Can That Bug Hurt Me?

Venomous Brown Recluse Spider

The first thing you probably think whenever you see a weird-looking bug is “can that thing hurt me?” That momentary feeling of fear never really goes away (take it from us). When you see an insect (or spider, or wasp, etc.), you’ll probably freak out for a second. That’s ok! But if you learn what you’re looking at, you can also stop freaking out a second later.

We want to help you stop freaking out (because isn’t that what pest control is for, in the end?). That’s why we’re categorizing the freakiest bugs (and spiders, and wasps…) according to how both how dangerous they are and how painful their bites or stings are. Hopefully after reading this, you won’t feel quite as scared by the whatever-it-is you see on your porch. Well… after a second, at least.

Spiders

There are two medically-significant spiders in Michigan: the northern black widow (Latrodectus variolus) and the brown recluse (Loxosceles reclusa). These two spiders are venomous, and their bites are considered very dangerous. Northern black widow spiders are black with a prominent red, hourglass-shaped marking their abdomens. Brown recluse spiders are a uniform tan color with a darker, violin-shaped marking behind their heads. Northern black widows are native to Michigan and relatively common. Brown recluses are not.

Various other Michigan spider species may bite, but those bites are not serious and certainly not life-threatening. Black widow and brown recluse spiders are very rare, and even when they happen they are often not serious. These two spiders are both very shy by nature, and would always rather avoid conflict than lash out. If you see a northern black widow or brown recluse, keep your distance and remain calm. They will not hurt you unless they’re provoked.

The verdict:

Dangerous–YES, but it’s very unlikely.

Painful–YES, but, again, only if they bite you–which is very unlikely.

Fire  ants can be threatening because they have a stinger and occasionally use it on people

Ants

There are thousands of species of ants living in Michigan. Though some of Michigan’s ants (such as carpenter ants) are major nuisance pests, very few are dangerous. Even the flying ants that occasionally seem to swarm around structures aggressively won’t attack people. In fact, most ants lack the capability to attack humans, even if they wanted to (and they don’t). There are two ants that could potentially harm you if you encounter them: Fire ants and Velvet “ants.”

Fire ants are distributed in the southern US, but they are inconsistently reported in Michigan. These small, brown-red ants can be threatening because they have a stinger and occasionally use it on people. Fire ant stings contain a venom that may affect the nervous system or prompt an allergic reaction. Stings aren’t usually serious, but if one person is stung numerous times or has an intense allergic reaction they could be. Velvet ants aren’t actually an ant at all; they’re a species of wasp. Speaking of…

The verdict:

Dangerous–NO, except in very specific circumstances.

Painful–YES. A fire ant’s sting is about as painful as a common wasp’s.

Wasps

There are several species and subspecies of wasp and yellowjacket in Michigan. The most common wasps are the common paper wasp and european paper wasp. There are twelve species of yellow jacket in Michigan, including German yellow jackets, Eastern yellow jackets, and Baldfaced hornets. These wasps and hornets tend to resemble “classic” wasps as you’d recognize them. They have yellow-and-black striping, hard, almost metallic-looking bodies, and translucent wings. The bald faced hornet tends to have pale or white striping instead but otherwise looks similar.

Wasps are territorial and capable of delivering numerous painful stings, but these stings aren’t medically dangerous unless you’re allergic. In most cases, you shouldn’t be afraid of wasps, but you should remain aware of them. Wasps may also make nests near your property. Wasp nests are made of various plant debris stuck together and hung from awnings or rafters. Wasps may defend their nests rather aggressively. If you see a wasp’s nest near your home, do not approach it. Bee and wasp nest removal can be dangerous and should only be conducted by  professionals.

The verdict:

Dangerous–NO, unless you’re allergic.

Painful–YES, wasp stings can be very painful, especially if they sting you multiple times.

Ticks

Unfortunately, ticks are very common in Michigan, especially in rural or forested areas. Ticks are most common during the summer, but they’re active in the spring and fall, as well. The most common Michigan ticks are the American dog tick, Blacklegged tick, lone star tick, and brown dog tick. Ticks feed on blood and find hosts by climbing bushes and then latching onto passerby. They feed by attaching to people and sucking blood for several hours.

Tick bites don’t generally hurt, though they may itch. Unfortunately, however, ticks are still probably the most legitimately dangerous pest on this list. Ticks can host and transmit several serious diseases to humans. The Blacklegged tick is one of the primary transmitters of lyme disease in Michigan. These ticks may also transmit Rocky Mountain spotted fever, tularemia, and more. Ticks don’t transmit a disease unless they’re attached to a host for 24 hours or more. If you find a tick on your body, remove it immediately.

