If you have questions about pest control – insects, rodents, or other pests – you’ll find answers here.
What Pest Questions Can We Help With?
Pest control in West Michigan is challenging because our state is home to many types of insects, rodents, and other invasive pests. You’ll find a wealth of information here about ants, bedbugs, bees and wasps, fleas, spiders, ticks, rats and mice, including the causes of their infestations and steps you can take to solve the problem. Often, if the infestation is too advanced or dangerous for you to handle, the help of a professional exterminator is the answer. That’s where we come in. Call us for a free consultation.
Ant Control, Extermination, & Prevention Services
Successful carpenter ant control relies on eliminating the parent colony, which is usually located outdoors. Finding and treating as many satellite nests as possible is the key to carpenter ant control. Sometimes, a property can have several nests other than the main colony site. Because it can be difficult to detect these all at the same time, an ongoing pest program will ensure that any activity is addressed immediately to keep the population under control.
Let Safeguard Pest Solutions deal with the problem. The best method for controlling an indoor ant colony is through persistent approved insecticides directly on the colony. We have the proven insecticides and the training to safely use them.
Despite claims by manufacturers, commercially available ant bait stations are simply not that effective. Ants are clever creatures and will simply not take the bait.
It’s always advisable to call and hire a professional when using an insecticide to kill carpenter ants, especially if you have pets or children. Chemical treatments are the most effective when dealing with these pests. They are however, toxic and should be treated with care and respect. Safeguard Pest Solutions can help. Get in touch by calling us at 231-903-0063.
How To Find An Ant Nest
Find out where ants are coming from and going to by trying this: Mix 4oz of grape jelly with 1 teaspoon of ground up, dried, pet food. Put a teaspoon in a bait jar and watch them carry the food back to the nest.
Finding an ant nest can be difficult. Begin by observing where you see the most ant activity. See where they are going and where they are coming from. Ants are great at keeping their home tidy. They quickly remove any excess debris, wood shavings, and dead co-workers from the nest. In many cases, nest debris accumulate in basements beneath the nest area, so look for accumulations of coarse sawdust along basement walls.
Identifying Bed Bugs
What Do They Look Like?
Bed bugs are tiny insects capable of being seen with the naked human eye. Depending on where they are in their life cycle, and whether they just fed or not, will determine what you’re looking for. All bed bugs are flat and oval-shaped. They have 6 legs, two antennae, and no wings. They are great climbers capable of scaling vertical surfaces with relative ease.
Nymph bed bugs are translucent in color. If they just fed their abdomen will appear a reddish color. That color will change to a rusty color all the way to black as it digests its meal. The newborn nymph bed bugs range in size from 2 – 5 millimeters in length.
As bed bugs grow into adults, they molt their skin and turn a darker brown color. Adult bed bugs are rusty red / brown in color. A fully grown adult is a quarter of an inch long or larger! An adult bed bug is roughly the size of an apple seed.
How Do I get Bed Bugs?
Where do bed bugs come from? Bed bugs are found in beds where a lot of people come and go. You’ll find them in hotels, hostels, shelters, and apartments. They like to hide in small nooks and crevices. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on luggage, pets, furniture, clothing, boxes, and pretty much anything you bring into your home.
Bed bugs are found worldwide but are more common in developed countries. Bed bugs were once a rare thing in the United States, but we have seen a rise in population due to more international travel and the government’s ban on a popular, but dangerous, insecticide DDT.
How Fast Do They Spread?
Under ideal conditions, you can have a bed bug infestation in as little as 3 – 4 weeks!
A female bed bug can lay 3 to 5 eggs a day, and up to 500 in the span of its lifetime. These eggs hatch in 6 to 10 days into baby bed bugs called nymphs. Nymphs will molt their skin five times before reaching adulthood. They require at least 1 feeding before they molt. An average lifespan of a bed bug is 2 – 4 months.
How Can I Tell if I Have Bed Bugs?
Do you think you found a bed bug? There are signs of bed bugs on a mattress or in sheets that you can look for. If you wake up with itchy areas that weren’t there when you went to bed, you may have bed bugs. Remove your bedding and do a thorough search of the mattress, sheets, and surrounding area. Look for signs like:
Bloodstains on your sheets or mattress.
