What Are The Most Dangerous Pests in Michigan?

The most dangerous pests in Michigan

Unfortunately, Michigan is home to several pests that can be quite dangerous. Some, like the black widow spider, are dangerous because of their venom. Others, like the Blacklegged tick, are dangerous because of diseases they can transmit. No matter why these pests are dangerous, however, you’ll want to keep away from them.

Ironically, the best way to keep away from dangerous pests in Michigan is to learn a thing or two about them. If you can reliably identify Michigan’s biggest baddies, you can take important steps to stay safe from them. Here’s what you should know about Michigan’s four most dangerous pests:

black widow spider

Black Widow

The Northern black widow spider’s habitat ranges throughout the eastern and central US. Michigan’s trees and prey make it the ideal environment for the poisonous spider to thrive in. Northern black widows are inch-and-a-half long, black spiders with a red “hour glass” marking on the back of their abdomens. The spider is common around Michigan’s lower peninsula, especially in the Southwest.  

While it’s true that they are common in Michigan, widow bites are quite rare. Black widows are timid and only bite if their web is threatened. Widows build their webs anywhere they can catch prey. They’re most commonly found in dark, damp locations like old stumps, hollow logs, fence posts, sheds, crawlspaces, basements, and woodpiles. Symptoms of black widow bites appear after 30 to 60 minutes and include muscle spasms, chills, nausea, fever, sweating, aches and pain, and headaches. If you’re bitten by a black widow, seek medical help immediately.

brown recluse spider

Brown Recluse Spider

The brown recluse is a poisonous spider native to the Southeast US. Experts traditionally believed that Michigan winters keep brown recluses out. However, from 2011 to 2017, six populations of brown recluse spiders have been identified in Michigan. The most recent population in Davison, Genesee County, lived in an unheated, detached garage. The fact that they lived through the winter in an unheated environment may imply that they can establish themselves in Michigan permanently.   

Recluses are around 6 to 20 millimeters long and tan or dark brown. They have a dark, violin-shaped mark on their thorax, or the back upper torso. Brown recluses seek out warmth and dampness and are usually found in rotting wood or cardboard. Brown recluse bites can rarely cause potentially life-threatening necrosis, or flesh death. If you think you’ve spotted or been bitten by a brown recluse, let the experts know right away.

Blacklegged Tick

The Ixodes scapularis, aka the “blacklegged” or “deer” tick, is one of three hard ticks commonly found in Michigan. Blacklegged ticks are most common in Western Michigan, but you could find them in any grassy area. Blacklegged ticks are small brown ticks with distinctive black legs (hence their common name). Like all ticks, Blacklegged ticks hunt or “quest” by perching on plant life and clinging to passing prey. This tick species primarily feed on humans during summer months.

Blacklegged ticks are the primary transmitters of Lyme disease in the North-central US. Blacklegged ticks pick up the disease-causing Borrelia burgdorferi bacteria when they feed on deer. Then, when they feed on a human, they transmit the bacteria into that human’s bloodstream. Lyme disease causes fevers, headaches, fatigue, and an expanding rash called Erythema migrans. Avoid tick bites by applying repellent when walking outside and staying out of grassy areas. Remove any ticks that attach themselves to you right away.

Mosquitoes

You know what mosquitoes are. Everyone knows what mosquitoes are, especially here in Michigan. Yes, of course they’re annoying… but are they really dangerous? Unfortunately, mosquitoes are dangerous because they carry and transmit various diseases. Worldwide, mosquitoes are among the most important and deadly disease transmitters. In Michigan, some species of mosquito may spread the West Nile virus. Mosquitoes pick up the disease when they feed on birds. They spread it via blood contact when they feed on humans.

80% of people afflicted with the West Nile virus never show any symptoms. For about 19% of people, West Nile triggers fevers, headaches, vomiting, and a rash. In less than 1% of cases, West Nile also triggers encephalitis or meningitis. Both of these inflammatory disorders are very serious and could have permanent or fatal effects. The best way to avoid West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito stings. Always wear repellent when walking outside and avoid mosquito breeding environments.

