Carpenter Ant Prevention This Fall

Carpenter ants are active in the fall

It can be hard to tell regular ants from carpenter ants. Chances are you’ve seen carpenter ants or even had them in your home without realizing it! Although they may seem like regular ants, carpenter ants can pose a threat to your home.

Most carpenter ant infestations happen in the spring and late fall. If you find carpenters in your home during cold months, it’s probably because they’ve taken up residence. Carpenters can do significant structural damage over time, so it’s important to find and deal with them quickly. Here’s everything you need to know about how to get rid of carpenter ants in fall and all year-round.

Carpenter Ants 101

Carpenter ants are one of the largest and most prevalent ants in Michigan. Most species resemble a larger version of a regular ant. They come in a variety of colors including combinations of black, red, dull yellow, grey, or brown. Adult specimens are usually between ¼ and ½ inches long. Carpenters may resemble termites, but they have darker bodies, narrower waists, bent antennae, and a rounded thorax.

Colonies of carpenters are divided into castes, each with different distinguishing characteristics and sizes. Worker carpenter ants have large mandibles or pincers. Swarmer ants have two sets of wings–hind wings and front wings – and are the reproducers of the species. A female swarmer will become a carpenter ant queen and be solely responsible for populating the hive with workers.  

Carpenters remain a problem because their colonies can grow large quickly. Large colonies can inflict structural damage on homes in relatively short periods of time.

Where to Look for Carpenter Ants

carpenter ants build their colonies into wooden structures that have been naturally hollowed out or dampened

Carpenter ants gnaw the wood they want to move into a compact, sawdust-like material. Spotting this transported wood dust is one of the only reliable ways to find carpenter ants. Be careful, hollowed out wood takes on a dry, smooth, almost sandpaper-like appearance and may collapse under strain.

Outside, carpenter ants usually build colonies in wood that’s already been hollowed out. Most outdoor “parent” colonies are found in rotting trees, tree stumps, roots, fallen logs, or other decaying wood. As colonies expand, they require “satellite” colonies to continue to support a growing population. These expansion efforts are usually what brings carpenter ants into a house in fall and spring.

Carpenter ants prefer to inhabit areas with poor air circulation, access to soil and the outdoors, and condensation. During fall, carpenter ants want to nest in areas where they can keep warm. You’ll probably find them in your

  • Basement
  • Attic
  • Crawl space
  • Foundation
  • Roof
  • Porch
  • Doors and windows
  • Wood chips
  • Older siding

What Carpenter Ants eat

Carpenter ants do NOT eat wood; they simply move it out of the way. They subsist primarily on protein and sugar.

Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat the wood they infest. Instead, these ants subsist on proteins and sugars, which they obtain from a wide variety of sources including:

  • Insects
  • Meat
  • Pet food
  • Syrup
  • Honey
  • Grains
  • Jelly

Carpenter ants are opportunists and will eat almost anything else they can find. They’re particularly attracted to the honeydew secreted by aphids and scale insects.

Worker ants have been known to forage up to 100 yards away from their colonies to find food. The workers bring any food they find back to the colony, where it’s distributed among all members.

Carpenter ants also require a source of moisture to keep hydrated. Usually, a carpenter ant colony will establish its main nest near some source of moisture outside. Satellite nests need moisture, too, but not to the same extent as the main nest does.

Why do they want to get into my home?

carpenter ants swarm over soft wood.

In the fall, carpenter ants seek food, shelter and ideal building conditions.

Carpenter ants prefer to make their colonies in moist, soft wood. Moist wood provides enough water to sustain the colony while they expand. Soft wood is easier to chew through, allowing for faster expansion. Rotting or damaged wood is an ideal nesting site for carpenter ants. If you see carpenter ants inside during fall, they’re probably establishing a satellite colony in wood inside your home.

Do Carpenter Ant Bites Hurt?

Carpenter ants will bite in self-defense. Their larger size and strong mandibles make carpenter ant bites potentially painful. They can also spray formic acid into bites, causing further pain.

If you are bitten, keep the bite clean and treat inflammation with ice. If you experience a severe reaction, see a physician immediately.

