Why Do I Have Stink Bugs?

stink bug perched on a window screen

Stink bugs are Michigan’s newest invasive species. These smelly pests originally came to the US from Southeast Asia in 1998. Since then, they’ve spread to nearly every state by stowing away on packages and travelers. Stink bugs seem particularly prevalent in Michigan because our humid, heavily forested environments are perfect for them.

If you feel like you have more stink bugs in your home than most people, it’s probably not your imagination. They really do prefer some homes over others. Here’s what the nuisance pests want, why they’re so attracted to your home, and how to get rid of stink bugs.

What Are Stink Bugs?

what stink bugs are

The Stink bug that has invaded Michigan is known as the brown marmorated stink bug, or Halyomorpha halys. The brown marmorated stink bug is a marbled-brown colored bug with smooth shoulders, alternating black and white striping along its abdomen, and white bands along its legs and antennae. Their bodies are shaped roughly like a shield, and they’re almost as wide as they are long. Adult stink bugs only measure up to .5 to .75 inches long. Nymphs generally look red and orangish and get darker with age.

The ominous name comes from the fact that, when threatened, stink bugs secrete a foul-smelling odor. They also release that odor when they’re killed, especially if they’re crushed. Stink bug excrement and secretions can also stain surfaces such as walls and flooring.

Where Did All These Stink Bugs Come From?

Brown marmorated stink bugs are an invasive species originally native to Southeast Asia. They made their way to the US starting around 1998 and spread very quickly. In Michigan, they live around the tree fruits, vegetables, ornamental plants, and legumes they feed on. During the spring and summer, they’re common around farms and gardens where they may be considered serious crop-destroying pests. 

stink bug crawling on a wall

The ideal stink bug hideaway has several distinctive features. First and foremost, it needs to be warm. Stink bugs can’t survive freezing temperatures for long periods of time, even in diapause. Next, it needs to be quiet and inaccessible. Stink bugs are completely defenseless while they’re in diapause, so they need a place where they won’t be in danger. The darkest, tighter, and more secluded the crack, gap, or alcove, the better.

As you might imagine, stink bugs most often take shelter in attics, basements, crawl spaces, and other out-of-the-way locations. They’re especially fond of small, tight cracks they can slip through to stay hidden and safe from would-be predators. When spring comes, the stink bugs simply crawl out from where they got in. Almost all the stink bugs you see in your home in spring were probably there all winter. In spring, stink bugs already got in, and now they’re trying to get out.

Why They Are a Problem

These pests might (certainly!) smell bad, but they are not dangerous. For most homeowners, they’re a minor, if smelly nuisance. Stink bugs feed on outdoor and indoor ornamental plants, such as shrubs, hostas, bushes, and gardens. Their secretions and excrement can also stain furniture and other surfaces such as floors and walls. The bugs may move into homes during the winter, but they don’t nest, reproduce, or lay eggs in homes.

The real reason experts consider stink bugs such an issue is because they feed on vegetable, fruit, nut, legume, and vegetable crops. Crop yields in the Eastern United States have been significantly affected by stink bug damage in the past. In other words, stink bugs are an invasive pest that affects food supplies more than individual homes. Controlling them remains important even if they don’t directly bother you.

Brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) perched on the side of a home.

Why Are Stink Bugs in My Home?

Now that you know what stink bugs want, you can probably guess why there are so many near you. Yards with gardens, fruit trees, thriving ornamental plants, or berry bushes attract stink bugs during the spring and summer. Homes that receive a lot of sun exposure during the day are particularly attractive to nearby stink bugs. If you have a thriving yard and your home gets plenty of sun exposure, then it’s a great destination for stink bugs all year! 

Stink bugs aren’t actually a threat to you or your home. They can’t bite, sting, spread disease, or even cause structural damage. At worst, the bugs smell pretty gross.

The biggest problem is that they will enter your home starting in fall given the chance. Stink bugs need to shelter in warm environments if they’re going to survive the winter. They’ll find cracks and gaps around the areas where they congregate and use them to enter your home.

How Do You Get Rid of Stink Bugs?

The best way to deal with stink bugs is to keep them out in the first place. Most home infestations happen in early winter when the bugs seek shelter to keep warm. Replace damaged screens and weather stripping, secure window and door framing, and seal gaps in your foundation or walls. Stink bugs crawl into homes through air vents and chimneys so install screens over these openings. Pay special attention to problem areas of your home, such as the attic or basement.