 

Hopefully we haven’t made you afraid to live in your own state! While it’s true that we’ve got some dangerous pests up here, they’re all more afraid of you than you are of them. By learning to identify pests like these and staying out of their way, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

And, of course, if you do end up confronting dangerous pests in your home, you can give us a call anytime. Michigan’s big bads have nothing on us!

Waterborne Pests and How to Avoid Them

sunset on michigan beach

Here in the upper Midwest, we don’t get too much beach time. Even if you live on a lake, you probably can’t get out on the water nearly as much as you’d like. To make matters worse, when the water finally gets warm enough to enjoy, waterborne pests are all-too happy to enjoy it with you.

Running into a pest outside or in your home is bad enough. Running into one in your water is the worst. Knowing how to avoid and prevent water pests from infesting your home will help give you peace of mind, so you can get back to enjoying your precious beach time.

 

mayfly

Mayflies

Mayflies get their name from their explosive emergence in May. They spend most of their lives as nymphs living in fresh water. Nymphs range in size from 3 to 30 millimeters (or .12 to 1.18 inches). They have six clawed legs, a slim body, gills, and two or three tails. Adult mayflies have famously short lifespans and live only to reproduce. They grow longer and more slender than nymphs, and their two pairs of pale wings become functional.

During mating season, mayflies swarm in huge numbers. Often, these swarms grow so large that they cover every surface in a wide area or create significant visibility issues for drivers. Mayflies are attracted to white incandescent and fluorescent lights. Replace white outdoor lighting with yellow bulbs. Consider drawing the blinds at night. If your mayfly problem seems particularly bad, UV light insect traps may prove effective.

 

mosquito on water

Mosquitoes

Yes, mosquitoes live in and around water. It’s just not fair! Specifically, many types of mosquito lay eggs in standing water. Mosquitoes need to stay hydrated to survive, which means they need to stay in places where the air is humid and damp. Both of these needs make lakes, rivers, and wetlands the perfect place for mosquitoes to live and breed. If they can get some of the blood they need to lay eggs somewhere nearby, so much the better.

The best way to prevent mosquito infestation in your home is to mop up standing water in your house or on your lawn. If you’re going out to the beach, bring some waterproof bug spray and reapply it every two hours. Try not to stay until dusk, when mosquitoes become more active. Bring along long sleeves and pants to change into after you’ve finished swimming.

 

cockroach in tub

Cockroaches

Like most of the other pests on this list, cockroaches love moisture and humidity. Cockroaches can survive for a month without food, but only two weeks without water. Unfortunate beach goers commonly discover them under wet soil, clinging to the base of a tree or other plants. Though they rarely go near the water itself, the environment lakes and rivers create is perfect for roaches to thrive in.

Roaches are scavengers, and they’ll eat anything they can get their hands on. They’re especially fond of bread crumbs, rotting fruit, and sweets. Outdoor picnics will tend to attract them in droves, especially if remains are left behind. At home, securely tie off or box up your pantry foods and wipe down counters and tables after meals. Cockroaches will take pretty much whatever they can get, so do your best to give them nothing.

 

giant waterbug

Waterbugs

Waterbugs are often mistaken for cockroaches, but there are some big differences–literally! First and foremost, size: waterbugs are a lot bigger than cockroaches. Lethocerus americanus, the most common waterbug in North America, ranges from 12 to 65 millimeters in length (1-2 inches long!). Unlike cockroaches, waterbugs actually live in water, swimming beneath the surface to catch prey. Cockroaches never bite humans, but water bugs are called “toe biters” because of their propensity to defend themselves with painful bites if disturbed.

Waterbugs need water. If they’re coming into your home, there’s a source available to them. Search your home for leaks, dripping faucets, or cracks that allow water in. Water bugs also fly toward light. These bugs get more active at night, when they fly around looking for new ponds or prospective mates. When you’re out, avoid spending too much time around lakes after dark, and be aware of where you step on the lake floor.

