Unwanted guests move in
Back home from holiday and chances are hungry hordes are waiting for you.
No, not the overstaying rellies but fleas.
Warm closed rooms are ideal for the pests breeding furiously in your absence.
Fleas can lay dormant as pupae for up to several months, nestled in soft furnishings like carpet and sofas while they wait for your return.
"They sit for a year just waiting for vibrations to come through the house and then they come out because they know there's food around," pest controller Peter Garner of Flybusters Antiants says.
One way to win the war against fleas is to ensure pets are deflead. Other than using chemicals, fleas are difficult to kill.
Squashing is no good because they can withstand enormous pressure and they are also capable of jumping 33cm to escape.
Before professional spraying, which Mr Garner says is about a 30 minute process, the house is vacuumed, paying close attention to corners and edges. Then bedding and affected areas are washed in hot water to kill fleas.
Flea bombs, an aerosol available from supermarkets and shops, are effective. Rooms must be closed and vacated for at least two hours and all electrics turned off if using them.
Mr Garner says he hasn't had a spike in flea callouts in January in the Warkworth/Wellsford area he services, but complaints about white-tailed spiders have increased.
He's been called frequently in the past few weeks to deal with the spiders.
Mr Garner doesn't believe they have earned their unsavoury reputation but he admits they do have a nasty bite, which can darken and rot flesh.
"There's something about them that certain people react to, but not everybody," he says.
Ants are one of the biggest pests all year round.
Empty houses are particularly inviting for bugs.
"It's probably just the fact that the house is sitting quiet and nothing's going on there," Mr Garner says.
"Most insects will come and invade a house just to get out of the weather and find food," he says.
Ants in particular like warm, dry and quiet houses during heavy rain spells, so they're likely to move in when residents leave.
People and pests don't make good companions in the home.
"You can't live with fleas, you've got to kill them," Mr Garner says,
"You can't live with ants going through your pantry and eating your wires and killing your home either," he says.
"You also get carpet beetles that come along from time to time - there are all sorts of bugs. Houses are more happy if they get sprayed once a year."