When It Rains, It Pours Pests - Part 2
Welcome to part two of our rainy day series! Fall is when rainstorms become more frequent and intense, and pests are still somehow a problem. That's because when the weather is bad, pests like to stay indoors where it's warm and dry. So if you notice a sudden increase in bugs around your house after it rains, don't worry - you're not alone. In this blog, we'll discuss four common categories of pests that love to use our houses and yards as sufficient shelters during the autumn rain.
Although mosquitoes seem like they are just a summertime pest, they are present in just about every kind of rainy day situation that isn’t completely cold. This is because mosquitoes are an aquatic pest for every stage except its adult stage, so they naturally need the water to produce the next generation of bloodthirsty pests. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water of any kind, hence the spike in mosquitoes after summer and fall rainstorms. Some of their most common spots include collected water on tarps, in buckets, on outdoor toys, in plant drainage trays, and on outdoor furniture. And, of course, mosquitoes can lay plenty of eggs in larger bodies of water like lakes, puddles, and ponds.
They lay up to 100 eggs at a time, which adds up when they continue reproducing throughout their lives. And since female mosquitoes are the ones to blame for our itchy bites when they seek protein for their eggs, more reproducing means more problems for us. They will even lay eggs in damp soil if that is the only option. Humidity and hot temperatures cause a rise in mosquito populations as well, but these are not as common in the fall months. However, with the early rainstorms that are not completely chilly, mosquitoes can still find a way to cause problems. They can carry dangerous diseases like malaria, Zika virus, and West Nile virus if they bite an infected mammal, so their bites are capable of being more than just an itchy nuisance. Make sure to dump out and shake off any outdoor objects that collected rain water when the storm has passed to give mosquitoes a few less places to grow their numbers and cause more problems for us.
Wood-boring pests are not a problem pest when it is raining, like some other creatures that are seeking shelter from the water. They are more of a subsequent issue that presents itself when you think the storm has passed, literally and figuratively. Wood damage is fairly common after a big rainstorm. Wooden fences, play sets, and posts are all susceptible to have moisture damage after it rains. It can even be a problem in the house if any of the beams, framework, or doorframes had moisture seep in and rot the wood. The pests that live in wood typically prefer sources that are already damaged or rotting in some way since it’s easier to invade a softer material than a sturdy one. Some of the most common wood-loving pests are termites, carpenter ants, carpenter bees, and weevils.
Some pests actually eat the wood they are currently invading, while others just gnaw through it and don’t consume the fibers. Termites and weevils eat the wood as their primary (or only) source of food, while carpenter bees and carpenter ants don’t eat the wood they gnaw through for their nests. Either way, having pests burrow into wood is disastrous for the structure. Many homeowners know to look for wood rot and moisture damage in certain parts of the house, but it’s easy to forget that this is also exactly what certain insects are searching for as their new home. Termites in particular are known for the extensive damage they cause to homes every year due to the sheer number of insects in each colony. Extreme cases of termite infestations have led to homeowners paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in repairs! Check any wooden objects in the yard after a storm for any signs of rot or infestations. If wood-boring pests have invaded, the wood will have a hollow sound when you tap on it. Also, check any areas of the house itself for compromised integrity of the wooden sections. It is better to have any damage repaired sooner rather than waiting and potentially having a pest army invading the home.
Honestly, one of the most accurate parts of Ratatouille is that Remy and his colony went inside the elderly woman’s home during a storm. Mice and rats like to be as dry as possible, so they are popular invaders during a storm. These nocturnal pests prefer to be well-hidden from any kind of potential enemy, including us. This unfortunately means that they are great at burrowing deep into a house or building if they find reliable food and water there. They can fit through just about any size crack or hole, a frustrating by-product of their agility and flexibility. If the rain is bad enough to cause a gap to form in the house, even a small hole near a doorway, it can be just enough for a desperate rodent to find its new shelter. Rodents that live in sewers and other water-centric areas may be flooded out of their homes, which can lead them to a nearby house or building as a dry space to search for food.
Rats and mice are equally frustrating as pests, despite their specific differences. Mice reproduce more often and have more offspring per litter, but rats are more willing to venture into populated areas and can walk along the narrowest paths since they use their tail for balance. But both carry plenty of diseases and dangerous viruses that they can transmit to us through their droppings, urine, and feet. If a rodent has been in a food container, that food is now contaminated and should be thrown out immediately. Rats and mice like to live in the walls, in the ceilings, and behind large appliances since all of them give access to food and water without compromising their safety by leaving them out in the open. Check for any holes or cracks in the house, and make sure that any window screens left open are free of rips and tears. There is enough to worry about in rainy weather without the additional stress of a rodent family taking up space literally in your house.
This may seem like a random one, but desert termites are actually often seen after a storm. Desert termites are more common after rainstorms just because of their primary food source, but they may not be completely gone in the fall. They are not a termite species that eats wood, so they are not the typical termites that we have to worry about invading our homes and eating away at the framework. They are agricultural termites, only eating vegetation of various kinds. But the reason why they may be more common in the summer is because they prefer decaying or dead plants for their food. Desert termites enjoy grass and plant roots, especially if the roots are short due to lack of water and nutrients.
Desert termites also reproduce much more when it is humid or hot, similar to many other insects, so they are at their peak during the summer. This is their mating season when the ones capable of reproducing swarm to search for a mate. There are also winged swarmers that search for their new home locations, which is what we see when a bunch of little insects fly around our lawns. They cannot fly around to mate and look for a new home when it is raining at all because their wings would become heavy and soaked after a short time. If the grass or plants are dehydrated before the storm, it is likely that desert termites will still be drawn to them after the rain ends. Keep all grass and plants as hydrated as possible, and there should not be a reason for the desert termites to invade. Humid regions have to worry about these pests more than others, so just keep any eye on your plants and don’t let them go unwatered for too long.
Pest control is best done either before or after a rain storm, but not during. If treatments or baits are applied at any point during the rain, it would not be very effective at all. At best, they would not get all of the pests in an infestation, and at worst, the treatments would just wash away without doing anything. Also, make sure to dump out any trays, tarps, and other yard objects that collected water to keep aquatic insects from breeding, as this is the first step in keeping pests away from your home. To prevent major pest invasions from the specific critters we discussed, we recommend receiving pest control services after the storm has passed. Our technicians are here to solve your pest problems during every season! Contact us to learn more about our efficient treatments and how we can keep your home pest-free, rain or shine.
How to deal with insects after a storm. (n.d.). Ortho. Retrieved October 14, 2022, from https://www.ortho.com/en-us/library/garden/why-does-bug-activity-increase-after-rain
Moreno, J. (2021, June 29). Ask the entomologist: What are those swarms of flying insects following a rainstorm?. KSAT. Available at https://www.ksat.com/news/local/2021/06/29/ask-the-entomologist-what-are-those-swarms-of-flying-insects-following-a-rainstorm/ (Accessed on October 14, 2022).