How Do I Keep Bed Bugs Out of My Car?

Line of cars in a lot

There are a lot of hitchhiker horror stories. There are dozens of movies about it. The Hitchhiker. The Hitcher. The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting. Curve. Quicksilver Highway. Hitchhiker Massacre. Dead End. And many more. All these media, all on the topic of scary folks trying to catch a ride. Despite how common a horror topic car hitchhikers are, these movies seem to forget the most common horror hitchhikers of all: pests.

Bed bugs are one horrific type of hitchhiker that is unfortunately all-too-real. Given the opportunity, bed bugs will sneak into your car and hitchhike all the way home with you. You’ll inadvertently transport them everywhere you go and they’ll make themselves at home with you and wherever you stay. Bed bug hitchhikers are a real problem, but fortunately, that means there are real solutions to that problem. All it takes to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking in your car is a little knowledge and preparation. These are our best tips for keeping bed bugs out of your car:

Clean your car regularly and thoroughly. 

It’s disarmingly easy for even very tidy people to let their cars get messy. Unfortunately, the messier your car, the easier it is for bed bugs to hide inside. Bed bugs tend to cling to and hide inside transported objects. Prevent bed bugs from getting into and hiding in your car by regularly practicing the following cleaning practices: 

  • Remove the floor mats. Take them outside. Shake them. This will remove the loose dust, dirt, and other debris. Set them down in your driveway or garage floor and use a vacuum to pick up anything that wasn’t already shaken off. 
  • Clear out any trash. Papers, coins, cans, cups, and so on. Use latex gloves in case anything has gotten a little too gross. Place all the trash in a garbage bag. Don’t forget to clear out places like the center console, cup holders, glove box, and both between and under the seats.
  • Wipe out cupholders. You can use your average surface or glass cleaner. Spray it in, let it sit for five minutes, and then wipe it out. Do this same process for other plastic crevices like the center console, interior of doors, and so on.
  • Use disinfectant wipes on all other surfaces. Buttons, dashboard, console. You can use q-tips to clean in the slots in the vents as well.
  • Use carpet cleaner on all carpets. Spray it on, scrub it with a stiff brush, and let it dry. 
  • Vacuum everything. This is your final step. Anything that hasn’t already been caught (including wayward bed bug eggs) will be sucked up by the vacuum tube.

Learn how to inspect a car for bed bugs. 

Car infestations aren’t nearly as common as infestations inside homes. Unfortunately, that’s often because the bed bugs in your car migrate or spread into your home quickly. If you have bed bugs in your home, you should know how to look for them in your car, as well. Here’s how you inspect a car for bed bugs:

  • Remove any trash or clutter that they can use as a hiding place. This includes jackets, books, and other random items we tend to keep in our cars. 
  • Once you’ve done this, conduct a visual inspection. If your car is clean, any abnormalities should be easily found. 
  • Look along the seams in your car seats, underneath the seats, and along the floor. Also look in out of the way places like the glove compartment, console, and cup holders. 
  • Keep an eye out for common bed bug signs like rust-colored blood stains or dark streaks. You may also find abandoned exoskeletons or small black eggs that look like lint or dots.

Have the number of a trusted pest control company on hand.

Bed bug problems can go from small to big fast. They can easily spread to your home, office, friends, and family if not taken care of immediately. That’s why you want to know who you’re going to call if you have a bed bug problem before you have one. Do some research on local pest control companies and find one that has robust practices that include inspections, heat treatments, and more.

 

Whether it’s bed bugs in your car, cockroaches in your basement, or something else entirely, Griffin has your back. Give us a call whenever you need help removing pesky pests from the places you call home.

Pests to Watch Out for When Traveling

Bed bugs are pests that travel

When you’re planning a vacation, we’re guessing pest control is one of the further things from your mind. If anything, you probably think about things you can do to protect your home while you’re away. You certainly don’t think about whether pest infestations could happen to you while you’re traveling. That doesn’t even sound like it makes sense. How can you have a pest infestation if pests don’t have anywhere to infest?

