Fall Pests That Want in Your Home

Mouse peeking through hole in attic wall

If it seems like there’s an increase in insects in and around your home in the fall, you’re probably right. It’s the result of pests trying to get indoors as the weather gets colder. Some pests migrate to warmer climates, some burrow in or under debris, while others just try to get into our homes to warm up. The scientific term for this phenomenon is overwintering. Pests will find a suitable area to settle in during the colder months and then become more active in the spring. 

This most directly affects you when fall pests enter your home. Some do this by coming in through small openings that are already present and others will chew their way in. There are several types of pests known to try to get in, from insects to rodents. The most difficult fall pests to get rid of are the ones you can’t see because they get in the attic or behind your walls. Read on to learn more about the common pests that may try to get in your home in the fall. 

Rodents

You probably know that squirrels are excellent climbers but did you know that roof rats and mice can also climb well? Most rodents will climb almost anything; branches, fences and drainpipes can all be used to access the roof of your home!  From there, it’s easy to get into your attic and make a nest to stay warm for the fall and winter. If you hear scratching or gnawing noises from up above or inside the walls, you likely have rodents inside your attic or wall voids starting to make themselves at home. Should this happen, it would be time to call an experienced rodent exterminator like the specialists at Griffin Pest Solutions. It is also advised that you ensure your home is properly sealed to help prevent rodent entry. A mouse can enter an opening roughly the size of a dime! Squirrels will chew on dormers and fascia boards to make their own entry points. 

Asian lady beetles

While Asian lady beetles resemble ladybugs, they’re somewhat larger. Their coloration ranges from red to orange and not all of them have spots. So, what’s the problem with these small ladybug look-alikes? They hang out together in large groups, using pheromones to communicate their location. When they decide to enter your home to get warm, the result can be a large infestation that ends up in your attic or walls. While they won’t directly cause harm by damaging your home or stinging you, there are unpleasant side effects. Should you end up with an infestation, lady beetle waste can stain and is known for triggering allergic reactions or breathing difficulties in sensitive individuals.

The best way to prevent these, or any bugs, from getting into your home is to seal cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home. Asian lady beetles are small, so you’ll need to be diligent should you choose to take on this task. Having a preventative pest control service in place can also help to prevent a pest infestation from taking place in your home. If a product is applied to your home consistently, it doesn’t allow for an infestation to even begin. 

Stink bugs

While there are several types of stink bugs, the brown marmorated stink bug is the one you’re most likely to see in your home. It’s an invasive species originally from Asia. They’re shaped like a shield and their color is a mottled combination of brown and gray. They range in size from ¼” to ⅜”. As their name suggests, when stink bugs feel threatened or get squashed, they release an unpleasant odor. Stink bugs tend to spend the winter in quiet parts of a home where they’re unlikely to be disturbed like an attic, crawlspace or inside the walls. 

When you see these pests walking on your home or nearby trees, it is easy to forget that they can fly and it’s their wings that bring them to your home in swarms at times. You will first start to notice these fall pests as the temperature starts to cool at night but the days are still warm. Stink bugs will land on the sides of your home, where the sun is warming the siding, this helps them to stay warm as well. They are drawn to lighter-colored homes, which can be the reason you are seeing them but your neighbor doesn’t have any issues.

Wasps

A whole wasp colony doesn’t overwinter, just the queens. The worker wasps won’t survive the winter and the queen will start a new colony every year.  The fertilized queens overwinter outdoors in places such as hollow logs, stumps or under leaves. However, they can also overwinter on or in structures, including the attics or siding of homes. The most common way for wasps to get in is through attic vents that aren’t screened. If you haven’t done so lately, look for openings into your attic and seal them as much as possible to help prevent wasps and other pests from entering. It is possible for the queen to start her new colony in your attic, which can mean a large nest of wasps could end up inside! 

Expert Exterminators

Griffin Pest Solutions has been providing the Lower Peninsula of Michigan with trusted pest control services since 1929. If you have any of these pests are in your home, we can help get them out and keep them out. We also offer preventative services to help keep these pests from entering your home this fall or winter! Call us for a free quote!

Why Do I Have Stink Bugs This Winter?

