Fall Pests That Want in Your Home

Mouse peeking through hole in attic wall

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

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

Rodents

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

Asian lady beetles

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

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

Stink bugs

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

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

Wasps

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

Expert Exterminators

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

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!

 

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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Where Do Mosquitoes Go in Winter?

People like to venture to warmer climes during the winter. Snowbird grandparents flee to Arizona or Florida. Lucky vacationers take planes to anywhere they can find that isn’t covered in snow and ice. College kids escape abroad for their winter breaks. The only downside these individuals can find in traveling to warmer places is that warm weather means mosquitoes. During the winter, at least, they can avoid that particular creature. Right? 

Wrong! It’s a popular misconception that mosquitoes die off in the winter. That’s not quite what happens to them. If you’ve ever wondered where mosquitoes actually go when the snow starts to fall, you’re in the right place.

So: where do mosquitoes go in winter?

The answer to this question is different depending on the gender of the mosquito. Male mosquitoes don’t make it past autumn’s leaf fall. Their life span is, on average, no longer than ten days. Females, on the other hand, can survive the winter. 

They’re able to do this by going dormant – a state similar to hibernation. They’ll find a safe place like a hollow log, animal burrow, or out-of-the-way corner of someone’s home. Females can remain in this state throughout the winter, for up to six months. Now that you know where mosquitoes are during the winter, you’re probably wondering: what happens when they wake up again?

Is there anything I can do to prevent spring infestations?

In the spring, there aren’t any male mosquitoes around. Unfortunately, however the female mosquitoes waking up usually have eggs to deposit. This makes spring the most dangerous time for people who are wary of mosquito infestations. The females need blood to help their eggs develop, so when the weather warms they wake up and are out seeking blood. How do you prevent them from harassing you and your home? 

  • Use mosquito repellent outdoors. This won’t prevent infestations. It will, however, help you avoid aggressive biting from female mosquitoes during spring months. 
  • Use candles when you’re going to be outdoors. Mosquitoes are repelled by certain oils used in outdoor candles. Citronella, clove, cedarwood, lavender, peppermint, and lemongrass are all valid options. 
  • Remove any standing water from your property. This won’t keep them from biting, but it can help keep them from lingering. Mosquitoes need still, standing water to lay their eggs. Don’t let puddles develop on your property and they won’t have anywhere to infest.
  • Clean up random debris. Mosquitoes love standing water, yes, but it’s not the only place they’re willing to lay eggs. They can also make do with especially damp soil or debris with existing decay. This can include piles of leaves, mulch, or decaying woodpiles. Keep your outdoor space clean and free of decay to prevent mosquitoes from calling it their home.

It doesn’t matter the time of year – if you have a mosquito problem, Griffin Pest can help. Give us a call. Our experts can help diagnose and solve your pest problems, mosquito-based or otherwise. Not only can we remove existing infestations, but we can also teach you to better prevent future ones as well.

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How Do I Still Have Ants in Winter?

Ants are cold-blooded. In order to thrive and survive, they need an external source of warmth. Obviously, it gets considerably harder for ants to find these external sources in winter. Especially the ants that happen to live in Michigan. 

Despite the considerable adversity facing them each winter, ants are determined creatures. Subzero temperatures don’t stop their relentless drive to find food, shelter, and water. In order to find what they need this winter, ants will often attempt to infiltrate homes. Including your home, if you’re not careful. If you’re asking why you still have ants in winter, you’re in the right place. We’ll answer that question–along with how those ants got in and how to throw them out–below.

Why do I still have ants during the winter?

You have ants during the winter for the same reason you have them during spring, summer, or fall. Your home was easy to get inside and offered them the things they were looking for. If ants can’t find a home to infest, they’ll build their colonies and cluster under rocks, tree bark, decomposing leaves, or deep within the ground. If they can find a home, well… then there’s a problem. 

If they find a warm place (your house, for example) to nest in the winter, ants won’t need to cluster. They’ll instead be able to remain active throughout the entire year. Inside homes, they’re most commonly found inside walls, near pipes, inside molding, or under baseboards. They got inside by finding a breach in your home’s perimeter. It could have been crumbling brick, old boards, or a crack in the foundation.

What do they want?

Ants want what all common problem pests want: food, shelter, and water. If you’re reading this, it means you’re likely already facing an ant problem. That means they’ve already found one of the things they were looking for: shelter, warmth, and cover from the cold. That’s what brings them in. 

What makes ants stay after they get inside will be how well they can find food and water. Ants like sugar, fat, and protein-dense foods like meat, cheese, dried goods, peanut butter, baking materials, or pet food. Water is a less significant motivator since they require very little to sustain themselves. Ants are commonly found near hidden plumbing leaks because they like its easy, consistent moisture access. 

What can I do to prevent them?

That’s the most important question. If you don’t already have an ant problem, how can you prevent one from happening? Here are a few of our best ant exclusion tips:

  • Keep surfaces clean. Ants are scavengers. Their favorite places to find sustenance are on floors, garbage cans, and countertops. Keep dirty dishes out of the sink, wipe crumbs off the table, and mop residue off the floors.
  • Practice perimeter maintenance. Ants are tiny. It doesn’t take much for them to find a way inside your home. Just because it’s difficult to bar their entry doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, however. Follow their trails to see where they’re coming in. Find perimeter breaches and fix them with caulk, putty, or plaster as needed.
  • Spot the scouts. If you ever see a lone ant, it’s a scout. Scout ants are sent out by the colony to find sources of food or water. You want to prevent it from having a chance to communicate with the nest about anything it may have found.

Winter is a surprisingly busy time when it comes to pest infestations. That’s because, like ants, many other pests are seeking shelter from the cold. If, despite your best efforts, one of those pests finds its way inside your home – give Griffin a call. Our experts can both help you remove existing pests and prevent future ones.

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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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