Top 5 Pest Prevention Resolutions for 2018

With each new year comes new responsibilities, new goals, new experiences, and – of course – new resolutions. Our business is pest control so it’s safe to say that our top resolutions all have to do with pest control as well. At Griffin, our goals for 2018 include: 1. Continuing to provide consistent and high quality pest control services to everyone in Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. 2. Writing a new year’s anthem akin to “Who Let The Dogs Out”, but about bed bugs. We’re… more committed to the first goal, though.

As for you, whatever your resolutions may be, we recommend adding these five to the list. Focusing on them will help you keep your 2018 as pest free, bug free, and stress free as possible.

 

Be more vigilant about cleaning up food waste

Do you know the number one reason pests enter homes? To find something to eat. They don’t care whether it’s soda in a recycling bin, a box of crackers in the pantry, or crumbs on a kitchen counter. Say it with us now: I promise to keep my kitchen cleaner in the new year, both for my own benefit, and to keep pests from making a home in it.

Stay on top of sealing cracks and crevices

It’s really easy not to keep up with the status of things we don’t regularly look at. Case in point: the seals around doors and windows in your home. Cracks that look small to you can be the perfect size for pests to use to get into your home. Promise yourself to take notice of and reseal any cracks with caulk to pest-proof your home in 2018.

Keep your yard clean

Keeping pests out of your home is as simple as giving them nothing to eat and nowhere to hide. Do you know where pests like to hide? Dirt, trees, piles of leaves, neglected kiddy pools, garden hoses, gutters… and pretty much around all other yard clutter.

A cluttered and messy yard is a yard that’s begging for pests. Paying more attention to the cleanliness and organization of your home’s front and back yards can make a big difference in pest prevention through the new year.

Move your firewood away from the house 

We get it. You’ve read our other blogs. You know there are pesky pests that love to use wood piles as a jumping off point to get inside homes. You’ve probably looked outside and told yourself, “I should move that firewood.”

Well, now’s the time to do it! Keep it at least ten feet from your home so it isn’t a staging ground for future pest infestations. You’ll be happier for it.

Replace cardboard storage containers with plastic ones

Cardboard boxes are easy to come by and easy to use, but it’s not well suited for long term storage. Pests like mice and many varieties of insect love cardboard, because they can chew it up and steal pieces to make nests.

Keeping things stored in cardboard long term is never a great idea. Let this year be the year you finally move all things stored in cardboard in to sturdier, less bite-able plastic containers.

 

Happy New Year from everyone at Griffin Pest. Remember – these resolutions will help you better keep pests out but when disaster strikes despite your best efforts, you can always call us to take care of the problem.

What Are Those Bugs in Your Basement?

Bugs in your basement

Bugs LOVE a basement. They’re dark, quiet, warm, and usually pretty humid to boot. If you have a bug infestation in your home, chances are they’re hanging out downstairs. Basements are a little spooky even under better circumstances, so we’re guessing you’re not terribly pleased to hear this.

There’s more bad news. Some bugs like basements more than others. The ones that really like basements are some of the freakiest-looking bugs around. Before you burn your house down, however, consider: these bugs are mostly terrifying because you don’t understand them. They aren’t the most dangerous pests in Michigan, or the scariest, or even the most stubborn. They’re just the freakiest ones that are here. This is everything you need to know about the monsters in your basement. The more you know, the less afraid you’ll be (we hope).

Earwigs

earwigWe’ll grant you: earwigs look like they crawled directly out of a nightmare. They’re about two inches long, with dark brown, reddish bodies, creepy light orange extremities… and GIANT PINCERS ON THEIR BACKSIDES. Earwigs are actually harmless to humans (and definitely don’t crawl into people’s ears) but… yeah, we get why you’d want to give them a wide berth. These insects love basements because they’re attracted to darkness and humidity. They feed on decaying plant material and sometimes hunt other insects.

