Where Do Termites Go in the Winter?

Where Do Termites Go in the Winter?

Discovering termites can be a shock in the best of times. Discovering them in winter can be even more surprising. Unfortunately, everyone’s least favorite wood-muncher doesn’t always subscribe to seasonal behaviors. So, are termites active in winter? And where do they go anyway?

You might expect termites to go dormant or die out in the winter. If only. Sadly, the truth is termites will remain active all winter long if they can. They survive primarily by finding a nice, warm climate to hole up in. If you’re not careful, it could be your nice, warm climate. Because termites don’t slow down, we don’t either. Here’s what you should know about winter termites and how to stop them.

Where Termites Go in the Winter

where termites go in winter

While it’s true that termites remain active during winter, that doesn’t mean they can survive the cold. As cold-blooded insects, termites depend on their environment to provide them with the heat they need to survive. When temperatures drop below freezing, termites will die out unless they find cover. It just so happens they’re very good at finding that cover.

Once termites have a place to survive, they can keep moving, eating, and expanding their colony like always. In the wild, subterranean termites survive by burrowing deeper into the ground. As temperatures decrease, so will their movements to the point that they may appear dead or motionless. In most cases they are still alive. Drywood termites on the other hand can burrow into wooden logs but once the temperatures drop below freezing, they will die off.

The most common termite in Michigan is the Eastern Subterranean Termite (Reticulitermes flavipes). When the ground freezes, these termites simply dig their tunnels deeper. Eventually, part of the colonies’ “territory” is located beneath the frost line. Most of the termites stay in these tunnels for their whole lives. Workers, however, move in and out to connect the colony to its food source: wood.

What Termites Do in Winter

what termites do in winter

The same thing they always do – propagate! Of all the castes in a termite colony, only workers actually bore through wood. Worker termites dig through soil to expand the colony while simultaneously searching for food. When they find food, they eat through it, leaving behind hollowed-out tunnels. Termite workers carry the wood they eat back to the colony, where they use it to feed soldier and reproductive castes.

Over time, termites can significantly damage the wooden structures they feed on. Their continual feeding wears down the wood, and the tunnels they leave behind compromise its structural integrity. Meanwhile, reproductive termites continuously produce new workers to expand the colony. These workers will seek new food, and (of course) keep eating. The severity and range of termite-related wood damage will get worse and worse the longer an infestation lasts.

How Termites Enter Your Home

how termites get into your home over winter

Termites infest homes by accessing wood from the outside, near their subterranean colonies. They locate vulnerable wood by building complex networks of branching tunnels underground until they run up against it. When they find wood, they become devoted to stripping it of its cellulose for the colonies’ food source.

Termites use this same principle for infesting homes all year, even during the winter. They overcome the cold weather challenge by creating “exploratory tubes” out of mud and fecal material. They use these tubes to essentially extend their shelter up from the ground toward food sources. Exploratory tubes allow termites to access wood that’s touching or near soil without ever having to expose themselves to freezing cold.

How to Stop Them

how to stop termites this winter

The only way termites could access your home is by reaching a wooden structure while staying warm. Termite tunnels enable them to reach out of their colonies, but they can’t reach far.

Remove or protect wooden structures that are near soil. Wherever possible, ensure that wood doesn’t come within 18 inches of soil. Remove any wooden debris near your home, like stacks of lumber, firewood, sticks, trellises, or wood chips. Replace damaged wooden materials with non-cellulose alternatives or pressure-tested lumber.

By depriving termites of a way to get food, you’ll go a long way toward keeping them out. Remember that termites need moisture to survive, too. They’re attracted to wood that’s wet, in a humid place, or near wet soil. Reduce humidity and moisture in vulnerable areas like basements by patching drafts, repairing leaks, and dehumidifying. Make sure your downspouts, gutters, and sump pump drain moisture away from the building properly. The less suitable you can make your home for termites, the less interested they’ll be in infesting it.

Early Warning Signs of Termites

Unfortunate as it is to admit, termites continue to be a threat even in the dead of winter. Keeping your home safe from them means remaining vigilant all year long. Fortunately, termites are not unstoppable. If you keep a close eye out and follow the steps outlined above, you can ensure that nothing snacks on your home this winter.