The verdict:

Dangerous–YES. Although tickborne diseases are rare in Michigan, they are quite serious.

Painful–NO. You might not even notice a tick bite, which is part of the problem.

We may not ever “cure” your fear of creepy-crawlies, but hopefully this provided some context. While there are dangerous pests in Michigan, there’s also plenty you can do to prevent them from hurting you. Now that you know what to look for, you know what to avoid and when to get help.
We’re happy to be that happy, should you ever need it. If you have a pest problem, dangerous or otherwise, give Griffin a call anytime. We’ll help you stop freaking out–it’s what we do.

Michigan’s Most Common Summer Pests

Mosquito swarm

By now, you don’t need us to tell you which pests are the most active this summer. In fact, you probably never want to think about these four pests ever again. For these four particularly prevalent pests, the heat and humidity of Michigan’s summer is paradise. They’ve been growing, breeding, spreading… and probably bothering you like there’s no tomorrow.

No matter how bad the bugs, however, you don’t have to suffer them without recourse. Even at their most populous, there’s always a reason why pests choose a particular place to infest. If you can make sure you don’t provide them with what they want, they’ll leave you alone. Here’s everything you need to know to keep your least favorite nuisances away from you this summer.

Mosquitoes

mosquitoes in summerMosquitoes are so prevalent in summer for a couple reasons. First, they either hatch in spring or start reproducing. Either way, it means a lot of mature mosquitoes come early summer. Hot weather also allows mosquitoes to grow through their life cycles faster. They hatch faster, grow faster, and reproduce faster. The hotter and more humid the environment, the more mosquitoes breed. The more mosquitoes breed, the more mosquitoes hunt for blood and bother you.

Mosquitoes need moisture to stay active, breed, and lay eggs. They prefer to live and hunt near sources of standing, stagnant water. You’d be surprised just how many sources of stagnant water mosquitoes can find and use. Any kind of ditch, basin, or bucket can collect water, and mosquitoes only need the tiniest amount. Look for and remove sources of water mosquitoes could use to reproduce or lay eggs, outside and inside. You’ll be surprised what a difference it makes!

Ticks

ticks in summerSeveral different factors conspired in 2018 to give us the worst tick season in years. Weather from La Niña produced a milder winter and an earlier spring. The mild weather allowed ticks to emerge and lay eggs much sooner than usual. In addition, the white-footed mouse population grew substantially last year. Small rodents like the white-footed mouse are a great food source for ticks. Between the weather and food availability, 2018 is a perfect storm for tick activity.

Ticks hunt by climbing shrubs and grasses. From their perches, the ticks simply wait for their prey to walk by and then grab onto it. The fewer places they have to hunt, the harder it will be for ticks to infest your property. Keep grass, shrubs, and bushes trimmed short during tick season. Take care to wear bug spray, long pants, and long sleeves when you’re in an area where ticks might live. Always check yourself for ticks after spending time outside. Tick-borne diseases are on the rise this year, so keeping yourself safe from ticks is more important than ever.

Silverfish

silverfish in summerUnlike the other pests on this list, silverfish aren’t more prevalent during summer because of their natural lifecycle. Silverfish live for two to three years or more and produce more 50 offspring each. They can remain active and reproduce as long as they have access to warmth, darkness, and humidity. They seem more active in summer because heat and humidity let them move around more and stay out longer.

Silverfish are nocturnal and live in dark, humid, and secluded places. Indoors, you’re most likely to find them in places like your basement, attic, closets, or crawl spaces. Often, you’ll find them under furniture, boxes, bags, and other stored materials. They’ll generally stay close to food sources, such as flour, cereal, fabric, paper, clothing, paste, glue, or paper. Controlling your home’s humidity is the best way to keep silverfish out. Find and correct moisture problems like leaking pipes, especially in at-risk areas like your basement. Reducing the number of hiding places silverfish could access and depriving them of food will also help.

House flies

house flies in summerHouse flies become especially prevalent in summer because they begin reproducing in late spring. Mother house flies deposit up to 150 eggs on an appropriate food source, such as garbage. During the heat of summer, these eggs hatch very quickly–sometimes only hours after they’re laid! House flies grow faster in hot weather during every other stage of their development, as well. In summer, house flies can complete their entire four-stage life cycle in as few as 7 to 10 days.