Earwigs can’t fly or climb very well, so if they entered your home, they did it from the ground level. They usually find cracks near window wells and frames, or cracks in the foundation of the home. Earwigs often end up behind wallpaper or crammed into basement insulation after they sneak through low gaps. If you have earwigs in your home, it’s probably because your basement has a humidity problem. Consider investing in a dehumidifier and look for leaks.  

Silverfish

silverfishSilverfish are those tiny, silver-grey insects that really look more like shrimp than fish or bugs. Their long, thin bodies wiggle back and forth when they crawl, making it look like they’re swimming. “Silver” because of the color. “Fish” because of what they look like. Like earwigs, silverfish love moisture. They’re also attracted to warm and dark places where they can move around without being bothered. Silverfish are nocturnal, so chances are you’ll only see them at night.

Silverfish eat the starch naturally found in materials like paper, cotton, glue, carpeting, and other common household materials. They may also destroy clothing. Silverfish make use of their tiny size and thinness to get into homes. Usually, they sneak through narrow gaps in baseboards or flooring. They may even live inside walls if they can find a wide enough pathway. Humidity control is important for controlling silverfish, as is temperature control. Silverfish need temperatures of over 60℉ to breed.

Pillbugs

pillbugPillbugs are very small, black bugs that are about as wide as they are long. Their backs are made up of seven overlapping, segmented plates that look hard and shiny, like a beetle’s shell. Pillbugs roll into a ball to protect themselves when threatened. These “bugs” (they’re actually related to crabs!) are a common sight in gardens. They consume decaying vegetable matter beneath the top layer of soil. Most pillbugs live bury themselves several inches under soil, because they’re very temperature sensitive.

Pillbugs can’t climb sheer surfaces, so they only enter basements via the ground level of the home. Usually, they’ll find gaps under the soil, around baseboards, foundations, or siding. Once inside, pillbugs generally cover themselves by hiding under furniture, boxes, or other clutter. Pillbugs can only survive in a basement if they have a source of moisture. Check for plumbing leaks, condensation, or puddling, especially around corners and the bottom of the wall.

House Centipedes

house centipedeIf basement pests are monsters, then you probably think of this guy as the “big bad”. House centipedes are inch long, tan-yellow bugs with very long longs. Those legs enable the bug to move very quickly, often in a rapid, darting motion. House centipedes are nocturnal predators that use their speed and venom-injecting claws to hunt other insects. These centipedes are capable of using these claws to “sting” humans too. The venom injected isn’t serious, but it hurts like a bee sting would.

House centipedes commonly follow their prey into homes through gaps near windows or cracks in the flooring or siding. Once they’re inside, they spend their days hiding and their nights hunting. Like most of the pests on this list, house centipedes love moist environments. Check for leaks and puddles in your basement, and consider a dehumidifier. Patching gaps may help with the humidity problem and deprive bugs of their access points at the same time.

 

We hope this blog helps you feel less afraid of venturing into the dark abyss that is your basement at night. Even if it doesn’t, however, at least now you can take action? Remember: your basement is your turf, not those bug’s. Even if house centipedes are just about the scariest things ever.

If you ever decide you need a little help with your basement monster slaying, feel free to call Griffin Pest Control anytime. We’re always happy to lend you our sword.

The Season of the Rodent

Rats and mice are very active this time of year.

Autumn can be one of the nicest times of the year. The leaves change color. The temperature is perfect. Even the sky just looks bluer. Everyone knows Winter is Coming, but at least fall makes for a nice consolation. At least, it should. Unfortunately, “everyone” knows Winter is Coming. Everyone includes rodents.

When the temperature drops, rodents start trying to get into your place like their lives depend on it. Nothing ruins the last nice weeks we have left like a rat infestation. You should be enjoying the all-too-fleeting pleasures of autumn while you can–not stressing out about the rats in your basement. Here are four good ways you can ensure unwelcome guests stay out of your home this fall.

