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.
If you’ve ever had a rodent in your home, you know how persistent they can be. You lay out traps, seal off cracks, and even call in pros, but year after year, there they are. It’s easy to get discouraged or even apathetic about the whole process. But not this year. This year things are going to go differently. This year you stop the rodents. We’re here to help.
Sound ambitious? It’s easier than you think! Just follow these four steps, and you’ll be well on your way to creating a rodent-proof environment. Don’t give up! Getting a jump start on this will give you the momentum you need to complete your other resolutions. It all starts here!
Weatherstripping is the long, rubber material that makes up the threshold between doors and windows and their frames. This stripping makes an airtight seal between the door or window and the outside air. Without it, outdoor air would slip through the cracks and enter your home. Over time, weatherstripping can wear down. Damaged weatherstripping may not keep outdoor air out, or it may peel away from the threshold all together. Either way, it provides a perfect opportunity for rats and mice.
When outdoor air seeps in, the pressure difference between that air and indoor air creates a vacuum that sucks heat out. Rodents outside feel this heat escaping and follow it to its source: the damaged weatherstripping. Rats and mice can easily bite through or sneak under weatherstripping that’s already been damaged. Examine all the weatherstripping in your house and replace any that looks worn. You can buy inexpensive weatherstripping materials at most hardware stores.
Seal Utility Lines
Mice only need an opening the size of a dime to wriggle their way into your home. Some of the most common openings they find are around your utility lines. Gas, water, and electrical appliances have pipes, vents, and cords that need to enter your home from the outside. Rodents often follow the smell of gas or water along a pipe. Eventually, they’ll reach the opening where that pipe enters the home.
Cutting off this avenue of infiltration is simple. First, walk the perimeter of your home looking for any utility line access points. When you find them, check to see if there’s an opening rodents could use to enter your home. Remember: it can be a small opening. Use caulk or steel wool to seal this opening as snuggly as you can from the outside. To be doubly sure, go inside and repeat the same process. Utility lines are the #2 way rodents get into homes after windows, so don’t neglect this simple chore.
Before rodents are attracted to your home, they’re attracted to your yard. All kinds of things bring them there: food, moisture, shelter, even random debris. Food can mean various things in this context. It could be pet treats, vegetables, fruits, or even bird seed. Moisture could come from bird baths and water features, or from sinkholes and puddles. Shelter is anything they can hide in or under to get away from predators. Random debris can be used for nesting or cover.
Keep your lawn mowed short, and prevent weeds from growing in it. If you have a garden, fence it off and protect it from pests. Be careful not to overwater your plants or grass, and don’t let water sit for hours. Keep your yard uncluttered and clear by picking up fallen seeds, branches, leaves, or fruits. Trim hedges and brush to a short, uniform length. It’s less obvious than the other tips, but yard care is an important way to keep rodents out.
Take Out the Trash
Rats and mice have truly incredible noses. Not only can they smell much better than we can, they can discern specific information based on smells. Information like where food is, how much there is, and how easy it would be to take. While rodents may come around looking for shelter, they’re probably interested in your home specifically because of food. Nothing attracts pests, including rats and mice, quite like the pungent aroma of garbage. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet.
This is another anti-pest tip that’s surprisingly easy to implement. First: line all your garbage and recycling cans with plastic bags. Make sure all the garbage you put in your cans actually ends up in these bags. Next, take the bags out of the cans and to the outdoor dumpster every night before bed. Seal the bags tightly before you throw them out. Keeping your garbage outdoors and away from your home will remove the main thing attracting pests to your home.
If these tips sound simple, it’s because they are. If they sound too good to be true, just give them a try! Even if you don’t solve your rodent problem overnight, you’ll be on the right track to a rodent-free new year.
If you need some help making that final push and driving the last of the rodents out of your home, just give Griffin a call. Our rodent experts have been fighting the furry menace since 1929, and they haven’t beat us yet. Have a great, pest-free new year!
Dragons and werewolves may not exist, but monsters do–we call them pests. What could be more monstrous than a creepy animal perfectly evolved to infiltrate your home and feed on your blood?! Even vampires can’t do that! If the monsters of real life are pests, the dragon slayers of legend would be pest control professionals.
But who are these monster hunters? How did they come to possess their deadly talents? To find out, we talked to one of our very own slayers: Joshua Reed is a Associated Certified Entomologist (ACE) and has worked at Griffin Pest Solutions since 2012. Here’s Joshua on how he came to be “the Bug Man,” the worst pest calls he’s ever taken, and which bugs still freak him out.
Note: this interview has been edited and condensed.
Griffin: How did you become an Associate Certified Entomologist?
Joshua: Getting to be a certified ACE is kind of a long process. First, you have to be a licensed pest control professional with five years of experience. Then, you undergo standardized professional training, which Griffin provided for me. I worked alongside other professionals and Michigan state-approved tutors to learn on the job and did a lot of reading and studying.