Dark or rusty spots on your bedding and nearby walls from bed bug excrement.
Bed bug fecal spots, eggshells, or shed skin in areas bed bugs may reside.
An offensive musty odor from the bed bug’s scent gland.
Be sure to also check the area around the bed. Bed bugs will hide in many places. Remove the dust cover of box springs and carefully examine the seams in the wood frame. Peel back the fabric where it’s stapled to get a closer look. Check anything on your nightstand including inside any books, telephones, and radios. Also, check the edge of carpets and even electrical outlets for signs of bed bug infestations.
Bed bug Bites
Can You Get Sick?
No, research shows that bed bugs do not directly make humans sick. In most cases where humans have become ill after bed bug bites, the underlying cause was due to allergies, blood loss, or infection. Bed bugs can cause insomnia and anxiety, and it’s important to get these pests handled immediately!
Most bite victims are unaware they were ever bitten until later. Bed bugs have a numbing agent in their saliva that prevents you from feeling the bite. In addition, bed bugs are nocturnal and tend to bite victims when they are in deep REM sleep.
Each person reacts differently to bed bug bites. Most bites are itchy at first and turn into tiny red welts. Many people mistake these for mosquito bites. Reactions range from nothing to mild red spots to severe rashes or hives. Bed bug bites tend to be in straight lines around your ankles, arms, or shoulders. In order to positively confirm your bite marks are from bed bugs, you must find and identify them.
Bed bug Prevention
Is it Hard to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
Yes! It takes time and a lot of energy to remove bed bugs from your home. A professional bed bug exterminator should be involved right away. Not only will they help you locate all the possible spots they are hiding in, but they will also exterminate them, and give you instructions on how to keep them away. Bed bugs can live for up to 1 year without feeding, so you have to remain diligent to keep them out of your home.
Be patient and determined. Bed bugs will most likely take 3 weeks to a month to completely rid them from your home.
How to Prevent Bed Bugs?
If you are going out of town for a trip, make sure to check your lodging immediately. Bed bugs can stow away in your luggage and clothes and enter your home when you return.
If you have purchased any furniture from a second-hand store or garage sale, be sure to check it thoroughly for signs of bed bug infestation before bringing it into your home.
Visitors entering your home may also bring in bed bugs. They don’t have to stay or sleep in your bed either. Be especially mindful of routine visitors like health aides, maids, and nurses who go in and out of many people’s homes as a part of their job.
When coming home from a trip, launder all your clothing before putting them back. Do not unpack your luggage on the carpet. Unload your bags on a hard light surface like cement or hardwood floors where any potential bugs or eggs can easily be seen. Clean your luggage out with a steam cleaner and/or hot water.
How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
First, you should call a bed bug exterminator. Next, be prepared to do a LOT of cleaning and laundry! Remove ALL affected areas including bed linens, sheets, clothing pillowcases, etc. and wash them with hot water and heat. Use hot water and dry on the hottest setting. Seal up any areas bed bugs may hide by gluing down loose wallpaper and caulking up walls, and sealing any cracks. Repeat these steps frequently until the infestation is gone.
Purchase a well made, tightly woven mattress and box spring zippered cover. This will seal any bugs inside and prevent more from getting in. Bed bugs can live for up to a year without feeding. So make sure to leave the cover on for at least 1 year. You may want to get rid of your mattress and buy a new one. If you do, be sure to take care of the rest of your home or else bed bugs will infest your new mattress.
Bees, Wasps, Yellow Jackets
Stings can cause painful swelling and redness in the area around the skin. Bee stingers inject a small amount of venom into your skin. Over time, the swelling is reduced and the pain turns to itching. The biggest threat to having a beehive in your yard is the risk of multiple bee stings! When bees feel threatened, they attack. All of them! An attack from a beehive can lead to dozens of bee stings all over your body making it hard to remove the stingers. A bee stinger can continue to inject venom for up to a minute after a person has been stung. Professional bee removal will prevent any attacks from harming you or your family.
