What happens to pests in a drought?

The state of California has had three of its driest years on record and is potentially about to enter its fourth year of drought conditions.

A drought occurs when an area experiences a less-than-normal amount of precipitation for a period of time. Drought conditions cause water shortages and lead to dry land. This decrease in water brings about many problems for residents, farmers and agriculture, vegetation, and pests, as humans, plants, animals, and insects all need water to thrive. However, a drought can provoke an even more drastic problem for homeowners and pests. Why? Find out below. 

A lone "sailing rock" sits basking in the bright unrelenting sun at Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park, California

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Why does a drought affect pests?  

All pests need water to survive, and some need it more than others. 

During drought conditions, a lot of pests will perish because of the lack of water. Certain species can live longer without water while others rely heavily on it. For example, mice can live up to a month without a drink of water, but cockroaches can only live about a week without it. Some insects also rely on plants as a food source, and during drought conditions, these plants die off which will also cause more insects to die off.

Yellow mouse drinking water with its reflection in the water.

What types of pests/insects are affected in a drought? 

Pretty much all types of pests and insects are affected by a drought. As stated above, some pests and insects are affected more than others, but water is a crucial substance that is very necessary for the survival of many pests. Here are a few of the most common household pests and how long they can live without water:

  • Cockroaches: One week
  • Mice: One month
  • Mosquitoes: A few days
  • Rats: A day
  • Termites: A few days

Few pests can survive about a month, some can survive about a week, but most can only last one or two days maximum.

Brown dead cockroach upside down on a hardwood floor.

What type of pests can survive in a drought?  

Though there are many pests that are negatively affected by drought, there are some that hang on. Flies will hang around animals during drought conditions and take advantage of the water given to them. As stated earlier, mice can survive for longer periods of time because they can get the moisture they need to survive from the food that they eat, however, rats need water every day to survive. Some insects can last for a week without water, while others can only survive a day or two at most.

Close up of a black and white cow with flies swarming its face.

Do pests come into homes during seasons of droughts? 

Yes and no. 

So what does all of this have to do with homeowners? As drought conditions set in, pests will migrate to areas that have water. If your home is the closest spot with water, then you could see an increase in pests as they seek water. However, if you’ve put the right prevention methods in place, your home should hopefully be safe from any unwanted pests.

A wooden symbolic house stands on the cracked red clay in the desert

How to avoid any issues with pests during a drought

Often, houses with leaky pipes are the ones affected most in a season of drought. Pests will look for the closest water source to survive. Follow the steps below to make sure that your house doesn’t become a home to unwanted pests:

  • Properly seal doors.
  • Seal any gaps around pipes or wires. 
  • Keep trees and plants trimmed back away from home. 
  • Keep grass cut.
  • Check hoses and make sure they aren’t leaking.

As always, we are here to help with any questions or pest control needs. Feel free to contact us or message us on Facebook.

Emily Nicholson

Emily Nicholson is a Digital Marketing Coordinator for Rentokil North America. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two dogs. She loves being outside - mountains or beach - and enjoys working out, walking her pups, and relaxing with her husband, friends, and family.

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