 

No two ways about it: water pests are freaky. No one wants to think about going for a swim, only to step on some gross bottom feeder. If you know a bit about the pests you’re likely to see, however, chances are they won’t seem as monstrous or dangerous to you. If you follow these steps, you may not have to see them at all!

If you’ve been struggling to keep waterborne pests out of your home or lawn for awhile and you’re at your wit’s end, give Griffin a call today! Whether they come by land, water, or air, we’ve got the perfect defense to thwart your pesky pillagers. Enjoy the beach!

The Price of Pest Infestation

It would be bad enough if pests just kind of hung out in your home or business. They’re gross. Nobody wants to live with them. Unfortunately, however, there are even more important reasons to deal with pest infestations quickly and permanently. Pests wreck literally incalculable damage on manmade structures and the natural world alike. Scientists recently estimated that invasive forest insects alone cost the US over $4 billion dollars annually.

Even common pests like rodents or beetles can do a surprising amount of damage to your home surprisingly quickly. Here are a couple of the worst problems pests can make for you if you let them. If you’re worried you have an infestation, take action immediately to save yourself the potentially expensive headache of dealing with stuff like this. Sorry about the scare tactics; we just want to make sure you know what to keep an eye out for.

Ceiling with pest damage
Structural Damage

First, the big one. Wood is still the primary building material used in homes. Pests like termites, Longhorned Beetles, Emerald Ash Borers, ants, and carpenter bees all feed on and/or burrow through wood. That loadbearing 2×4 holding up part of your kitchen floor is just another tasty snack for them. When wood-boring pests eat through wood, they damage its structural integrity, making it ineffective and exposing it to the possibility of cracking or even collapsing.

Though it’ll take time for pests to dramatically damage your home, even minor structural damage should be considered very dangerous. Damage to your home’s framework or foundation can be expensive to repair, and might have a huge negative impact on resale value. If you have a termite, beetle, or ant infestation, it’s crucial that you deal with it quickly and take steps to prevent future infestations.

Electrical wire pest damage
Electrical Damage

Did you know that rat and mice teeth never stop growing? Rodents like these start teething as babies and never stop. That means they need something relatively soft to chew on constantly. One of the telltale signs of a rodent infestation are tiny bite marks on a wide variety of household items. Carpeting, furniture, wood, fabric, and even hard plastics aren’t safe from the incessant gnawing.

Alarmingly, rats and mice love chowing down on wires more than almost anything else. The shape, length, and softness of a power cord make electrical cables the perfect teething tool. Repeated biting and chewing wears down on electrical wires, the same way nervously biting a pencil leaves marks and dents in it. If the rodents keep coming back for long enough, they could expose the internal wiring inside the cord, creating a major fire hazard.

Clothing with pest damage
Fabric Damage

Good news: adult moths don’t eat clothes. In fact, they don’t eat at all! Bad news: adult moths lay their eggs in clothes. And then the hatched babies eat your clothes. Moth larvae feed on fabrics until they reach maturity, doing considerable damage and leaving behind holes in the process. Moths are known for eating clothes, but they’ll feed on any kind of fabric, hair, or fur, including drapes, carpeting, or decor.

Moths aren’t the only fabric-feeders, either. Silverfish and carpet beetles can both do considerable damage to your flooring or wardrobe. Plus, it’s icky. You don’t want to wear a pair of underwear that baby moths have been chewing on. Even minor fabric damage can ruin expensive or difficult-to-replace items quickly, so don’t wait to take care of the moths you find in your closet.

Furniture with pest damage
Furniture Damage

Wow, pests really don’t leave anything alone, huh? Rodents, beetles, moths, spiders, and pretty much everything else can damage or even take up residence in furniture. Most pests prefer dark, hidden areas where they can hide, sleep, and eat in peace. Large furniture, especially sofas and fabric armchairs can be really attractive nests for some unwanted roommates.

