Pest Control After a Weather Emergency
After a weather disaster, pests — including insects, rodents, and snakes — may be more prevalent than usual; they could pose health risks.
After weather disasters involving flooding, mosquitoes, flies and other insects may be more abundant than usual, posing potential health problems. Filth and debris left by storms create excellent breeding conditions for house flies and mosquitoes, some of which may be capable of spreading West Nile Virus, typhoid, dysentery, and encephalitis. To control insects, it is important to remove their breeding places, which may include any standing water, especially stagnant water. In warm weather, do this immediately after you return to your home or business.
Rats and other rodents may move into buildings to escape floodwaters. Snakes often are forced into places where they are not usually found. Be aware of these possibilities as you re-enter homes and buildings. Rats can carry disease and parasites, while snakes may be poisonous or at least frightening.
If you are thinking about hiring a pest control professional:
- Be wary of exterminators who show up uninvited and offer a free inspection. They may use scare tactics to pressure you into authorizing immediate and costly treatments.
- Deal with a qualified and licensed pest management company. Call your state pest control regulatory agency for information about the status of pest management companies. In most states, the regulatory agency is the State Department of Agriculture. You also can check out companies with your state Attorney General, local consumer protection agency, or an internet search engine.
- Ask friends and neighbors to recommend pest control companies they have used successfully and how satisfied they were with the service. You can do this online through a community bulletin board or neighborhood listserv.
- Get bids from several companies. Ask about their training, and their approach to controlling pests.
- Be wary of choosing a company based on price alone. Quality is the most important factor.
- Before you sign a contract, get details on the extent of the infestation, the proposed work plan, and the number of visits required and anticipated to solve the problem. A reputable company will inspect your property before quoting you a price or beginning any pesticide application. The company also should give you a written inspection report, and a plan for preparing for treatment and preventing further infestation.
- Find out if the pest control company has liability insurance to cover any damage that occurs to your home or furnishings during treatment.
- If you get a written "guarantee," look for what it covers, how long it lasts, what you must do to keep it in force and what is required for continuing control, prevention and management.
- Read the EPA's Citizen's Guide to Pest Control and Pesticide Safety, which offers more tips on how to choose a pest control company.
Contact the following agencies and organizations to learn how to control household pests.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- National Pesticide Information Center
For more information to help you cope in the event of a weather emergency, visit Dealing with Weather Emergencies.