Bees, hornets, and wasps present a big risk for people with sting allergies. These allergies range from mild to severe allergic reactions. A small minority of people, approximately 5 – 7.5%, will experience a severe allergic reaction to insect stings in their lifetime. A severe allergic reaction to stings can lead to nausea and vomiting, a weak or rapid pulse, swollen tongue or throat, loss of consciousness, and even death. Call a professional exterminator for safe, effective bee removal.
Bees stings are a form of aggression. When a hive feels threatened, bees will swarm the perceived threat. Keep your distance if you find a beehive in your yard. Make sure children and visitors are aware of the hive and know to keep their distance. Loud lawnmowers and other outdoor tools can also instigate a beehive to swarm and sting you. If you encounter an aggressive beehive to seek shelter indoors immediately and call a professional exterminator for effective bee and wasp removal!
Removing a Hive
With the population of bees, hornets, & wasps currently on the decline, it’s important to protect them. If you find a hive in an area where there isn’t any traffic, and no one in your home is allergic to bees, hornets, or wasps, you may consider leaving the hive alone. If you do decide to remove the hive, NEVER remove the hive yourself. Bees, hornets, & wasps are incredibly territorial and will aggressively attack any threat quickly. This makes removing a hive incredibly dangerous. Always contact a professional exterminator who can provide safe, effective bee and wasp hive removal!
Where do They Come From?
Fleas rarely jump from host to host. Instead, flea transmission is done through eggs. After their first blood meal, female fleas can lay up to 100 eggs in a day. These eggs are not attached and will often fall off the host. A flea egg can lay dormant for up to 100 days until the right conditions for hatching occur.
A majority of infestations originate from outside. Common carriers are dogs, cats, raccoons, opossums, and coyotes. While these carrier animals walk around, they continuously drop eggs off their bodies. Fleas thrive in the same shady protected areas your pets like to cool off in. During the day, these animals seek shelter from the elements and create what is known as flea hotspots. A cool place like under a deck or beneath bushes are great places to relax for wild animals and pets alike.
Another common source of fleas is from dormant eggs. Moving into a new house can cause a previously dormant flea population to re-emerge. You don’t even need to have pets. If the previous owner had fleas simply living inside will trigger the flea eggs to hatch causing a new infestation.
Can Fleas Survive a Washing Machine?
Fleas are incredibly resilient and tough to kill, but even they can’t survive a washing machine with hot water, soap, and borax. Top it off with a dryer cycle on the hottest setting and you can be assured that any fleas or eggs will be dead.
Can Fleas Live in Your Bed?
If you have pets that sleep in your bed with you at night, you can, absolutely, have fleas living in your bed. Strip your bed regularly and inspect your mattress and box spring for tears and holes that fleas may get into. I’ve seen an instance where a cat managed to get inside the box spring and lay inside causing a hidden hotspot the owners couldn’t find for months.
How Long Can Fleas Live in Your House?
After her first blood meal, a female can lay up to 100 eggs a day! These eggs are not attached, so they fall off the host and lay dormant until conditions are right for hatching. Larvae hatch from the eggs and feed off any available organic material like dead insects, pet hair, vegetable matter, etc. The larva can live up to 18 days before they die, or given adequate food, cocoon for up to 4 days while it metamorphosis into an adult. An average adult flea lives for 2 to 3 months, but given optimum conditions, an adult flea can live up to a year and a half!
When exterminating fleas it’s important to attack all stages of the flea life cycle. Even if you thoroughly clean and do everything right, you may find yourself fighting the same flea infestation a few months later. If you’ve done everything and you’re still having flea problems, contact a professional for advice.
Do You Have Fleas?
How Can You Tell if You Have a Flea Infestation?
Keep an eye on your pets. Indoor pets are not safe from flea infestations! The first sign that you have fleas is an itchy pet. It’s important to note that not all itching is from fleas. Dry skin or allergies are just a couple of other reasons your pet may be itchy. A good indicator is if the itching is sudden and intense. If your pet jumps up and begins gnawing on itself, you should thoroughly check your pet for fleas. Chances are your pet was just bitten by a flea.
Fleas are tiny and can be very hard to spot, especially if your pet has long or dark fur. If you do find a flea it can be extremely hard to get off. Fleas are tiny, fast, and can jump extremely far! Fortunately, fleas leave behind clear signs of their presence. If you can’t find any fleas, look for tiny black specs. These specs are the droppings of fleas after they digest their blood meal. Fleas like dark and warm places so be sure to look around the groin, tail, and armpits of your pets for signs of fleas.