How can I keep them away?

keep carpenter ants away from your home by preventing mold growth, humidity, and leaks

Remove any environment that carpenter ants are likely to nest in. Look for mold growth and decaying and/or damaged wood, particularly near the ground level. Pull out and replace any rotten siding, rip out old baseboards and trimming, and look for condensation buildup. Pay particular attention to the foundation, siding and trim in your basement. Keep a close eye out for wood damage and have it repaired as soon as you notice it.

A leaky pipe in your basement might be creating an ant utopia. Look for any plumbing leaks and repair them as soon as possible. Even if you don’t have leaks, check to make sure excess humidity isn’t creating condensation on pipes or walls. If it is, consider investing in a dehumidifier, or least check for drafts.

If you have ants already, your best method of eliminating them is to have a pest control technician locate and eliminate the nest with an insecticide.

 Michigan Ant Control for Home and Business

If you need some help managing a carpenter ant problem this fall or any time of year, give Griffin a call today. We’ll be able to tell you where the ants are, how they got in, why they want to be there, and how to get rid of them. A safer, more enjoyable winter is just one phone call away.

How do You Get Bed Bugs? The Story of the White Chair.

One of the most common questions we get asked is: Where do bed bugs come from? Unfortunately, one of our customers found out the hard way. She didn’t know what bed bugs looked like or how to check for bed bugs until they were suddenly everywhere.

The truth is, we don’t always recognize the early signs of bed bugs. This story illustrates how quickly they can become a problem and how difficult it can be to get rid of bed bugs once they’ve infiltrated your world. Take heed!

What Causes Bed Bugs?

A dear friend of ours, Carol, tripped over a childproof gate at the bottom of her stairs and broke her ankle. She ended up in a large hospital for three days. During her stay, Carol was put in a patient room with a sofa and a stuffed, white chair for visitors.

On the first day of Carol’s stay, her whole family visited her: her husband, her son, her two daughters, daughter and sons-in-law and multiple grandchildren. Several family members took turns sitting in the white chair. One of her sons-in-law thought he felt something biting him and mentioned at the nurse’s station. The nurse did a quick inspection but didn’t see anything.

That afternoon, Carol’s friends from church showed up with the usual assortment of balloons and flowers. One of the church deacons sat in the white chair but didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary.

The next morning, the gardening club ladies showed up. The woman in the white chair noticed something biting them and mentioned this to Carol. Carol, remembering her son-in-law complaining the night before, called the nurse.  

A new nurse inspected the chair and saw a small dark red insect along the seam. This nurse had been trained in the identification of bed bugs and in the hospital’s bed bug action plan. He immediately reported the sighting and began the process to correct the situation.

Carol and her clan were moved to a different room. The room with the white chair was quarantined and treated for bed bugs.

How Bed Bugs Spread

The story is far from over. During the treatment, 20 adults and a handful bed bug babies emerged from the folds of the white chair. At least 4 people had sat directly in the white chair which also probably contained microscopic beg bug eggs.

 -The son-in-law had left to go back to work at his financial planning firm, a large office building downtown, with 11 floors.

 -An adult granddaughter took the train back to Chicago where she attends college. She lives in a dorm on campus with 3 other girls.

 -Carol’s other grandchildren attend daycare and middle school.

 -The deacon didn’t go directly home, he visited another parishioner in the same hospital.

-The gardening club ladies? After visiting with Carol, some of them returned home, while others went out to lunch and then window shopping at the mall.

A home mattress with bed bugs

How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs

The long and short of this story: getting bed bugs is as easy as catching a cold. Bed bugs are really a communicable disease and are treated so by public health departments.

Because of bed bugs’ size, you won’t always see them. If that first nurse had identified the source of the son-in-law’s bite, the spread could have been stopped sooner.

Know the signs of bed bugs. If you suspect that you have bed bugs in your home or workplace, contact Griffin Pest Solutions today. The sooner you address the problem, the faster we can stop the spread!

Termite Prevention Tips For Homeowners

Termites

While termites are most associated with warm, humid climates like Florida, Louisiana and Texas, the eastern subterranean termite is a serious wood-damaging pest in Michigan. These destructive insects are much more common than most people realize. To keep your home or business safe, learn to identify and prevent termites.

Protecting your home from termites in Michigan is no easy task. They are an aggressive, relentless pest that feeds around-the-clock. They often go undetected since enter through the soil beneath your home. A colony of 60,000 termites can eat the equivalent of 2 ft. length of a 2” x 4” piece of lumber in a year’s time if left to their own destructive ways!

