Brisbane and the Southeast Queensland region battle regularly against flooding and extreme weather conditions. When the water rises, thousands of Australian households are subjected to some dangerous situations, both direct dangers in the form of rushing waters and speeding winds and lingering dangers that come with clean-up.
One of the most common lingering issues people have to deal with after being directly affected by floods or cyclones is pest infestation. Animals and insects have an instinctual alarm when dangerous weather systems are inbound. When they’re looking for shelter, they’re not going to be picky, so many homes find an increase of pests before or directly after a flood.
Floodwaters can also harm a house in many ways, chiefly they will cause direct damage or soften the structural integrity of a building so all kinds of animals can get inside.
As a pest control technician, you’ll be called on by hundreds of Australian families to help them return to normal life. Here are some Australian pests that are most commonly found during a flood and how to deal with them.
These pests are notoriously resilient. You’ll find these critters in the same place as usual, in humid, damp spots. The only trouble is, that definition becomes much broader when everywhere is damp. Because of their nocturnal nature, many houses may get a roach infestation during a flood and not even notice until a nest has been established.
Roaches can hold their breath for up to 15 minutes underwater, which is plenty of time to scurry up into a roof or into any exposed crawlspace that the owner may not even think to check. The best way to handle roaches after floods is with baits. This way, the issue is resolved quickly, no matter how many nests may have been started while conditions were perfect.
As a pest control technician, do a full sweep of the home’s interior and exterior to identify any potential places that roach families may have used as an entry point or nest.
Ants & Termites
Ants tend to be first responders to flood activity. When they sense harsh inbound rains, they go into survival mode, moving their entire colony to a safer area. If your customer lives in a raised area, their home may be a perfect place for ants or termites to start new nests. This is especially true if your client has a covered dirt area like a carport, open shed or anything of the sort. Also, any piles of debris or moist, high-starch materials like cardboard or rotting wood can seem like a palace to termites searching for new homes.
Of course, ants and termites are more than happy to live inside a house as well, so they can be nesting inside or in nearby proximity to the afflicted area. Baits and sprayers are the best equipment to have to manage ant and termite problems.
Rats, mice and even possums are notorious for being the most harmful invaders during floods. Once the rain floods their burrows or shelter, rodents will do anything to get to safety. That includes digging, squeezing, climbing or chewing into a nice warm house.
Rat control during floods is a super frequent request since they tend to become fearless when there’s chaos outside. They will raid cupboards or any food sources even while people are home. This can become a huge pressure for families who are already in a stressful situation.
Even the good ol’ Queenslander isn’t safe – homes on stilts can still be targetted by rodents who swim into drains and then climb up. Make sure to check all pipes and sheltered areas for rat activity.
The best method to treat a rat infestation is through a series of baits and traps. Once you’ve done your professional pest control service, be sure to educate the customer on how to keep rats out, especially if the floodwaters are still surrounding the property.
Mosquitos aren’t usually an issue during floods, but they can become rampant when everywhere is boggy and wet. The best way to combat these pests is fumigating the surrounding area and doing an in-depth check of the house to ensure there is no stagnant water in the gutters or other containers nearby. If the eggs are being laid in puddles, they can be more difficult to control. The best advice is to keep a house closed, so they don’t get inside.
Snakes & Reptiles
Heavy floods can force wild animals out of their homes and into populated areas. Reptiles crave warmth, so being outside when everything is cold and wet isn’t a good time for them. They will find places that are the warmest in a house, which is why so many are found in rooves surrounded by insulation.
Beggars can’t be choosers, so reptiles will hang out wherever they can, this includes under houses, in garages, or pretty much anywhere that is sheltered. The lucky part is most snake pest control jobs come in after the customer has spotted one directly. This usually helps to pinpoint where the critter is hiding.
Advice to give customers
Dehumidify Your Space & Make Water Removal Your #1 Priority
One common factor for most house pests is the attraction to water. Most insects enjoy damp, humid areas. If a house has been subjected to flood damage, priority one is to remove all water build-up and then dehumidify the air. Dehumidifiers, industrial fans, or just regular fans will help remove excess humidity from the air.
Clean Up And Get Rid Of Waterlogged Items ASAP
Removing any damaged or waterlogged items from inside will help limit hiding places or food sources for pests. Following that, sanitise and wipe down all other surfaces (walls, benches, cabinets, etc.).
Decluttering and cleaning is always a good idea, but it’s particularly important after flood damage. Floodwater tends to be unsanitary and carries disease and bacteria as well as pests. Sanitation ensures your protection from disease and illness while also limiting things that could attract rodents and insects.
All wet items should be removed from the premises entirely and taken to the dump as soon as possible because piles of rotting home appliances may become a new nest for pests.
Find and Cover Any New Or Existing Entrances To The Home
Storms and floods are damaging to building exteriors just as much as they are to interiors. If you or the customer notices any opening such as broken pipes, windows, open seams, swollen wood, etc., make sure to cover it so new pests don’t move in once the old ones are taken care of.
Tarps and blockades are good enough until more permanent solutions can be found.
This is also a good time to look for any areas around the home where animals might get in. Some pests tunnel underneath homes, so just because a nest may not be close doesn’t mean it’s not an issue.
Austates Pest Equipment will set you up with tried and true pest control equipment that will never fail you. Conquer summer pest control jobs by following this guide and making sure all your gear is in tip-top shape.