Photograph: A pile of washing up in the sink.

What attracts vermin?

Vermin, especially mice and rats, are gluttons. They will eat almost anything they can get. Effective pest control is as much about controlling what attracts them as about controlling the pests themselves.

That said, rodents are not stupid either. When they've got a choice, they will go for carbohydrate and sugar-rich foods such as potatoes, cereals, cakes & sweets, bread and meat. Rats and mice know that these foods deliver the most energy for the lowest risk.

Rats, in particular, like to remain under cover. They will stick to dark corners and under-floor passages, then attempt to dig or gnaw their way into food storage areas.

Food should be stored in sealed containers, to minimise smells that will attract rodents.

Be careful about waste, too. Rubbish bins containing leftover meat and cooked food will attract rats, especially as the food starts to rot. Bag everything up carefully and put it in strong bins, such as a plastic wheelie bin.

Don't put meat, fish or cooked food on a compost heap. Not only is it no good for your compost, it will also turn the heap into an inviting home for rats or mice. The combination of warmth from the composting process, plus an easy food supply, will be irresistible to them.

Rodents are also interested in finding bedding materials and places to build a nest. They will look for hidden corners and dark places away from too much noise and movement. Like us, they enjoy being outside during the summer but when winter approaches they'll want to find a warm spot to curl up in.