Why Do I Have a Rodent Problem?

Rodents like rats and mice are clever, capable creatures. If there’s a way into your home and they want to come inside for any reason, they’ll find their way in. Most homes deal with a rodent problem at one time or another. There’s only one side to dealing with rodents: it’s a learning experience. 

Once you know why you have a rodent problem, you can figure out how to prevent them in the future. We can help with that. There are several steps to preventing future rodent infestations. First: identify the “what”: your current infestation. When you’ve confirmed you have a rodent problem, figure out the “why”: what made rodents want to get inside? Once you’ve figured out the why, the last step is the “how”: how were rodents able to get inside? After you’ve identified the “why” and “how,” you can make sure the “what” isn’t a problem again. Here’s where to start:

The What: do I have a rodent infestation?

If you already know in no uncertain terms that you have a rodent problem, then you can skip this step. If you suspect but you aren’t sure, however, you’ll have to start looking for the following signs. Rodents are quite sneaky, but even the most clever of rats and mice leave behind telltale signs of their presence. Signs like: 

  • Waste and droppings. If you have a large rodent problem, the rats and mice may leave behind dozens of small, tapered, dark brown pellets around your home or business every night. Look for these droppings where rodents typically live: in your basement, crawl space, or closets.
  • Grease marks. Most rodents have poor eyesight during the day. They move around homes by rubbing against baseboards and walls as guides. As they rub up against these surfaces, they’ll leave behind a grease stain over time. Look for these grease stains along the lower edge of walls in your basement. 
  • The sound of little paws. Rodents don’t sleep all day, every day. If they’re in your home, you’ll be able to hear them at some point. Listen for distinct scratching or scrabbling sound within walls and ceilings. Rodents are generally active at night, so you may hear them with more regularity late. 
  • Chew marks. Does your phone charger look worse for wear? Are there little bites taken out of boxes in the pantry? You might have rodents chewing on your possessions.

The Why: Why did rodents choose my home?

Rodents are attracted to any place that can provide their main needs: food, shelter, and water. Those are the things rodents want no matter the time of year. The most common of these draws are:

  • Accessible warmth. This is an especially huge draw during the fall and winter months. Most rodents are looking for a safe place to nest during the cold months. Keep a close eye on the places they use to get inside this winter. 
  • Food waste. Rodents will eat just about anything, including dairy, meat, vegetables, fruit, grain, fur, and trash. They’re usually drawn in by food debris near garbage cans, baseboards, and other out of the way places.
  • Plumbing leaks. We’ve already mentioned that rodents are drawn in by their three main needs. Food and shelter have been covered, but what about water? The most likely places for rodents to get water access are at plumbing leaks. They’ll drink from leaks in worn down pipes, loose joints, dripping faucets. They’re especially fond of exploiting the kinds of hidden leaks you don’t even realize you have. If you’ve noticed your water bill rising, you may have a hidden leak. Get in touch with plumbers to make sure your pipes aren’t drawing unwanted pests.
  • Clutter and debris. Rodents are shy. They’ll spend their time inside your home sneaking around and hiding. An especially cluttered or dirty house makes this easier for them. Pests can’t spread if they aren’t given the space and privacy to do so. Keep your space clean and organized to take away a rodent’s chance to build a secret nest.

The How: How did rodents get inside my property?

Rats and other rodents are capable of squeezing through holes or cracks that are less than an inch wide in diameter. This means that keeping them out is difficult and requires near-constant vigilance. By protecting their main entry points, you can help prevent infestations. These main entry points include:

  • Cracks in walls. This includes brick, cement, and stone exteriors. Small holes can be filled with caulk. Larger ones can be blocked with sealant.
  • Vents. If a rodent can get into a vent, it can use it to get into your home. You can prevent their entry without interrupting your vents output by covering vents with metal screening.
  • Chimneys. Not only are chimneys dark and out of the way, they’re warm too. Make sure your chimney is regularly cleaned and has a working grate or cap.
  • Window frames. Window frames have caulk and, in some cases, screens. Holes can develop and caulk can crumble, making entrance points.

Bringing it all together: How can I prevent future rodent problems?