Watch for mud tubes, termite holes and other signs of termite damage. Discarded wings from flying termites looking to establish a new colony is another sign you may have an infestation.

It’s Always Termite Season in Michigan

Spring, summer, fall, winter–no matter when you need termite help, remember that you can always call on Griffin Pest Solutions. We know how to find termites, wipe them out, and keep them from coming back. Protecting your property will be our pleasure!

 

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!

Where Do Flies Come From in Winter?

Winter fly image

Having flies in your home is never fun, but during the winter it’s down-right intolerable. After everything else you have to put up with, you don’t even get a break from pests? Unfortunately, flies are surprisingly common indoor pests during the winter. They might be around even if you can’t see them!

Winter flies may seem inexplicable, but, as always, there’s a pretty straight forward reason they’re in your home. Learning why your flies are around and what they want will help you make sure they can’t get it. Here’s all the info you should know about flies in winter, including how to keep them out.

How do flies survive winter?

There are hundreds of thousands of common fly species, and they deal with winter in all kinds of ways. “Filth” flies like blow flies, fruit flies, and phorid flies tend to live in and around garbage all year. During the winter, they simply nestle into garbage in sheltered areas and hunker down to preserve heat.

Other flies, such as face and cluster flies, lay eggs in warm areas during the fall. The flies laying the eggs dies of natural causes, but their offspring hatch all winter. Once the offspring are inside, they can continue reproducing, laying eggs, and hatching. Larger flies, like cluster flies, may also enter the state of diapause to preserve energy and body heat.

What are the flies inside my home?

What are the flies inside my home?

The flies most likely to bother you in your home this winter are cluster flies, fruit flies, or house flies. Fruit flies and cluster flies are particularly common in Michigan, even during the winter. These flies are easy to tell apart: fruit flies are tiny, lightly-colored flies with big red eyes. Cluster flies are big, stocky flies with dark coloration.

Unsurprisingly, fruit flies are most common around your kitchen. They seek out warm, moist places where they can access food. Adult fruit flies lay eggs in rotting fruit and plant material. They may live in and around your garbage or drain. Cluster flies are common around windows, attics, and basements. They look for warm, secluded places where they can huddle together and enter diapause. Cluster flies occasionally re-emerge on warm days to regain heat and energy.

How do flies get inside my home?

Cluster flies work their way into homes starting in late summer and fall. They cluster together in large groups on the sides of walls to soak up sun and stay warm. As temperatures cool, the flies look for cracks and gaps they can use to stay out of the wind. Often, these cracks may lead them into your home, either behind the walls or in attics and basements. Common access points include cracks under baseboard, windows or door trim, and around fans, lights, or utilities.

Fruit flies may infiltrate your home by hiding inside grocery bags or other transported food materials. Fruit fly eggs are tiny and very difficult to see. If you accidentally bring a couple eggs indoors, those eggs may hatch and grow into an infestation. Adult fruit flies can also sense rotting or fermenting material and follow it back to your home. They may lay their eggs around your garbage or other areas where they can find rotting food.

What do flies want?

What do flies want?

Without warm, secluded shelter, flies can’t survive freezing temperatures. Most common flies can’t hibernate, either, which means they need a shelter where they can access food. If you have flies, it means your home provides both of these things. Cluster flies look for warm, hidden areas where they can remain dormant for long periods. They won’t eat much, reproduce, or cause any real damage. The only time you may see them is during warm days, when they may emerge.

Fruit flies might be more annoying. They will eat, reproduce, and infest food supplies. Fruit flies attach themselves to any fermenting or rotting food–not just fruit. They’ll work their way into the rotting food to lay eggs and feed continuously. Like cluster flies, they need their food sources to be in warm places to survive. Fruit fly eggs will also die if exposed to freezing temperatures, so fruit flies have several incentives to get inside.

How can I get rid of flies?

Cluster flies are difficult to control in winter, because they may already be hiding in your walls. If you try sealing their access points now, you may trap the flies in your walls. That could create a mess and attract other, even less pleasant pests. When spring comes, cluster flies will typically leave your home to warm up outside. Until then, we recommend swatting or vacuuming the flies you encounter and leaving the rest alone.