Unfortunately, however, pest infestations can happen to you, even while you’re on vacation. Even worse, these pest infestations never stay a vacation problem. Instead, you’ll probably bring them home with you like a bad souvenir. In fact, some pests spread primarily via travelers. Here are four pests you need to look out for while traveling, and how to keep them from following you back home.

Bed bugs

The number one way bed bugs move into new homes is after travelers inadvertently transport them there. Bed bugs hitch rides with travelers by hiding in suitcases, luggage bags, clothing, purses and more. After sneaking inside these hiding places, the bugs remain perfectly still for extended periods of time. The bed bugs are so small, hidden, and still that travelers don’t often notice them. After taking their bags back home, the bed bugs emerge and seek more permanent residence.

Contrary to popular belief, bed bugs don’t exclusively infest “dirty” places. Unfortunately, they’re quite capable of living anywhere from a relative’s house to a car to a five star hotel. Bed bugs don’t “mean” to hitchhike with travelers; they’re simply drawn to dark, warm, hidden places. When you travel, you should always keep a close eye on all the bags you’re carrying with you. Keep them elevated, closed, and sealed whenever you aren’t using them. When you get home, consider throwing your traveling items into the dryer for 20 minutes at a high temperature.

Despite being larger and easier to spot than bed bugs, cockroaches often end up hitchhiking in very similar ways

Cockroaches

Despite being larger and easier to spot than bed bugs, cockroaches often end up hitchhiking in very similar ways. Cockroaches are naturally attracted to dark, warm, moist, and secluded areas. They’ll also sneak into food boxes or even toiletries. Like bed bugs, they will stay perfectly still after they find a good hiding place. Roaches can survive for an extended period of time without food or water. They’re also great climbers and can cling to surprisingly sheer surfaces.

Roaches can work their way into nearly any open container you leave out for them. Food packages, suitcases, clothing bags, purses, and even computer bags are all fair game. A roach can survive a surprisingly long trip until you take it back home. To avoid this, keep all travel bags closed, sealed, and elevated whenever you’re not using them. Don’t transport food with you–especially not without a proper container. If you keep your bags locked down, roaches won’t be able to come home with you.

Lice

Lice get into people’s hair after climbing into it from clothing items like hats, scarves, coats, and sweaters. They use their hook-like feet to latch onto hidden parts of clothing or other pieces of fabric until they have an opportunity to transfer. Unlike roaches or bed bugs, lices usually travel along with travelers directly on travelers. Lice can’t survive without a human host, and they can’t live for long on fabric. If you find lice near you, they’re feeding on someone close by.

Before lice climb onto you, they generally hide on clothing items where they can transfer to hosts. Hats, scarves, hoodies, and any other clothing that goes on your head is particularly vulnerable. Try to be particularly cautious about what you wear when you’re traveling. Refrain from sharing clothing items or trying on pieces of clothing you didn’t bring with you. Keep all of your clothing in sealed, closed bags when you’re not wearing it.

Ants very frequently end up where they live after hitching a ride on unsuspecting traveler’s food

Ants

It seems like ants have a nearly-supernatural ability to find food. You leave out any food for any period of time and it seems like ants are all over it. Unfortunately, this counts double when traveling. Ants very frequently end up where they live after hitching a ride on unsuspecting traveler’s food. Like bed bugs, ants weren’t even trying to hitch a ride. They just wanted the food you happened to be carrying with you!

No matter where you travel, you should assume ants are living–and looking for food–nearby! If you leave out food, ants will feed on it. When you put that food away, you may end up transporting them with you. Keep a close eye on all the food you bring with you while traveling. Keep it in sealed, airtight bags whenever you’re not eating it. Clean up crumbs and other food debris whenever you make it. Throw out food wrappers and other garbage as soon as you’re finished with them.

 

Traveling makes everyone a little more vulnerable to pests, just like it makes everyone more likely to catch a cold. Just like you can bolster your immune system, however, you can take precautions to prevent pests from traveling with you. Practice the pest control tips we’ve shared while traveling, and you can have a pest-free vacation.

If you end up with a pest infestation after your vacation–or any other time for that matter–call Griffin any time. We’ll figure out where your pests came from, wipe them out, and make sure they can’t bother you again. Have a great trip, and stay safe!  

 

How Can I Keep Bed Bugs Away While I’m Traveling?

Bed bugs travel on fabric

The primary way bed bugs spread is by hitching rides with travelers. They do that by sneaking into these travelers’ boxes, bags, and belongings while they aren’t looking. Keep a careful eye on your luggage while traveling to avoid bringing any unwanted hitchhikers on your trip with you.

Bed bugs love travelers. For these bloodsucking stowaways, every in-law in your guest room is an opportunity to see the world. Unfortunately, they won’t just leave after they’ve made themselves at home, either. The bed bugs you bring back from your travels tend to stick around. That’s why it’s so important you keep bed bugs from following you on your travels in the first place. We want to help you do that. Here are the five best ways you can avoid picking up bed bugs while you’re traveling this holiday season:

1. Keep your belongings off of the floor

Bed bugs spend most of their time looking for warm, dark, secluded places to hide. Unfortunately, those warm, dark, secluded hiding places are often luggage! If your bags are on the floor, they’ll be all-too-easy for bed bugs to get into.

Whenever you’re unpacking for the night, be sure to keep all of your traveling bags in elevated areas. Never leave anything unattended on the floor. The less accessible your bags, the harder it’ll be for bed bugs to come on your trip with you.

Do some research on where you're staying

2. Do some research on where you’re staying

Take the time to research the bed bug history of any lodging you’re planning on using. If that hotel or motel has a history of bed bug problems, chances are someone’s documented those problems online. There are even websites like the Bed Bug Registry to help ensure you find a place to stay that’s bed bug-free.

Obviously, if you’re staying at a relative’s home, this is trickier. After all, you may feel a little awkward asking them about their history with bed bugs! In these cases, we recommend you play it safe rather than sorry. Bring your own bed sheets and pillows. Make sure you store them in elevated places!

3. Choose your luggage carefully

Bed bugs love fabric. They love eating it, living in it, and burrowing into it. They’ll try to get at any fabric piece of clothing, accessory, or luggage you have. You can dissuade them from getting into your things by using a hard shell suitcase.

Hard shell suitcases are far harder to infiltrate than their soft counterparts. Just make sure you keep it shut tight when you’re not using it. Oh, and–say it with us–ELEVATE IT!

Inspect your sleeping area carefully before settling in

4. Thoroughly inspect your sleeping area before you settle in

After you arrive where you’re staying and before you unpack, follow the following steps. First, pull the comforter back on the sheets. Look for any telltale red or brown spots on sheets. Then, systematically check all the tucked-away places where bed bugs like to hide. Look under the mattress, between the mattress and box spring, behind any furniture, underneath cushions, and even in corners.

If you find bloody smears, dark brown splattering, or dried skin in likely spots, bed bugs are probably nearby. If you can, you should find another place to sleep. If you can’t leave, then you should thoroughly wash the sheets on the hottest possible setting. Do not unpack your bags or leave them on the floor.

5. Check your bags before you get back home

You should thoroughly inspect your bags after you get home and before you head back inside. Check your luggage and all its contents for any signs of bed bug infestations. Look for brown or red marks on clothing, smears in cracks and crevices, or dried shed skin.

As soon as you get back inside, throw all the fabrics you brought on your trip into your dryer. Run them through once on the highest heat setting. If you can, you should consider drying your bags and other belongings this way, too. High heat will kill any bed bugs you couldn’t see. Don’t unpack your belongings until you’re sure they’re bed bug-free!

 

Next time you’re vacationing, road tripping, or visiting relatives, don’t stress about the possibility of bed bugs. Instead, simply follow these tips diligently when they’re relevant and focus on having a good time. As long as you keep up with these prevention rules, you’ll shouldn’t have to worry about unwanted stowaways ever again.

Even if your trip takes a turn and you do find bed bugs, however, don’t panic! The team at Griffin Pest Solutions can find and wipe out your bed bug problem quickly, effectively, and permanently. They may have come home with you, but we’ll make sure they don’t make themselves at home. Have a safe and happy trip!

Preventing Lice This School Year

Preventing Lice this School Year

Head lice outbreaks are synonymous with the beginning of a new school year, especially for young kids. Lice are maybe the most upsetting pests you’ll ever come into contact with. They live in your hair. They lay eggs in your hair. Did Stephen King design this animal?

Maybe worst of all, a lice infestation could ruin your kid’s first weeks back at school. Chances are, getting your kid happy about school is an uphill battle anyway. The last thing you need is some hair monster making them afraid to get on the bus! Here’s what you should know about lice and how to protect your kids from them.

What are Lice?

The singular noun for lice is "louse". This is a louse.

“Lice” is the plural noun for the “louse,” which is an order of clear or grey, 2.5-3 millimeter, flat and wingless parasitic insects. They sustain themselves entirely on the secretions of a host. Head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis) only feed on the blood of humans.

Head lice don’t transmit diseases the way other body lice can, and they lay their eggs on the scalp, not clothing. They can and do undergo their entire four-stage life cycle while infesting a human host, hatching from eggs, molting up to three times as nymphs, and growing to reproductive adulthood.

Why do they infest hair?

why lice infest hair

Head lice infest the scalp of their host for two reasons: temperature and security. The pests have to live in warm locations to maintain body temperature. Hair and heat coming off of a host’s head help them stay comfortable while they chow down.

Lice can’t defend themselves from predators, and they can’t fly, jump, or run away fast, either. The best chance they have is staying close to their hosts and hiding. That’s why head lice developed hook-like claws on their legs. These “hooks” latch around hair shafts, allowing the louse to hide under the hair and move around without their host shaking them off.

Why are they such a problem at schools?

Lice are a particularly common problem at schools

Head lice infestation has nothing to do with the cleanliness of a host. If a child has them, it is not because they are dirty or their home is. The real reason why this particular pest tends to be a problem at pre-schools is even simpler–and kinda silly.

The most common way for lice to move from host-to-host is by head-to-head contact. Little kids are more-or-less the only people likely to have head-to-head contact, other than football players. Kids hair might touch when they’re playing, napping, or just being adorable little weirdos. Lice can also move from host-to-host by hitching rides on clothes and other personal effects.   

How can I protect my kid?

Lice are common, but preventable

We’d suggest teaching your child that sharing is bad, but we’re pretty sure that would contradict their teacher. You can teach them not to touch other kids’ hair, wear their clothes, or put anything belonging to other kids up by their heads, however. Make sure your kid only wears their own helmet, and doesn’t share hats, scarves, towels, or headsets.

Once your kid gets home from school, consider combing their hair with a fine-toothed comb. If you’re particularly worried about lice, you could use a specialized shampoo to wash your kid’s hair. Make sure you regularly wash your kid’s clothing and bedding, too.

What should I do if my kid has lice?

There are several easy ways to treat a lice infestation

If one one of your kids has lice, everyone should check for them. Immediately isolate clothing, bedding, towels, and combs used by the infested person. Machine wash or professionally dry clean applicable materials using hot water to kill eggs and lice on infested material. Vacuum and thoroughly clean any furniture the infested person used in the past several days.

There are several varieties of louse medicine available. Consult your doctor for information on what you should use and follow their instructions. Use a lice “nit” comb after each treatment, and continue to check the infested person for lice everyday for 2-3 weeks after the lice have gone.

 

Head lice aren’t dangerous, but that’s cold comfort to anyone who gets them. If you hear about an infestation at your child’s school, don’t panic. Just make sure you follow the tips listed above, and if worst comes to worst, seek out treatment options.

And remember: you don’t have to shave your head. Or your kid’s head. Or some random classmate of your kid’s head. If you have any other questions about pest that live anywhere (not just on your body), give Griffin a call today! We’ve been fighting the pest menace here in Michigan for a long time, and we’ve learned a thing or two in the process. Hope your kid has a great, lice-free year!