Pests aren’t content to just crash on your sofa, either. Given the chance, they’ll use it as a food source, ripping into it and carving out holes. Pests can ruin a lot of wood, fabric, and even plastic furniture faster than you might suspect. Plus, again, it’s gross. You don’t want to sit on a sofa that has roaches in it. Trust us…

 

Remember: a little proactive maintenance always beats a big repair or replacement paycheck. Practice good pest prevention strategies now, and hopefully you’ll never have to worry about damage like this.

If you’ve noticed any of the problems we’ve laid out here in your house, don’t panic! Just give us a call right away. Not only can we get any pests in your house to leave your stuff alone, we can make sure they don’t come back after we kick them out. The faster you take action, the less you have to worry about–so take action now!

How Can I Tell If I Have a Pest Infestation?

Signs You Have a Pest Infestation

Every pest infestation leaves behind some sign of the pest’s presence. Look for grime or other buildups on walls, smeared droppings, or bite damage on fabric and paper. See if you can smell strange odors in your basement, attic, or crawlspace. Check pest-prone areas consistently to look for changes.

If you can learn to identify pest infestations quickly, you can take action to remove them sooner. The sooner you can remove pest infestations, the lower the chance that they’ll do permanent damage… or spread. If you’re worried you have a pest infestation, look for any of the following four signs. The sooner you find evidence like this, the sooner you can take the next steps:

Old wall with smudged buildup in the lower corner - Signs you have a pest infestation

Grimy Buildup

Whatever pest infestation you have, they’re making a mess somewhere. Bugs, rodents, spiders, and beetles all prefer dark, enclosed, humid places, so start your search in the basement or attic. Look high-and-low, in corners, under furniture, along the edges of the walls, and near window frames. You might find grease stains, crumbs or other food remains, dirt smudges or even discarded hair.

Rodents, in particular, tend to familiarize themselves with set routes and then stick to them, so look for trails of grease or grime where their bodies may have rubbed off against the walls. If your floors or sills are dusty, look for trails left behind by pests moving around. Early signs like these are often subtle, so look closely, be patient, and believe yourself. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Clump of rat hair - signs you have a pest infestation

Droppings

It turns outs pests don’t practice great hygiene. There’s a reason they’re called “pests”, after all, and it isn’t because they’re fun to have around. Pests leave behind their waste just like everything else. Look for small droppings around the same pest-attractive areas you search for less conclusive evidence.

The type of dropping you may find will help you determine the kind of infestation you have. Rodent droppings are spindly or conical and solid. They’ll be small and may not look or smell like much of anything. Insect droppings are even smaller, but may also include shed or discarded skin, wings, or body parts. It’s tough to be a bug. Obviously, spiders make webs to catch prey. They tend to know their stuff when it comes to pest-catching, so anywhere you find webs, look for ways other pests may be getting in nearby.

Woman wearing clothes pin on her nose so she won't have to smell - signs you have a pest infestation

Smells

Pests can produce a wide variety of smells, and pretty much all of them are unpleasant. All kinds of pests, including ants, beetles, rodents, or other bugs often carry off food to enjoy in a secluded place. The problem is, sometimes they don’t finish their meal and it begins to rot. If you smell rotting food and you can’t find it, it could be that a pest carried a piece of fruit into your walls.

Pests may also bite through food packaging in an attempt to get at its contents, breaking an airtight seal and exposing perishable foods. If you smell particularly foul odors, it’s possible that your pests are dying in their hiding places or walls and then rotting. Of course, their droppings often smell, too. If you’ve got a strange scent in your house that you can’t quite place, and it’s definitely not pleasant, an infestation could be the problem.

Torn fabric - signs you have a pest infestation

Fabric Damage

Unfortunately, moths aren’t the only pests who damage fabric and clothing. Different kinds of beetles, ants, rodents and bugs also feed on or at least chew through vulnerable fabric. Look for small holes or tears on clothing, drapes, carpeting, furniture, and any other fabric-based stuff you may have. It may not seem particularly appealing to us, but pests don’t mind the taste of underwear one bit.

