Did the pests get washed away by this winter’s storms?

Mar 10, 2023, 13:23 PM by Fred Speer

California’s annual precipitation can vary greatly from year to year and from region to region. In 2023, the chart has been blown out of the water. As of March 5, California is at 134 percent of its average annual precipitation level, according to California Water Watch.

With all that rain and snow saturating the soil and causing widespread flooding, did the pests that threaten California homes get washed away, or were they frozen? Clark, your friendly pest, termite, and mosquito control and grounds care expert, has some bad news for you: They were not.

Impact on pests

All insects have some ability to withstand cold weather. One of their most common strategies is to bury themselves underground, beneath leaf litter, or to burrow under tree bark for protection where they can hibernate for the season. These protective maneuvers work well during winter, allowing insect populations to remain relatively stable.

The actual temperature required to kill off insects varies across species. For example, temperatures must dip below 15 degrees Fahrenheit to kill a cockroach, but they cannot breed at temperatures below 40 degrees.

Ants also are also not fans of cold and wet weather, but they take great measures to protect themselves in the winter. They have built-in bodily responses to the weather as it turns colder, by becoming sluggish as their own body temperatures drop. To combat this, they will seek out and create places where the temperature is warmer. They also will commune together in large groups to maintain body heat.

Mosquitoes are another pest that will sustain themselves in cold, wet conditions. Even though mosquitoes are most active during summer’s warm, humid temperatures, their eggs remain viable in cold weather.

“Insects respond to environmental pressures and will react to changes in the weather,” says Blair Smith, corporate manager of QA & technical development for Clark Pest Control. “Soil is a more stable environment, even with the intense rain California has received. As a result, insects like ants and termites will insulate themselves from the weather conditions and ride out the storm.”

Post-storm repairs

The heavy rains and strong winds that accompanied this year’s storms have caused structural damage to many homes. Missing roof shingles, damaged screens, and loose mortar around the foundation, no matter how small, can provide pests with access to your home.

Mice only need an opening the size of a dime to enter a home, and ants can easily crawl through an opening under a door to gain access,” says Smith. “That is why it is important for homeowners to inspect their home and yard and perform any necessary maintenance and repairs.”

  • Clear up yard debris such as fallen branches, grass clippings, and leaves that can provide pests with harborage.
  • Seal cracks or openings around home foundations with the appropriate materials.
  • Clean out gutters on a regular basis to prevent water backup, leaves. and debris from collecting.
  • Do not allow tree limbs to make contact with the roof of your house.
  • Keep your grass mowed and the landscape plants next to your house trimmed; consider installing a stone or gravel barrier around the foundation.
  • Eliminate sources of excess or standing water or moisture. This can include a damaged irrigation system or leaky exterior faucet.

Call California’s trusted, friendly pest control expert at (800) WE-NEED-YOU (936-3339) or email us at clarkcares@clarkpest.com if you have any questions about pests in and around your home. Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home and yard.