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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Winter Invaders to Watch Out For

Mouse in snow

You could call this time of year in Michigan “the dead of winter.” It certainly often feels that way, especially on one of its many dark, dreary days. Despite how it may look and feel outside, however, not everything really is dead. As you probably know, pests are nothing if not tenacious.

No matter how cold or dead the winter, pests will muddle on long enough to bother you. It would almost be inspirational, if it weren’t so annoying. Here are four pests that are probably trying to warm themselves up inside your home right now.

stink bugs

Stink Bugs

Stink bugs are infuriatingly common in Michigan. Part of the reason why they’ve managed to stick around is that they’re good at staying warm during winter. They do that by sneaking into people’s homes for shelter starting in early fall. Stink bugs congregate around windows and other warm places all fall. While they’re gathered, they find cracks and gaps around frames and siding. They use these gaps to work their way inside.

Inside, stink bugs enter a hibernation-like state called diapause for extended periods of time. While in diapause, the bugs remain completely immobile and don’t need food or water. In order to remain safe while in diapause, the bugs seek out hiding places. The stink bugs in your home may be in your walls, around your rafters, or in other secluded areas. They won’t hurt your home while they’re around, but they may produce their distinctive stink.

cluster flies

Cluster Flies

Cluster flies look a lot like common house flies, but they’re bigger, rounder, and slower. They may make a buzzing noise when they fly around. The name “cluster flies” refers to the flies’ tendency to cluster together in large numbers. Starting in late summer and early fall, they gather in groups to stay warm. As the temperature drops, they make their way into cracks and gaps around siding and awnings. Eventually, these cracks may lead them all the way inside.

Like stink bugs, cluster flies may enter prolonged periods of diapause after entering your home. These flies usually enter your home from high up, so they’re common in attics and rafters. You may find them around window or door frames, or near vents and utility lines. Cluster flies wake up during warm days to move around. They can’t hurt you or damage your property, though they may attract other pests like spiders. Cluster flies usually leave your home in spring.

rodents

Rodents

Rats and mice cannot hibernate. To survive winter, they need to find a warm place where they can access food and water. Rodents are very sensitive to temperature and pressure changes in the atmosphere. They begin infiltrating homes as soon as they sense fall approaching. Rats and mice squeeze through small gaps around window and door frames, utility lines, foundation, and siding. They find these gaps by using their acute senses to find drafts and follow the smell of food.

Rodents can’t fly like stink bugs or flies, so they usually end up in your basement. They’re attracted to any source of moisture or food. Rats and mice grind their teeth by chewing on a wide variety of soft materials. They can ruin boxes and fabric, damage furniture, or even cut electrical wires and start fires. Both rats and mice may reproduce indoors if given the chance. If you have a rodent infestation, you should deal with it fast!

boxelder bugs

Boxelder Bugs

Boxelder bug behavior is quite similar to stink bugs’. Starting in fall, they begin to gather around warm places. They’re particularly attracted to homes with southern and eastern exposure, for the sunlight. As they congregate, they may naturally slip into gaps and cracks around windows and doors. When winter comes, they will move further through the cracks to stay warm, eventually ending up inside. Boxelder bugs have very flat bodies that enable them to squeeze through tiny areas.

Boxelder bugs remain generally inactive during winter. They don’t reproduce inside and they won’t live long enough to survive winter. Boxelder bugs may emerge from their hiding places to sun themselves during warm days. When that happens, you may find them near windows or other warm areas. Boxelder bugs aren’t dangerous, but they may secrete a liquid that could stain surfaces when threatened or crushed. You may encounter more boxelders in early spring, as they begin to leave your home.


The reason why pests want to get inside your home over winter is so they can stay warm. The colder (and longer) the winter, the more desperate these four pests become. Believe it or not, however, you can turn that to your advantage.

Pests don’t have time to waste trying to break into a fortress this winter. If you can pestproof your place, you can keep pests away all season long. We want to help. If you have a pest problem this winter, give Griffin a call any time. We’re always happy to drive pests out of your home, no matter the time of year!

Intercepting Stink Bugs in the Wintertime

Intercepting Stink Bugs

Unlike many other pests in our part of the world, stink bugs don’t infest homes during the spring or summer. Instead, Michigan’s newest neighbor tends to start infesting homes in late fall and early winter. If you see a stink bug in your home come early spring, it’s probably because it spent winter with you.