Stink bug during winter

Stink bugs typically enter a state of dormancy called diapause in winter. Unless, of course, they can find a heat source to sustain them. If they do find a heat source–say your home–they can remain active all year. Any stink bugs in your home will seek hiding places to wait out the winter. They’ll almost leave you alone… but the smell might not.

Obviously, nobody wants stink bugs in their house in winter, but how do you get rid of stink bugs? Especially if you have an infestation? And what draws them to some buildings over others? Here’s how you can find (and remove) stink bugs in your home this winter:

Signs of Stink Bugs in Winter

To tell if you have a stink bug infestation, look for these signs that they may be nearby:

  • Live bugs. Stink bugs’ bodies are brown or black and shaped like a shield. They have spots of lighter coloring around the edge of their body, six legs, and antenna. If you see one, then there are almost certainly more nearby. If you see one moving around inside your home, then you probably have an infestation. 
  • Dead bugs. Pay attention to the entry points in your home, including door frames, windows, and baseboards. Stink bugs congregate around heat sources, especially in fall and winter. When they find cracks and gaps around these heat sources, they push and squeeze their way through. Sometimes, not all the bugs will make it all the way through. You might find the bodies of less-fortunate members of the party around door and window frames, baseboards, and utility lines.
  • Stink. Stink bugs… got their name for a reason. When they feel threatened, these bugs secrete a foul-smelling liquid in defense. If you smell a pungent odor like rotten vegetables or cilantro, it may be a stink bug. Stink bug liquid secretions are a pale-yellow color and can stain surfaces over time. They also use this scent to attract others when to sources of food and shelter.

Why my home?

Stink bugs come into homes looking for shelter, water, and food. Their preferred food source is sugar and they’re fond of overripe fruit. They’ll also congregate around the food waste in trash cans or beneath cupboards and the dishwasher. 

Sugar isn’t the only stink bug draw. They also gather around light and other heat sources. They’ll be particularly noticeable at night, when you’ll see them scurrying around outdoor light bulbs or indoor lamps. Food or heat sources could be reasons why you have a stink bug problem.

How to Prevent Stink Bugs

Keep stink bugs from bothering your property by taking some of the following steps: 

Keep stink bugs from bothering your property by taking some of the following steps: 

  • Minimize outdoor lighting. Don’t keep any outdoor lighting on unless it’s necessary. The more bugs your lights draw to the surface of your home, the higher the odds that at least some of the congregation will find its way inside.
  • Rub your window screens with dryer sheets. This sounds weird, but it’s an easy prevention tactic. The fragrance of your average scented dryer sheet is unpleasant to a stink bug. Rub them on your window screens when doing regular cleaning as a simple exclusion effort. 
  • Fix plumbing leaks. Stink bugs are drawn to moisture they can access without drawing attention to themselves. This is most easily found near hidden plumbing leaks in faucets and pipe joints and under counters and cabinets.

How to Get Rid of Stink Bugs

Stink bugs will usually naturally leave your home in spring when they re-emerge from dormancy. We recommend leaving the cracks and crevices where they might enter diapause in your home alone until then. If you seal up their hiding places, stink bugs will die inside your home. When stink bugs die, they secrete their odor–which contains a pheromone that attracts more stink bugs. They also secrete this odor when you crush them or when they find good hiding places.

If you notice active stink bugs inside, vacuum them up (don’t crush them!). Dispose of the vacuum bag outside of your home. Whenever you remove bugs from a surface, clean that surface with ammonia and/or soapy water. This will help remove pheromone secretions and keep more the bugs away. Focus on exclusion methods until you’re sure all the stink bugs are gone. If you trap or kill too many of the bugs, it’ll only exacerbate your problem.

Stink Bugs, How to Get Rid of Them for Good

Do stink bugs die in winter? Not if they’re in your home. Obviously, we understand if you don’t want to simply wait until spring for your stink bugs to leave your home. If you want them gone nowgive Griffin Pest Solutions a call. We’re your pest control experts in winter and all seasons for Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.


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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.

How Can I Tell If I Have Stink Bugs?

