10 Annoying Pests That Thrive in Your Clogged Gutters

A man is cleaning a clogged roof gutter from dirt, debris and fallen leaves to prevent water damage and let rainwater drain properly.
Radovan1/Shutterstock.com

Written by Stephanie Knight

Published: October 21, 2023

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Clogged gutters create all sorts of problems. If excess water is not moved away from your home, you could experience a leaky roof, mold, mildew, or even damage to the foundation of your home – and those are the most obvious gutter problems. There’s another issue that many people don’t think about: pests. If you’ve put off gutter cleaning, you could be creating a haven for unwanted critters and creepy crawlies who will eventually find their way into your home. Some of these gutter bugs are merely gross, but some could cause damage to your home or pose health risks. Whether you decide to get a professional gutter cleaning or opt for DIY, here are ten reasons to keep your gutters clear.

1. Birds

Two Baby Bluebirds Peeking Out the Nesting Box in April in Louisiana

Birds are adorable, but they don’t belong in your gutters.

If you’ve left your gutters untouched for a great deal of time, don’t be surprised if a bird family has made their home up there. Gutters are high enough that birds won’t have to worry about predators. Unfortunately, this creates headaches for homeowners. Bird nests put added weight on gutters, which could cause them to warp or even fall off the house. Plus, all that bird poo has to go somewhere. This could spread diseases, create odors, or clog the gutters further. And don’t forget that birds molt so on top of the nesting material, the feathers shed could clog gutters even more.

2. Mosquitoes

macro normal female mosquito isolated on green leaf

By not cleaning your gutters, you could be creating the ideal environment for female mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

We don’t need to tell you how annoying mosquitoes are. We’ve all experienced the annoying itches that come with spending time outdoors in the warmer months. But you know what else is so annoying about mosquitoes? They are incredibly resourceful when it comes to laying eggs. Female mosquitoes look for sources of standing water, and your clogged gutter is prime real estate. Believe it or not, mama mosquitoes can make do with the amount of water that an upturned bottle cap holds.

3. Rodents

Two brown rats peeking out from a hiding place

Rats and mice are happy to take advantage of clogged gutters.

Mice and rats make for cute fantasy stories, but in reality, having them in or near your home could pose health risks. There are dozens of rodent-borne diseases from their bites, scratches, or exposure to fecal matter. Rodents notoriously multiply quickly, so if you don’t address the problem quickly, it could quickly become a full-blown infestation. Like bird nests, the weight of all those critters could bend, warp, or pull your gutters away from the side of your home.

And if you weren’t already aware, rodents need to chew things to keep their incisors at a reasonable length. The fascia – the board that holds your gutters to the edge of the roof – is just the thing rats and mice love to nibble.

And as if having birds and/or rodents in your gutters wasn’t enough of a hassle, they could lead to even more pest infestations – more on this later!

4. Termites

Termites are pests that destroy wooden materials by gnawing at them and causing the entire house to collapse.

Termite infestations cause catastrophic damage. They could be lurking in your clogged gutters as you read this.

What’s so insidious about termites is they often go undetected until it’s too late. Clogged gutters provide a source of moisture, which termites need to survive. If your clogged gutters are causing water to drain into the home, this could create wood rot, which is very attractive for termites. Once inside your home, termites will colonize any wood fibers they can get their mouths on – furniture, support beams, doors, and even books.

5. Carpenter Ants

carpenter ant vs black ant

Like termites, carpenter ants will take advantage of clogged gutters and destroy wooden structures in and outside of your home.

All of the factors that make your home attractive to termites will also entice carpenter ants. Poor gutter cleaning practices will bring these wood-loving bugs. Carpenter ants are often mistaken for termites, as they are very close in appearance. But unlike termites – who eat wood – carpenter ants can’t digest cellulose. Instead, they spit it back out. In any case, you don’t want wood-boring insects in your gutters. The temptation to venture inside your home is too great, and carpenter ants don’t care about your feelings.

6. Stinging Insects

Wasps

Wasps cause damage to your property and your family.

Bees, wasps, and other stinging insects love taking advantage of the water source that clogged gutters provide. Additionally, clogged gutters provide shade and a source of building material. Certain species of wasps use wood fibers to build their nests. And speaking of nests, they’ll protect them at all costs, which makes DIY gutter cleaning difficult if not impossible. You could be saddled with the price of a professional pest removal application in addition to a gutter cleaning. Oh, and did we mention bees and wasps could get into your walls? It’s not uncommon for wasps to create hives in the walls of homes. Many homeowners don’t even realize until the drywall has been compromised enough that it gives way to the slightest pressure and suddenly there’s a giant hole with wasps pouring out!

Aside from damaging your home, bee and wasp stings can cause severe allergic reactions including:

  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Swelling of the throat and tongue
  • A weak, rapid pulse
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness or fainting
  • Loss of consciousness

7. Cockroaches

Of all the pests lurking in clogged gutters, cockroaches might be the most disgusting.

