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Moisture Problems Cause Pest Problems

By Chris Williams on January 26, 2011.

 

Q. We have a partially finished basement. The project has halted because the basement is so damp. We even found mildew on the wallboard down there and large black ants in the same area. Are the ants there because of the mildew?
 
A. The short answer without inspecting the site is “probably.” You could be dealing with carpenter ants. A pest control professional from Colonial can identify the ants and determine why they are there. See more about carpenter ants under Wood Destroying Pests in our website’s Pest Library.
The truth is, we would all have many more insect pests in our homes except for the fact that most insects are not adapted to living in our drier indoor conditions and die fairly soon after they get inside. But, if you create areas of high humidity in your home through poor ventilation, poor outside drainage, condensation, plumbing leaks, or roof leaks, you allow insects to survive indoors.
Most insect pests that invade our homes like it damp. Certain soft-bodied insects like termites must have a high level of moisture to survive. Some wood-damaging insects, like termites and carpenter ants, begin their infestations in damp wood (or wood that was previously damp and has softened), but can then move into sound, dry wood. Insects are not the only pests that thrive in damp areas. Molds and other fungi can grow only where it’s damp, and they can damage wood too.
There are lots of other moisture-loving pests that don’t damage wood, but prefer damp conditions. During periods of drought outside, certain yard pests like millipedes and pillbugs try to get into our homes seeking moisture. If they find high enough moisture levels, they can survive. Tiny springtails (see blog 12/15/10) can live happily indoors feeding on mold growing on damp surfaces. Fungus gnats develop in the soil of over-watered house plants. The fungus beetle is just one of a group of pests that are attracted to moisture from building materials in new homes (see blog 1/21/11).
The obvious and best way to get rid of pests that are attracted to moisture is to get rid of the excess moisture by repairing, sealing, and drying out damp areas with ventilation and/or heat. In your case, you may also need to change the foundation grade and install a sump pump to keep your basement dry. Your home will thank you!

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