Pest Issues after a Natural Disaster

When Working to Control Pests, Take Care of Yourself and Watch Out for Others!
Hurricanes are devastating on many levels. In this time of recovery and clean up, your and your loved ones’ safety and that of your customers are of utmost importance. After such events, pests have been displaced and are much more likely to be encountered. As you help your customers with their pest issues, keep in mind conditions are potentially hazardous.

  • Do not enter standing water. You never know what is below the surface, like sharp objects, that could injure
  • Always check with County Emergency Management Office or other appropriate authorities regarding the safety of an area or neighborhood
  • Before looking for pests, know your surroundings, watch for debris and evaluate for structural integrity before
    entering any building
  • Do not enter areas that you feel are unsafe or if conditions change and you begin to feel unsafe. If this happens, leave the area or structure and contact your supervisor or other appropriate authority
  • If you have to walk around debris and/or move it, first probe/prod the area with a long object such as a 4-6 foot pole. Do not use your feet or hands!
  • Always keep hydrated. Under high heat conditions, you should drink at least 1 pint of water an hour

Why Should We and Our Customers Be More Concerned About Pests?
After such a large storm and the resulting flooding, pests have sought out safer, drier areas just as have people. Any place considered “higher ground” could be a haven for pests. This includes in and around your homes as well as your customers’ homes and businesses.

Will the Pest Situation Get Worse in the Coming Days?
The flooding has significantly changed the habitats for all living things and pest issues are likely to increase, particularly rodents and flies. As the flood waters recede and debris piles up, potentially including spoiled and rotting food, sanitation and exclusion issues will make pest problems especially challenging. Additionally, previous strategies including traps, bait stations, and treatments may have been displaced or damaged which could also add to the challenge. However, by keeping in mind the basic IPM techniques of assessing, implementing and monitoring combined with communicating with your customers, many situations can be kept in check and can improve as recovery continues. Conditions will change so keep alert and always check your surroundings. Be flexible and remember that changing conditions may require thinking “outside the box” to adapt to shifting pressures.

What Are Some Key Items To Remember?

  • Wear the appropriate PPE for the situation including heavy duty work gloves for protection
  • Animals are stressed and scared. Do not approach them unless you are contracted and licensed to do so
  • Replace damaged/missing devices but be aware that cleanup efforts may impact their placement
  • Where and when possible, address sanitation issues. Remind customers to store food in airtight containers, and trash in sealed bins
  • Pay particular attention when working around debris and/or damaged structures. Do not attempt to move
    heavy objects and always remember that something might be hiding below!
  • Increased emphasis on inspection is crucial to identifying pests, habitats, and conducive conditions. As displaced customers return to damaged areas and repairs continue, be vigilant for these contributing factors
  • Trash and debris from repairs will pile up and await removal in various places which potentially provides good habitat for pests
  • Structures being restored may have many temporary fixes that are fine for the short term but may lead to issues in the long term
  • Gutters have likely been flooded with debris and should be inspected, cleaned, and repaired