Areas in the eastern part of North Carolina and South Carolina are recovering from the most recent hurricane. Amidst boarding up windows, packing up the essentials and making sure everyone has enough batteries and water to outlast the storm, people often do not consider another disaster that could occur after the hurricane subsides: Pests.
Storms increase pest populations
Many think that storms actually reduce the number of pests in an area. It would make sense, right? Rain waters and heavy winds, theoretically, would wash away pests. But, in fact, the opposite happens. Instead, debris left from storms, especially in flooded areas, becomes a breeding ground for them.
Rodents, mosquitoes and other insects and pests often get displaced by a hurricane or storm and seek out new spaces to live. After a storm, mosquitoes typically appear as a result of the higher volume of water left behind. When water has nowhere to go because the soil is so saturated, it collects in cracks or crevices torn into structures. From there, mosquitoes will settle and lay their eggs in the stagnant water.
Additionally, rats and mice are often forced from their ground burrows during a storm and may enter homes and businesses at floor levels to seek dry ground. Similarly, reptiles, raccoons, opossums, groundhogs, skunks, birds, squirrels and bats may all seek dryer ground in a home or business. And, often, those critters will bring with them fleas and ticks—so the nuisance stays long after the intruding pest has left.
Fire ants are also known for causing discord amid hurricane aftermath. These ground born insects need oxygen to survive, and must emerge when the ground gets too wet. Always prone to work together, fire ants specifically will link together during high flood waters and will float along until they find higher or dryer ground. Despite them floating above water, these fire ants can still pack a punch and a sting, which is cause for concern for anyone nearby.
Yellow jackets can also cause concern. Because they build their nests in the ground, the heavy rains quickly disrupt or destroy their homes, causing them to seek a new site for their colony. Damaged siding and soffits left from heavy winds tend to be a perfect place for wasps, and an easy entry point into a home.
Finally, the moisture brought into basements and crawl spaces during a hurricane can be a major concern. Aside from damaging your belongings, it often requires professional treatment to ensure that the space is moisture-free after cleanup. Prolonged dampness can lead to mold, structural damage and more.
How to protect your home from pests after a hurricane
In addition to the clean up needed after a hurricane, there are a few ways to protect your home from pests to ensure you do not have yet another disaster on your hands. Once you are able to safely return to your home, be sure to:
- Assess damage along the foundation of your home
- Inspect your roof for missing or broken shingles or holes
- Visually inspect for loose or missing soffits or fascia boards
- Seal any cracks or holes, paying attention to spots near pipes and utility lines
- Check to be sure any vent caps are properly secured
- Repair any screened windows that may have been damaged
- Clear debris from gutters or low-lying vents
- Remove tree branches within close proximity of your home
- Clear leaf litter within 20 feet of your home
- Remove all food from refrigerator and freezers
Before re-entering your home after a hurricane, make sure your property has been cleared for entry again. Ensure that there are no damaged power lines, gas lines or cracks in the foundation that could be dangerous to you. If you smell natural gas, propane or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department.
If you need help assessing whether or not your home has become a safe haven for pests after a hurricane, contact a pest professional for an assessment.