There are three main conditions that insects need to survive and thrive: Food, Water, and Harborage. Just like people, they need to eat, drink, and have a safe/warm place to live. In this week’s post, we will discuss how water and moisture can lead to bug problems.
Chester County had record breaking rainfall this year. To date, Chester County had approximately 61”of rain according to a map from The National Weather Center. This amount of rainfall is up to 50% higher than average for our area. Since the frequency of rain was higher, the ground stayed moist and didn’t really get a chance to dry out.
Warm, moist conditions allow many insects to thrive and reproduce. We receive a lot of calls for service for ants after a period of rain. Ants are put into one of two categories: wood destroying and nuisance. Wood destroying ants, more commonly called carpenter ants, are very common in Chester County. They live and seek out wood that has high moisture content. Nuisance ants, such as pavement ants, seem to “come out of nowhere” after a period of rain. Although they won’t physically damage your home, nuisance ants can become very concerning for the homeowner.
When it comes to warm and wet soil, termites are the first thing to come to mind. The type of termite that we have in Chester County is the subterranean termite. This type of termite lives underground and will seek out wood that has a higher moisture content. Termites are very good at finding and detecting wood that has a higher moisture content. Once they find that wood, they will start to eat. Termites are called the “silent destroyers” because their damage often goes un-noticed for years. Once discovered, termite damage is sometimes quite extensive and quite expensive to fix. Identifying key moisture issues around the home can identify and or prevent termite infestations.
Other insects that we typically associate with moisture is cockroaches. Cockroaches like warm, damp areas to breed and live. Many times, these areas are in basements and kitchens where moisture is common. Sinks, drains, and even appliances can provide the moisture and harborage for cockroach survival. Depending the species, the cockroaches can even come from the drains. Eliminating moisture zones when dealing with cockroaches is often more difficult due to the moisture being on the inside of the structure.
Other nuisance insects that we associate with moisture include centipedes and crickets. Spiders are also found but that may be more due to the fact that there are other insects present. The same could maybe be said for centipedes since they are also a predatory species. Insects not associated with moisture issues include bed bugs, bees/wasps, and stored product pests.
So where does this moisture come from? On the outside of the home the obvious answer is moisture comes from rain. While true,the real question that should be asked is “why is the moisture not be funneled away from the home?”. Common causes of moisture pooling around the foundation of a home include downspouts and gutters.
Gutters are designed to channel rain from the roof and funnel it into downspouts. These down spouts are supposed to channel that water down from the roof and away from the house. Often times this does not happen correctly. Leaves and other debris can accumulate in the gutters and prevent the water from flowing. This results in the rain spilling over the gutter and landing directly at the foundation of the home.
Downspouts are designed to carry the water and distribute it away from the home. If the down spouts are not long enough at the ground, they will discharge the water directly into the foundation of the home. If the down spouts go underground, they could be compromised by tree roots or just break and water can just collect at the foundation. Sometimes the simple solution is to purchase downspout extenders from the hardware store. These extenders extend the length of the downspout to allow the water to be discharged further from the foundation.
Another major cause of moisture on the outside of the home is incorrect or missing metal flashing. Whether along the roof line or near the gutters, the metal flashing protects the wood underneath from water. Although inexpensive,flashing that is incorrectly installed can cause huge issues when it comes to water channeling. Many times, I have seen a $1piece of incorrectly installed flashing result in thousands of dollars in moisture damage.
Leaking faucets on the outside of the home are another cause of moisture at the foundation. Whether the hose is leaking or the faucet itself is, the steady drip of water can cause big problems. Since the faucet is connected to the house, the leaking water pools and sits directly on the foundation. Checking and inspecting your outdoor faucets for leaks can prevent big moisture issues.
On the inside of the home, moisture can come from many different areas. Common moisture conditions that are not caused by outside moisture include basements, plumbing,and appliances. Leaking pipes from drains can create a moisture issue. Common plumbing issues include leaky toilet seals, and leaky drain pipes. These leaks often are slow and go un-noticed for a long time. Insects coming up from the drains can also be common especially with insects such as the American cockroach.
Sump pumps in basements provide a constant source of moisture. Sump pumps, by their very nature, are installed because there is water under the foundation. There is little that can be done about the level of the water table under the house. The sump pit can be sealed and the basement can be treated on a regular basement if the sump pump water is leading to moisture issues.
Appliances causing moisture issues are typically found in commercial settings such as restaurants. There is little that can be done about a moist commercial dishwasher to prevent water issues. We offer maintenance plans to prevent infestations because eliminating the moisture issue is not always possible.
We offer pest control services to Chester County. Our fully licensed and insured technicians will not only inspect your property for pests, but also identify current and future moisture issues that can lead to insect issues. Our pest control services are affordable,professional, and effective. Give us a call or send us a message to get pest free today!
Citation: US Department of Commerce, and NOAA. “New York/Pennsylvania Year to Date Precipitation Departures.” National Weather Service, NOAA’s National Weather Service, 2 May 2017, www.weather.gov/marfc/NorthPrecipitationYTD. Updated 12/9/2018