Ant Eating Animals in Michigan

woodpecker eats ants in a tree - one of several animals that eat ants in michigan

Did you know that some of the animals found in Michigan are nature’s own ant control experts? That’s right, though they act as a nuisance to humans, they serve as a valuable food source for a variety of creatures that call this region home. These remarkable animals, ranging from birds to mammals, have developed a taste for ants. By including ants in their diet, these Michigan residents help keep ant populations in check while providing a fascinating example of nature’s delicate balance. Let’s take a look at some ant eating animals in Michigan.

Which Animals Eat Ants in Michigan?

Ants may be annoying to people, but they’re a vital part of the ecosystem. Many animals eat ants, and these common in Michigan animals even rely on ants as an important part of their diet:

  • Black BearsBlack bears are omnivorous and have a varied diet that includes insects. They are known to dig through ant hills to consume ants, especially during the spring and summer months when ants are more active. With their insatiable appetites, bears eat a large amount of ants in addition to their other food choices. 
  • WoodpeckersWhile many birds feed on ants, woodpeckers have long, sticky tongues that they use to extract ants from crevices in trees or on the ground. Woodpeckers common eat ants out of infested wood. Unfortunately, woodpeckers can also cause damage to wooden structures that are not just infested with ants and insects. Keep an eye on where they nest and feed if you see them in your yard.
  • RaccoonsIn Michigan, raccoons are in urban and rural areas. These opportunistic animals eat a wide variety of things, including ants. When foraging, an uncovered ant’s nest is a bountiful feast. Raccoons are often more active during mid-March through mid-May which is when you may see them feasting on ants. Much like woodpeckers, raccoons can also have adverse effects on your property.
  • Skunks – Skunks are scavengers, eating whatever they can find. With their strong front claws, they can dig apart ant’s nests and devour the insects inside. They have a keen sense of smell and can scent out ant nests easily through the dirt. During the spring and summer, when ants are highly active, skunks will seek out and eat as much as they can!

Ant Control with Griffin Pest Control

While nature takes care of itself in many cases, professional ant extermination is always the best and proven method. While local wildlife can and will help keep ant populations in check, significant ant infestations in a home or business require a more targeted approach. For effective and long-lasting results, leave it to the experts at Griffin Pest SolutionsSince 1929, Griffin Pest Solutions has been providing Michigan residents with cutting edge pest control innovations. We provide year-round, ongoing solutions to help you and your family live pest-free*. Call us today to get started with Griffin and get a free quote!

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.

Why Are There Crawling Insects in My House?

Unless uninvited guests arrive carrying a free cake or a large check, you’re probably not a fan. When uninvited visitors have six or more legs and creep across your floor, they’re even less welcome. Nobody wants crawling insects to infest their homes, but how do you keep them out? What causes them in the first place? Why won’t they leave you alone?

First: you keep them from happening by taking preventative measures. Second: the things that cause them are usually easily fixed. Third: they won’t leave you alone because there’s something at your home drawing them in. Today we’ll cover the four most common crawling insect invaders people face. We’ll also arm you with the easy fixes and preventative measures you can take to keep them away.

Ants 

Ants are one of the most commonly-faced crawling pest problems for both home and business owners. There are over seven hundred different known species in the United States. Of those, there are a few ant varieties that are best known for infesting homes. Those include carpenter ants, pavement ants, odorous house ants, and field ants. Ants typically live in large colonies that work together to build and maintain their nests.

How can I keep ants out of my home?

  • Practice regular perimeter maintenance. Ants like to sneak in through small breaches or holes in your home’s perimeter. Make sure to regularly give your home visual inspections and seal any gaps, cracks, tears, or holes you find as you go. 
  • Keep a watch out for scouts. Single ants are scouts. They come up from their nests to look for food, water, or shelter. Get rid of any solo ants you find so they’re unable to share that information with the rest of their colony.