Preventing future rodent problems depends on a few things. First, you need to figure out where they’re most likely to sneak in. Try to find these access points mentioned above around door and window frames, baseboard, utility lines, and other cracks and gaps. Seal and block these off wherever you can.

Second, try to make sure rodents couldn’t get the things they want inside your home even if they could get inside. Keep pantry foods in sealable, airtight plastic containers at all times. Keep garbage in sealable plastic bags and take it outside to the dumpster every night. Repair plumbing leaks and clean up spills immediately. Clean up after every meal and keep your kitchen, bathrooms, closets, and basements decluttered and clean. 

The last, best thing you can do to prevent future rodent problems is call Griffin Pest Solutions today. We’ll be able to tell you exactly how your rodents got into your home, remove them, and help make sure they can’t come back again.

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Everything You Should Know About Rodents Near You

Rodent peeking out through damage in a wooden log. Everything you should know about the rodents near you.

October 20 to 26 is the Professional Pest Management Alliance’s sixth annual Rodent Awareness Week. It couldn’t be happening at a more relevant time. According to a recent study, rodents are the greatest pest concern facing American homes today. Rats and mice invade 21 million homes every year, mostly in fall! Despite how common they are, however, rodent behavior isn’t very well understood. For instance, did you know that rodents are found in bathrooms twice as frequently as other rooms? The best way to prevent rodent infestations now and in the future is to understand them better.

We want to help! That’s why, in honor of Rodent Awareness Week, Griffin put together this primer on everything you should know about the rats and mice near you. This is what rodents want, how they get into your home, and how you can keep them out for good:

What do rodents want?

Rodents want shelter, warmth, food, and humidity–usually in that order. They enter homes in late summer and fall in order to escape the freezing temperatures of winter. Once inside, they’ll stick around if they can get their paws on food and water. Rats and mice look for warm, dark, narrow, humid shelters where they can find food and water.

How do rodents find homes to infest?

Rodents are very sensitive to temperature and pressure fluctuations. These sensitivities help rodents understand when the season is changing faster than we possibly could. As soon as they sense outdoor temperature chances, rodents start looking for the warmth and pressure differentials created by drafts. When they find drafts, they’ll follow the warmth inside.

In addition to temperature and pressure sensitivity, rodents also possess a highly-developed sense of smell. This sense of smell allows them to sniff out specific information about food, including the best way to get to it. Rodents literally “follow their noses” all the way inside your home. 

Rodent chewing on sunflower seeds near a home

How do rodents get into homes?

Rodents make their way inside by sneaking through tiny, draft-producing nooks and crannies located all around homes. Mice and rats are notorious for their ability to squeeze through tiny gaps. They tend to typically find these gaps in a few particularly likely places, including:

  • Door and window frames
  • Gaps around utility lines
  • Cracks in baseboarding and foundations
  • Breaches in vents or pipes
  • Damaged or rotting siding or shingles

Wait, why are they in my bathroom?

Rodents love moisture, warmth, and darkness. Bathrooms typically provide plenty of all three, particularly if they’re in your basement. Rats and mice live in bathrooms to soak up humidity and warmth and drink condensation. Occasionally, rodents may even swim up through damaged plumbing pipes to enter your home.

rodent climbing on an electrical wire

Why are they a problem?

Rodents are surprisingly dangerous in homes for several reasons. Here are the main reasons you never want rats or mice to establish themselves in your home:

  • Fire Damage: Did you know that 25% of the house fires attributed to “unknown causes” were probably caused by rodents? Rats and mice chew through electrical wiring, which can generate sparks and start fires.
  • Health Concerns: Rat and mice feces, saliva, blood, and fur transmit several dangerous diseases. Rodents may also carry diseased fleas or other parasites.
  • Food Damage: Rats and mice in your home will make a beeline for any pantry food they can find. The damage they inflict can get surprisingly expensive surprisingly quickly!
  • Wood, Fabric, and Paper Damage: Rodents constantly gnaw on any soft materials they can find, tearing them up in the process. Rodent infestations end up damaging wood, fabric, and paper products in your home.

How can I tell if I have a rodent problem?

