Moisture, mold, and insects are all connected.
Moisture, which can cause structural damage to the home, can also lead to mold. Mold can cause a wide variety of health issues by itself, but it can also increase your home’s chances for certain insects.
Some insects are attracted to moldy areas because they either eat mold, use mold to their advantage, or thrive in the exact same conditions that allow for mold in the first place.
As you’ll see, preventing moisture in the home is not only for maintaining the quality of your wood floors, it’s also important for stopping the growth of certain bugs.
Moisture in the HomeIn most climates, keeping water and moisture out of the house can be a never-ending challenge. Even if you live in a dry area, thanks to the unquestionable benefits of modern living (such as running water and toilets) there are many places where water can leak into your living space.
In damp areas, moisture can become a significant problem because of rain, snow, and the general wetness of the soil. For example, if your windows and doors are not properly sealed, wetness can leak into the home through gaps, eventually settling into the carpet, woodwork, or drywall.
In warm, humid areas, water can condense on cool surfaces such as pipes, and certain household chores, such as cooking and washing clothes, will release moisture into the air.
Moisture Leads to Mold
How Mold GrowsUnfortunately for homeowners, mold is an incredibly resourceful life form. It not only feeds on materials that could rarely be considered food, it can get its water from sources where it would seem no water is present. Mold feeds on organic material of many types. In most cases, the organic material in paper is all it needs to feed itself. Mold can also make a living off materials as simple as lumber or even carpeting.
Like all lifeforms, mold needs water to survive, but mold rarely needs open puddles to hydrate itself. In some cases, mold can actually get the water it needs by pulling it directly from the air. This means that mold doesn’t need visible water to survive, but simply needs damp air. For this reason, basements, which are generally more humid than the rest of the home, are common areas for mold.
Mold reproduces by releasing microscopic mold spores into the air. These mold spores, which are released by the millions, will float in the air and land in random locations. A very small portion will find themselves in suitable locations, such as dark, warm, damp areas, and grow into new mold growth begins.
Dangers of MoldThere are many health dangers involved with fungi and mold, and they can impact people who have no other signs of respiratory conditions or weakness. However, people with asthma, mold allergies, and respiratory conditions are often most affected by this problem.
Many of the most common issues associated with mold are caused by the spores, and not the visible mold itself. However, some forms of mold can also have toxic effects, so reducing or controlling the amount of mold in your home is always important.
Mold can cause significant issues with coughing, stuffy noses, and wheezing. It can also cause eye irritation and, in rare cases, can cause skin irritation. These last two symptoms are often associated with allergies. Also, people with immune compromised systems, or people with chronic lung issues, could get serious infections if they are exposed to mold.
Clearly, the impact of mold is bad enough, and the health issues should be a significant concern. However, when you see the connection between insects and mold, you’ll have even more incentive to stop moisture and mold before it ever becomes a problem.
Mold Leads to InsectsAt this point, we’ve talked about moisture in the home, and how moisture can lead to excessive mold growth. Now we’re ready for the real purpose of this article: the connection between moisture (and the subsequent mold) and insects. Moisture and mold can be bad enough, but when you add insects into the mix, you have a combination that can wreak havoc on your health and wellbeing.
Insects that Feed Off MoldIn some cases, an infestation of insects can be a direct result of indoor mold. There are several species that feed on the mold itself, so moist conditions tend to attract these pests. While some feed on mold directly, others use the presence of mold to their advantage.
There are numerous insects that feed off of household mold, and one of the most common are mold beetles. Mold beetle is a broad term used to describe beetles that feed on mold, not necessarily a specific species. Insects that are called mold beetles include the foreign grain beetle, the hairy fungus beetle, and the minute brown beetle. These types of insects commonly appear in new homes, which often have residual mold from the building materials, which were stored outside. As long as the mold lasts, the beetles are likely to stick around. These insects, however, are not necessarily harmful, because they don’t sting or bite and don’t generally spread disease or cause damage to the home.
Mold beetles can be extremely small. For example, the foreign grain beetle grows to about three millimeters at most, and they have a flattened body, making them difficult to spot. They have a reddish-brown color, and the antenna are long, measuring almost half their body length.
Cockroaches are another pest that thrives in mold. These insects eat paper and mold helps breakdown the paper, which in turn makes it easier for beetles to digest. The mold also breaks down wood, once again creating easier feeding conditions for cockroaches.
Moldy paper can also attract booklice. While these little insects are found feeding on paper in books, they can also be found in stacks of paper and around windows. Once again, the breaking down of paper by mold makes for easier feeding by these creatures.
Mold mites are cousins of dust mites, but these creatures actually consume mold too. Because their source of food is mold, they are more common in homes that have moisture issues. One of the dangers with these insects is that the little hairs on their bodies can break off and become airborne, potentially creating allergy, asthma, and respiratory complications.
Even if insects don’t feed off mold (or don’t take advantage of mold for feeding purposes), many of them thrive in the same conditions that make mold successful. Warm, damp conditions, which are favored by mold, are the same conditions that allow many insects, regardless of feeding habits, to thrive as well.
How to Get Rid of Insects1. Exterminator: If you have an insect infestation problem, the first step is to take immediate measures to eliminate the bugs. For now, don’t worry about mold or moisture removal; focus on eliminating the pests, which means contacting an exterminator. The first step will likely be an inspection by the extermination professional. Based on the findings, he or she may recommend a variety of treatments, but accurate identification is essential, because different species will require different treatment measures. Incorrect identification can result in ineffective treatments, so it’s often best to leave the identification, and subsequent treatment to the pros.
Depending on the severity of the infestation, simple removal of habitat may control the problem. By going through specific mold-removal measures, and eliminating sources of moisture, you may be able to control the pests without chemicals.
However, if chemical control is needed, a professional can ensure they are applied in a safe manner. No matter what insect-removal step you choose, it’s always best to speak with a professional for the best recommendation.
2. Mold Removal: Once you have the insect population under control, you can start to focus on preventative measures, which often means removing mold, a major source of food for some insects. Mold can often be cleaned without professional assistance, and you may already have the right chemicals and cleaners to remove mold and mildew. Diluted bleach, for example, is a good solution for removing mold, assuming it’s not on a surface that can be discolored by mold. You could also use an air purifiers for mold removal to reduce the chances of future growth by eliminating spores.
3. Stop Moisture: Working backwards, the next logical step is to remove moisture. There can be many sources of moisture in your home, but leaky pipes and damp basements are often the most common issues. It is important to test the air quality and relative humidity. Inspect all visible pipes and make sure they are not leaking. Be especially diligent about pipes underneath sinks and areas near the base of toilets. In the basement, look for signs of seepage, such as damp spots on the wall or puddling near the floor. If your home is particularly damp, you may consider using a dehumidifier as well.
Excellent Purifiers to Help Reduce Mold and Airborne PollutantsMold can cause many issues, so make sure you have an air purifier to trap and destroy spores before they lead to the growth of insects.
With excellent products and world-class technology, we have the right air cleaners to create better air in your home or office.