Don't forget about pests in your post-hurricane cleanup.
As Hurricane Matthew threatens the Florida and Georgia coastlines, all eyes turn to hurricane preparedness. But once the rain and storm has passed, another threat lurks on the horizon, the same one that every storm on the Atlantic coast brings with it: A spike in pest populations.
How storms increase pest populations
It seems unnatural to worry about pests in the wake of a hurricane or large storm since severe flooding and heavy rains likely wash away existing mosquitoes and their eggs. However, standing water left from the storms actually increases them.
Rodents, mosquitoes and other insects and pests displaced by the storm seek out new grounds to live, and many insects thrive in wet areas. The abundance of standing water after a hurricane provides an excellent breeding ground, and they may try to claim your house as their new home.
And with Aedes aegypti mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus a key concern in Florida, homeowners need to keep pest control in mind as they rebuild after Hurricane Matthew.
The radical change in conditions favorable to pests is almost inevitable even if just the edges of a storm affect your city. Even limited damage to structures, exposed wet wood, greater moisture and standing water all provide a heyday for all types of pests looking to settle in a new place and multiply.
How to prepare for the post-hurricane pests
In the wake of hurricane season, be sure to consider amping up your pest control efforts in addition to fortifying your house and nearby structures. Before the storm, seal entryways with caulk, including doors and windows and screen openings where pests could enter.
Once the interior is fortified, rapidly clean up the exterior as part of your disaster recovery after a hurricane has passed. It’s always a good idea to empty all containers of standing water and clear wood debris as quickly as possible. If trash cans, especially those filled with food, have tipped during the storm, clear them so that they do not attract rodents.
Take your prep to the next level
Tropical storms and hurricanes increase the risk of pest infestations — and fast. Even homeowners who are aware of preventive and post-storm techniques may struggle to fight pests in the wake of the fast onset of these storms. The higher the risk of pests infesting your home throughout the year, the more likely you are to see problems during hurricane season.
The best pest control is preventive and treats problems before they arise. The strongest barricade against pests during hurricane season is an efficient pest management program from professional exterminators, delivered strategically throughout the year before and during at-risk seasons.
Editor's note: This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on July 21, 2014.
About this Experts Contributor: Donnie Shelton represents Triangle Pest Control, providing pest control and exterminating services in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since 2006, Triangle Pest Control has specialized in pest control, mosquito control, termite protection and more. You can follow this contributor on Twitter @TrianglePest and on Google+.
As of Oct. 9, 2016, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.