summer months.

Flies, spiders, and ants top the list of pests that Americans are most likely to notice in their homes; at least eight in 10 say they are aware of the presence of each of these on at least rare occasions, and nearly all people see at least one of these species. Mosquitos and gnats also are common.

Fewer frequently encounter larger pests, such as mice, rats, raccoons, or opossums. (Respondents were asked not to include their pets in their answers about pests.)

The South stands out for its frequency of encounters with several pests, though other regions have their own specialties. Southerners are particularly likely to notice cockroaches, lizards, geckos, and snakes in their homes rarely or more often. People in the West also are more likely to see cockroaches, as well as lizards and geckos. In the Northeast and Midwest, more say they encounter mice than do people in other regions.

Compared to people in rural areas, people in cities are more likely to say they regularly notice cockroaches and bedbugs. Wasps, snakes, moths, and mice are more often seen by people in rural areas than in urban ones.

Some studies suggest that insect populations have fallen globally in recent years. To find out whether insect sightings had become less common among Americans, we asked people how often they saw various insects growing up — allowing us to compare these results to how often they currently see them.

We find that adults today are slightly less likely to say they now see household pests than to say they did growing up. The largest changes are in the prevalence of flies, mosquitoes, and moths. It's possible, however, that people paid more attention to the prevalence of insects when they were growing up, or that they remember more pests than they really encountered as children.

Majorities of Americans say that to address pest-related issues within the past year, they've manually killed pests (66%) or removed food sources for pests (66%). About half say they've used traps or baits (51%) and a similar share have used chemical pesticides (48%). One-quarter (24%) have hired a pest control service. People who say they currently have a major or minor problem with pests are more likely to say they've taken certain steps to address the problem.


— Carl Bialik contributed to this article

See the results for this YouGov poll

Methodology: The poll was conducted online among 2,125 U.S. adult citizens on two separate surveys from May 28 - June 1, 2024 and May 29 - June 1, 2024. A random sample (stratified by gender, age, race, education, geographic region, and voter registration) was selected from the 2019 American Community Survey. The sample was weighted according to gender, age, race, education, 2020 election turnout and presidential vote, baseline party identification, and current voter registration status. Demographic weighting targets come from the 2019 American Community Survey. Baseline party identification is the respondent’s most recent answer given prior to November 1, 2022, and is weighted to the estimated distribution at that time (33% Democratic, 31% Republican). The margin of error for the overall sample is approximately 3%.

Image: Getty (gan chaonan)

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