Hurricanes and Pest Management

Many of us along the East Coast are gearing up for the effects of Hurricane Irene this weekend. Although hurricanes typically bring worries of falling trees, property damage, high water and loss of power, most people don’t think of some of the longer-term consequences of hurricanes: pest problems. Hurricane winds and flooding can carry in new insects and seeds, ushering in new season-long battles and making growing season the next year a challenge.

So in addition to checking on the water, buying a generator and filling up your car, here are some additional items to check off your hurricane preparedness list, and other things to look for after the storm is over.

  • Before the storm, check the outside of the house for openings that can let water or insects inside. Moist conditions are often inviting for urban pests like termites.
  • Be sure tree limbs and shrub branches are trimmed so they are not within reach of the house.
  • The heavy rains associated with a hurricane or tropical storm can leave pools of standing water in low-lying areas in your yard, children’s toys or other container-shaped objects. Be sure to empty or drain items filled with water and help low-lying areas drain properly. Standing water attracts mosquitoes. See http://texashelp.tamu.edu/001a-hot-topics/managing-mosquitoes.php.
  • After the hurricane, seal up any home damage as soon as possible to prevent entrance by insects or rodents.
  • Pick up toppled trash containers and clean up strewn trash bags as soon as possible to avoid rodent and raccoon infestations.
  • If you have to cut down trees, keep stumps and branches as far away from the house as possible. Decaying wood can attract termites and ants.
  • Check landscape areas for new weeds and insect pests to catch them before they do damage.
  • Watch for imported fire ants in flood waters. See http://texashelp.tamu.edu/001a-hot-topics/managing-fire-ants.php for more information.

Dealing with the aftermath of a hurricane can be stressful enough. Don’t let pest problems be one of those stresses.

Other Resources:

Storm-Related Pest Problems (NC State University)

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