Stink Bug close-up

Even more than most nuisance pests, stink bugs can be surprisingly subtle. They don’t attack people, damage structures, eat your food, or even infest your furniture. In fact, many homeowners may have a stink bug infestation all winter and not even notice! Unfortunately, just because you can’t notice stink bugs doesn’t always mean they aren’t there.

You want to figure out whether you have stink bugs right away, even if you don’t notice them. The sooner you figure out you have stink bugs, the sooner you can do something to get them out. Here are four signs that you may be playing host to a stink bug infestation this winter.

The stink!

You knew this was coming. It turns out stink bugs are aptly-named. When stink bugs are startled, crushed, or bunched together, they secrete a foul-smelling liquid from a specialized gland. This liquid is where the actual distinctive “stink” associated with stink bugs comes from. The scent smells like skunk spray, cilantro, coriander, or rotting vegetables, depending on who you ask. The more stink bugs you have and the longer they stay, the stronger the smell will become.

A stink bug’s unpleasant smell lingers for as long as the secretion does–not the bug itself. In other words, a stink bug’s scent isn’t tied to the bug itself, but only to their continued presence. Over time, the areas stink bugs frequent will become stinkier and stinkier–even if the bugs aren’t there. Stink bugs use their flat bodies to hide in nooks and crannies, especially near windows and other warm surfaces. If areas like that start to smell around you home, then you’re likely dealing with an infestation.

Congregations

Unfortunately, stink bug secretions do more than just stink. They also function as pheromone homing beacons. When a stink bug finds a nice, warm place to sun themselves, they start secreting their stink. This stink tells other stink bugs in the area that there’s a good place to meet nearby. Soon, more and more stink bugs begin gathering in the same space to soak up the warmth. Then, those bugs start secreting… and the cycle continues.

Stink bugs are very temperature sensitive, so they’re attracted to warm, reflective surfaces. You’ll often see them on light surfaces, homes with eastern exposure, and windows. Gathering together in tight bunches also helps stink bugs stay warm. Most stink bugs find their way into homes during these mass congregations, when they inadvertently spread into cracks. If you’ve noticed stink bugs gathering around your home this fall, then some have probably found their way inside.

Damaged fruits and vegetables

This will be most noticeable if you grow your own garden, but it could affect anyone. Stink bugs are actually a highly-destructive crop pests. They feed on important fruit and vegetable farming crops in spring and fall, causing significant and costly damage. Stink bugs will feed on virtually any fruit or vegetable, including fruit trees in your yard or garden vegetables. The bugs won’t usually feed on fruit indoors, but if they find it early and it’s easily-accessible, they can.

Stink bugs feed by using their mouthparts to pierce the skin of the fruit and suck out sap. This feeding leaves behind small “scars” in the form of discolored, sunken areas. Look for several small, circular “scars” on nearby fruits and vegetables. The chemicals stink bugs inject into fruit to aid with digestion and sap removal can also affect plant growth. If your garden isn’t growing properly or appears damaged, there’s a chance stink bugs are the culprit.

stink bug stains

Stains

When it comes to stink bugs, it always seems to come back to the stink itself. Remember how that stink actually comes from a liquid that stink bugs secrete? Well, unfortunately, that liquid tends to stain the surfaces it comes into contact with. Stink bug secretions are a thin, murky yellow liquid. Left alone on a surface, this liquid will soak into whatever it’s on and create a dirty yellow or brown stain.

To find these stains, you have to look where stink bugs secrete their liquids. Inside, stink bugs generally find secluded hiding places. They use their flat bodies to sneak under furniture, boxes, or other low items. Eventually, they’ll enter a hibernation-like state called diapause. Until then, however, they may secrete at any time, especially if they’re accidentally crushed. Look for stains around hiding places and on window sills and carpeting. If you find any, you may want to look for the bugs themselves.

Stink bugs can be tricky. They’ll hide in your home all winter, and then burst out next spring ready to eat and mate. Fortunately, however, you don’t have to let that happen. If you can figure out you have stink bugs over winter, you can keep them from repopulating in spring.

If you want some help either finding or wiping out your stink bugs, give Griffin a call anytime. We’re always happy to stop the stink and keep your home smelling good.