When we say “fabric damage,” we don’t just mean bite marks, either. Like anything else they’re around, pests can make fabric dirty. Look for smudges of dirt, grease, grime, or droppings on your fabric. These dirty patches may be very small, but they could get big too. Look at freshly washed and dried clothing especially. See if your fresh laundry gets dirty or damaged before you even have a chance to wear it.

 

If you find any of these four signs during your inspection, give us a call. We’ll use the info you helpfully provide to figure exactly what kinds of pest infestation you’re dealing with, where they’re coming from, and how we can keep them out. We know we can take care of your problem quickly and effectively, because we’ve done it countless times before. Happy hunting!

Why Do These Pests Keep Coming to Michigan?

Michigan river in the fall. "Why do pests love Michigan?"

Griffin Pest Control has served Michigan since 1929, and since then we’ve been kept the same pests out of homes and businesses every single year. What is it about Michigan that keeps pests like these coming back? What do they find here that they can’t get anywhere else?

Like all animals, pests adapt to survive and thrive in their environments. The pests of Michigan keep coming back because they’re literally built to get everything they need from our environment. Understanding what common pests like these need to survive can help you learn how to deprive them of it. Then, they’ll go elsewhere for food and shelter.

termite on wood

Termites

The state of Michigan is 36 million acres of land. 20 of the 36 million acres of this land are considered forest. That means Michigan is one of the most heavily forested states in the country. 8 million acres of this forest is owned and protected by the government, meaning it hasn’t been developed or harvested. It’s the largest state forest system in the country, with three national forests, three national parks, two national wildlife refuges, and 2 million acres of open hunting and fishing land.

What does all that add up to? Trees. About 11.4 billion of them. As you’re probably all-too-aware, termites eat wood. Especially natural, growing or rotting wood. Michigan’s abundant and protected forests are a paradise for hungry termites, and unfortunately, so are any nearby homes.

stink bug

Stink Bugs

Like we covered last month, stink bugs are relatively new to Michigan, but we’re included them because they’ve quickly become a problem. The main problem species is the brown marmorated stink bug. This species is native to Asia and considered invasive in the US. It was first discovered in Michigan in 2010 in Berrien County. Stink bugs are notoriously good at proliferating by hitching rides with travelers by stowing away in luggage, bags, cars, or even clothes.

Stink bugs feed primarily on vegetable, fruit, nut, and legume crops, so they’re a big problem for Michigan farmers. While they aren’t nearly unique to Michigan, our climate, farms, and ecological diversity make the state a perfect environment for stink bugs to stink up.

bedbug

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs become a problem for any area that has a highly mobile populace, an older urban infrastructure, and/or a rural and urban areas in relatively close proximity. Michigan, like many states in America, has all of these. Bed bugs are even better at hitching rides with unsuspecting travellers than even stink bugs.

As people travel into and out of Detroit and Michigan’s other major cities, they often end up carrying bed bugs in and out, too. Once they make it to the big city, bed bugs find their way into buildings by exploiting the sorts of cracks and crevices that naturally show up in older buildings. Worst of all, bed bugs can be really difficult to get rid of, because they lay tiny eggs in great numbers and reproduce quickly. A lot of the bed bugs in Detroit have been living there for hundreds of generations.

boxelder bug

Boxelder Bugs

For boxelder bugs, the motivation is right in the name. This species of true bug (boxelder bugs are not a beetle, contrary to popular belief) feed almost exclusively on acer tree species like boxelder trees, along with maple and ash trees.

As you may have guessed, Michigan has a lot of acer trees. Unlike a lot of pests, boxelders need to hibernate in the winter. Boxelder swarms happen in Michigan around fall for two reasons: one, the eggs adult boxelders hatch on acer trees hatch. Two, because boxelders need to find shelter to get through the winter. Michigan winters get cold and come fast, so boxelders get desperate, and you see a lot of them around your house.

 

Every region in the world has its own ecosystem and its own unique set of pest problems. At least the pest problems we have generally come about because of how pretty and well-preserved our state is! If you have an infestation, however, chances are you’re not thinking too much about how beautiful Michigan’s forests are.

