Prevent Pest Problems After Storms with These Tips
Pests are an issue most homeowners have experience dealing with at some point or another. But for some reason, pests tend to get noticeably worse when storms and heavy rain are in the forecast. So, on top of dealing with potential moisture problems (such as mold growth in your crawl space), you also have to be vigilant of pest problems after storms.
Fortunately, we have some tips to help you identify and prevent pest infestations before the next storm rolls in.
Why are Pests More Active After Storms?
Because most pests nest outdoors, heavy storms force them to search for new shelter and dry nesting areas. Fallen limbs, excess moisture, and wind can all cause damage to your home, making it easier for pests to make their way inside after a storm. To them, your home looks like a nice place to set up shop and stay dry. To you, however, it looks like you have a pest problem on your hands!
Types of Pests that are Active After Storms
Here’s a breakdown of the most common types of pests you will encounter after heavy rain storms.
1. Fire Ants
There are two species of fire ants in the Carolinas that are known for their painful bite and sting. These invasive species are extremely aggressive and can repeatedly bite and sting simultaneously. Ranging from light brown to dull red in color, these pests are active after storms as they work together to move their colonies out of harm's way. As omnivores, fire ants eat other insects but are also attracted to greasy substances, such as cooked meats.
Signs of Fire Ants
First, look for their distinct mounds that tend to pop up after rainstorms when the soil is wet and easy to maneuver. The mounds are “fluffy” in appearance and look similar to freshly disturbed soil. Be aware, fire ants enter and exit their mounds through underground tunnels, rather than a hole from the top of the mound. So if you notice ants going in and out of a visible opening, these are likely not fire ants.
How to Prevent Fire Ants
To prevent fire ants, empty outdoor trash cans stored near your home to prevent them from finding potential food sources. Also, keep your landscaping neat so fire ants aren’t able to use branches or limbs as a “bridge” into your home. Make sure you store pet food properly, especially if kept in an outdoor shed or garage. You can also destroy their mounds to encourage them to eventually relocate.
2. Carpenter Ants
Carpenter ants are wood-destroying insects that chew nesting tunnels inside wood materials. These ants are typically dark black or brown with a heart-shaped head. As one of the many common pests after storms, carpenter ants are especially important to watch for when it rains. These pests are specifically attracted to damp wood that has been softened by mold and mildew, so protecting your home from water damage and identifying potential moisture problems is key.
Signs of Carpenter Ants
One easy way to spot carpenter ants is by inspecting the wood surfaces within your home for mold or any other water damage. Unlike termites, carpenter ants don’t consume wood but rather leave behind a material similar to sawdust. If you start to notice unexplainable “sawdust” in certain areas of your home, there may be a carpenter ant infestation nearby.
How to Prevent Carpenter Ants
Keep all interior and exterior wood materials dry and free from damage after inclement weather. Stay on top of regularly inspecting every area of your home for signs of mold and water damage that might attract carpenter ants later on. You can avoid mold growth by never allowing moisture to accumulate on your roof, siding, shingles, crawl space, attic insulation, windows, and so on.
Mosquitoes thrive from rainy weather thanks to newly formed sources of standing water that serve as excellent breeding grounds for this pest. Mosquitoes should be prevented from breeding because of the handful of diseases they can spread to humans and animals. On average, mosquitoes kill approximately 725,000 people per year. These deadly diseases include malaria, dengue, West Nile virus, Zika, and chikungunya to name a few.
Signs of Mosquitoes
Mosquitoes can be difficult to catch because they’re fairly quiet. Unless a mosquito gets close enough to your ear, you generally don’t notice them until after you feel the pinch of their bite. A female mosquito’s saliva causes a skin reaction that results in a red, itchy bump on the surface.
How to Prevent Mosquitoes
Because undisturbed sources of water are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes, these should be removed immediately. All forms of still water at least one inch deep must be cleared. This might consist of water inside bird baths, wheelbarrows, clogged gutters, tires, etc. Mosquitoes can lay up to one hundred eggs at a time, so stay on top of keeping all surfaces dry to avoid pest problems after rain.
Did you know there are plants that are known to deter mosquitoes? Check out our list of 16 mosquito-repelling plants.
4. House Flies
House flies are a major pest problem because they will enter your home through torn screens and other openings caused by storm damage. What’s worse is house flies are extremely unsanitary. They will regurgitate food wherever they land and can therefore spread several types of bacteria.
Signs of House Flies
If you leave a window open and notice an occasional fly, this is generally not a cause for concern. House flies are attracted to decaying substances and sugary foods. However, if you find maggots — the white, wingless larvae — there may be a house fly infestation in your home.
How to Prevent House Flies
You can easily prevent houseflies by replacing screens and other crevices. Keep trash and all food items sealed to not attract them. Most importantly, avoid using rat poison to kill rodents because the carcasses are attractive to flies. Instead, look into SMART technology to eliminate rodents and not cause secondary pest problems after storms.