We know that’s not exactly great news. Stink bugs survive winter by getting cozy in shelter and basically going dormant until spring comes. But, as we keep our homes nice and warm, it’s not uncommon to see a few stink bugs in your home during the winter. If you don’t want to run into them in a few months, you should consider intercepting them now. Here’s everything you need to know to do it.

How They Survive

How stink bugs survive winterWhen temperatures drop, stink bugs enter a special hibernation-like state called diapause. Diapause dramatically slows down the stink bug’s metabolism, allowing it to survive without food for long periods of time. Instead of feeding, stink bugs in diapause burn through nutrients they spent the spring and summer stockpiling. Basically, they fatten themselves up for winter just like squirrels.

Stink bugs have to enter diapause in winter because the fruits, seeds, and nuts they feed on aren’t available. It solves their food problem, but they’re on their own when it comes to the cold problem. Stink bugs are native to Southeast Asia, and never developed adaptations to help them survive cold. Even if they entered diapause outside, their bodies would freeze and they would die. Unfortunately, that’s where your home comes in. Stink bugs try to sneak into structures for one reason: to keep warm and sleep away the winter.

Where They Go

where stink bugs go in winterStink bugs enter buildings via the same access points most pests find. Usually, they crawl through cracks and crevices around door and window frames or utility lines. Stink bugs fly and climb surfaces, so they may use vents, chimneys, or roofing damage to get in, as well. It’s only after stink bugs infiltrate a home successfully that their behavior becomes a bit more unique.

When stink bugs enter diapause, they can’t move and only have a minimal awareness of their surroundings. They have to be very careful about where they enter diapause if they ever want to wake back up! Once inside, stink bugs shack up in the quietest, most inaccessible or forgotten part of your home. They might be in air vents, under appliances, behind walls or flooring, or even hiding inside furniture. You’ll probably never find stink bugs inside unless you go looking for them.

Are they a Problem?

are stink bugs a problem in winter?No. When stink bugs enter homes, it’s only ever to stay warm while they sleep away the winter. They don’t eat or infest your food, damage structural material, create nests, mate, or lay eggs. In fact, stink bugs won’t begin their mating season or lay eggs in spring until after they’ve left your home. Pretty considerate of them, really. The pests don’t transmit diseases or harm humans and pests in any other way, either.

That being said, there is the matter of their name. Stink bugs… stink. When threatened or startled, they secrete a foul-smelling liquid from a scent gland. The scent has been compared to cilantro or coriander. The secretion is mostly harmless, though it may trigger allergic reactions or stain fabrics in concentrated amounts. Stink bugs may also produce a pheromone that attracts other stink bugs to their location. A lot of stink bugs aren’t any more dangerous or destructive than a few, but they are stinkier.  

What To Do About Them

what to do about stink bugsFirst, vacuum up the stink bugs you find with a shop vac. Remove and dispose of the vacuum bag into an outdoor dumpster when you’re finished. Clean the surfaces where you find stink bugs with soapy water and a washcloth. Try not to crush stink bugs when you find them, because they’ll release their scent on death. Remember to check the secluded or hidden areas where stink bugs like to hide. Cleaning these areas regularly will make them far less attractive to the pest.

When you’ve removed all the stink bugs you can find, focus on locating where they got in. Look for cracks and crevices around baseboards, door and window frames, the foundation, or insulation. Seal up cracks with caulk to prevent additional bugs from following residual scent left behind by the first infestation. Stink bugs’ bodies are quite flat, so even small cracks provide them with enough room to sneak through.

 

Stink bugs aren’t the most disruptive of winter pests, but you shouldn’t have to share your home with them. Come spring, any stink bugs you don’t find now will make themselves apparent, often in upsetting ways. Luckily, by getting to know stink bugs and following these steps, you can ensure that doesn’t happen.

And if ever you need some help ensuring that doesn’t happen, you know who to call. We’ve been fighting stink bugs since they showed their ugly mugs in Michigan, and we’re pretty good at it. Give us a call anytime and we’ll make sure you head into spring smelling good.