Seal Doors and Windows

seal doors and windows this fall to keep rodents outMost of the heat that escapes from homes leaks out of gaps around door and window frames. Rodents can feel this warm air escaping from outside, and they can follow it back to its source. Mice and rats are notorious for their ability to squeeze through tiny gaps. Even a tiny crack in a window frame’s weather-sealing is more than enough space for a motivated rodent.  

Double-check every window in your home. Make sure the window pane sits properly and the weather-proofing hasn’t worn down or peeled away. Look for cracks or other damage in the frame itself, as well. Check for condensation on the window sill and run your hand along the frame to feel for cool air. If you find either, it means there’s probably a draft around the window. Find and seal up this draft, and you’ll go a long way toward keeping rodents out of your home. Once you’re finished with the windows, follow these same steps at each outside door.

Put Screens over Vents

put screens over your vents this fall to keep rodents outYour home transfers outdoor air in and out from more places than you’d think. Pretty much every water-using appliance needs to have a ventilation system to function properly and prevent excess humidity. Vents work by transferring hot air out of your home. Unfortunately, rodents can feel this hot air from outside just like they can feel drafts. If your vent systems aren’t appropriately covered, then rats can use them to crawl into your home.

Remember: you need to leave enough space in your vent system to let air pass through. If you don’t, you’re defeating the purpose of having ventilation in the first place. Putting screens over your vent’s outlets will allow air to flow normally while keeping rodents out. Remember, however: rats and mice are notorious gnawers. Check on your screens annually to make sure the annoying munchers haven’t chewed their way through. If any of your screens have been noticeably damaged, you should replace them as soon as possible.

Check Outside

clean up your yard this fall to keep rodents outWhile you’re out checking your vent covers, take a look around the foundation of your home. Look for cracks where you can see light from inside, or where you can feel heat escaping. Pay special attention to areas of the home where utilities like water and gas enter the building. These access points tend to have gaps juuust wide enough for rodents to enter.   

After you’ve “secured the perimeter,” you could take this opportunity to de-clutter your lawn. Fall tends to drop all kinds of debris into your yard. Rodents use fallen leaves, overgrown bushes, weeds, and other clutter as a means to get close. Keep clutter like leaf piles or firewood at least five inches away from your home. Keep trimming your bushes and lawn until they stop growing for the season. Make sure tree branches don’t brush up against your home. This all might sound extreme, but rodents really will use anything they can.

Clear the Clutter

clean up your basement this fall to keep rodents outYou didn’t think you’d get away with only cleaning the outdoors, did you? Sorry, but once you’re finished de-cluttering your yard, it’s time to move inside. Messy basements and attics attract rodents looking for warm, dark, and hidden places. The more space they have to move around in secret, the more attractive your home will look to them. One of the best ways to make sure rats leave you alone is just to demonstrate that you know they’re there.

First, pick up boxes and bags lying on the floor in your basement. Sort through them, organize them, and keep them on shelves or in cupboards. Keep your floor as clutter-free as possible to make rodents feel uncomfortable crossing it. Vacuum and dust every room in your home at least once every two to three weeks. You should vacuum any rooms where you eat or prepare food even more frequently. If you can deprive rodents access to the resources they came looking for, they’ll start looking elsewhere for them.

 

The stakes never get higher than they are right now. Rodents that get into your home during warmer months come and go as they please. If rodents get into your home in fall, however, they’re staying for the duration. Winter is hard enough without sharing your space with furry roommates.

Even if you do end up with rats this winter, though, you don’t have to despair. Griffin Pest Solutions isn’t flying south; we’ll be here all year to help you with any pest problems you have. We’ll keep pests out so you can get back to enjoying one of the most beautiful times of the year.

Why Are These Pests Coming to My House?

Hand gripping cockroach outside of house

It’s true: pests are more drawn toward some houses than others. Common house pests like rodents and bugs gravitate toward houses where they can hide, feed, and stay hydrated easily. If your house is particularly old, dirty, cluttered, or humid, it’ll draw more pests than most.