Vacuuming up stink bugs in home

We know it’s tempting, but don’t crush the stink bugs you run into in your home. When stink bugs are crushed, they automatically excrete their foul-smelling liquid odor. Not only does this stink and stain surfaces, but it also attracts other stink bugs! Instead of crushing them, we recommend you vacuum up the stink bugs you find. After you’re finished, throw out the vacuum bag in your outdoor dumpster. Wipe down surfaces where you found stink bugs with soapy water.

Check areas where stink bugs may have hidden when they were congregated. They’re fond of entering buildings through cracks in windowsills, door frames, and baseboards. Wash these areas with soapy water and seal them with caulk. Stink bugs hate the smell of soap (natural enemies, we suppose), so washing their usual entrances will help keep them away. Remember, stink bugs are surprisingly flat, so they can fit through cracks smaller than you’d think.

Stink Bug FAQ

What do stink bugs eat?

Stink bugs will eat just about any food crop from apples to soybeans to pecans. They are a dangerous nuisance to gardens, orchards and farms capable of attracting others when a food source has been located. They also eat other insects and insect larvae.

Do stink bugs bite?

No. Their mouths simply aren’t designed to pierce human skin. Beside their defensive (and offensive) smell, stink bugs aren’t harmful to humans unless you are allergic to stink bug toxin.

Do stink bugs fly?

Yes. They have two sets of wings that they use to find food and mates.

What does stink bug “stink” smell like?

Depends on who you ask. Common descriptions include rotten vegetables, cilantro, skunk spray and burnt tires. The odor – however it appears to you – usually dissipates within and hour.

Get Rid of Stink Bugs For Good

If you’ve got a home infestation and you’re still wondering “How do I get rid of all these stink bugs?”  Call or contact Griffin today. We handle stink bugs in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. We’ll clear your home and keep stink bugs from coming back.

Why’d It Have to Be Snakes?

why did it have to be snakes?

Keeping Snakes Away

With our long winters, sweltering summers, and wild weather changes, you’d think we wouldn’t have to worry about snakes in Michigan too. It’s definitely too cold up here, right…?

Wrong! Turns out there are 18 species of snakes native to Michigan. They can thrive here just as easily as they can farther south, they just have to get a little creative to keep warm during winter. This means either hibernating in a nest called a “hibernaculum” or sneaking into a cozy house. Don’t worry, most of them are harmless and we’ll teach you how to keep snakes away from your home and yard.

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eastern massasauga rattlesnake

Where Did They Come From?

Of the 18 types of Michigan snakes, only one of them – the Eastern Massasauga – is venomous. Lucky for you, these snakes are shy and rarely seen. They’re also listed as a threatened species. If you are bitten by a Michigan rattlesnake, seek medical attention immediately.

Snakes are considerably more common in the lower peninsula than the upper. They prefer the south’s wetlands, swamps, and marshes which are more akin to their ideal habitats. Away from this terrain they adapt by finding safe, quiet, secluded areas to dwell. Often under a porch or in an overgrown yard.

Snakes manage their body heat very carefully. Even though they need sunlight to keep warm and active, too much will dry them out and they’ll die. That means they need an environment with a lot of shade, vegetation, humidity, and places to cool off. Wet places like swamps provide this plus an abundance of prey. If you live near a prime habitat like a marsh or a brackish lake you may end up seeing more snakes in your neighborhood.

red belly snake

Why Are There Snakes in My Home?

It’s all about shelter. You’ll probably start seeing snakes starting in late summer, when they get serious about finding a place to stay over the winter. The environment where snakes build their hibernaculum needs be dark, warm, enclosed, hidden, and underground. Chances are that your home’s crawl space, basement, foundation, or walls check off all these boxes.

Snake infestation may be a sign that you’re hosting other pests, too. As predators, they’ll often chase prey into a home. After they move in, they’ll make themselves comfortable in the tightest, darkest, warmest, and most hidden area they can find. If you suspect you have snakes, they’re probably under floorboards or basement furniture, in tight corners, or in damaged insulation. If you’re going to look for them, be careful! Snakes are afraid of humans and may lash out if cornered.

foundation cracks that might let snakes in

How Did They Get In?

Finally, a little good news. Snakes have more limited home-infiltration options than most pests. They can’t fly, and they’re not particularly adept climbers. Unlike rodents or other burrowing pests, they can’t chew or dig their way in, either. If snakes got into your home, they got in from the ground. Most likely, they found a small crack in the foundation or the baseboard.

