How extreme weather can increase pest activity

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Droughts. Hurricanes. Floods. Wildfires. Typhoons. Abruptly shifting weather patterns. Every day, extreme weather and environmental events are in the news. The speed with which these conditions evolve can prompt sudden spikes in pest activity. Commercial facilities and businesses that aren’t prepared may find themselves fighting a tidal wave of infestations.

In this brief, you’ll find a five-point plan for strengthening your facility’s defenses against pests in extreme weather.

Weather change and pests

Much of the research conducted to date on abruptly changing weather patterns and their impact on pests have been in relation to agriculture; however, by extension, we can assume that they will also affect structural pests – mice, rats, cockroaches, ants, and others that often get inside buildings.

There is a widely held, general belief in the scientific community that we are entering a period where extreme weather and environmental events will happen more frequently. Traditionally expected weather patterns are shifting, and as this trend continues, seasonal pest trends will be harder to predict. We are likely to see rapid swings between warm and cold, as well as wet and dry weather.

Finally, as environmental conditions change, there’s an increased likelihood that pests once found in specific regions may find new climates adaptable, increasing their geographic footprint.

When you add it all up, it means that pests are increasingly being driven into areas that humans inhabit, raising the chances of illness and food contamination from pest contact. For businesses, that means a greater likelihood of pest intrusion and risk to a brand.

Developing a plan of action

To prepare for these pest infestation likelihoods, Rentokil recommends a five-point plan.

  • Ensure structural integrity
  • Exterior grounds maintenance
  • Year-round monitoring
  • Weather event preparedness
  • Post-event assessment, pest management, and cleanup

Ensure structural integrity

Extreme weather and environmental events will force pests to take shelter quickly, and often en masse. A rapid change in temperature or sudden influx of precipitation can drive pests to look for shelter. Structural integrity is important year-round, but it is critical in extreme weather.

To ensure that your facility is prepared to withstand these weather or environmentally-driven pest invasions, make facility inspection part of the maintenance routine.

  • At least seasonally, do a thorough inspection of the exterior of the building.
  • Patch, repair, or seal any holes, gaps, or cracks – remember, a mouse can fit through an opening as small as 1/4-inch!
  • Don’t forget to inspect the roof, particularly around any vents, HVAC units, or other potential entry points to the facility. These types of preparations can also keep out moisture, which can be the root cause of many pest issues.

Exterior grounds maintenance

Plants, shrubs, and trees can create access roadways to your building and provide a perfect hiding place for insect and rodent pests. Keep them trimmed well-away from buildings and off the ground.

Old equipment, firewood, or debris piles in close proximity your building also offer perfect harborage for pests fleeing from weather – and the closer they are to your building, the more likely it is that pests can move from the debris into a facility. Remove these things if possible. If not, keep them at least 25 feet from buildings.

Year-round monitoring

Work with your pest management provider to develop an ongoing monitoring program. Monitoring ensures that you and your provider will be alerted at the first sign of a pest issue and have time to create a proactive action plan.

Weather event preparedness

Pay attention to local and national weather forecasters so that you have time to prepare for extreme weather events. With even just 48 hours notice, it’s possible to take precautions to prevent the intrusion of pests and moisture. Depending on the conditions, this could include boarding windows, utilizing sandbags to prevent water entry, sealing gaps and cracks, and more.

Post-event assessment, pest management, and cleanup

After any extreme weather event, it is a good idea to conduct a post-event assessment, implement necessary pest management actions, and clean up areas that may be attractive to pests. For example:

  • Remove trees that fall near your structure
  • Clear debris from the roof or gutters
  • Look for structural damage that could allow pests or moisture to enter.  
  • Remove standing water.

Your pest management provider can help you determine additional appropriate pest management measures that may help keep pests at bay.

Your best course: be prepared

Knowing that weather and pest activity are linked is important – but understanding your facility’s specific risk points in any weather situation is critical. Now is the time to prepare! Download our Extreme weather and pest risk assessment checklist to help conduct a self-assessment of your facility and begin to shape your five-point action plan to keep your facility free of pests – even in the most extreme weather.

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