Holiday Humbugs to Watch Out For This Winter

Holiday Humbugs to Watch Out For

The Holidays are a unique time of year. You travel to places you don’t usually visit, do things you don’t usually do, with people you don’t usually see. All this new activity can feel refreshing and exciting, but it can also come with new concerns and stresses.

Yes, there are the obvious Holiday stressors–family fights, obnoxious in-laws, cramped living quarters–but there are less-obvious concerns to keep in mind, too. Chief among them: pests. Believe it or not, even the most wonderful time of year isn’t safe from everyone’s least favorite (well, almost everyone’s least favorite) house guests. Lots of pests take the hustle and bustle of the Holidays as the perfect opportunity to invite themselves over.

Here’s how they do it, and how to keep them out:

Bed Bugs

Holiday bed bugsBed bugs hide in dark, confined places and remain perfectly still for hours on end. These dark, confined spaces aren’t just beds, either. Bed bugs often hide in suitcase, bags, and other common travel gear. If travelers fail to notice the bed bugs when they pack, then the pest can easily spread to each location visited. Your mom brings her own pillow over because yours are “too hard”, and all of a sudden you have bed bugs in your home for the Holidays. Thanks a lot, Karen.

The best way to prevent bed bugs is to carefully inspect stuff moving into and out of your home. Run clothing, sheets, bags, and other cloth items through the dryer (on the highest heat setting) for about 20 minutes before unpacking them. While you’re away, keep your clothing sealed in plastic travel bags when you’re not wearing it. Keep your travel bags closed tight and elevated anytime you’re not going through them.

Moths

holiday mothsThere are two types of common pest moths: pantry-infesting moths and fabric-infesting moths. Unfortunately, both can be a problem during the holiday season. If fabric moths infest cloth decorations, they might be reproducing year-round. When you take your decorations out of storage for the holidays, you unleash them into your home like a tomb raider uncovering an ancient civilization’s curse. Clean all your decorations before you unpack them to save yourself a major headache.

Pantry-infesting moths are a little easier to figure out. These pests love sugary carbs. Holiday baking leads to big holiday baking messes. Big holiday baking messes lead to spilled flour, misplaced sugar, and excess crumbs. Accessible food… leads to moths all-too happy to eat that food. Clean your kitchen and keep your pantry tidy to ensure that Santa is the only home invader eating the cookies you leave out this Holiday season.

Spiders

holiday spidersRemember when we covered how spiders survive winter last month? Well, it turns out Christmas trees are a great place for spiders to build their aforementioned winter shelters. They make their way through pine branches until they find a sturdy spot. Then, they build a casing of webbing for themselves using the branches as support.

When spiders start to feel warm, they make their way out of their shelters to start eating and mating. Imagine a spider’s surprise when burrow out of their webs, only to find they’ve been transported into a person’s home? Inspect your Christmas tree carefully before you bring it inside. Consider using a handheld shopvac to vacuum up any cobwebs hanging near the tree’s trunk. Spiders can build their webs just about anywhere, so be thorough.

Mice

holiday miceUnfortunately, “not a creature was stirring–not even a mouse” is not always true of the night before Christmas. The Holiday season tends to be prime time for rodential raiders. Mice have an extremely powerful sense of smell. Not only can they sense food through tiny cracks in walls, they can sense specific information about that food. If they “smell” food that’s ripe for stealing, you’ll wind up with more house guests than you can handle!

Mice are attracted to food they can steal, moisture they can access when they need it, and warmth. They sneak through small cracks in the wall in pursue of food smells. There are ways to ward them off, however. First, store all your food in airtight containers when you’re not eating it. Next, check your plumbing for leaks mice could use as tiny water fountains. Finally, update weatherproofing, particularly around doors and windows. Mice are tenacious and stubborn, but they’re not Santa Claus; they can’t magically access your home.

 

Stressful as they can be, the holidays are ultimately supposed to be a joyful, refreshing time of year. Pests are neither joy-inducing nor refreshing, so they’ve got no business bugging you this Holiday season.

If you need some help kick your pests to the curb this winter, give Griffin Pest Solutions a call any time. We may not be Santa, but we can spread a different kind of Holiday cheer. A distinctly more John McClane type of holiday cheer. Now you have no pests. Ho Ho Ho.