What to Do if You Have Termites

If you suspect that termites have targeted your home for their next dinner buffet, Griffin Pest Solutions and the EPA recommend you contact a pest management professional for a thorough inspection and review of treatment options.

Termite damage to window sill.

DIY termite prevention can end up backfiring and may lead to unwanted headaches, hassles and cost a significant amount of money to correct. If you discover termite wood damage or see termites, a pest control tech can eradicate the colony quickly and permanently.

If you don’t have termites, consider yourself fortunate and keep them the away with our prevention tips.

How to Prevent Termites

Prevention is the best method of pest control. To keep termites from ever becoming an issue, take precautions in these three areas.

Reduce soil to wood contact.

This is where termites enter your home or building. Block them from ever coming in with these tips:

  • Maintain a 12-inch vertical barrier of smooth concrete, sand, or other non-cellulose material between the soil surface and substructure wood crawl spaces.
  • Identify and correct stucco siding or untreated wood that comes into contact with the ground.
  • Use synthetic wood and non-cellulose building materials for fences, decks or other structures.
  • Paint or treat existing wooden structures with anti-termite products.
  • Remove untreated fence posts, tree stumps and buried scrap wood near structures.
  • Keep wood piles 8” off the ground and away from your home.
  • Repair foundation cracks and seal openings on exterior walls and soffits to deny termites easy access.
  • Keep landscape shrubs trimmed and not touching exterior walls.
A leaky outdoor faucet.

Avoid moisture.

Termites thrive in warm, wet conditions. In most cases they will gravitate towards wood that is already soft or rotted. Maintain a cool, dry environment by following these steps:

  • Keep basement and crawlspace areas well ventilated and dry.
  • Don’t overwater your lawn or sprinkle stucco or wood siding.
  • Keep your gutters and downspouts clear of wet leaves so moisture does not build up.
  • Repair leaky pipes, faucets and air conditioners.
  • Make sure water doesn’t pool inside or outside after rainstorms.

Regular termite inspection.

Knowing the signs of termites and watching for them regularly can reduce your chances of a serious infestation. Here’s how:

Termite mud tunnels in a home.
  • Regularly inspect porches and exterior structural or foundation wood for signs of termites.
  • Look for mud tubes along walls, floorboards and in basements.
  • Examine used lumber carefully before bringing it home.
  • Watch for peeling paint or walls that look water damaged.
  • Apply a termite prevention treatment.
  • Consult a pest control expert.

Your Michigan Termite Control Experts

If you have questions about termites call or contact Griffin today. We are your local experts at treating termites in Indiana, Ohio and Michigan. Don’t take chances with termite colonies in your home. We’ll put a stop to all infestations before they can do serious damage to your property.

COVID-19 Update

On Tuesday 10, Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer formally declared a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) outbreak. As of March 18, Griffin Pest Solutions will remain open and ready to respond to any of your pest control needs. We would like our customers to know that we have been closely following all COVID-19 news here in Michigan and implementing all CDC-recommended procedures for preventing the spread of the disease.

Griffin Pest Solutions’ employees have taken each of the following steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • All team members have been issued hand sanitizer and disinfectant, which they regularly use on their hands and anything they touch.
  • All in-office team meetings have been suspended. Any office team members who can work from home have been asked to do so.
  • Any immunocompromised team members or team members experiencing symptoms have been asked to stay home and seek medical attention.
  • On-site technicians are wearing extra safety gear and taking extra disease-prevention precautions, including avoiding approaching customers within six feet (per CDC recommendations) whenever possible and disinfecting any surfaces they come into contact with during the job.

Griffin Pest Solutions remains committed to providing top-quality pest control solutions to the homes and businesses of Michigan in all circumstances. If you have a pest problem, we are doing everything we can to remain ready to help quickly and effectively. We now offer disinfection and sanitation services in Michigan amid this COVID-19 outbreak.

As health and sanitation professionals, we also understand our professional and civic responsibility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will continue to monitor the situation very closely, update our customers on any relevant new information, and adapt to changing circumstances in a responsible manner.

Everyone here at Griffin Pest Solutions hopes you and your family are happy and healthy in this scary time. We know you are taking the COVID-19 seriously and want you to know we are doing the same. If you have any questions about how our pest control the precautions we’re taking, please get in touch at (866) 868-5093 or contact us online. Thank you, and stay safe!