What Problems Do Fleas Cause?
Fleas carry a large number of bacteria that can be harmful to humans. These can cause disease in humans. Fleas are responsible for the Black Death in Europe during the 1300’s killing 20 million people in 5 years.
Fleas can cause serious problems with your pets. They can carry parasites like tapeworms that can pass onto your pets if they swallow one while grooming themselves. Pets can develop allergic reactions to flea bites. When a pet becomes allergic, the itching can be unbearable and impossible to ignore. If left untreated, the bites become infected and require extensive veterinary care. Fleas can make your animal sick. In extreme infestations, the fleas can drain so much of a host’s blood they can become very ill.
Treating a Flea Problem
How to Treat Your Pets for Fleas
There are countless ways to treat your pets for fleas. Fleas are resilient and hard to kill. Not only that, but you generally have to fight off multiple generations of fleas depending on how bad the infestation is. There are a large number of topical solutions you can put on your pet to prevent or kill fleas. Be careful! Many of these topical treatments use harsh insecticides, and, if not used properly (or in some cases even if used properly), may cause serious injury or death of your pet. Be sure to read and follow the directions caregully to reduce the chances of harmful side effects. There are natural remedies out there, some better than others.
Aside from topical flea treatments, there are also medication and apparel like flea collars that can help fight fleas. Do your homework and consult a vet before applying anything to the skin of your pet.
Flea Treatment For Your Yard
Often times the biggest problem with fleas is in your yard. Nearly all flea infestations start outside where wild animals drop flea eggs in your yard for your pets to pick up and bring inside. Safeguard Pest Solutions are experts in removing fleas and flea eggs from your yard making it safe again for you and your pets.
How Do I Get Rid of Fleas Fast?
If you need to get rid of fleas now your best bet is to call in the professionals. Safeguard Pest Solutions are experts in home flea treatment. Our professionals will come in and inspect your home for hotspots and treat the problem quickly and efficiently. We’re experts in defending your home from pests like fleas, and will help you come up with a plan that will prevent fleas from getting back into your home in the future.
Do I Have to Treat My Home for Fleas as Well?
Simply put, yes! Treating your pet is only the first step to stopping fleas. You must also treat your home. Flea eggs drop off their hosts and can lay dormant for up to 100 days! This means you could potentially be battling fleas for over 3 months before you can be confident they are eradicated.
Fleas and their eggs are durable, but they aren’t invincible. Start with the common areas your pets lay. Wash their bedding with hot water and soap. Add borax to ensure all the fleas are killed. After the wash, run your load through the dryer on its hottest setting.
Talcum powder is another tool you can use to help eliminate your flea problem. Thoroughly vacuum your entire home, especially any “hotspots” your pets may spend time like their crates and bedding areas. There are countless flea sprays and foggers on the market. These are toxic, so all animals and children should be removed and not returned until the area is properly ventilated. After any fogger is used be sure to wipe down all surfaces you may come in contact with to avoid getting the poison on your skin.
What to Know About Spiders
Benefits of Spiders
Despite their bad reputation, spiders are extremely useful in our gardens and ecosystem. They are nature’s top pest control agents. Spiders aid in controlling other common pests like mosquitoes, cockroaches, grasshoppers, and flies. All of these insects have been known to devastate crops, gardens, and homes. In fact, it’s estimated that worldwide, spiders eat 400-800 million metric tons of insects every year.
Chemical control can only do so much. Spiders can aid in limiting the population of the pests and can do more! Spiders significantly decrease the onset of several diseases such as malaria from mosquitoes and typhoid from house flies. In addition to being crop protectors and disease defenders, spiders’ venom is currently being studied by scientists as a way to help to treat arthritis. Medical applications that also involve the uses of spider silk and spider venom are increasing in number.
Will a Spider Attack Me?