Luckily, Michigan also has us: one of the best pest control companies in the country. The next time you have a pest problem, no matter how minor or severe, give us a call today.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Hand holding house icon made of moss over green grass field

During every job, Griffin implements a customized procedure in accordance with Integrated Pest Management (IPM). IPM is “an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to pest management that relies on a combination of common sense practices.”

Griffin is proud to be an industry leader in the application of IPM best practices. We believe that pest control isn’t just about solving the immediate problem; it’s about understanding why that problem happened in the first place and making sure it can’t happen again. This is why we believe IPM is the best way to approach pest control.

 

Bug in a magnifying glass

What It Is

The industry calls pest control “integrated” when it incorporates the whole spectrum of pest control techniques. Other pest control ideas might follow the same strategy no matter the job, IPM companies get to know what you need. Then, they design a strategy around solving your particular problem. We use the best techniques for you; not just the ones we always use.

By discovering the true source of the problem, IPM companies can use more environmentally sensitive approaches. We look for ways to reduce pesticide use. Instead, we solve the problem through less invasive methods like vector control and careful monitoring. Basically, IPM uses expert knowledge, careful monitoring, and a customized approach to ensure the most effective possible pest control without relying on pesticides.

Sealed crack in wall

How It Works

Every IPM job works differently, because we design our pest control approach based on your specific situation. Generally, however, an IPM control strategy breaks down into five broad steps:

Identification

First, the expert identifies what pest you have, how bad the infestation is, and how it happened. Correct pest identification is absolutely essential for any strategy. The best practices for preventing infestation vary considerably based on the pest you have.

Make an Action Plan

Once they’ve gathered the essential information they need, your technician will devise a formal plan for their next step. They work with you to agree on exactly what you want to accomplish, how they can accomplish it, and how long it will take.

Should new circumstances arise during our pest treatment, IPM companies return to this step, re-draw a strategy, and re-confirm it with you. Your technician always informs you before they use pesticide, and let you know exactly when and where they’ll use it.

Prevention Focus

By focusing on how an infestation gets into your home or business in the first place, IPM can address the root of your pest problem, not just its symptoms. It prevent infestations by depriving pests of the three things they look for: food, water, and shelter.

Your technician will inspect and monitor possible problem areas, addressing each possible way your pest could infiltrate your home. They’ll make sanitary and maintenance recommendations and even solve minor problems on-site. If they identify larger maintenance problems, your technician can recommend an appropriate course of action. They will also install pest barriers to cover otherwise vulnerable areas and clear clutter which pests could use for shelter.

Control

After the prevention phase, IPM professionals have found how your infestation happened and fixed the problem. Once they’re sure pests won’t fill in to replace the ones we’re getting rid of, they’ll deal with the pests that are already inside.

While a technician may decide some pesticides are necessary at this point, we’ll also use traps, heat and cold treatment, and physical removal methods such as vacuuming. As always, they only use the control techniques that work best for your particular problem.

Monitoring

After IPM experts follow our initial action plan to completion, they assess the results. The technician will revisit what the initial goal was, review every step they took toward completing that goal, analyze how effective each of those steps was, and make a final conclusion about the status of the pest problem.

If at any point IPM pros notice that pests are still finding their way in, they’ll re-assess their plan, find out what they missed, and solve the problem. At this point, they’ll also make further recommendations for how you can prevent future infestations by addressing problems and following good storage and maintenance practices.

Why It Works

IPM works because it addresses all the problems that cause pests. Instead of just killing the pests you see now, or just wiping out a nest nearby, IPM learns how and why pests target your home.

Through a combination of expertise, science, and diligence, IPM practices manage to be both safer and more effective. Chemical treatments may solve your immediate problem quickly, but IPM techniques will ensure you don’t have to worry about your pest problem again.
If you’d like to know more about how Griffin incorporates IPM into our process, check out our GreenPro certification, our official customer guarantee, and our service package breakdown. If you’ve got a pest problem, give us a call today! Deal with your pest problems permanently with Griffin. You won’t be disappointed.