Centipedes

Despite their name’s disturbing implication that centipedes have one hundred legs, the crawling pests usually don’t. Instead, they have one pair of legs per body segment and can have, on average, between fifteen and seventy total pairs. There are many varieties but they all have flat, elongated bodies. They can measure from one-sixth of an inch to six and a half inches in length. Coloring varies but usually stays between shades of brown, red, and orange.

How can I keep centipedes out of my home?

  • Eliminate their food sources. Centipedes mainly consume other insects. If you’re practicing the rest of the prevention tips listed in this post to keep other pests away, you’re doing well. 
  • Reduce and remove clutter. A tidy home is a home that doesn’t have places for insects to hide. That includes but isn’t limited to centipedes.

Cockroaches 

Everybody knows about roaches. They’re one of the hardiest creatures on the planet, able to survive in temperatures at both spectrum extremes. The most common pest cockroaches are the German cockroach and the American cockroach. German cockroaches are brownish-black, measuring between ½ and ⅝ inches. American roaches are darker in color and large, measuring between one and two inches. They’re both active throughout the year, are nocturnal, and are drawn to decaying organic matter.

How can I keep roaches out of my home?

  • Wipe up crumbs and spills as soon as you make them. Cockroaches love organic matter. They especially love decaying organic matter. Don’t leave it out for them to find. Wipe up spills and crumbs as soon as they happen and don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. 
  • Pay special attention to cleanliness. This tip is mentioned more than once, but that’s because it’s important. Insects like cockroaches thrive in unkempt spaces. Take the garbage out regularly, remove grease from the stovetop, and keep your floors clean. These small efforts will go a long way toward preventing roach infestations.

Earwigs

Let’s start out by dispelling a popular earwig myth. No, they won’t actually crawl into your ear while you’re asleep and eat your brain. They won’t even crawl into your ear and take a nap, leaving your brain alone. They won’t go inside your head. What they will do, however, is infest your home. Earwigs are typically a quarter-inch to one inch in length with elongated, flat bodies. Their color can vary between different shades of tan, brown, and red. Their most distinctive physical characteristic are the pincers located on the back of their abdomens.

How can I keep earwigs out of my home?

  • Eliminate the places they like to hide. Earwigs love dead and distressed outdoor spaces. They hide in these spaces and use them as jumping off points for interior infestations. Take away their hiding spots by removing leaf piles, overgrown vegetation, and untended woodpiles. 
  • Make sure your gutters are working properly. Moisture build-up from gutters that are clogged pointing in the wrong direction will draw in earwigs. 
  • Use dehumidifiers. Once more with feeling: earwigs love moisture. Make sure you’re policing the moisture in your home and removing any standing water as you notice it.

If your question is, “Why are there crawling insects in my house?,” the answer is, “Because you’re not keeping them out.” Luckily, with the help of this blog post and other useful tips and tricks, you’ll be able to turn things around. For the rest, you can call the team at Griffin Pest Solutions. We’ll help keep your home safe, secure, and crawling pest free.

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Carpenter Ants in Michigan

Carpenter Ants in Michigan

Carpenter ants are the undercover saboteurs of the pest world. Disguised as the unassuming pavement or field ant, they infiltrate your home. Quietly, slowly, they establish themselves, building their base of operations. Year after year, their colony grows, until… your home is their home.

…Ok, so it’s not as dramatic as all that, but carpenter ants really are bad news. Despite their propensity to inflict serious damage all over Michigan, carpenter ants are far less well-known than their wood-munching rival, the termite. It’s time that changed. Here’s everything you should know about Michigan’s wood-tunneling terror, and how you can keep it away from your home.

What are carpenter ants?

What are carpenter ants?Carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) are some of the largest and most common ants in Michigan. Adults have multiple “job” classifications depending on the role they perform for their colony. There are three distinct “castes”: workers, drones, and queens. Generally, ants of each caste range in size from ¼ to ¾ of an inch. They’re usually black, but they can also be dark brown, red, orangish, or dull yellow.

