How Do Hurricanes Affect Pests?

After living through a hurricane, pests may not be your top concern. Nevertheless, hurricanes do have an effect on pests, and severe storms could increase the risk of pests invading your home.

During the fall of 2018, the Southeastern United States experienced quite a few severe storms, including Subtropical Storm Alberto, Hurricane Florence, and Hurricane Michael. This led to record breaking rainfall and excessive moisture in the area. The severity of these storms played a role in the National Pest Management Association predicting that there will be an increase in pest activity for the remainder of the fall and winter in the Southeastern United States. In addition to storms and weather patterns, the NPMA prediction is also based on the biological behaviors of pests plus long term projections. Specifically for the Southeast, the NPMA believes that this increase in pest activity will include a significant growth in the mosquito population, as well as increased activity for termites, cockroaches, and other pests drawn to moisture.

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A rise in the pest population means that you need to be more careful about pests intrusions. If your home has been through a hurricane and experienced moisture problems that presents further risks. Excess moisture inside your home, especially if left unattended, becomes quite attractive to water loving pests. Keep in mind that moisture may be hidden in areas like the crawl space, attic, or basement. If there is moisture, try to take care of it as soon as possible. This will help prevent pests, as well as mold, and fungi.

Damage to exterior structures of your home can also lead to pest issues. For instance, storm damage to gutters or shingles could allow moisture to collect. Just like with interior damage, this should be fixed as soon as possible to prevent a pest infestation.

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One example of pests that look for moisture is termites. Not only will water logged soil and wood attract the termites but damage such as foundation cracks, may provide easy access into your home. Additionally, damage to your yard, like tree stumps and wood debris, will entice termites. Just like termites, carpenter ants will be attracted to wet or decaying wood.

Keep in mind that applying pesticides directly to wood decay or damage is not the best solution. The NC State Entomology department suggests making temporary repairs first, as needed. This will give you a chance to completely dry out the damaged area before completing the permanent repair.

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Not only can storms create moisture areas for pests, they can also ruin treatments that you may have in place around your home. For example, bait stations may be washed away or covered during the storm. In addition, if you have pest treatment around the exterior of your home, it may be eroded, or simply covered up. This means that after a storm it is a good idea to have your home reinspected so it can be retreated, if necessary.

While it may not be your first consideration after a storm, pests are certainly something to keep in mind. Whether it’s ensuring that carpenter ants don’t invade your flooded crawl space or that your pest treatment isn’t washed away, you want to fix the problem as soon as possible.

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McFarlane, Drew. “Mosquito, Cockroach and Rodent Populations Expected to Spike This Fall and Winter, the Bug Barometer Says.” The Weather Channel, The Weather Channel, 17 Oct. 2018, population/.
Waldvogel, Michael. “Pest Problems After Storms - Termites.” NC State Extension News, NC State, Oct. 2018, pest-problems-after-storms-termites/.
Waldvogel, Michael. “Pest Problems After Storms - Moisture & Pests.” NC State Extension News, NC State, pest-problems-after-storms-moisture-pests/.