If you seem to have a house fly problem, it’s probably because they are laying eggs in your home. House flies lay eggs on food sources, which is usually garbage. House flies can only eat liquids, but they can liquefy various food items such as sugars and starches. Keep all your garbage in sealed plastic bags. Rinse out any liquid containers before you throw them out. Take garbage out to your outdoor dumpster frequently, and make sure it doesn’t spill.

 

Hopefully, these tips prove that no summer infestation is too intense to beat. Know your enemy and follow these strategies, and you can enjoy a pest-free summer. That pest-free summer can be this summer. Don’t give up!

If you need a little help driving out your pests once and for all, give Griffin a call any time. We’ve dealt with these all-too-common pests for plenty of summers before, and we’re happy to deal with them again.

Outdoor Bug Safety Tips

What do mosquitoes look like in Kalamazoo |  Griffin Pest Solutions

It’s finally summer, and you’re going to want to spend some time outside. Unfortunately, if you actually want to enjoy your time outside, you’ll have to do something about bugs. Whether you’re camping, hiking, or just lounging around the beach, bugs are a serious concern in the summer. Luckily, all it takes to enjoy a bug-free day outside is a little preparation and common sense. That’s where we come in.

These are our top four outdoor bug safety tips for summer. Next time you’re planning a nice day outdoors, review these important safety tips. Imagine: you’ll never have to itch another bug bite again! Follow these tips, and the dream could come true this summer.
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Use bug spray appropriately

Use bug spray appropriatelyYes, there are right and wrong ways to use bug spray. Applying bug spray effectively is easily the most effective way to keep bugs away while you’re outdoors this summer. Here are the bug spray “dos” and “don’ts” you should know.

When applying bug spray, DO:

  • Make sure the bug spray you’re using is EPA tested and approved.
  • Carefully read and follow the directions listed on your specific bug spray.
  • Apply the spray as directed by the spray’s instructions.
  • (Generally) mist the spray over your body and clothing from a distance.
  • Make sure to hit exposed parts of your body, such as your arms, legs, and neck.
  • Re-apply the spray exactly as often as the instructions direct you to.
  • Wash off the spray as soon as you’re no longer outside.

DO NOT:

  • Apply the spray to your face, mouth, eyes, hands, ears, or mouth.
  • Apply the spray to wounds or broken skin.
  • Ingest or breathe in the spray.
  • Apply the spray to areas of your body that will be covered by clothing, such as your chest or stomach.
  • Attempt to use the spray to kill bugs that come near you.

Cover vulnerable areas

cover vulnerable areasMosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects naturally target some parts of the human body more than others. In some cases, it’s because these areas are the most accessible or the easiest to sneak to. In other cases, it’s because skin is thin on certain parts of the body, so it’s easier to sting through.

The ankles, lower legs, back of the knees, armpits, neck, and ears ears are particularly vulnerable to bug bites. It’s a good idea to cover these areas with clothing while outside, even if you’re regularly applying bug spray. Wear high socks, long pants, long sleeves, and hat when you’re spending time in heavily bug-infested places.

Avoid bug hot spots

Avoid bug hot spotsNo matter where you’re going, there are ways you can stay out of the most bug-infested areas. Ticks use tall grass and other low-to-mid height plant life to hunt or “quest.” They climb to the top of the grass and wait for unsuspecting prey to wander by. Staying out of tall grass or heavy vegetation will help you avoid the worst tick risks while outside.

Mosquitoes live in shady, dark areas near water. Avoid spending too much time in heavily forested areas or near pools of stagnant water like bogs. In general, try to stay out of (or at least don’t linger in) overgrown areas. Stay out in the open, preferably on high ground with well-kept landscaping.

Don’t attract bugs to you

don't attract bugs to youAll kinds of stuff can attract different kinds of bugs. Some of it is obvious: sugary foods attract ants, wasps, and other carb consumers. Light sources draw in moths. Flies will flock to garbage and rotting food. Some of it is less-than-obvious, however. Water and especially beer attract mosquitoes, gnats, and fruit flies, especially if you leave it out.

Any experienced camper knows you have to think about how to protect food and supplies from wildlife. Think of this the same way, but with bugs instead of bears. Take some time to consider how you’re transporting and storing the stuff you bring outside with you. Make sure liquids are sealed up properly when you’re not drinking them. Store food in airtight, covered containers that don’t let the smell escape. Move garbage away from where you’re staying.

 

All four of these tips have something in common: they’re very simple! Protecting yourself against summer bugs isn’t complicated, even if you’re deep in their territory. Always keep bugs in mind when you’re outside, and you won’t have to think about them about when you’re itching bites later.