Snakes can twist and contort themselves into small spaces. Even a tiny gap between a low window and its frame can be an access-avenue. Cracking molding, baseboard, or even improperly seated doors may be vulnerable if snakes can slip underneath them. Unfortunately, it’s also possible that the snakes in your home were simply born there. If adults can reproduce in and around your home, they will.

How to Keep Rattlesnakes (and other common Michigan snakes) Away

The best way to keep any kind of snake out of your home is to deprive them of the things they want – food, shelter, warmth, and shade. Start outside your home. To get rid of snakes in your yard, look for sources of cover and food.

  • Mow overgrown grass.
  • Trim bushes and other vegetation.
  • Remove any leaves and brush.
  • Harvest ripe or fallen fruit.
  • Keep birdseed in feeders and not on the ground.

If snakes can lounge around in the shade on your lawn undisturbed, they’re more likely to stick around. Spoiled birds and rodents might be easy snake prey. Limit the amount of food you’re leaving out to attract them.

Once you’ve completed your lawn maintenance, walk the perimeter of your home. Look for gaps and cracks in the foundation where a skinny squatter might slither in.

  • Seal around utility lines, windows and doors.
  • Repair screens.
  • Fence beneath decks and porches.
  • Clean basements and other cluttered areas.
  • Remove house pests like mice.

Outside, make sure your home is secure. Inside, get organized – dust, vacuum and remove clutter. Snakes thrive in cluttered environments with plenty of hiding places. Take those hiding places away. Also take away any potential food sources snakes might find in your home.

Snake Control and Removal for Michigan, Indiana and Ohio

Following these steps will help snake-proof your home long term, but they may not do much to the snakes that are already around. We don’t recommend trying to take any freeloading snakes out on your own.

Griffin has the experienced pest control experts and knowhow to handle any and all of Michigan’s native snakes including rat snakes and garden snakes. If you have a snake problem–or any other pest problem, for that matter–let us know. We’ve got your back (and your ankles).

What are House Centipedes? [VIDEO]

House centipede running across hardwood floor in someone's home

House centipedes (Scutigera coleoptrata) are rather unique centipedes. For one thing, they don’t really look like what you picture when you think of a centipede. They look… creepier. More importantly, unlike almost all other centipedes, they can live in your house (hence the name). If you see a centipede in your house, it’s almost certainly a house centipede.

Like most pests, the scariest things about these centipedes are the things you don’t know. If you don’t know what you’re looking at, they look like your worst nightmare. They’re all legs, fangs, and antennae, and they’re fast. Learning about centipedes probably won’t mean you’re not afraid of them at all, but it’ll certainly help. At the very least, you’ll know what that freaky thing you saw darting around your bathroom was. Here’s what you should know about the house centipedes in Michigan:

Now that you know what these frightening pests are and what they want, you can do something about them. Take away a house centipede’s sources of food, shelter, and moisture, and you’ll take away their reason for entering your home.

If you want some help removing centipedes from your home, get in touch with Griffin Pest Solutions. We’re always ready to help remove creepy crawlies and keep them from getting in again. Never worry about house centipedes again; just give us a call instead!

What’s That Roach? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Roach close-up

Did you know that there are four different species of cockroach common in Michigan? Each of these four cockroaches look and act just a little differently. They’re active at slightly different times, want slightly different things, and live in slightly different places. Despite their differences, however, one thing they all have in common is being a pain for homeowners.

We know what you’re thinking: who cares? A roach is a roach, right? No matter what species it is, it’s not like you’ll want a cockroach in your home! While you’re certainly right about that, there’s still a good reason to be able to tell different roaches apart. If you know which roach you have, you’ll have a better idea on how to get rid of them. We want to help, which is why we put together this quick reference for which kind of roach you might have. Next time you see a gross bug creeping around, take a look at it and consult this infographic:

So: once you’ve identified your roach, what’s your next step? First, you can take some steps to prevent that specific roach. Once you know what it is, you’ll know what it wants and probably how it got in. Plug up their access point and deprive them of their needs, and you’ll go a long way toward solving your problem.

You could also always tell the experts at Griffin about which roach pests are plaguing you. Once we know which roach you have, then we’ll know exactly how to go about taking care of it. You’ll have helped us do our job, and we’ll be able to protect you all the more effectively! Don’t let your roach problem trouble you anymore. Instead, just give us a call today. No matter which roach you have, we’ll make sure they’re gone and can’t get in again.