Getting rid of fruit flies means wiping out their food and shelter sources. Look for any sources of rotting or fermenting food inside your home. Clear and clean out each of your garbage bins. Sanitize the places where you keep your garbage. Seal off possible access points around food, such as window frames in your kitchen or dining room. Fruit flies can squeeze through the smallest of gaps, so be thorough! Make sure you check around utility lines like pipes and electrical, too.‌

The good news is, flies aren’t really a big deal. None of the common flies that get in your home can hurt you or your stuff. At worst, you should consider them an annoyance. The bad news is, even if they’re “just” an annoyance, they’re still… annoying.

Luckily, you don’t have to deal with your flies. When you decide enough is enough, just give Griffin Pest Solutions a call. We’ll wipe out your flies so you can get back to enjoying (or at least tolerating) your winter in peace.

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Snow Fleas: the Bugs in the Snow

Bugs in the Snow

Winter is a… divisive season. Chances are you either love it or hate it. Ok, chances are you either hate it or make up reasons to tolerate it (“It helps me appreciate the seasons,” etc.). Even if you’re firmly in camp “hate it”, however, you have to admit winter has its charms. Chief among these charms: you don’t have to worry about bugs! Or… *Pause for dramatic effect*… do you?

Imagine: You’re out walking your dog when you notice a cluster of weird black specs in the snow. You haven’t seen many horror movies, so you bend down to see what they are. Then they start jumping around! Yep, those things you just encountered are called “snow fleas”. Here’s everything you should know about them. It might not make you feel better, but at least you’ll be able to curse winter more accurately.

What Are They?

What are snow fleas?The so-called “snow flea” isn’t actually a flea at all. They’re actually several species of arthropod springtails in the Collembola order. The most commonly encountered snow flea around here is probably Hypogastruna nivicola. There are about 700 species of springtails in North America, and they all share certain key characteristics.

Snow fleas are tiny and very skinny. The ones you encountered were probably only 1 to 2 millimeters long! They’re probably black, dark blue, or dark grey, though they can also be a yellow color. They can’t fly, but they can rapidly leap 3-4 inches using a spring-like body part called a “furcula”. The most upsetting thing about snow fleas is probably how abundant they can be. During winter and early spring, you might spot literally thousands of the tiny arthropods congregating on snow.

How Are They Alive?

Snow fleas are capable of synthesizing an antifreeze-like protein that keeps their bodies from freezing. They automatically begin producing this protein when temperatures dip beneath a certain threshold.

When temperatures warm up, the protein easily breaks down, allowing snow fleas to survive comfortably in all seasons. Other species can produce antifreeze-like substances, but only snow fleas produce one that breaks down easily in warmth. This antifreeze, combined with their easily-satisfied diet, makes it possible for snow fleas to survive winter without much effort. In fact, snow fleas have been called one of the hardiest animals ever!

What Do They Want?

What do snow fleas want?Despite their unusual habits and habitats, snow fleas want what pretty much all pests want. When they come out on warm winter days, they’re looking for food, water, and a chance to mate. Springtails provide an important service to their ecosystems by feeding on microscopic bacteria, algae, and fungi.

Along with food, snow fleas are attracted to moisture. The tiny arthropod is very sensitive to drying out, and requires a consistent source of moisture to survive. Springtails use a tube-like organ called a “collophore” to suck up water from the wet surfaces they crawl over. They may seek out melting snow on warm days to take in moisture. Finally, snow flea mating season is in early spring. When large numbers of snow flea congregate together, it’s usually to produce offspring.

Are They Dangerous?

Not at all. Snow fleas can’t bite or sting, nor can they damage plants, food products, property, or clothing. In fact, springtails like snow flies are some of the many garden arthropods that are considered beneficial.

By feeding on decaying organic matter and the bacteria it produces, snow fleas help garden plants grow in spring. An abundance of snow fleas in your yard can be considered a sign of healthy soil.

What Can I Do About Them?