That covers the outdoors, but what about inside? Well, Griffin has your back there, too. If you have a bug infestation problem in your home, give us a call any time. We have the tools and experience to take care of any pest infestation, so you can get back to enjoying your summer.

Pests for Watch Out for While Camping

Don't Let Pests Ruin Your Camping Trip

Camping is the best. You get to be outside, you see beautiful sights, you can hang out with your friends and family, and (best of all) it makes you seem all rugged and self-reliant. Summer days are the perfect time to schedule a camping trip. Find somewhere you’ve never been before, pack your bags, and get out there!

Unfortunately, the wondrous splendor of the natural world has its downsides. Chief among these downsides are, of course, pests. When you think about it, every time you go camping, you’re essentially colonizing the domain of the pests. Here are some pests you should watch out for on your adventure into the untamed wild lands and some camping pest control ideas you can use to protect yourself from them.

 

Woman spraying her legs for bug spray

Mosquitoes

Enemy of the outdoorsman. Scourge of the camper. Rival of the attorney. Mosquitoes are known by many names, most of which aren’t fit for family websites. The bloodsuckers are found virtually everywhere, but you should prepare for them especially on camping trips. Mosquitoes like moist, humid, shaded environments with plenty of natural cover. They also prefer to be near water. Camping sites have all of that, plus their food even comes to them! Unprepared campers are essentially human conveyor-belt sushi to mosquitoes.

Luckily, camping pest control for mosquitoes is pretty easy. First, invest in some heavy-duty bug spray. Apply it every two hours while you’re outside. Wear long, brightly-colored clothing. Wear a hat and bring water to stay cool and minimize sweating. Make sure you wear hiking boots and appropriate, tight-fitting socks. When it starts getting dark out, consider retiring to your campsite. Mosquitoes become much more active starting at dusk. Build a fire if it’s allowed; the smoke will keep all kinds of bugs away. Drape a mosquito net over your tent and/or sleeping bag in the night.

 

tick

Ticks

This infamous hiking menace starts making trouble in the summer, just when you’re gearing up to go out. These bloodsuckers sneak onto campers and clamp down, gorging for days until they’ve gotten their fill. Ticks can even infect us with diseases while they’re stealing our blood. Ticks like campsites because they can use abundant natural flora near the trail during hunts. Ticks climb onto plants and lie in wait. When a victim wanders by, they leap on and bite down.

To practice tick camping pest control, build your camp in a well-maintained clearing. Avoid walking too close to overgrown edges or “off-roading” while you’re hiking. Apply anti-tick spray as frequently as you apply bug spray. Wear appropriate clothing like hiking boots, long socks, pants, and shirts, and a hat. When you get back to your campsite at night, thoroughly inspect your body, clothing, and equipment. Remove ticks you find with a tweezers immediately. If you find a tick on your clothing, re-check your body, remove that clothing, and isolate it from the rest of your stuff.

 

spider

Spiders

Most spiders aren’t actually dangerous. Unlike ticks and mosquitoes, they don’t feed on humans, and they’re less likely to transmit disease. Virtually all spiders can and will bite when threatened, however, and the venom administered by a bite could itch, sting, or even burn. Camp sites attract spiders for two primary reasons: One, there are plenty of places to build webs. Two, they attract other pests. As flying pests flock toward humans and start buzzing around, hungry spiders follow. They build their webs wherever they have the right building conditions. Then, they wait for their prey to spring the trap.

Spider camping pest control is as much about what you don’t do as what you do. Don’t build your campsite under low-hanging foliage and plant life. Leaves and grasses you have to duck under could be the structures holding up spider webs. Avoid touching or resting on too many trees, rocks, or branches. Never stick your hand anywhere out of sight, like in the nook of a tree or under a rock. If you fall, accidentally lean on something, or brush up against a tree or bush, examine your clothing for spiders. Keep your food in sealed plastic containers at least 10 feet away from your tent at night.

 

Wasp

Bees and Wasps

Nothing will ruin your camping trip faster than upsetting a wasp’s nest. Suddenly, your outing is less “leisurely vacation” and more “desperate fight for survival.” Bees and wasps sting to defend their homes or when they feel threatened. Both bees and wasps tend to live around camping sites, albeit for different reasons. Bees seek out the nectar in flowers planted on and around the site. Wasps, like spiders, hunt the other prey attracted to the site.