After you’re trained, you take the ACE certification exam. I’m certified in commercial pesticide application, so I had to take a sub-exam along with the general exam [Joshua’s taken exams for certification categories 7A: general pest management, and 7B: wood destroying pests]. It’s a pretty hard test; I guess something like 90% of applicants don’t pass the first time.
Oh, well… yeah, I passed the first time. I didn’t want to sound like a braggadocio. I’ve always been fascinated by bugs. When I was a kid, I would find weird bugs and want to know what it was. I’d have to look through books and it was tough to find any info. I think that’s why I passed the test. When I was studying for it, it was like I was answering my own questions.
Was that interest why you wanted to become an entomologist?
Kind of! Honestly, I sort of found this job by accident. My background is in construction work and heating and cooling repair. When the economy crashed a few years back, I looked for heating and cooling jobs, but I wasn’t having any luck.
I thought about going back to construction work, but my dad and other family members worked in construction too. They told me about the physical toll it can take on your body, so I was a little worried about that. Around then, I happened to see Griffin was hiring. I figured it sounded like a way to get back into learning about bugs again, so I applied.
Pictured: a “glue board”, one of the tools Joshua frequently uses to find and remove pests.
What’s a typical day on the job look like for you?
I have a lot of regular commercial accounts, like food processing companies that need to meet strict FDA safety regulations. I do a lot of facility inspections. For those, I monitor the devices I’ve installed to make sure nothing’s getting into their product, check vulnerable areas… stuff like that.
If I find a pest, then I identify what it is, how it got in, and how we can make sure it doesn’t get in again. It’s kind of like being a pest detective. You have to be really thorough, too, so it can feel like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I’ve monitored facilities with 1,200-plus devices before!
I do plenty of those too. They’re really rewarding. People get understandably freaked out by spiders, moths, rodents, or whatever, and it feels good to help them feel better. I just like talking to people, too.
What do you wish more people understood about pest control?
It’s a gradual process. Sometimes people expect immediate results, but that’s just not how it works. To truly end a pest problem, a technician has to break the life cycle of the infestation. We like to say, ‘We might look like we’re waving around wands, but we’re not doing magic.’ It’s just biology at work–and it might take weeks, not hours or days.
The other big thing is, I wish more people understood that pest control is a team effort. When we make suggestions as to exclusionary or sanitary precautions, we’re not judging. We just really want to make sure your pest problem goes away and stays gone.
What are some of those recommendations?
Exclusionary tactics. Keeping pests out of a structure in the first place is what everyone really wants. My best advice would be to make sure nothing touches the outside of your home. Keep the area around the perimeter clear for at least 18 inches. Remove hanging tree branches, bushes, stuff like that.
Oh, and don’t use mulch near your home. Mulch is great for plants, but it also attracts bugs like crazy. Try to keep the area around your home as dry as possible. Pests need shelter, water, and food to live, like anything else. Take those away, and they won’t be able to live around your house.
WARNING: Scary pest stories beneath this nice, non-threatening bee
Buzz! I’m the content warning bee! Don’t read on if you’re grossed out easily! Buzz!
We have to ask: do you have any pest horror stories?
Early in my career, we went to a trailer park to deal with a roach problem. This trailer was going through something we call a “rainer.” “Rainers” happen when there are so many cockroaches crammed into a space that they don’t have anywhere to hide. They literally burst out of the woodwork, climbing on top of each other, crawling along the walls, and raining from the ceiling…
There was a little girl living in this particular home, and she was excited to see me. She asked me if I was “the Bug Man”–when you’re in pest control everyone calls you “the Bug Man”–and I noticed she had sores on her face. That’s when I learned that, when too many cockroaches live in too small a space, they run out of things to eat. That’s when they get aggressive, and feed on hair follicles and food remains left on people.
Yeah, it was really disturbing. It was an important call for me, though, because that’s when I “got” pest control. I could see I was doing something important and helping people.
Does being a pro make you immune to the heebie-jeebies? Or do pests still freak you out?
There’s definitely a level of desensitization that comes with the job. The longer I do it, the less pests freak me out. There are still some, though… When I was really young, I was fishing at my grandpa’s pond and I stepped on a yellowjacket nest under the dock. A bunch of the yellowjackets flew up my pants and stung the holy crap outta me.
Pictured: Wasp nest
Yeah. My fear of bees was probably the hardest thing to overcome during training. I can work with bees now–you just need to learn to trust the bee suit–but I definitely understand people’s fear.
Anything else freak you out?
I don’t like crawl spaces very much. You’re down there crawling through spider webs and trying not to think about it, but part of you knows there’s spiders all over you. It’s ironic–I’ve been down in crawl spaces for work since before I was a pest control person, and they still get to me. Some of my co-workers aren’t bothered by them at all, though.
Realizing this interviewer would have to find a picture like this was the hardest part of this interview.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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!