Humans are far more dangerous to spiders than spiders are to humans. Spiders are not out to get you, and they actively try to avoid humans. Most spiders don’t bite, and many couldn’t bite you if they wanted to. Even if you are bitten by a spider, it’s very unlikely you get anything more than a small itchy red bump. 98% of spiders are harmless to humans. Even the dangerous few like black widows and brown recluses rarely bite. Of those bites very few cause serious injury. In the United States each year, about 2,200 people report being bitten by a black widow, but most do not need medical treatment. A number of spider bites are “dry” bites that have no venom injected. In the United States, no deaths due to black widows have been reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers since 1983.
Can House Spiders Hurt You?
Most common house spiders pose very little to no threat to humans. A house spider may bite if it feels threatened. A house spider bite is essentially harmless to humans. At most you may experience a minor irritation like a small itchy red bump. We are much more dangerous to spiders than they are to us. Bites are extremely rare among the few dangerous species like Black Widows or recluses.
What will Keep Spiders Away?
A common household item that will help keep spiders away from your home is vinegar.
- Half vinegar & water spray
- Spray directly on spiders, webs, and in places you find them.
- Clean House
- Spiders like to hide in nooks and crannies
- Use plastic containers instead of cardboard (harder to climb in)
- Regular dusting and vacuuming
- Half vinegar & water spray
What Smells do Spiders Hate?
- Peppermint Oil
- Tea Tree
There’s a Mouse in the House?
A thorough home inspection by a professional pest control exterminator will help you identify the type of rodent you’re dealing with, what they’re doing, what’s bringing them inside, and most importantly, what rodent control solution is needed to eliminate the problem.
Identifying a Rodent Problem
Rats and mice need warmth to survive Michigan’s cold winters, just like people. A one-quarter inch hole is all that’s necessary for a rodent to make your home its luxury winter getaway. Once inside, mice will use your pantry as a choice feeding area. They also gnaw on the wood, burrow, and nest within your walls in the warm insulation, while spreading disease and droppings throughout your home. Although you can try to rid your home of these pests yourself, it often requires a professional exterminator to achieve effective rodent control and prevent their return.
What to Look For
The common house mouse is a typical problem here in West Michigan, making rodent control challenging. Droppings, gnaw marks, and urine odors are some of the tip-offs that you may have a rodent problem.
Evidence of gnawing is a sign that you have a rodent problem. Rodents tend to gnaw on wooden structures such as corners, floor joists, and wall studs. Cardboard and cartons are also favorites for mice.
Dropping are the most common sign that you have a problem. A typical adult mouse produces 50-75 droppings each day. You can find literally thousands of droppings from even a small infestation. Droppings look like small black pieces of rice but with pointed ends.
Sounds & Odors
Other indicators that you may be dealing with a rodent problem are strong, musty odors, or a urine scent. Scratching and clawing are common sounds coming from within walls or the ceiling above or under floorboards. Cats and dogs may act excited at the areas rodents may be present.
What Happens to Insects in the Winter?
Because insects can’t control their body temperature, many will freeze during the winter months. In order to survive, West Michigan insects do something called overwintering – and quite often they do it in your home. It can be a significant pest control problem.
What is Overwintering?
Overwintering is when an insect seeks shelter from not only predators, but the elements as well. They do this by seeking shelter in the bark of trees, under leaves and other plant matter, and in some cases, entering your home and creating a pronounced pest control issue! Any small crack or crevice is an open invitation for these overwintering insects to enter. Finding entry points and sealing them off is just one step in the process of safeguarding your home from overwintering insects. The next step is calling Safeguard Pest Solutions to provide the complete pest control necessary to prevent future infestations.
At What Temperature Do Insects Become Inactive?
Most insects don’t develop or function well below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If the temperature is below 50 degrees, most insects will slow down and go into a dormant state where nearly all of their bodily functions are greatly slowed down. Those insects are unlucky enough to have found adequate shelter will likely die in the coming months due to freezing.
Where Do Spiders Go During the Winter?
Spiders can not survive the harsh and cold West Michigan winter months. As the temperature cools, spiders slow way down into hibernation until it warms back up. Many spiders will seek shelter from the cold in a process called overwintering. Overwintering insects seek shelter in a number of places. Common places spiders find to hide during winter months are nooks and crannies in your garage or shed, inside the bark of trees, under plant matter, and even your home is fair game for a spider looking for shelter.
Tick Prevention Tips
Where Do Ticks Live?