Long clothing will go a long way toward preventing bee and wasp stings, as well. Avoid building your camp in areas with heavy foliage or vegetation. Watch for hanging hives nearby and avoid them. If you’re allergic to stings, bring along an EpiPen. Seal your food securely until you eat it. This counts double for sweets, because sugar attracts wasps and bees from surprisingly far away. Alcoholic beverages do, too.

 

Don’t let pests ruin your camping trip. Practice simple camping pest control techniques like these and you won’t have to spend time thinking about bugs while you’re out there. And remember: if you have pest questions related to camping, prevention, or anything else, you can always call the experts at Griffin Pest Control. Have a great trip!

Protect Yourself from Summer Pests

You aren’t the only one excited to finally spend some time outside in nice weather. All kinds of pests start to stir in the spring for the express purpose of enjoying the warm sun and abundant food available in summer.

Your summer should be about getting outside and enjoying the weather, not itching bug bites and removing ticks. Here are a couple easy ways to defend yourself and your home from these all-too-common summer pests.

mosquito

Mosquitoes

It wouldn’t be summer without mosquitoes, right?! Because it would be better summer. The quintessential summer pest becomes most active (and hungry) during the hottest months of the year. Mosquitoes look for standing water where they can lay eggs. Clean up stagnant water to prevent mosquito overload. Look for low patches in your lawn, clogged downspouts, gutters, or storm sewers, plumbing leaks, and shaded areas where water won’t evaporate.

Mosquitoes only need a little water, so you have to be thorough. If you’re going out and can’t avoid the tiny bloodsuckers, follow these tips to prevent bites: Wear long sleeves and pants, high socks, boots, and a hat. It goes without saying, but you should also wear bug spray. Reapply the spray about once every two hours. Mosquitoes get more active at dusk and at night, so consider calling it a day shortly before the sun sets if you don’t want to get itchy.

tick

Ticks

Ticks are the other annoying bloodsucker of summer. They can’t fly, but they can jump onto you or your pets and bite down, latching on while they feed. Like mosquitoes, ticks get all feisty and active during hot summers. Unlike mosquitoes, ticks stick around; they may stay attached to you for days if they go unnoticed.

Ticks live in places with heavy foliage or vegetation, which they use to get to their unsuspecting prey. They jump from tall grasses, weeds, or other plants directly onto their target. Avoid overgrown paths or walking through forests unprotected. Wear long sleeves when hiking, and check yourself and pets for ticks when you get home. Run your hiking clothes through the dryer as soon as you get back. To prevent ticks around your home (it happens), keep your lawn, hedges, and bushes trimmed short. Maintain your garden by taking good care of plants and de-weeding frequently.

ant

Ants

There are a ton of different kinds of ant, and they’re all pests in their own special ways. House ants contaminate food sources. Carpenter ants eat through wood. Fire ants have a notoriously painful bite. Whatever the case, you don’t want ants in your home. When the weather starts to heat up, ants come out looking for food and water. Homes like yours can be a great source for both, if you’re unprepared.

Ants usually infest kitchens. They’re attracted to food remains, especially crumbs and sweet liquids. Wipe down countertops and tables after meals. Don’t leave bread or grains of any kind sitting on in the open. Consider transferring food from paper containers into hard plastics. Don’t leave dishes out, even to soak in the sink. Look for any cracks or crevices where ants might sneak in, especially around the kitchen. Ants don’t need very much space, so don’t assume any opening is too small.

wasp

Wasps

Wasp nests usually reach their most active state in mid-to-late summer. During this stage, wasps aggressively forage for whatever food they can get their hands on – and they love human food. If you’ve ever had a picnic outside during the summer, you’ve probably encountered wasps before. They’re particularly attracted to sweet food and liquids, like fruits, juices, and candies.

You only need to worry about a wasp problem on your property if they build a nest nearby. There are a number of ways you can prevent this: Keep your garbage in tight plastic bags. Wash out recyclable bottles before taking them to your bin. Don’t leave food out in the open for very long, and clean up immediately after meals. Wasps won’t sting unless provoked, so do your best not to antagonize them. If you’re allergic to wasp stings, call a professional the moment you notice a larger-than-average wasp presence around your home.

 

Pests may be more active during the summer, but that’s no reason to deny yourself some fun in the sun. Follow tips like these, and you’ll go boldly into the warmth and fear neither sting nor bite! Or at least, you’ll fear them less.

Of course, if you find out you have a pest infestation and you want it dealt with fast, you can always call Griffin today. We’ll take care of your problem quickly and permanently, so you can get back to your life.