Carpenter ant workers resemble typical “sugar” ants, except they’re larger. Drones are larger than workers and have flight-capable wings.  Drones may be mistaken for termites, because they fly in swarms when mating. Carpenter ant queens are the largest and least numerous caste. It’s possible to distinguish carpenter ants from other species by examining their waists and thoraxes. Carpenter ants only have one “petiole” or waist segment separating their abdomen from their thorax. These thoraxes are evenly rounded and look smooth or uniform.

Why are they a problem?

Carpenter ants build their colony nests by carving tunnels through wood. Workers bore through moist, rotting, or damaged wood to create hollowed-out spaces for colony members to live. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t eat the wood they chew through. Instead, they break it down into a sawdust-like substance and transport it out of the tunnel. As carpenter ant colonies grow in size, workers continually expand their colonies’ tunnels through the infested wood.

Over a long enough period, tunnels carved by carpenter ants compromise the structural integrity of infested wood. It may even break, collapse, or fail, sometimes leading to expensive and potentially dangerous damage. Carpenter ant don’t usually do as much damage as termites, but they still pose a threat to wood in your home.

When are they active?

when are carpenter ants active?Carpenter ant workers actively build their nests whenever they’re warm enough to move around. Drones and queens emerge from their nests to swarm and mate during early spring. After mating, carpenter ant queens’ wings break off and they begin building a nest for their eggs. While the queens search for a nest, they are more visible than usual and may be encountered indoors. Don’t panic! That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve infested your home… yet. If you find several flying drones in your home, however, chances are they came from an indoor nest.

Carpenter ants usually spend winter dormant; they return to their nests and wait for temperatures to warm back up. If they’re nesting in a warm place such as your home, however, several workers may remain active all year. If you encounter carpenter ants indoors during the winter, they are most likely infesting wood in your home.

How do you get them?

Carpenter ants need moisture to survive, and chewing through wood dries them out in a hurry. Consequently, carpenter ants are only attracted to moist wood, or wood that is rotten and softening. Wet wood is easier, faster, and less resource-intensive to tunnel through. It gives way easier, and the colony can remain hydrated while expanding.

Outdoors, the ants primarily nest around rotten tree stumps, dead tree limbs, firewood, old fence posts, or rocks. Indoors, they’ll seek out any wood that’s already been compromised by water or humidity. If you have carpenter ants, it’s probably because some of the wood in or around your house is water-damaged. Plumbing leaks, humidity, drafts, puddling, and poor insulation all promote the environments that make wood appealing to carpenter ants.

How do you prevent them?

How do you prevent carpenter ants?The first thing you should look for when you have carpenter ants is a moisture problem. Make sure you don’t have any plumbing leaks. Check your home’s humidity, especially in your basement, attic, pantry, or crawlspace. Ensure your gutters, downspouts, sump pump, and drainage are all working properly. Look for puddles in your basement. Address any drafts you feel in your home, especially if it’s winter. Consider investing in a dehumidifier for particularly humid parts of the home.

If you happen to find water-damaged wood, dispose of it immediately. The longer carpenter ants infest a structure, the further they’ll spread. It’s possible locate a carpenter ant colony by finding the sawdust-like material they produce after boring through wood. Remove the nest by detaching and disposing of the damaged wood. If damage is extensive, you may want to enlist the help of a professional to avoid hurting surrounding structures.

The most dangerous thing about carpenter ants is their ability to go unnoticed. Now that you know what to look for, you’ve disarmed their most valuable tool. Don’t stop there. Next time you think you might have spotted a carpenter ant, trust your instincts. Track that little wood biter down and flush it out to save yourself a big headache in the future. This is your house!

And remember: if you ever need some back-up in the war against the wood monsters, give Griffin a call anytime. Any win we can snatch away from carpenter ants is a win for us!