What can I do about snow fleas?We’re lucky snow fleas are harmless, because there’s not really a good way to control them even if we wanted to. The springtail will never come indoors, so you don’t have to worry about infestations. They’re attracted to moisture and decaying plant life, both of which are difficult to prevent in winter and spring.

Even if you shoveled up all the snow in your yard, wet grass and dead plants would bring snow fleas calling anyway. In fact, springtail species are quite abundant all year. Snow fleas become more noticeable in winter because they come out of cover and stand out against snow. When all the snow melts as spring arrives, you’ll stop seeing snow fleas as frequently. Until then, don’t worry about them–they’re kind of cute anyway. Uh… right?

If you had to choose a bug to deal with in winter, you could do a lot worse than snow fleas. The diminutive arthropods are totally harmless, non-invasive, and content to stay away from you. At worst, all they’ll do is ruin your view of endless expanses of snow. And we don’t know about you, but we’re tired of looking at that anyway.

Even though pests largely take some time off every winter, that doesn’t mean your pest control should. There’s still plenty good year-round pest control can do for you this season. Remember: prevention is always more effective than treatment. If you need some pest prevention (or treatment!) this winter, give Griffin a call anytime. We’re always happy to brave the cold for you.

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.

What Pest Control Can Do For You This Winter

What Pest Control Can Do For You This Winter

Who doesn’t love wintertime? It’s the time of year where you spend more time inside, enjoying time with your loved ones relaxing and staying as cozy as possible. You get holidays and hot cocoa, vacations and vivacity.

For many homeowners, there is another (slightly less common) thing to look forward to: not having to worry about future or ongoing pest problems. While this isn’t entirely untrue, we’re here to caution you: just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that you’re free from the dangers of potential pest infestations. Let us lay it out for you…

So, where do insects and other pests go during the wintertime?

There are a few distinct patterns most pests follow during winter: migration, overwintering, hibernation, or (our least favorite) hiding inside, whatever the cost.

  • Most birds, pest birds included, migrate during the wintertime by flying to warmer climes. Migration is great for homeowners because it gets birds out of your hair for a whole season.
  • Many varieties of insect, including honeybees and box elders, go through a process called “overwintering”. Creatures that overwinter essentially halt most of the activity within their nervous system to wait out the winter. This can be problematic, because in many cases, these pests try to overwinter somewhere warm and out of the way… like your garage or attic.
  • Hibernation is something more commonly attributed to mammals than insects but pests like ladybugs, mosquitoes, and paper wasps will hibernate during winter. They either form cocoons to hide within or go into a long term semi-sleep until the weather warms. Just like overwintering, pests can consider the inside of your home a good place to hibernate.
  • Last but not least is “hiding inside, whatever the cost”. Lots of potential pests like this option, including mice, rats, and many variety of cockroach. During the transitionary period between fall and winter, pest problems occur as these pests and more try to get ahead of changing temperatures.

What happens to them when the weather warms up again?

In spring, pests wake up feeling hungry and return to their nearest and dearest source of food. In many cases, this can be your home. This is especially true for creatures like mosquitoes that thrive in moisture-rich climates (melting snow, rain storms, etc).

Birds that previously called your home theirs will migrate back, as well. Long story short, all these potential pests are going to be looking for something, whether it’s a place to hang out, food to eat, or people to bother.

What should I do to protect my home from them?

There are a lot of preventative measures you can take to keep pests from taking up home inside your house during winter. Stay on top of cracks and holes on the outside of your home. Replace any loose mortar or weather stripping you come across. Keep firewood stored far away from your home, so pests don’t see it as an easy way to jump from one warm place to another.

Keep things organized and don’t give any variety of pest an opportunity to hide in the messes that tend to come with holiday frenzy. Make sure your attic, basement, and any crawl spaces are dry and ventilated well to keep things fresh and unappealing to dirty, dust-loving bugs.

 

Sometimes, even when we make our best effort to keep our home protected and your family safe from pests, they still find a way in. If you’ve done your due diligence and still find yourself facing a problem, don’t worry – just call the experts at Griffin Pest Solutions. We’ll take care of the problem before the spring thaw, guaranteed.