Tall grass is a tick’s favorite spot to find their prey. Ticks are usually found in elevated, wooded, and grassy areas. Tall grass is a favorite spot for ticks to find their prey. Ticks eat blood to survive, so they live where the animals they feed off of roam. You can find ticks anywhere you find deer, birds, rabbits, squirrels, mice, and other rodents. Ticks detect a host using body odors, carbon dioxide, body heat, moisture, vibrations, and even by shadows. They like to make their home in places with lots of shrubs, weeds, tall grasses, and leaf litter. A single female, depending on the species, will lay a batch of eggs ranging from 1,000 to 18,000 eggs and then will die. The most serious problem with ticks is the diseases they can spread to humans, pets, and livestock.
Personal Protection Tips
- Use Insect Repellent
- Wear Light Colored Clothes
- Avoid Areas with High Grass
- Wear Long Pants
- Wear Long Sleeved Shirts
- Wear Socks
Where Do Ticks Hide on Humans?
Ticks are surprisingly fast and can move across your body quickly. You could find a tick nearly anywhere on your body. They prefer warm and moist areas. You will often find a tick in your armpits, groin, or scalp. While clothes do offer protection from ticks, they can still get under your clothes.
Are Ticks Dangerous?
Ticks are common carriers of certain diseases such as Lyme Disease & Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Not all ticks carry diseases. Previously, getting bit by a tick was more of a nuisance than anything else. Nowadays, you have a much higher risk of getting sick from a tick bite. In the United States, both ticks and tick-borne diseases have been on the rise over the last 20 years. If a tick attaches itself, you have 26-48 hours before bacteria transmission.
What Happens if You Don't Remove a Tick?
If you don’t remove a tick it will continue to feed until it’s fully engorged and fall off on its own. The area where it falls off will often turn red and itchy like a mosquito bite. Oftentimes people won’t notice they’ve been bitten by a tick until they start feeling itchy. Ticks are common carriers of bacterial diseases that can make you sick. If a tick attaches itself, you have 26-48 hours before bacteria transmission.
What Happens if You Get Bitten by a Tick?
When a tick finds a place it likes it will bite you. You don’t feel this bite because ticks secrete novel painkillers into their hosts through their saliva. This numbs the immediate area and allows the tick to burrow it’s head firmly into the host unnoticed. Once there, it will continue to feed until it is removed or fully engorged. The amount of time a tick will stay attached to a host depends on what stage in the life cycle it is. The older a tick, the longer it can feed. Typically, you’re looking at 3 to 10 days.
Can Ticks Kill You?
Tick bites are generally harmless without any symptoms whatsoever. But ticks do carry disease, such as Lyme disease, and cause other allergic reactions. Other diseases can be dangerous, and sometimes deadly, to both humans and pets.
Removing a Tick
What Will Make a Tick Back Out?
There are a number of myths on how to get a tick to back out on its own. A match or lighter is a common one where the heat is supposed to compel the tick to back out of your skin. Coating the tick with vaseline or some kind of liquid dish soap is another common belief in removing ticks from your skin. The idea is to suffocate the tick forcing the tick to back out. Vaseline will not kill a tick. Unfortunately, these methods are more likely to cause the tick to burrow deeper into your skin, instead of coming out.
What Do You Do if You Pull a Tick Out and the Head Stays in?
If you fail to get the entire tick out of your body don’t fret. The head and mouth will not continue to burrow into your body. It’s very likely you will be completely fine. If there is a large portion of the head you should continue to remove it with sharp-pointed tweezers. If it’s just a small portion that you can’t get it’s likely your body will shed it in a few days. There is a strong chance you have some minor irritation in the area for a few days. You are also more likely to get infected if the tick is a carrier of a disease.
How Do You Know if a Tick is Fully Removed?
When you successfully remove a tick check and see if it’s still alive. If the tick is moving around and alive you can rest easy knowing you got the entire tick out. If the tick is dead it’s likely the head or some mouthparts are still inside your body.
How to Remove a Tick?
The CDC recommends the best way to remove a tick is with pointed tweezers. Tweezers should be used for tick removal using slow, steady pressure, pulling straight up and as close to the skin as possible, so that the entire tick and mouthparts are likely to be removed.
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