Ditch Unwanted Pest Souvenirs on Vacation

It’s easy to understand why souvenirs are so popular. Everyone wants something physical that reminds them of a happy vacation spent with loved ones. When you picture souvenirs, however, we’re guessing you picture snow globes, postcards, and culturally appropriative knick knacks–not bed bugs. Unfortunately, traveling is maybe the number-one way most homeowners end up with bed bugs. And you don’t even have to travel somewhere with a bed!

Bed bugs, ticks, moths, and other pests like them have evolved to become excellent hitchhikers. Given half an opportunity, they’ll happily bum a ride back to your place with you. The last thing you want to do after a nice, restful vacation is contend with an infestation of gross bugs. Here are some vacation pest prevention tips to ensure you only bring home the things you want next time you go on vacation.

 

plane in flight above the clouds during a sunrise

Flight

You’re not even safe from pests 30,000 feet in the air. Pests like moths, silverfish, and bed bugs sneak into suitcases. You check those bags, take off, and your new pests get a free flight. It’s not uncommon to pick up pests at the airport itself, too. The number of people traveling and the amount of garbage they create foster pest communities that are just as diverse and thriving.

Keep your bags sealed whenever when you aren’t using them–this means in the hotel, on the road, in the airport, and even on the plane. Refrain from keeping food in carryout bags. Don’t take garbage from the plane with you. Wash all your clothes when you get home. Throw your bags in the dryer for 20 minutes to kill bed bugs hiding in them. Carefully inspect everything you brought home for signs of pest infestation, even after washing and drying it.

 

Long, lonely desert road

Road Trip

People have nothing on a bug’s love of the open road. Bed bugs, fleas, ticks, and spiders are just as comfortable wandering from one (ahem) cockroach motel to the next on a cross-country adventure. All of the hotel advice above counts double for road trips. Check the sheets, carpet, curtains, and bathroom for signs of pest infestation. Keep your bags elevated and tightly shut whenever you’re not using them. Check your socks and the inside of your shoes every morning.

Keep your windows closed when possible out on the road, especially if you’re traveling through wooded areas. Don’t eat messy foods in the car, and thoroughly clean up any food or beverage spills immediately. Keep the interior of the car clean and dehumidified. Have everyone stay hydrated to prevent sweating and heat generation, but make sure you don’t leave beverages in the car after you get out.

 

visiting grandma and grandpa

Visiting Relatives

No, we’re not going to teach you how to keep your in-laws from coming back with you. That’s not the kind of vacation pest prevention we specialize in. But it’s important to be wary of pests in any home, no matter how clean and well cared-for it seems. Pests don’t discriminate, and the theory that they only pick on dirty homes is totally wrong.

Follow all the steps above, and change the sheets you’ll be using as soon as you arrive. Check furniture for signs of infestation, particularly if it’s old or beat up. Don’t hang up your clothes in their closet or leave your bag open in their living room. Remember that bed bugs seem to look for travelers specifically. The residents probably don’t even know they’re around. Following these tips should keep you safe from those pests, but good luck explaining what you’re doing under the bed to your mother-in-law.

 

Campers sitting around a campfire at night

Camping Trip

The greatest vacation pest prevention challenge yet! You’re going outdoors. Pests LIVE outdoors. Insects and all kinds of other pests will assail your site for as long as you’re there, looking for a weakness to exploit. You won’t give them one.

Keep food in sealed containers 10 feet from the site and at least 8 feet in the air. Keep your firewood supplies 20 feet away. Seal your tent with your bags inside it when you’re not using them. Sleep under a mosquito net and check your sleeping bags for pests every night. Dispose of food remains immediately by taking them away from the site. It should go without saying, but always wear bug spray and anti-tick ointment. Thoroughly wash and dry all your equipment when you get home, including your clothes, your tent, your sleeping bag, and your own body. Check yourself for ticks or bites.

 

Follow each of our vacation pest prevention protocols while you’re out enjoying your time off, and you won’t have to worry about bringing back any unexpected “guests” when you return. Those freeloaders will have to find some other tourist!

If you’d like to learn more about pests, check out some of our blogs. If you need pest investigation, prevention, or a treatment service, let us know right away. Have a great vacation!