Pests to Watch Out for When Traveling

Bed bugs are pests that travel

When you’re planning a vacation, we’re guessing pest control is one of the further things from your mind. If anything, you probably think about things you can do to protect your home while you’re away. You certainly don’t think about whether pest infestations could happen to you while you’re traveling. That doesn’t even sound like it makes sense. How can you have a pest infestation if pests don’t have anywhere to infest?

Unfortunately, however, pest infestations can happen to you, even while you’re on vacation. Even worse, these pest infestations never stay a vacation problem. Instead, you’ll probably bring them home with you like a bad souvenir. In fact, some pests spread primarily via travelers. Here are four pests you need to look out for while traveling, and how to keep them from following you back home.

Bed bugs

The number one way bed bugs move into new homes is after travelers inadvertently transport them there. Bed bugs hitch rides with travelers by hiding in suitcases, luggage bags, clothing, purses and more. After sneaking inside these hiding places, the bugs remain perfectly still for extended periods of time. The bed bugs are so small, hidden, and still that travelers don’t often notice them. After taking their bags back home, the bed bugs emerge and seek more permanent residence.

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don’t exclusively infest “dirty” places. Unfortunately, they’re quite capable of living anywhere from a relative’s house to a car to a five star hotel. Bed bugs don’t “mean” to hitchhike with travelers; they’re simply drawn to dark, warm, hidden places. When you travel, you should always keep a close eye on all the bags you’re carrying with you. Keep them elevated, closed, and sealed whenever you aren’t using them. When you get home, consider throwing your traveling items into the dryer for 20 minutes at a high temperature.

Despite being larger and easier to spot than bed bugs, cockroaches often end up hitchhiking in very similar ways

Cockroaches

Despite being larger and easier to spot than bed bugs, cockroaches often end up hitchhiking in very similar ways. Cockroaches are naturally attracted to dark, warm, moist, and secluded areas. They’ll also sneak into food boxes or even toiletries. Like bed bugs, they will stay perfectly still after they find a good hiding place. Roaches can survive for an extended period of time without food or water. They’re also great climbers and can cling to surprisingly sheer surfaces.

Roaches can work their way into nearly any open container you leave out for them. Food packages, suitcases, clothing bags, purses, and even computer bags are all fair game. A roach can survive a surprisingly long trip until you take it back home. To avoid this, keep all travel bags closed, sealed, and elevated whenever you’re not using them. Don’t transport food with you–especially not without a proper container. If you keep your bags locked down, roaches won’t be able to come home with you.

Lice

Lice get into people’s hair after climbing into it from clothing items like hats, scarves, coats, and sweaters. They use their hook-like feet to latch onto hidden parts of clothing or other pieces of fabric until they have an opportunity to transfer. Unlike roaches or bed bugs, lices usually travel along with travelers directly on travelers. Lice can’t survive without a human host, and they can’t live for long on fabric. If you find lice near you, they’re feeding on someone close by.

Before lice climb onto you, they generally hide on clothing items where they can transfer to hosts. Hats, scarves, hoodies, and any other clothing that goes on your head is particularly vulnerable. Try to be particularly cautious about what you wear when you’re traveling. Refrain from sharing clothing items or trying on pieces of clothing you didn’t bring with you. Keep all of your clothing in sealed, closed bags when you’re not wearing it.

Ants very frequently end up where they live after hitching a ride on unsuspecting traveler’s food

Ants

It seems like ants have a nearly-supernatural ability to find food. You leave out any food for any period of time and it seems like ants are all over it. Unfortunately, this counts double when traveling. Ants very frequently end up where they live after hitching a ride on unsuspecting traveler’s food. Like bed bugs, ants weren’t even trying to hitch a ride. They just wanted the food you happened to be carrying with you!

No matter where you travel, you should assume ants are living–and looking for food–nearby! If you leave out food, ants will feed on it. When you put that food away, you may end up transporting them with you. Keep a close eye on all the food you bring with you while traveling. Keep it in sealed, airtight bags whenever you’re not eating it. Clean up crumbs and other food debris whenever you make it. Throw out food wrappers and other garbage as soon as you’re finished with them.

Traveling makes everyone a little more vulnerable to pests, just like it makes everyone more likely to catch a cold. Just like you can bolster your immune system, however, you can take precautions to prevent pests from traveling with you. Practice the pest control tips we’ve shared while traveling, and you can have a pest-free vacation.