Unfortunately, if you happen mice or rat inside your home, chances are they aren’t alone. Even if you don’t see your rodent, however, there are a few ways to figure out if they’re hiding near you. Look for the following signs:

  • ¼ to ½ inch long black droppings that look pellet or spindle-shaped
  • Damaged electrical cables or wiring
  • Gnaw marks on cardboard boxes, drapes, upholstery, wooden furniture, or even carpet
  • Damaged food packaging
  • Collections of dirty, soft material like paper, insulation, cardboard, or plastic
  • Dirty or greasy markings along the lower parts of walls

How can I keep them out of my home?

Start by cutting off their access to your home. Repair weaknesses you find around the usual sites up above using caulk, weatherproofing, spackle, or another sealant. If an opening is big enough to see, it’s probably big enough for rodents to use. Pay particular attention to drafty or humid parts of your home such as basements and bathrooms.

When you’re finished rodent-proofing access points, make the rest of your home as inhospitable to rats and mice. Keep your the floor of your basement, crawl spaces, pantries, and attics as clean and clear as possible. Elevate all storage materials, especially cardboard boxes and linen garment bags. Store your pantry food in airtight hard plastic containers. You should even keep your lawn as clear as possible. The harder it is for rodents to hide near you, the greater the distance they’ll keep.

 

Once rodents have established themselves inside your home, they can be difficult to remove without serious help. Luckily, you have serious help–you have Griffin Pest Solutions. 

Our experts can find rodent infestations, remove them, and make sure they can’t get in again. If you become a little too aware of rodents this Rodent Awareness Week, give us a call anytime. We’ve yet to meet a rodent infestation we couldn’t beat.

What Do Rodents Want This Fall?

Rodent near a pumpkin. What do rodents want this fall?

Autumn is a lovely time of year. The overbearing heat of the Midwest summer leaves us alone as the temperatures start to shift. Leaves change color, pumpkin spice becomes the flavor du jour, and everyone starts wearing socks again. In the middle of these positive changes comes one not-so-positive change, however. Rodents start finding their way inside homes and businesses. 

Just like you pull sweaters out of storage as the temps turn, rodents start looking for similar, reliable warmth. If you’re not careful, they’ll find it in your home. This is what attracts rodents to your home this fall, how they get inside, and how to keep them out.

What attracts rodents in fall?

The simplest answer is food and warmth. Cooling temperatures trigger a response in rodents and mice to seek out warmth and shelter. Rodents are extremely sensitive to temperature and pressure fluctuations, so they may sense the changing season before you do! 

When rodents sense cooling air temperatures, they also start fattening themselves up. They’ll seek out high sugar and fat foods, and in larger quantities than usual. Both rats and mice have an exceptional sense of smell. They can smell all the food they want while its inside your home–often while it’s still in its packaging! If they smell the food they want in your home, they’ll try to get it. Fall is a time of survival for rodents. Any place that provides them the things they need to last the winter is a target.

How do rodents get inside during fall?

Rodents are clever creatures. They’re capable of fitting into breaches as small as a quarter. If rodents get into your home, they found one of these breaches. The pests commonly enter homes via crumbling foundation, broken screens, vents, attic insulation, window and door frames, and pipes. You should see all areas that you need to monitor regularly. 

Monitoring entry points doesn’t take much work. We recommend simply conducting a weekly or bi-weekly inspection of your home. Check for any damage such as torn screens, gaps between utility lines, or torn insulation. By minimizing potential entry points, you’ll significantly you significantly lessen your chance of any infestation, including rodents.

How can I keep them out?

Not letting them in in the first place is the first step. After that, you want to be cognizant of the things that draw pests like rodents. They’re not just looking for shelter, they’re looking for food and water as well. Clean and well-maintained garbage cans are less likely to draw pests than dirty ones filled with food waste. 

Fix dripping or leaking pipes immediately so they don’t have a chance to create pest-adored standing water. Maintain your landscape to avoid giving rodents hiding places they can use to approach your home. If they have cover to hide in close to the perimeter of your home, they’re more likely to take the jump indoors. 

 

If you suspect you have a rat or rodent problem, get in touch with Griffin Pest Solutions immediately. Our integrated approach to pest management will draw unwelcome visitors out and keep them from returning. That way you can get back to enjoying the fall properly: in flannel, pumpkin spice latte in hand.

