How to Deal with Insects After a Storm
Strong rain storms are often followed by an increase in insect pests. Here’s why—and what to do about it.
No matter the season, bugs seem to tailor their behavior to match what's happening with the weather, and that’s particularly noticeable after a big rain storm or a hurricane. You may notice insects like mosquitoes, fire ants, and wasps out and about in far greater numbers than usual—and that can be a problem.
Mosquitoes love moisture and humidity and can seem even more aggressive after a storm. What’s more, all of that rain can cause the local mosquito population to explode. Storms leave pools of water—both on the ground and in places like plant pots, old tires, birdbaths, and even kids’ toys—that can soon become stagnant, providing mosquitoes with loads of prime habitat for breeding. Many mosquitoes lay their eggs in this kind of standing water, and if allowed to mature, these young mosquitoes will emerge from the water in 7 to 10 days. Other types of mosquitoes lay their eggs in moist soil in low lying areas; after the area floods, the eggs hatch, releasing huge numbers of the pests.
Other bugs also come out en masse following periods of heavy rain, as the water soaks into the ground and fills their nests with water. Ants (including fire ants) and subterranean termites will bustle to get to higher ground. During a big storm or long period of rain, they may even seek out shelter in places like your home. These insects will not return to their nests until the rain stops and the nests dry out.
Insects can be an especially big problem after a hurricane. The resulting flooding can damage wasp and hornet nests and flood out yellow jackets, leaving them homeless and looking for shelter. Fire ants forced to abandon their nests will actually form rafts to find a dry place to land. These rafts may look like mats, streamers, or even balls. Once they find a landing place, they may come indoors in search of food.
In addition, as damp, damaged wood begins to decay, it turns into a haven for carpenter ants. The list goes on. If you've got a pest problem—even a minor one—chances are a hurricane or other major storm will make it much worse.
What to Do About Insects After a Storm
- If possible, stay indoors during times when mosquitoes are most active. If you need to venture out during those times, you should take care to protect yourself. Wear long sleeves and long pants (light colors are best) and an EPA-approved repellent.
- Empty any objects holding standing water.
- You can kill the mosquitoes invading your yard with Ortho® Home Defense® Backyard Mosquito & Bug Killer Ready-To-Spray or Ortho® Home Defense® Backyard Mosquito & Bug Killer Area Fogger.
- Be very careful when picking up debris. Also, wear sturdy work gloves, along with long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, socks, and boots.
- Know that fire ants can climb shovels and other tools. A coating of talcum powder on the tools can make it harder for the ants to make progress.
- Don’t use bait products right after flooding, as the colonies are not organized enough for them to be effective. When mounds reappear, treat them with Ortho® Orthene® Fire Ant Killer to kill the queen and destroy the mound.
Wasps, Hornets, & Yellowjackets
- Wear gloves and protective clothing when moving debris, and be sure to look before you lift.
- Don’t leave food or drink uncovered.
- Don’t use products on individual insects that are meant to be sprayed on nests.
- To kill wasps, hornets, and yellowjackets in your lawn and landscape, use Ortho® Home Defense® Backyard Mosquito & Bug Killer Area Fogger.
Insects Trying to Enter Your Home
- Create a barrier to keep shelter-seeking insects out of your house by applying Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Killer with Extended Reach Comfort Wand® around windows and doors and along baseboards.
- If any insects do manage to make it inside, control them with a product like Ortho® Home Defense® Flying Bug Killer with Essential Oils as soon as you spot them.
How to Protect Yourself Before the Next Storm Comes
Unfortunately, this probably won’t be the last storm you’ll face—but there are things you can do to make the resulting pests less of a problem. Try these tips (and always follow the directions on the label):
- Apply Ortho® Home Defense Max® Indoor Insect Killer with Extended Reach Comfort Wand® to cracks and crevices, under appliances, and around entry points like doors and windows.
- Kill fire ant colonies with Ortho® Orthene® Fire Ant Killer, then spread Ortho® Fire Ant Killer Broadcast Granules on your lawn to help control new mounds.
- Control other ant colonies (along with other listed insects) in your yard with Ortho® BugClear™ Lawn Insect Killer.
- Use Ortho® Home Defense® Termite & Destructive Bug Killer to control termites.
- Prune shrubs and tall grasses where insects can hide.
- Inspect your exterior home walls for any cracks or holes, and be sure to caulk them to keep out both insects and water.
Storms can wreak a lot of havoc, leaving lots of problems behind once they pass through. But a little know-how can go a long way toward minimizing the effects insects have on your life and home after the rain finally subsides.