With natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding making headline news recently, you may be wondering what you can do to protect your home if your area is similarly affected.
One serious aftereffect of flooding that’s not often discussed is the pest problems that often occur in homes and other buildings. A flood can be damaging enough to your home. You don’t need the additional inconvenience and damage brought on by a pest infestation as well.
You can’t change the weather, but you can arm yourself with information that will help you protect your home from pests in advance of weather that could produce floods. You can also learn what to do after a flood to ensure your home remains pest-free. Take a look at some of the pest problems that you could experience during or after a flood, and find out how to combat them.
If you’ve followed the news of flooding in Texas, one particular set of images may have caught your attention: pictures of floating rafts of fire ants. This nightmarish image is just what it looks like — in a flood, fire ants are swept out of their homes, so they link themselves together in a big, floating mass of ant bodies, with the queen protected in the middle.
Ants can survive and continue to float this way for up to two weeks, which is often long enough for them to reach dry land. And they aren’t picky about which dry land they hit, either. If the first dry place they happen to come across turns out to be a part of your home, then they will happily unload and start making their new colony there. You’ll need an exterminator to get them out.
Ant rafts don’t show up every time there’s a flood. In quick flash floods, the ants can drown before they have the chance to form their floating rafts. They’re more likely to show up in a slow-moving flood. If you’re faced with one of those floods, it’s good to be on the lookout.
If you have ant mounds anywhere on your property, treating them before any flooding occurs may help prevent them from winding up inside your home during a flood. However, it’s not a guarantee — ants can float a long way, so even if you don’t have any on your property, they may come from someplace else.
Dish soap can break up the ant rafts and sink the ants, causing them to drown. Make sure you’re wearing protective gear if you decide to wade into floodwaters to battle ant rafts outside your home, however — if you get too close, they will sting. Plus, there are other dangers in the water.
Rodents are another common infestation problem during and after a flood. Like ants, rats simply get caught up in the rising waters and dislodged from their homes during a flood, especially if the flood is serious enough to cause the sewers to back up.
Unlike ants, rats and other rodents are generally good swimmers. They don’t need to form a raft — they’ll just paddle along until they reach someplace dry. And if there’s enough room for them to enter your house along with the flood water, they’ll swim right in and set up shop as soon as they find a dry spot.
Make sure that your home is well-protected against rodents before a flood. Your pest control service can help you identify cracks and holes that should be sealed up. When the waters recede after a flood, you may want to put out traps to catch any rodents that might try to get in through damaged parts of your home.
If there’s anything worse for your home than the damage from a flood, it might just be termite damage. Unfortunately, the flood just might lead to a termite infestation.
Damp or water-damaged wood can attract termites to your home. What’s more, any barrier treatment that you’ve had applied to prevent termites or any barrier treatment applied to your home’s building materials during construction will be wiped out by the flood waters.
As a result, your home is more vulnerable to termite infestation after a flood than it usually is. As you dry out and repair any damage caused by the flooding, it’s essential that you contact a pest control company to have your termite barrier either reapplied or applied for the first time if you didn’t have a barrier before.
Make sure that you take other preventative steps as well. Pick up any wood debris left behind by the storm and make sure that it’s moved well away from your home. Termites may be living on that wood, and if you stack it up too close to the house, they could easily jump to the building.
Preparing for a disaster such as a flood is part of homeownership, and part of that preparation is understanding the pest control implications for your home. Talk to Chem-Wise Ecological Pest Management about the best way to make sure that your home is protected against pests no matter what the weather does.