Spiders are technically arachnids, which are not the same as insects. In fact, spiders are more closely related to scorpions and termites than to ants or cockroaches. In North and South Carolina, there are 1,500 types of spiders. Two of which are poisonous and pose a threat — the Southern Black Widow and Brown Recluse. Black widows prefer moist environments, while recluse spiders prefer to stay dry. This explains why Black Widows are typically found along home exteriors while the Brown Recluse is more likely to venture inside.
Signs of Spiders
Because most spiders aren’t usually aggressive, they tend to hide and shy away from humans. You will likely find a web before seeing an actual spider. While one or two spider webs inside your home is normal, finding several can be a sign of a spider nest inside your home. Outdoors, spiders will move to high ground to avoid flooding so you may notice spiders webs on the tops of bushes and shrubs.
At Killingsworth, we offer de-webbing as a part of our Pest Control Plans. Learn more.
How to Prevent Spiders
Studies show you’re never more than 10 feet away from a spider. While spiders are generally considered to be a beneficial insect, it’s best to prevent them from infesting your home in case you attract a venomous species. Damage from heavy storms such as debris piles are an excellent nesting place for spiders. To prevent future pest problems after storms, keep your yard free from debris and overgrown vegetation in order to prevent spiders from nesting.
Like carpenter ants, termites are known for their destructive nature. These small pests can cause structural damage if left to their own devices for long enough. Termites live in colonies made up of hundreds or thousands of members. In order to survive they require a moist environment, which is why it’s common to see termites active after rainy weather.
Signs of Termites
To check for signs of a termite infestation, look for discarded wings. This is a sure sign of a termite infestation. You may also notice mud tubes on walls that help the termites stay sheltered from the sun and dry air. Rotting or damaged wood, plastic, and other cellulose-rich materials are also common signs to watch for.
How to Prevent Termites
To prevent possible termite infestations, fix any damaged or decaying wood on the interior and exterior of your home. Outside, remove any wood, debris, mulch, or wood chips that come in contact with your home’s exterior so they can’t reach your home this way. You can also choose to have your crawl space encapsulated in order to prevent termites from coming into your home. For professional protection, a pest professional can install Sentricon bait stations to guarantee termites won’t be causing you pest problems after storms.
Like spiders, wasps are beneficial insects because they kill many other types of pests. However, because of their aggressive behavior and ability to sting, they can be hazardous to people and animals. Flooding and winds can damage their nests and force them to search for a new nesting site. In addition, wasps are attracted to freshly broken wood and the sap contained inside, so any trees damaged from storms might attract wasps to your property.
Signs of Wasps
First, identify any flying insects and nests near your home. Wasps look somewhat similar to bees but are thinner and longer in appearance. However, their nests do not look similar to a bee’s nest, but rather like a ball made of paper mache or wet newspaper.
How to Prevent Wasps
Keep all food and drink, especially anything sweet, covered as to not attract them. Clean up any fallen debris like tree limbs to keep them from venturing into your yard. Also, cover any holes in the ground as they can use these to nest depending on the species.
Rodents create one of the worst pest problems after storms. Rats and mice looking for higher ground will prefer to nest indoors where they are protected from the elements. A storm can drive them to search for shelter, and if your home isn’t protected against rodents they will likely find a way inside.
Rodents are also another pest that spread harmful bacteria and diseases through direct and indirect contact. If there’s a nest or droppings in your home, you are at risk of contracting whatever illness they might have. On top of this, they are incredibly destructive, can contaminate your food, and chew through several types of materials.
Signs of Rodents
If you suspect there is a rodent in your home, look for droppings or evidence of a nest in the form of loose debris and materials they’ve collected. Don’t forget to check the easy-to-ignore spaces of your home, like the attic and crawl space, for the presence of rodents.
How to Prevent Rodents
The best way to prevent rodents is by sealing any possible entry points. Insulating your attic and encapsulating your crawl space is a great way to block any access points while also maintaining these important areas of your home.
When it comes to rodents, we use advanced technology to prevent and eliminate rodent infestations. With our SMART pest control, we use an intelligent system of devices to track, analyze, and exterminate rodents quickly and efficiently. This system allows for discreet removal of unwanted pests without interrupting your day-to-day life.
How to Stop Recurring Pest Problems After Storms
While simple at-home methods can work great for preventing pest problems after storms, once a pest infestation has occurred, it’s time for a pest professional to step in. Our pest professionals are expertly trained to identify pest behavior, so they know how to stop any type of pest from making their way into your home.
Here at Killingsworth, we offer customizable services for every single one of the pests listed above. To get rid of insects and arachnids, we offer monthly treatment plans to contain infestations and stop them from spreading. Because we follow the integrated pest management approach, we never spray more than necessary — just enough to eliminate the infestation without bothering you, your home, or your pets.
If you have a pest problem you need taken care of, take a look at our pest control prices to see what we can do for you.