You’ve probably heard how cockroaches are difficult to eradicate. There’s a great deal of truth to that. Cockroaches can survive for 10 days without their heads! They seek out areas where they can scuttle around undisturbed and clogged gutters are the perfect hiding place. After all, how often is anyone checking their gutters? It’s highly unlikely you’re going up there every week.

In addition to moisture, cockroaches are attracted to decaying plant material, which they’ll find in abundance if gutter cleaning is not something you do seasonally.

Finding a cockroach in your home is not only disturbing, it’s dangerous. According to the American Lung Association, roaches can exacerbate asthma, cause allergic reactions, and contaminate indoor air quality. The allergens are found in roach body parts, fecal matter, and saliva. To make matters worse, even if these particles do not remain in the air, they can easily be stirred up again by vacuuming. Cockroach allergens can also settle in bed linens, pillows, and other cloth materials.

8. Centipedes

Are centipedes poisonous or dangerous - House centipede

Centipedes are extremely creepy and love to colonize clogged gutters.

Of all the bugs that live in clogged gutters, centipedes are probably the least of all evils. They don’t cause health problems like cockroaches or rodents, and they won’t attack you like bees, wasps, and hornets. That being said, they aren’t completely harmless.

Centipedes can bite and they’re reported to sting as much as a bee sting. If you happen to be sensitive to venom, you might experience an adverse reaction. Fortunately, house centipedes are not aggressive and are more afraid of you than you are of them. If you swat a wasp, be ready for a fight. If you swipe at a centipede, it will run away. Generally, centipede bites only happen if you try to handle them. If you have pets or small children in your home, they may try to pick up or play with centipedes, which increases the likelihood of a bite.

But for the most part, centipedes just add to the “creep factor” and won’t cause structural harm or major health issues.

9. Snakes

python in corner of home

Snakes are the perfect size and shape to hide in clogged gutters without you ever knowing they’re around!

While many states don’t have to worry about snakes invading their gutters, those of you in the South should keep an eye out. It may surprise you to learn that snakes are quite the climbers. Utilizing your gutter’s downspout, they’ll mosey up to the gutter where they can enjoy peace away from predators and the perfect place to soak up the sun.

Remember the rodents and birds we discussed earlier? They could attract snakes to your gutters. After all, they’re prime snake food and snakes just happen to have the perfect body shape to sneak along gutters undetected.

Like rodents, roaches, and stinging insects, snakes are not a pest you should attempt to tackle on your own. It’s simply not worth the risk of a venomous bite.

10. Earwigs

Common earwig or European earwig, Forficula auricularia against white background

Earwigs might win the award for the creepiest bug living in your clogged gutters.

Before we discuss anything else, let’s set the record straight: earwigs DO NOT want to crawl into your ears. This is an old wives’ tale that perpetuates the creepy mythology surrounding earwigs. There is a very small chance they could get into your ear – just like any other bug – but they’re not going to seek out your ear to lay their eggs. This simply isn’t true.

Like centipedes, earwigs are not going to bother you, cause health issues, or damage your home. They will eat your flowers or crops in your garden, and if they manage to find their way inside, they will happily nibble on any food in the pantry that isn’t properly stored.

As you’ve probably guessed, they are attracted to areas of the property that are cool and damp. Aside from clogged gutters, you’re likely to find them in rotting tree bark or hidden under rocks.

How To Prevent Pests Out of Gutters

worker cleaning house gutter from leaves and dirt

There are a few ways to keep your gutters pest-free.

As discussed previously, having even one pest infestation in your gutters could bring more. Bugs are attracted to the gutters. Birds and mice will feast on the bugs and set up nests. Snakes will come to eat the rodents and birds. Clogged gutters are a compounding problem and the longer they go unaddressed, the more money and headaches you’ll experience.

So what can you do about pests in your gutters? As the old saying goes: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The best way to avoid calling an exterminator is to keep your gutters inhospitable for pests. You can accomplish this in several ways. Firstly, make sure to do gutter cleaning ideally twice a year in spring and fall. The spring cleaning will clear out anything that has hunkered down in the gutters over winter. Fall cleanings will discourage pests from moving in before the cold arrives. Another great option for pest control is installing gutter guards. They come in a variety of styles and materials and will save you a lot of time and trouble.

Summary of Pests Living In Clogged Gutters

Pest
1Birds
2Mosquitoes
3Rodents
4Termites
5Carpenter Ants
6Stinging Insects
7Cockroaches
8Centipedes
9Snakes
10Earwigs


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About the Author

Stephanie is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering travel, nature, and animals. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan-Dearborn, which she earned in 2013. Whenever possible, she picks up litter from local parks and nature areas to help protect the environment. A resident of Michigan, Stephanie enjoys hiking, archery, and spending time with her two cats.

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