Climate change has meant an increase in rainfall (about 15% over the last 50 years) and more severe storms throughout Texas in recent years. Severe thunderstorms may cause power outages, make it more difficult to drive, and even lead to flooding.
But an often overlooked consequence of stormy weather is the increase in pest infestations. Read on to find out why rainy weather may be driving more pests into your home and what you can do to stop it.
You might have noticed the correlation between stormy weather and the number of unwanted pests invading your home. Unfortunately, storms mean increased activity from moisture-loving pests like mosquitoes, cockroaches, stink bugs, and termites.
It also means that pests like spiders, ants, and roaches may seek shelter inside your house. Flooded habitats may even mean that certain insects are forced out of their homes and invade yours as they seek food and dry ground. Below is a breakdown on the most common stormy weather pests.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, so rainfall may mean a sudden increase in your local mosquito population. Rain water can unfortunately create breeding grounds near your home for mosquitoes in clogged gutters, bird baths, flower pots, and even plastic playsets.
Cockroaches tend to be more active in moist, humid conditions. They may also seek shelter from harsh, stormy conditions inside your house. Also, after periods of heavy rain, roaches may be pushed up through drains and pipes and forced into your bathroom or kitchen.
Stink bugs are also particularly active in moist and humid conditions, and may seek shelter from cold or harsh wind and rain. Most spend the winter under the decaying bark of old trees, so if rain damages their “wintering” spot, they may be forced indoors.
Termites thrive when they can burrow in damp or decaying wood. This means that poor drainage or water damage to your home after a storm can lead to an increase in termite activity.
Some species of spiders love moisture, while other species may seek shelter from rain. This means avoiding spiders during a storm is unfortunately difficult. Some spiders may be attracted to dark and damp spaces like bathrooms and crawl spaces, while others may seek shelter from the rain in high corners or well-ventilated areas.
Ants are known for their hatred of rain (which is why you may spot whole colonies “marching” in lines to seek shelter during a storm).
Ants typically live in nests underground or in above-ground “ant hills” made from twigs, sand, or gravel. Carpenter ants, who burrow in rotting wood, might live in old logs or timber. If a nest or ant hill is flooded, the colony might seek shelter and food in your home (carpenter ants may even seek moist or decaying wood for a new nest).
Yellow jackets tend to burrow in holes and crevices underground (i.e., under outdoor stairs or in a hole in the soil). When these areas are flooded after rain, they may be forced to seek shelter in your shed or garage.
Centipedes and millipedes may be pushed into your bathroom or basement as water levels rise after rainfall. Luckily, millipedes in particular don’t typically live inside, so they won’t reproduce in your home and will die quickly if not thrown outside.
The prospect of pests taking over your home after a storm may be overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to prevent a post-storm infestation.
Seal any potential entry points for pests to invade your home. This means keeping doors and windows closed, sealing any cracks with spackle or silicone-based caulk, being sure to drain standing water sources around your house and yard, and trimming branches that may serve as a “bridge” inside for wood-loving pests like termites and carpenter ants.
Keeping a clean, clutter-free home means less places for bugs to hide. Cleaning crumbs and spills also makes your home less attractive to pests seeking a food source. The frequent use of cleaning products will also repel bugs that love dust and dirt (and hate essential oils found in natural cleaners).
Be sure to store leftovers in airtight containers in your fridge, dispose of spoiled food immediately, and keep snacks properly sealed. Take out the trash often and make sure trash cans are kept properly shut. Even the smallest pile of crumbs left unattended could sustain a pest infestation.
Many of the bugs that thrive in stormy weather love moisture, so be sure to keep your home as dry and well-ventilated as possible. This will also prevent water damage and wood decay, deterring a carpenter ant or termite infestation.
Using natural pest repellents (such as eucalyptus, lavender, clove, peppermint, apple cider vinegar, white vinegar, rosemary, sage, basil, and onion) can help deter pests from your home. Try using some as a preventative measure the next time a storm is forecasted.
Even if you don’t see live or dead pests in your home, there may be other signs of an infestation to look out for. This might include droppings, egg shells, larvae, discarded wings, grease marks and tracks, or even structural damage to your home.
You might hear rattling, rustling, clicking, or buzzing (especially if pests like termites are nesting in your walls). You might notice foul smells or notice damage to your plants. There may also be evidence of nesting (shredded paper or fabric, dried plant matter, chewed food packaging, holes chewed through walls to create entry points).
If you start to suspect a pest infestation, it’s important to make a plan of action. You might want to invest in at-home remedies such as the aforementioned natural pest repellents, traps, bait, or sprays like Raid.
Remove or destroy any infested plants. If you catch the source of the infestation early on, you may be able to put an end to it by hand-removing the pests yourself. However, if the infestation becomes serious, it may be time to hire a professional pest control service.