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.


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!

Preventing Rural Pest Problems

pests on a wheat field "Rural pest problems"

As you probably already know, living far outside of big cities doesn’t preclude you from having to deal with pests–far from it. It just means you have to deal with different pests and different pest problems.

Here are the kinds of pests you can expect if you live in the Michigan countryside, and what you can do about them.

The Pests Where You Live

We’ll start by identifying the pests you’re most likely to have, based on the environment around your home. Different kinds of pests are attracted to different things. Here are a few elements of Michigan’s flora and fauna that may attract pests straight to you.

Woodlands michigan forest

Michigan’s many thick forests attract all kinds of pests. Michigan’s continental climate means it sustains a wide diversity of tree species. Different pests like different trees, so tree diversity also contributes to pest prevalence.

Keep an eye out for wood-feeding or nesting pests. You should remain particularly vigilant for termites and emerald ash borers, as these two pests could do some serious damage to your home. Boxelders love acer trees, so chances are you’ll have to contend with those pesky pests at some point during the fall or spring, too.

Wetlands/Lakes Lake michigan

No Michigan resident is ever more than six miles from a natural water source or 85 miles from a Great Lakes shoreline. As with woodland, freshwater and wetland environs attract particular kinds of pests. Spiders and mosquitoes thrive around sources of water.

Managing your home’s humidity is crucial. Pests like spiders and mosquitoes look for humid, warm, and dark areas to infest. You can’t always keep your basement light or cool, but you can control its humidity. Protect your home against flooding or water damage, too; not only is it a big and expensive pain to repair, it’ll attract pests!

Open Space/Farmland Michigan farm

Common farm crops attract opportunistic pests, but gardens, ornamental grasses, and fruit trees do, too. Michigan’s new least-favorite neighbor, the stink bugs, love vegetable, fruit, nut, and legume crops, and they’ll chow down on ornamental plants like silvergrass and hostas, too.

Ticks, fleas, and other parasitic pests hide in tall grass or on the stalks of vegetation where they can easily leap onto people, livestock, or pets to feed. Keep your hedges trimmed and your grass mowed short. Check your pets or livestock for signs of tick or flea bites, too.


Keeping Pests Out

Once you know what kind of pests may infest your home, the next step is to take a few quick-but-effective preventative measures, such as:


Termites Termite

The most important way to keep termites out is to keep your basement and attic dry. Termites need moisture to survive and keep eating. If you deprive them of that moisture, your home’s wood won’t be as attractive a food source.

You should also look for ways to put barriers between the floor or ground and wooden materials. Termites dig upward through the ground to get to wooden materials to eat. They won’t be able to get at treated or protected wood nearly as easily.

Boxelder Bugs Boxelder in the woods

Boxelder bugs eat the seedlings of ash, maple, and boxelder trees. Remove fallen seedlings and leaves. You could also wrap the trunk or, in a pinch, remove the tree. The closer an acer tree is to your home, the more likely boxelder bugs will try to move in come winter.

Boxelder bugs squeeze through gaps in siding or roofing. If you can seal up cracks and gaps, you’ll go a long way towards keeping boxelders out. Look around utility lines and windows, in particular, and seal cracks in your foundation.


Spiders Black widow spider

Spiders build webs in places where they can catch prey, so following steps to keep other pests out will also help keep spiders out. Like boxelders, spiders get into homes through small gaps and prefer dark and humid locations.

Keep hedges and grass trimmed away from the perimeter of the home. If you have a firewood bundle, store it at least 10 feet away. Seal up the gaps spiders try to enter through. If you find a spider’s web, don’t hesitate to vacuum it up. Look in corners or behind furniture.

Mosquitoes https://www.griffinpest.com/mosquito-exterminators/Mosquito on water

Mosquitoes lay eggs and mate in standing water. Look for sources of puddling or condensation. Pipe leaks, low-spots, siding leaks, or even “sweating” windows can all produce enough moisture.

Wear bug spray when you go outside during mosquito season, even if you’re going swimming. If you have a porch, consider getting a seasonal mosquito net. Refrain from keeping sweet liquids such as soft drinks outside for extended periods of time.

Open Space/Farmland

Stink Bugs Stink bugs

Stink bugs eat all kinds of common residential vegetation. Treat and protect your gardens, and keep ornamental plants like hostas and shrubs at least a couple feet from the house.

If you have fruit trees, remove any fruit that falls to the ground. Weed and trim your garden proactively to cut down on the amount of edible material stink bugs may access. Look for ways stink bugs could get into your house such as gaps in the siding and seal up with caulk.


Ticks perch on tall grasses, shrubs, and other high vegetation. Keep grass and ornamental plants trimmed closely. If you have animal enclosures, keep wild grass, weeds, or other out of control plants out of the enclosures at all times.

Wear long pants, socks, and boots when walking through tall grasses, and check for tick bites after spending time outside. Remove any ticks you find on yourself or your pet immediately.


There are a million differences between living in a city and living in the countryside, but luckily pest prevention remains largely the same. A little maintenance and vigilance will help you keep your home clean and pest-free* all year.

And remember, if you do wind up with a pest infestation, give us a call. No matter where you are in Michigan’s lower peninsula, we’re ready and waiting to help you fast and effectively.