If you end up with a pest infestation after your vacation–or any other time for that matter–call Griffin any time. We’ll figure out where your pests came from, wipe them out, and make sure they can’t bother you again. Have a great trip, and stay safe!  

How Can I Keep Bed Bugs Away While I’m Traveling?

Bed bugs travel on fabric

The primary way bed bugs spread is by hitching rides with travelers. They do that by sneaking into these travelers’ boxes, bags, and belongings while they aren’t looking. Keep a careful eye on your luggage while traveling to avoid bringing any unwanted hitchhikers on your trip with you.

Bed bugs love travelers. For these bloodsucking stowaways, every in-law in your guest room is an opportunity to see the world. Unfortunately, they won’t just leave after they’ve made themselves at home, either. The bed bugs you bring back from your travels tend to stick around. That’s why it’s so important you keep bed bugs from following you on your travels in the first place. We want to help you do that. Here are the five best ways you can avoid picking up bed bugs while you’re traveling this holiday season:

1. Keep your belongings off of the floor

Bed bugs spend most of their time looking for warm, dark, secluded places to hide. Unfortunately, those warm, dark, secluded hiding places are often luggage! If your bags are on the floor, they’ll be all-too-easy for bed bugs to get into.

Whenever you’re unpacking for the night, be sure to keep all of your traveling bags in elevated areas. Never leave anything unattended on the floor. The less accessible your bags, the harder it’ll be for bed bugs to come on your trip with you.

Do some research on where you're staying

2. Do some research on where you’re staying

Take the time to research the bed bug history of any lodging you’re planning on using. If that hotel or motel has a history of bed bug problems, chances are someone’s documented those problems online. There are even websites like the Bed Bug Registry to help ensure you find a place to stay that’s bed bug-free.

Obviously, if you’re staying at a relative’s home, this is trickier. After all, you may feel a little awkward asking them about their history with bed bugs! In these cases, we recommend you play it safe rather than sorry. Bring your own bed sheets and pillows. Make sure you store them in elevated places!

3. Choose your luggage carefully

Bed bugs love fabric. They love eating it, living in it, and burrowing into it. They’ll try to get at any fabric piece of clothing, accessory, or luggage you have. You can dissuade them from getting into your things by using a hard shell suitcase.

Hard shell suitcases are far harder to infiltrate than their soft counterparts. Just make sure you keep it shut tight when you’re not using it. Oh, and–say it with us–ELEVATE IT!

Inspect your sleeping area carefully before settling in

4. Thoroughly inspect your sleeping area before you settle in

After you arrive where you’re staying and before you unpack, follow the following steps. First, pull the comforter back on the sheets. Look for any telltale red or brown spots on sheets. Then, systematically check all the tucked-away places where bed bugs like to hide. Look under the mattress, between the mattress and box spring, behind any furniture, underneath cushions, and even in corners.

If you find bloody smears, dark brown splattering, or dried skin in likely spots, bed bugs are probably nearby. If you can, you should find another place to sleep. If you can’t leave, then you should thoroughly wash the sheets on the hottest possible setting. Do not unpack your bags or leave them on the floor.

5. Check your bags before you get back home

You should thoroughly inspect your bags after you get home and before you head back inside. Check your luggage and all its contents for any signs of bed bug infestations. Look for brown or red marks on clothing, smears in cracks and crevices, or dried shed skin.

As soon as you get back inside, throw all the fabrics you brought on your trip into your dryer. Run them through once on the highest heat setting. If you can, you should consider drying your bags and other belongings this way, too. High heat will kill any bed bugs you couldn’t see. Don’t unpack your belongings until you’re sure they’re bed bug-free!

 

Next time you’re vacationing, road tripping, or visiting relatives, don’t stress about the possibility of bed bugs. Instead, simply follow these tips diligently when they’re relevant and focus on having a good time. As long as you keep up with these prevention rules, you’ll shouldn’t have to worry about unwanted stowaways ever again.

Even if your trip takes a turn and you do find bed bugs, however, don’t panic! The team at Griffin Pest Solutions can find and wipe out your bed bug problem quickly, effectively, and permanently. They may have come home with you, but we’ll make sure they don’t make themselves at home. Have a safe and happy trip!