Big Storms and Pest Populations
When a tropical storm or hurricane is raging, the last thing on your mind is insects and pests. You’re worried about rain, flooding, wind, power outages, and disruptions in telecommunications and transportation. In the aftermath, we are focused on cleanup and recovery, depending on the severity.
Pests are also a concern, though. Standing water and downed trees left from storms create an excellent breeding ground for mosquitoes, rodents, and other pests and populations to explode.
The issue is more than a nuisance; many pests carry diseases and put us at risk. For example, mosquitoes can spread the Zika virus and West Nile virus, while rats and mice can carry hantavirus.
General Pest Information
Following major storms, mosquitos thrive depending on the time of year and where you live. Mosquitos love high humidity, and heavy rains create attractive breeding grounds for these blood-sucking bandits.
One of the biggest issues with mosquitos is that while their population may seem low at first, warm temperatures and the leftover issues can help increase mosquito populations within a few weeks. Look out for ditches, uprooted trees, erosion, and mud holes, as they can quickly fill with water that will stagnate.
Because mosquitoes can carry viruses such as Zika and West Nile, it is important to do whatever it takes to get rid of and prevent future infestations. To learn more, check out our blog, “How To Get Rid of Mosquitoes.”
2. Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants love post-storm conditions. Some instances of storm damage that attract carpenter ants are wet and decaying wood materials and other wood debris. Damaged trees also make great nests for carpenter ants. However, they are just ants, right? WRONG! Carpenter ants are extremely problematic.
Carpenter ants build their nests through excavating wood which results in smooth tunnels inside the wood. Carpenter ant damage is very damaging to houses and can sometimes compromise the structural soundness of wood.
It is important to inspect your home for carpenter ants after storms in the following places:
- Crawlspace or Basement
There are many things that you can do when you find yourself with a carpenter ant infestation. To learn more, check out, “What To Do and What Not To Do About Carpenter Ants.”
3. Fire Ants
If you have ever experienced fire ants, you know how painful their bites and stings can be. Not only are their bites and stings painful, but the sores that are left afterward itch can lead to infections. They are typically found in the ground in exposed mounds made of soil.
After a major flood, fire ants will leave their mounds and form rafts that they use to migrate to higher ground. Sometimes these rafts will end up attaching themselves to houses or rescue boats.
If you are concerned about fire ants, here are several suggestions that can alleviate the problems that they can create:
- Pay attention; fire ant mounds are almost always pretty clear; when in doubt, stay away from bounds of dirt with tunnels.
- Fire ants are not likely affected by insect repellents.
- Don't leave food exposed, and make sure to dispose of leftovers and keep trash cans covered.
- Fire ants can be treated at their home. Simply drench the mound with insecticide. Make sure to be conscious of your surroundings as there are regulations around using insecticides near bodies of water.
To learn more about the different types of ant infestations and how to identify them, check out our blog here.
4. Wasps and Bees
Major storms can be huge disruptors for bees and wasps. Downed trees contain hornets, nests, and wasps under the eaves of houses, and yellow jacket homes underground can all be damaged, forcing these pests into different areas. Because of all of the additional trash that may be strewn about near houses, you may find yourself dealing with yellow jackets and other bees as they are attracted to exposed trash.
It is important to be extra careful after a storm, especially during cleanup because of wasps and bees. While it is better to leave them alone, sometimes it is easy to accidentally stir them up, which can lead to painful stings and hospital trips due to anaphylaxis.
You can find nests in the following places after a storm:
- Eaves of Houses or Overhangs
- Fallen Trees
- Shrubs and Hedges
- Hollow Logs and Tree Stumps
- Trash Cans
If you don't know what to do when you see a wasp nest(or other types of bee nest), check out, “What To Do When You See a Wasp Nest.”
Flooding from major storms can cause problems for any termite treatments that may have been used around your home. Erosion and moving debris can act as a bridge for termites to make their way into your house and get to work.
Baiting systems may be covered or contaminated, storm damage could have opened up cracks in walls that allow termites to enter your home, and damaged roofing can even allow termites to create secondary infestations. Once termites have made it inside a house, they can easily wreak havoc, even if you have a termite protection contract.
To get rid of termites, it is best to reach out to a pest control expert; you can learn more about termites and how to get rid of them here.
How can you keep pests from taking over your yard - and even coming into your home?
Tips to Deal with Tropical Storm Pest Problems
1. Make Pest Control Part of Your Storm Prep
As you prepare for a storm, take a look for any cracks and crevices that could be vulnerable - and that can allow pests in. Use silicone-based caulk to seal cracks and either empty your trash cans or keep them well away from your house.
2. Get Rid of Standing Water
Pests love stagnant water. Be sure to drain anything that can become a breeding ground, including birdbaths, flowerpots, clogged gutters, grill covers, garbage cans, wading pools, etc.
3. Remove Food Waste
If you have a power outage, you may be dealing with spoiled food, which is quite alluring to pests. Bag up and seal any food waste and put it outside of your home. Sanitation workers typically prioritize removing household garbage to contain pest populations, so make sure to follow their guidelines for service/pickup.
4. Check for Damage and Make Necessary Repairs
After a storm, check for any damage, including rotting wood. Pests can use these as access points, and they can cause extensive damage to your home. Termites, for example, can wreak havoc on your home’s structure.
Severe weather also drives wildlife - mice, rats, raccoons, squirrels, etc. - indoors. Seal up any cracks and gaps through which they can enter.
5. Contact Rid-A-Bug
We are your pest control experts, and we pride ourselves on responsive, respectful service - even when we’re dealing with severe weather. We’ll be there as soon as we can to help deal with pest infestations and to help create a plan to mitigate or prevent problems in the first place.
When severe weather is heading in, we have a lot of worries on our minds. Pest control may not be at the top of the list, but when the wind and rain die down, Rid-a-Bug is here to help you resume life as usual.