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!

The Four Best Ways to Keep Mice Out of Your Home

Mouse hiding in household items

It’s easy to get discouraged about keeping mice out of your home. Virtually everyone has dealt with a mouse infestation at one time or another. It can feel like no matter what you do, mice can always find their way inside anyway. You might even start to assume they’ve have always been there!

Fortunately, that isn’t the case! Just because mice are good at getting into homes doesn’t mean you have to let them into yours. The rodents in your home weren’t always there. They found their way inside via a locatable and sealable access point. You can drive them back and keep them out. Here are the four best ways to prevent mice from getting into your home once and for all. Never give up!

Control Food Sources

Unsurprisingly, mice are not picky eaters. If they can chew on it, they will. Mice are particularly attracted to dry goods like cereal, pasta, bread crumbs, and simple sugars. They can also sustain themselves on very little food. Crumbs and leftovers you throw out or leave sitting are more than enough. Rodents will feed on non-human foods like birdseed and dry pet food in a pinch. They have incredibly sensitive noses and can easily smell your food through walls and packaging.

Restricting access to food sources is the most important way to keep mice out of your home. If mice can’t get what they need from you, they’ll go somewhere else to get it. Store all pantry goods inside airtight, hard plastic containers. Keep those containers elevated and sealed whenever you’re not using them. Clean up your food prep and dining areas as soon as you finish meals. Never leave food out for any period of time, even in the sink or the garbage can.

weatherstripping helps keep mice out of your home

Seal Doors and Windows

Doors and windows are the preferred access point for many varieties of common household pests like rodents. It makes sense when you think about it: doors and windows are natural ways to get inside. They’re literally big holes in your home’s walls! Mice sneak through tiny cracks and gaps between your doors or windows and their frames. Small openings in your frames form naturally over time as a result of wear-and-tear or warping.

Check every single door and window frame in your home. Examine the threshold around the door or window closely, looking for even the tiniest gap. Make sure the weatherstripping is sturdy and undamaged, in particular. Mice love to slip beneath worn-out weatherstripping to get inside. You should also double-check to make sure your doors and windows are seated in the frames properly. Fill in any gaps you find with caulk, and replace worn weatherstripping ASAP.

Fill In the Holes

The largest and widest part of a mouse’s body is its skull. If a mouse can fit its head through a gap, it can also fit its body through. In general, they can squeeze through any quarter-inch opening. That basically means that if you can see a gap, a mouse can probably use that gap. Mice find holes in walls, floors, foundations, and siding using their acute senses of smell and temperature sensitivity.

Starting in your basement, walk the perimeter of your home. Look for any cracks or gaps in your walls, baseboard, floor, or foundation. Try to feel for drafts and follow those drafts to their source. Any gap you notice is a gap that’s big enough to repair. Fill these in with caulk or steel wool. Pay special attention to areas where pipes and wires enter your building. Mice love to use utility lines as “highways” into your home.

Cleaning up clutter will help keep mice out of your home

Clear the Clutter

After food and water, shelter is the next-highest consideration for rodent pests when they choose where to live. Mice are naturally shy. They spend most of their days hunkered down and only come out to forage when they feel safe and protected. Indoors, mice dart from hiding place to hiding place until they find food. They’ll hide under boxes, furniture, paper, plastic, fabric, and more. They also tend to gnaw on whatever they’re near.

A surprisingly easy way to keep mice away from your home is to simply keep things tidy. The fewer hiding places you give pests, the less secure they’ll feel sneaking around your home. Keep storage boxes and other stored materials organized and elevated when you’re not using them. Don’t store anything loose on the floor, especially in your basement or closets. If you can keep mice uncomfortable, they won’t want to stick around for long.

By following these four steps, you’ll go a long way toward keeping mice out for good. If you already have mice in your home, however, you’ll have to take a few extra steps. When it comes to mouse removal, the best thing you can do is call in the pros.

If you have a mouse problem, give Griffin Pest Solutions a call any time. No matter how your mice got in, we’ll drive them back out and make sure they don’t come back. Remember: preventing mice isn’t impossible! You can make your home a pest-free zone, permanently. And we can help.

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.