Winter Invaders to Watch Out For

Mouse in snow

You could call this time of year in Michigan “the dead of winter.” It certainly often feels that way, especially on one of its many dark, dreary days. Despite how it may look and feel outside, however, not everything really is dead. As you probably know, pests are nothing if not tenacious.

No matter how cold or dead the winter, pests will muddle on long enough to bother you. It would almost be inspirational, if it weren’t so annoying. Here are four pests that are probably trying to warm themselves up inside your home right now.

stink bugs

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are infuriatingly common in Michigan. Part of the reason why they’ve managed to stick around is that they’re good at staying warm during winter. They do that by sneaking into people’s homes for shelter starting in early fall. Stink bugs congregate around windows and other warm places all fall. While they’re gathered, they find cracks and gaps around frames and siding. They use these gaps to work their way inside.

Inside, stink bugs enter a hibernation-like state called diapause for extended periods of time. While in diapause, the bugs remain completely immobile and don’t need food or water. In order to remain safe while in diapause, the bugs seek out hiding places. The stink bugs in your home may be in your walls, around your rafters, or in other secluded areas. They won’t hurt your home while they’re around, but they may produce their distinctive stink.

cluster flies

Cluster Flies

Cluster flies look a lot like common house flies, but they’re bigger, rounder, and slower. They may make a buzzing noise when they fly around. The name “cluster flies” refers to the flies’ tendency to cluster together in large numbers. Starting in late summer and early fall, they gather in groups to stay warm. As the temperature drops, they make their way into cracks and gaps around siding and awnings. Eventually, these cracks may lead them all the way inside.

Like stink bugs, cluster flies may enter prolonged periods of diapause after entering your home. These flies usually enter your home from high up, so they’re common in attics and rafters. You may find them around window or door frames, or near vents and utility lines. Cluster flies wake up during warm days to move around. They can’t hurt you or damage your property, though they may attract other pests like spiders. Cluster flies usually leave your home in spring.

rodents

Rodents

Rats and mice cannot hibernate. To survive winter, they need to find a warm place where they can access food and water. Rodents are very sensitive to temperature and pressure changes in the atmosphere. They begin infiltrating homes as soon as they sense fall approaching. Rats and mice squeeze through small gaps around window and door frames, utility lines, foundation, and siding. They find these gaps by using their acute senses to find drafts and follow the smell of food.

Rodents can’t fly like stink bugs or flies, so they usually end up in your basement. They’re attracted to any source of moisture or food. Rats and mice grind their teeth by chewing on a wide variety of soft materials. They can ruin boxes and fabric, damage furniture, or even cut electrical wires and start fires. Both rats and mice may reproduce indoors if given the chance. If you have a rodent infestation, you should deal with it fast!

boxelder bugs

Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bug behavior is quite similar to stink bugs’. Starting in fall, they begin to gather around warm places. They’re particularly attracted to homes with southern and eastern exposure, for the sunlight. As they congregate, they may naturally slip into gaps and cracks around windows and doors. When winter comes, they will move further through the cracks to stay warm, eventually ending up inside. Boxelder bugs have very flat bodies that enable them to squeeze through tiny areas.

Boxelder bugs remain generally inactive during winter. They don’t reproduce inside and they won’t live long enough to survive winter. Boxelder bugs may emerge from their hiding places to sun themselves during warm days. When that happens, you may find them near windows or other warm areas. Boxelder bugs aren’t dangerous, but they may secrete a liquid that could stain surfaces when threatened or crushed. You may encounter more boxelders in early spring, as they begin to leave your home.


The reason why pests want to get inside your home over winter is so they can stay warm. The colder (and longer) the winter, the more desperate these four pests become. Believe it or not, however, you can turn that to your advantage.

Pests don’t have time to waste trying to break into a fortress this winter. If you can pestproof your place, you can keep pests away all season long. We want to help. If you have a pest problem this winter, give Griffin a call any time. We’re always happy to drive pests out of your home, no matter the time of year!

Pest Horror Stories of Michigan

Fishing Spider

It’s Halloween, and we’re Michigan’s pest control company. You know what that means. Last year, we explored some of the most frightening, upsetting, and down-right ghoulish pests in Michigan. But that’s not spooky enough for this year! After all, who knows if you’ll even ever run into any of those pests. No, this year we wanted to focus on something a little closer to home.

