With forecasters from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicting a 75 percent chance of a near- or above-normal hurricane season in 2018, it is important for homeowners to ensure their homes are prepped for the damaging effects of these natural disasters. While reinforcing windows and bunkering down ahead of extreme weather are top priorities, other risks (in the form of pests) still lurk long after storms have passed. Downed trees and standing water force many species of insects to seek higher ground and safe shelter – oftentimes in our own homes. To fully prepare for and combat a probable spike in pest populations in the days and weeks after a hurricane, follow these six pest prevention tips. And, for those of you who live on the East Coast, take heed through November 30, which is the Atlantic hurricane season!
Before reports of a potential hurricane start to roll in, you can help prevent hurricane season pests by conducting both interior and exterior inspections of your house to identify and address any structural issues that may be worsened by the impending storm. Cracks should be sealed with a silicone-based caulk, any existing water damage should be fixed, and the household property should be sloped so that water flows away from the foundation rather than towards it. Furthermore, potential pest breeding sites such as garbage cans and mulch should be placed relatively far from the house in order keep pests away.
Though it may seem that the flooding and heavy rains associated with storms would effectively eradicate any existing mosquito populations, the standing water left behind serves as an ideal breeding ground for these biting pests. Mosquitoes need only a bottle cap full – half an inch – of water to breed. As a result, homeowners should assess and address sources of standing water if possible, which can be found in obvious places where flood waters collect, but also in birdbaths, clogged gutters, flowerpots, grill covers, garbage cans and lids. By draining and emptying these water receptacles, you can prevent the development of a mosquito population in your own backyard.
Spoiled food caused by extended power outages during bad weather can invite flies into your home. Flies breed in rotting food, potentially exposing family members to disease. Deposit any spoiled food in a sealed trash bag outside of the house to avoid attracting flies. Food waste and clutter can also entice rodents that are displaced by the storms and seeking food and shelter. For this reason, ensuring that discarded food is picked up by sanitation workers in a timely manner is critical. These workers usually prioritize dealing with common garbage over construction debris in the aftermath of a natural disaster, so homeowners should separate these materials to ensure that trash is quickly picked up and organize debris piles away from the home.
Rotting wood, caused by water damage, may attract troublesome termites – a pest that can silently chew through your home’s wood joists and flooring, etc., and inflict thousands of dollars in damage over time. Additionally, excessive moisture around your property can oversaturate soil and cause insects living underground, such as ants, to seek higher ground and shelter inside your house. To mitigate these threats, remove rotting debris that could harbor pests, fix any damaged pipes that could be leaking, and make sure your property slopes away from your home to prevent water from pooling around the foundation of the structure.