I like to think I keep my apartment pretty clean.
But every year, without fail, I find dozens of fruit flies floating around my kitchen.
It's a small but annoying problem, which lead me to investigate what I've been doing wrong.
It turns out even if your home is in order, you could still be welcoming bugs and rodents without realizing it.
Watch out for these 10 habits that pests love:
1. Ignoring standing water and moisture
All animals, including bugs, need three things to survive: shelter, food, and water.
A leaky faucet or pipe in your home is like a beacon for thirsty pests, so make sure they're all closed.
Then, check your yard and your gutters for standing water. Mosquitoes need just a half inch of water to lay their eggs.
Even humidity in your home can attract bugs like silverfish. So invest in a dehumidifier, and turn your fan on while you take a shower.
2. Leaving out dog and cat food
I'll admit, I'm guilty of this one.
In my family, we like to leave a bowl of food out for the dogs to graze on throughout the day.
But this pet food buffet is a major draw for larger bugs like cockroaches, and even rats.
Limiting your pet's feeding times isn't the only thing to worry about. Their food should also be stored in a plastic container to keep bugs out.
3. Letting spilled food sit in the open
I know what you're thinking, "What kind of slob do you think I am?!"
Even if you sweep your floors and mop up the crumbs under your dinner table, there's probably still food lying around your home.
When is the last time you swept underneath the stove or fridge? And in those nooks and crannies between the counters?
Don't overlook your oven, the barbecue grill, or the dirty dishes in your sink either.
Bugs can find plenty of food even in a "tidy" home, so make things hard for them.
4. Ignoring your yardwork
Bugs and rodents prefer certain types of yards over others. In general, the more well-kept your lawn and backyard are, the less bugs you'll have to deal with.
Keeping your grass short, collecting fallen leaves and grass clippings in bags, and trimming unruly bushes will leave less room for bugs to gather.
If you keep a woodpile, be mindful of where you stack it too. Bugs love to nestle between the pieces of firewood, so keep it well away from your home.
5. Leaving fruit on the counter
Don't take this the wrong way: some fruit should only be kept on the counter, because it will spoil more quickly in the fridge.
But you need to keep an eye on your fruit, and notice when it's turning ripe.
Overripe fruit starts to release ethylene gas, which makes other fruits in the same bowl ripen more quickly.
The gas is also a beacon for bugs, including nasty fruit flies. Keeping your fruit in bags can help slow this process.
6. Letting garbage pile up
It's 9 p.m. and you're ready for bed, when you notice that the kitchen garbage can is full to the brim.
Do you take the bag out, or leave it for tomorrow? Your answer could decide whether you'll be dealing with a kitchen full of flies tomorrow.
These annoying bugs only need a few hours with a stinky garbage can to multiply until they're a real nuisance.
To avoid this, keep all your wet/food garbage in one plastic bin with a lid, and empty it regularly.
Don't forget to rinse out plastic containers and empty your recycling bin as soon as possible - even piles of yogurt cups and paper boxes can draw in bugs.
7. Forgetting to scoop up pet waste
This applies more to cat owners than dog owners, but if you're guilty of letting your dog poop in the yard without cleaning it up, that will definitely attract flies.
Some people will spend a small fortune on fly traps and strips to hang around their cat's litter box.
It's much easier to make sure you're scooping the box out at least once a day. Your cat will thank you too.
8. Inviting pests into your home
It's one thing to be careless with a few spilled crumbs or leaky pipes. But there's no excuse for letting the bugs just waltz into your home.
Leaving the doors and windows open, especially during summer, is just asking for trouble.
Make sure to patch up any holes in your screen doors (these days they have special screen-matching tape) and to seal any cracks in your exterior walls.
Take a walk around your home's perimeter, filling in any small holes or burrows where mice could nest.
And don't forget to seal up your attic and basement too. Any holes inside your home can be closed up with steel wool - it will keep bugs and mice from digging through.
9. Collecting cardboard boxes
Let's just admit it: we all have a few unpacked boxes or collections of old books, VHS tapes, etc. that have been sitting in the basement longer than they have any right to.
You might think they're safely stowed, but termites, silverfish, and cockroaches will all make a meal out of the cardboard and glue.
Piles of newspapers and magazines are the same - especially because they'll molder and attract even more bugs.
Move your stuff into plastic bins, or just find a way to get rid of it altogether.
10. Leaving birdseed out in the open
Most people don't realize it, but birds and squirrels aren't the only animals that are attracted by birdseed.
Leaving birdseed sitting in your garage is a fast way to attract rodents, ants, and cockroaches.
But leaving your feeder full of seed can attract other kinds of pests: bugs like moths are attracted by the food, then settle down in your attic and multiply.
Leaving just enough in the feeder for your feathered friends is a smart choice.