These are four of the most horrifying, sickening, and spooky pest stories ever encountered in Michigan. The type of stuff that makes even our blood, with all its pest-crusading experience, run cold. Oh, and they all happened in the last eight years. Some of them are still happening. Happy Halloween!

Pizza-loving Rats Overrun Redford

Just this April, residents of the Redford township had to deal with a rather specific problem: pizza-loving rats. According to the news report, a veritable rat plague descended on the Detroit suburbs. The townwide infestation grew so out of control that rats seriously damaged people’s homes. And the source of the problem? A nearby Little Caesar’s dumpster that was too small. Security footage revealed the poorly-maintained dumpster had become a rather popular hotspot for furry pizza fans.

At its worst, people actually saw large rats carrying off pizza down the streets in broad daylight! One resident said he saw swarms of rats scatter whenever he started his car in the morning. Apparently, the problem was not new; one resident had a picture of a squirrel eating pizza from 2010! The longer the problem went unaddressed, the worse it became. This rather unappetizing story just goes to show you how pest problems never stay contained. The longer they go on, the more people they’ll affect–until they’re the scourge of an entire town!

Bed bugs shut down the mail

Bed bugs Shut Down the Mail

Neither rain, nor sleet, nor hail… but they didn’t account for bed bugs. Detroit has a history of bed bug problems. There were 605 reported bed bug infestations in Michigan’s largest city in 2017. This frightful number gave Detroit the dubious distinction of being the #3 most-infested city in the country. Believe it or not, however, the problem isn’t actually as bad as it has been. Back in 2010 (we know, not long enough ago), Detroit had a bed bug problem of literally disastrous proportions.

So just how disastrous is disastrous? Well, in 2010 entire business buildings had to be evacuated because of how infested they were. If that’s not bad enough for you? How about this: Detroit’s mail service stopped delivering mail to parts of the community. Mail carriers feared the bugs were actually sneaking into the mail in infested buildings and spreading via mail delivery. The fear is warranted: bed bugs love spreading by hitchhiking on unwitting travelers. It’s part of why they’re such a huge issue in major urban centers today.

Michigan’s Monster Spider

In June 2018, workers on a boat in Elkhart (near the Michigan border) discovered their vessel had a stowaway. A… rather large stowaway. Specifically, they found a fishing spider of unusual size. It was six inches long. It was… six inches long. For reference: US dollar bills are about six inches long. An iPhone is only about five inches long. Spiders should not be six inches long. And it was on a boat.

Luckily (for these boating workers, and all of us, really) fishing spiders are harmless. They also don’t usually get that big… though, obviously, it does happen. Fishing spiders live near water so they hunt waterborne insects and sometimes even small fish. We’re… guessing that six-inch spider caught some fish. Fishing spiders catch this prey by feeling for ripples the prey makes along the water. When they sense these ripples, they race across the surface of the water to catch up to their target. Ok, that’s enough. We’re moving away from fishing spiders now. And water. Forever.

Flying ants take over Michigan

Flying Ants Take Over Michigan in a Day

No, that heading is somehow not hyperbole. It just happened, in fact: we wrote about it just last month. For one day, around labor day, flying ants suddenly appear in overwhelming numbers. The frightening flying members of Formcicidae family darken windows, cover cars, and menace unsuspecting pedestrians. It happens like clockwork at almost exactly the same time every year, and with nearly the same ferocity. Even more bizarre, the ants tend to vanish just as quickly as they appeared.

Of course, as with everything else in nature, there’s an explanation. In this case, the explanation is breeding (nature has… patterns). Flying ants are the reproductive caste of ant colonies. They swarm so they can seek mates and spread out to form new colonies. Around labor day happens to be the time of year when many ants happen to swarm at once. It also always happens on a clear, sunny day when it’s not too windy. The ants seem to disappear because, for the most part, they die! Flying ants basically only live to reproduce. Again, patterns in nature.

Did you notice any other patterns in these stories? Other than the fact that they all made your skin crawl, we mean. No matter how horrifying or inexplicable the pest story may seem, there’s always an explanation. That’s how pest infestations work: there’s always a reason they happen, and there’s always a way to stop them.

If you need help stopping a pest infestation, give Griffin a call. Our experts are ready to exorcize even the most horrifying, incomprehensible, evil pest infestations. Yes, even if they somehow involve giant fishing spiders. We’ll do it! Just… try not to get giant fishing spiders. For us.