Luckily, we started with the bad news. Now for the good news: no matter how “good” your house is at attracting pests, you don’t have to let them in. These are the four main reasons why any house attracts pest infestations, and what you can do about each of them:

Old houses tend to attract more pests than newer constructions - Why are these pests coming to my house?

Age

As house ages, it starts to wears down. Cracks and gaps open in wood, sealing, plaster, or insulation. Decks and siding start to peel or warp. Paint chips away, weatherproofing rubs away, screens tear. You get the idea. Wear-and-tear is natural, and bugs, rodents, and other pests can exploit it or even make it worse.

If your house is older, start looking for pest vulnerabilities around twice a year. Check on siding, weatherproofing, windows, doors, foundation, and sealing every spring. Patch up little cracks and gaps. Repair or replace damaged housing materials. Look for rotting wood or chipped paint. Pay special attention to pest-prone areas, like the basement, attic, or crawl spaces, plus window frames and utility lines. All this work may seem somewhat futile, but you’d be surprised what a little extra maintenance can do for your pest infestation. Your house is worth it!  

If you leave out food remains, pests will always find them - Why are these pests coming to my house?

Food Remains

Pests enter a house for three reasons: food, moisture, and shelter. The easier it is for them to get these three things, the more they’ll want to move in. Consequently, the best way to keep them out is depriving them of these things. The easiest thing to deprive them of is food. Most of us leave food out all over the place. We throw out leftovers, leave dishes out, leave crumbs on tables, or don’t put away snacks. While we may forget about scraps like these, pests never do.

Invest in hard plastic containers to keep pastas and cereals in. Do dishes immediately after eating, and wash down eating surfaces after meals. Seal household garbage cans and take them out frequently. Keep your dumpster away from your home or seal it off. These sound like small chores, but they can make a big difference, especially if your home is particularly prone to pest infestation.

cluttered homes are easier for pests to sneak inside than tidy ones - Why are these pests coming to my home?

Clutter

You’d think living in your home would be enough shelter for these ungrateful pests, but they want even more. Pests are surprisingly shy little buggers. Even when they’ve infiltrated your home, they’re looking for hiding places. If they can get into cardboard boxes, drawers, cabinets, piles of clothing or fabric, or any of the rest of the stuff that just sort of accumulates in your basement, they’d be thrilled.

The other reason pests like clutter is it gives them places to hook up and nest. Pests want to hide their offspring to maximize their chances of survival. When they have a good hiding place, they can foster generations of “family.” What may seem like pest infestation after pest infestation may just be Pest Attack: The Next Generation. Finding and removing eggs is an essential step toward preventing pests permanently. The fewer places they have to hide, the easier that step is.

Humid homes attract more pests than dry ones - Why are these pests coming to my home?

Humidity

All living things require water to survive. Most pests need to actually drink water, though some pests like crickets can absorb it through their bodies. Unfortunately, however, bugs need a lot of water. Humidity attracts pests because they can get all the water they need from puddling or condensation on windows or walls. Most bugs also feel a lot more comfortable in moist places, where their bodies won’t dry out as quickly.

Ultimately, humidity is probably what brings pests to your home. A dark, moist, quiet spot is prime real estate for pests looking for a place to live. Find the areas of your home that naturally get humid and consider investing in a dehumidifier. Look for places that puddle or gather condensation and keep them dry. Patch up plumbing leaks and dripping. When they run out of places to drink inside, pests will have to leave.

 

We know: pest infestations aren’t fair. They can feel like the consequence or negligence or carelessness, or even like punishments. The fact of the matter is, however, that sometimes even the most diligent homeowner might wind up with a pest infestation under the right circumstances. It’s nothing to feel guilty about.

Instead, just give Griffin a call. We can help you figure out how and why pests got in and what you can do about it. When we solve pest problems, they stay solved–no matter how big a pest magnet your house might be!

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!