While homeowners begin repairing damages caused by Hurricane Sandy, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) is calculating the effects the storm had on pest populations in New York and New Jersey.
"Communities devastated by the storm will likely experience an increase in pest encounters due to displacement and destruction caused by flooding," said Jim Fredericks, Ph.D, technical director for the NPMA. "From the delay in sanitation services caused by power outages and road blockages, to the widespread structural damage and increased number of people staying at shelters, hotels or with family and friends, there are a number of ways Sandy will affect a variety of pest populations both in the short-term and months after the storm."
The organization has identified the following pests that will be of greatest concern to East Coast residents:
While some rodents were killed during and after the hurricane, many have been displaced and are seeking shelter and food. NPMA explained the delay in garbage pickup in several areas is attracting rats and other mammal pests. Because sanitation crews will focus on "garbage" before debris, homeowners should separate food trash and construction rubbish. Rodents can carry many diseases, and residents should take precautions to avoid their carcasses.
Because flies breed in spoiled food, dead animals and backed up sewage, homeowners who experienced several days of lost power should be on the lookout for fungus gnats, phorid flies and other bugs. Residents should consider asking an exterminator to inspect their home's pipes to ensure no sewage leaks or plumbing problems are creating an ideal place for pests to live.
People forced out of their homes and into hotels and shelters or those who have received donated furnishings and clothing have an increased chance of finding bed bug infestations, according to the NPMA. The pest can "hitchhike" from person to person in close spaces and are difficult to eliminate, so seeking professional help immediately upon finding these pests is essential.
These bugs consider wet wood a feast, and many termites have been displaced by flooding. It's a good idea for homeowners to ask a pest control professional to inspect their home's termite defenses to ensure the destructive critters don't cause additional damage to a residence already suffering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy.